Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Conisgarth, house 95m WNW of

A Scheduled Monument in North Isles, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.7194 / 60°43'9"N

Longitude: -0.8653 / 0°51'55"W

OS Eastings: 462012

OS Northings: 1204567

OS Grid: HP620045

Mapcode National: GBR S06D.Q36

Mapcode Global: XHF7C.5TBQ

Entry Name: Conisgarth, house 95m WNW of

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1977

Last Amended: 24 February 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3845

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: house

Location: Unst

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: North Isles

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument is an oval prehistoric house, built probably during the period 3000 BC to AD 500. The house is visible as an upstanding feature represented by a turf-covered wall. The monument lies about 40m above sea level on a gentle E-facing slope, close to the Burn of Vatsdeild and some 450m from the E coast of Unst. The monument was originally scheduled on 23 February 1977 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: this rescheduling rectifies this and clarifies the extent of the scheduled area.

The house is oval in shape and measures 7.5m by 5m internally, within turf-covered walls about 2m wide. At the W side of the interior is an aumbry. There is an entrance on the east, with the remains of an annexe or lean-to just outside.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, to include the remains described above and an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

This monument survives in good condition in reverted improved grassland. The house will contain the remains of foundations, floor surfaces and associated pits and middens, and has the potential to provide insight into how prehistoric houses were designed and constructed. The buried remains may include artefacts and ecofacts that can help us understand how people lived at this site, how they farmed and used the natural environment, and what goods they exchanged with other groups. Researchers may he able to date some of the buried remains more closely, determine how long the house remained in use, and determine whether occupation of the site was continuous or interrupted by one or more periods of disuse.

Contextual characteristics

This monument lies within a landscape that is exceptionally rich in archaeological remains dating from the prehistoric period to the 19th century. Such a long sequence of human occupation can provide important insights into how people's relationship with the landscape and the sea developed and changed over time. This monument's importance is enhanced by its proximity to a similar prehistoric house just 80m to the east.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular of prehistoric settlement and landuse. This prehistoric house is part of the wider archaeological landscape and has the potential to improve our understanding of the distribution of settlement, the structural techniques used to build houses, changes in settlement over time, and the relationship of houses to other features such as cairns. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand prehistoric settlement in Unst.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site Unst, Conisgarth, settlement (Neol/Bronze Age), HP60SW18). The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR records the site as Middleton, Pref Ref 174, MSN174.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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