Ancient Monuments

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Burland, broch 245m west of

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland Central, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.1153 / 60°6'55"N

Longitude: -1.3001 / 1°18'0"W

OS Eastings: 439002

OS Northings: 1136954

OS Grid: HU390369

Mapcode National: GBR R240.2YF

Mapcode Global: XHD3J.G0WS

Entry Name: Burland, broch 245m W of

Scheduled Date: 16 May 1934

Last Amended: 27 March 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2062

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: broch

Location: Tingwall

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland Central

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a broch and adjoining causeway of Iron Age date, built probably between 500 BC and AD 200. The broch occupies the whole of a small islet 80-100m from the W shore of the island of Trondra and is visible as a roughly circular, low mound of stones, with a stone causeway connecting it to Trondra. The surviving outer structure is partly submerged at high water. The broch covers an area approximately 35m in diameter, with the causeway running NE for approximately 50m. The monument was first scheduled in 1934 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular in shape 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

The broch and causeway survive in reasonable condition as low-mounded stone structures with their ground plan intact. It is highly likely that evidence for the broch's construction and use survive, despite its low-lying seaward position. Many artefacts and ecofacts may also be present, including rare organic materials such as wood, leather and unburnt seeds, which often only survive in submerged environments. Together, this structural and artefactual evidence can help us piece together the wider picture of settlement here and the changing social, economic and environmental circumstances during construction, use and abandonment of the broch.

Contextual characteristics

This broch is one of over 130 brochs known of in Shetland. Brochs are a distinctive type of Iron Age structure and are likely to have served a variety of functions. While a domestic and agricultural function has been inferred from the evidence of excavated brochs elsewhere, researchers have also considered the symbolic and strategic significance of these buildings and their outworks, and their position in the surrounding landscape. This example was clearly sited in a defensible position on an islet where it was also well placed to exploit landward and seaward resources. It would have been highly visible and was possibly also a prestigious coastal mark. It has the potential to tell us much about the architecture, function and relative status of brochs and related structures, and the use and exploitation of natural resources and the surrounding landscape in the Iron Age.

An eroding sub-rectangular building lay on the shore of Trondra immediately adjacent to the broch islet. Archaeological excavations have indicated that this structure was used as a smithy at broadly the same time as the broch. A series of small hearths, an anvil stone and widespread evidence of hammer scale were found in the interior, together with fragments of rotary querns and quantities of black burnished pottery. This adds to the interest of the broch as a potential focus for activity, and provides further evidence of the broadly contemporary technology and material culture of Iron Age communities in Shetland.

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 the Iron Age occupation of Shetland and the role and function of brochs. The survival of structural and artefactual material from various phases of the broch's development can help us understand more about the lives and activities of the people who occupied these monuments. Its loss would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand this class of monument and the wider Iron Age landscape of Shetland and Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS record the site as HU33NE 1.


Mackie, E W 2002, The roundhouses, brochs and wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c.700BC-AD500: architecture and material culture, Part 1: The Orkney and Shetland Isles. BAR British Series 342: Oxford. 76.

RCAHMS, 1946, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v Edinburgh. 126.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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