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Vaasetter, rocket signalling establishment north west of, Fair Isle

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 59.5313 / 59°31'52"N

Longitude: -1.634 / 1°38'2"W

OS Eastings: 420800

OS Northings: 1071761

OS Grid: HZ208717

Mapcode National: GBR Q3BJ.S0S

Mapcode Global: XHD63.3PHJ

Entry Name: Vaasetter, rocket signalling establishment NW of, Fair Isle

Scheduled Date: 23 December 1996

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM6583

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Industrial: marine

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland

Description

The monument consists of the remains of a rocket signalling establishment built in 1885 to provide warning of the existence of Fair Isle to passing ships during fog.

The establishment lies immediately beyond the hill dyke. It was set up as an interim measure prior to the establishment of lighthouses on Fair Isle, and commenced operations in 1885. It operated for only a few years before the 2 Fair Isle lighthouses, with foghorns, were opened in 1892. The establishment fired rockets at 10-minute intervals during "thick weather and snow showers". The rockets burst at a sufficient height to ensure that they could be heard from all bearings around the island.

The surviving remains are in two parts. A rectangular concrete accommodation block is flanked by two concrete blocks bearing iron firing rings. The more southerly firing mount is incorporated within the hill dyke. 150m to the ESE is the magazine where the rockets were stored.

This is ruined, with only the lower wall courses surviving to show the original form, which was a semi-cylindrical vault with fire-proof ventilators at ground level. The magazine was the target of enemy bombs in the Second War, when the South lighthouse was also attacked: the attack on the long-abandoned magazine was presumably a result of long outdated intelligence information. An unfilled bomb crater nearby must be one of the very few such traces of hostile action to survive in Britain.

The area to be scheduled consists of two parts, each 30m square. The part to the WNW includes the accommodation block, the 2 signal-rocket firing stances and short stretch of the near-contemporary hill dyke. The part to the ESE includes the remains of the magazine and is bounded on the SSW by the hill dyke, which in this case is not included. The areas to be scheduled are shown in red on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a very rare survival of an early maritime warning installation, illustrating an important phase between the recognition of the need for a comprehensive network of lighthouse and other navigational aids and the availability of resources to allow the full development of such a system. As such, it is a very important part of the national maritime heritage.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the monument as HZ 27 SW 211.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Other nearby scheduled monuments

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