Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Mangaster Voe, prehistoric house 610m north west of Innbanks

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.4137 / 60°24'49"N

Longitude: -1.4007 / 1°24'2"W

OS Eastings: 433107

OS Northings: 1170127

OS Grid: HU331701

Mapcode National: GBR Q1W6.QWB

Mapcode Global: XHD1Y.5J42

Entry Name: Mangaster Voe, prehistoric house 610m NW of Innbanks

Scheduled Date: 20 December 1974

Last Amended: 5 July 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3571

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: house

Location: Northmaven

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a prehistoric house with a possible annex on its north side. The house is roughly circular, approximately 8m N-S by 7m transversely, within walls about 1.5m wide that appear as low footings of turf and stone. The house is believed to be late Neolithic or Bronze Age in date (around 3000 to 1000 BC). It is located just above sea level on a small promontory that consists of semi-improved grassland and overlooks Mangaster Voe to the north. The monument was originally scheduled in 1974 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.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The prehistoric house survives in good condition. The overall form of the house is visible and sections of stone wall-facing protrude through the turf in places. The site is likely to contain important buried deposits, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental evidence.

Examination of the building foundations can give us detailed information about the form and construction of prehistoric houses, while buried features within the building interior can contribute to our understanding of how houses were used and how this might change over time. Buried artefacts and ecofacts and buried soils can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, and allow us to improve our understanding of prehistoric trade and exchange and the nature of the agricultural economy. Archaeological investigation at similar sites has yielded high quality artefactual and ecofactual material, which can help us to build up a fuller picture of prehistoric domestic life.

Contextual characteristics

This is one of a number of broadly similar prehistoric houses that characterise early settlement and the development of agriculture in the third to second millennium BC in Shetland. It is part of a relatively rare and geographically restricted group, which gives us a more balanced view of prehistoric life, when compared with the more common and widespread burial and ceremonial monuments of the later Neolithic elsewhere in Scotland.

The house lies in close proximity to other broadly contemporary monuments: another prehistoric house lies 50m to the southwest, and a group of four prehistoric houses is situated 360m to the southeast. This monument is an important element of a much wider relict landscape and it testifies to early human efforts to exploit land and natural resources for agricultural production. There can be an impressive time-depth to these early houses, as may well be the case here, which can tell us much about change and continuity over long periods. Comparison of this site with the other prehistoric remains in the area would help us to develop a much better understanding of prehistoric domestic life and land-use.

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 nature of prehistoric settlement, agriculture and land-use in Shetland. It has the potential to improve our understanding of the distribution of settlement, the structural techniques used to build houses, and changes in the nature of settlement over time. There is also excellent potential to study how the site fitted into a landscape that is rich in prehistoric remains. The loss of this monument would impede our ability to understand the nature of prehistoric domestic architecture and settlement both in Shetland and Scotland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



Calder, C S T, 1958, 'Stone Age house-sites in Shetland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, 89, 367.

Calder, C.S.T, 1965, 'Cairns, Neolithic Houses and Burnt Mounds in Shetland', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol 96, 45-7.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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