Ancient Monuments

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Freester, otter-house on headland SSE of Dykend

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.2585 / 60°15'30"N

Longitude: -1.1809 / 1°10'51"W

OS Eastings: 445428

OS Northings: 1152982

OS Grid: HU454529

Mapcode National: GBR R1FM.HJS

Mapcode Global: XHF9K.1D9Z

Entry Name: Freester, otter-house on headland SSE of Dykend

Scheduled Date: 15 March 2000

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM8441

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Secular: deer trap

Location: Nesting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises a trap for wild otters, or otter-house, located on the tip of a low coastal promontory.

Such traps were formerly widespread around Shetland's shores, and otter pelts were a valuable addition to local crofting incomes up until the earlier decades of the present (20th) century.

The otter-house consists of a small cairn of large stones with a hollow interior, accessed by a low, narrow doorway which was formerly furnished with a wooden door. The door closed by a counter-weighted mechanism when an otter, tempted by bait, entered the trap.

Only a few traces of the wooden elements survive, but the stone structure is in good repair, and is distinguished by the re-use of a rotary quern stone as part of its back wall - the hole in the centre allowing a clear sight into the trap.

The area to be scheduled consists only of the cairn and an area around it, a circle with an overall diameter of 2m. The area is centred on the position indicated with a red cross on the accompanying map extract.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

The monument is of national importance as a very well preserved example of a small-specialised structure formerly widespread around northern coasts but now very scarce. It serves as a reminder of the wide range of ways in which natural resources helped to supplement the subsistence crofting lifestyle. (Despite the extensive trapping of otters before they received legal protection, Shetland remains the British stronghold of the species.)

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the monument as HU 45 SE 39.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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