Ancient Monuments

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Busta, standing stone 100m east of Staneside

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.389 / 60°23'20"N

Longitude: -1.3691 / 1°22'8"W

OS Eastings: 434878

OS Northings: 1167393

OS Grid: HU348673

Mapcode National: GBR Q1Z8.TL3

Mapcode Global: XHD24.K4XH

Entry Name: Busta, standing stone 100m E of Staneside

Scheduled Date: 5 February 1954

Last Amended: 16 March 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2028

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: standing stone

Location: Delting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument is a standing stone likely to date to the third or second millennium BC. Formed of granite, it stands 3.2m high and is roughly square in plan, with sides a maximum of 1.8m in length at the base. A smaller recumbent stone, lying 7m to the east and 1m high, is a squat triangular block also of granite. The monument stands at around 25m above sea level in a prominent location 80m from the W shore of Busta Voe. Its location offers views across the voe to the E shore. Likewise, the main stone is highly visible and prominent when viewed from the water or from across the voe. The monument was first scheduled in 1954 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, measuring 20m E-W by 11m transversely. The scheduling includes the two stones 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

The monument includes a fine example of a massive standing stone that survives in excellent condition. Several packing stones are visible at the base. We know of no evidence that the stone has been moved and it is therefore likely to stand within its original socket, probably a shallow depression or pit. In addition to the visible packing stones, other archaeological material, including possibly burial deposits, may lie at the base of the stone. Other related features, including smaller stone settings, pits, burials and timber structures, may be present in the immediate vicinity. It is clear that in some instances, standing stones represent the only surviving component of a larger stone monument (such as a stone alignment). As well as the smaller recumbent stone that is visible today east of the standing stone, other stones may have stood in the vicinity. The likely presence of associated artefacts and/or important environmental information in a pit beneath the stone, or in surrounding features, reinforces the potential of the monument.

In this case, considerable effort would have been required to transport, position and erect the stone, demonstrating that it was considered a significant and worthwhile achievement to those who were responsible. Where it has been possible to date comparable monuments, they typically derive from the third or second millennium BC. The monument therefore has an inherent capacity to inform our understanding of this period, and may have the potential to further our knowledge of contemporary ceremonial and ritual landscapes.

Contextual characteristics

In Scotland as a whole, standing stones are very often located with reference to ritual or burial monuments, such as henges, stone circles, cairns and other types of burial, and there are grounds to believe that many are part of ceremonial or ritual activity. In addition, the position of many appears deliberately chosen to take advantage of route-ways, views and inter-visibility with other monuments, and some are likely to be part of a network of landmarks. It has been argued that the position of some standing stones, with reference to similar contemporary monuments, often coincides with observation lines upon the rising or setting points of the sun or the moon on a distant horizon at key dates in the year (for example, winter solstice).

This monument dominates the head of Busta Voe. The voe was probably an important route-way as Sullum Voe lies to the north, across a short land bridge only 0.5km wide, and offers access northwards to the E coast of Mainland. The monument also lies within a concentration of other prehistoric monuments, including three cairns in locations that can be seen from this monument (one is 1.1km to the SW and the other two lie within 1.8 km, on the E side of the voe). A chambered cairn and two prehistoric houses also lie within 1.5km to the west, but are not visible from this standing stone. Further study of the prehistoric monuments here may further our understanding of the nature of their inter-relationships and increase our knowledge of the way in which contemporary society may have used different parts of the landscape.

Associative characteristics

The Ordnance Survey 1st edition map depicts the standing stone.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to the understanding of the past, in particular the ritual and ceremonial landscape of Shetland in the third or second millennium BC. This standing stone is also important because it lies in a landscape that contains a relatively high density of other types of prehistoric monument. The loss of this monument would significantly impede our ability to understand the nature of earlier prehistoric ritual and ceremonial practice, both in Shetland and in Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HU36NW 5. The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR reference is MSN463 (PrefRef 463).


RCAHMS, 1946 Twelfth Report with an Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland. Edinburgh. 10

Ritchie, A, 1997 Shetland. Exploring Scotland's Heritage Series. Edinburgh

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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