Ancient Monuments

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Wick, chapel and burial ground 60m ENE of

A Scheduled Monument in Lerwick South, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.1349 / 60°8'5"N

Longitude: -1.2073 / 1°12'26"W

OS Eastings: 444136

OS Northings: 1139195

OS Grid: HU441391

Mapcode National: GBR R1CY.HH6

Mapcode Global: XHD3C.PJJ8

Entry Name: Wick, chapel and burial ground 60m ENE of

Scheduled Date: 23 February 1977

Last Amended: 16 March 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3809

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Ecclesiastical: burial ground, cemetery, graveyard

Location: Lerwick

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Lerwick South

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a small chapel and associated burial ground, probably from the early historic or medieval period (around AD 400-1500). The foundations of the chapel nave are visible as low turf-covered banks about 0.3m high, with occasional large stones protruding through the turf. They indicate that the nave measures about 6m E-W by 5m transversely. Slight earthworks beyond the E wall of the nave almost certainly indicate the presence of a chancel. The graveyard lies to the E of the chapel and is defined on its N, E and W sides by widely spread turf-covered banks about 0.4m high. To the S is a 1m-wide ditch of uncertain date, with a turf-covered bank 0.5m high immediately to the S. The site lies on the E bank of the Burn of Wick, at about 30m above sea level. It occupies a terrace on land that slopes gently down to the coast, some 500m to the SSE. The monument was first scheduled in 1977, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

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. The scheduled area extends up to but excludes a post-and-wire fence at the S end of its W boundary. The scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of a post-and-wire fence near the N end of its W boundary to allow for its maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

There is no evidence of disturbance to the chapel site, which suggests that buried archaeological remains are likely to survive in good condition. There is potential to examine in detail the construction and form of the chapel, its date of foundation and development sequence, and its chronological relationship with use of the burial ground. It is probable that large numbers of burials remain in situ, with high potential to enhance our knowledge of status and burial practice, and to reveal evidence for health, diet, illness, cause of death, and perhaps the types of activities people undertook during life. The likely presence of remains from different periods gives the possibility of exploring issues such as the duration of occupation, the extent to which occupation of the site was continuous and the nature of abandonment processes.

Contextual characteristics

Researchers have suggested that this is one of four historic chapel sites that survive in the district of Gulberwick, and that this church may have been a head church in the middle ages. There is potential to compare this chapel with the sites of others at Brindister, Trebister and Upper Sound. Small chapels in Shetland may sometimes date back to the early historic period and there is potential to compare the buried remains of this chapel with known early historic chapels at St Ninian's Isle and at Nesti Voe on the Isle of Noss. The remains of this chapel and burial ground can add to our understanding of the organisation and spread of Christianity in the Shetland Islands. There is potential to examine the burials and to study the findings in the context of the medieval settlement pattern in the vicinity.

Associative characteristics

Early ecclesiastical sites such as this are vital to any understanding of how the Christian faith developed and was organised in Shetland. The site is marked on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map and is labelled 'Chapel & Burial Ground (site of)'.

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 early church sites in the British Isles. There is high potential for well-preserved archaeology that can make a significant contribution to our knowledge of medieval church architecture and burial. Its significance is enhanced by the capacity to compare it with other early church sites in the vicinity. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand early chapels and the role they had in the organisation of Christianity.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HU43NW 10. The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR reference is MSN928 (PrefRef 875).

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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