Ancient Monuments

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Knowe of Brulland, cairn 165m south east of Windrush

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.353 / 60°21'10"N

Longitude: -1.1949 / 1°11'41"W

OS Eastings: 444527

OS Northings: 1163493

OS Grid: HU445634

Mapcode National: GBR R1DC.P55

Mapcode Global: XHD2D.V1HK

Entry Name: Knowe of Brulland, cairn 165m SE of Windrush

Scheduled Date: 5 February 1954

Last Amended: 5 July 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM2038

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cairn (type uncertain)

Location: Nesting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument is a cairn dating probably to the Neolithic period or Bronze Age, between 4000 and 1000 BC. It is visible as an oval turf-covered mound, measuring about 23m N-S by 19m transversely and standing up to 3m high. At the base, several stones protruding through the turf may represent part of a kerb. The top of the cairn is uneven. The cairn stands at about 10m above sea level, 30m north of the Laxo Burn and 85m west of the head of Laxo Voe. It offers long views to the WSW along Laxo Voe and Dury 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. The scheduling includes 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 visible remains of this monument suggest it is a round cairn. Excavation elsewhere has demonstrated that round cairns were often used to cover and mark human burials and are late Neolithic or Bronze Age in origin, dating most commonly from the late third millennium BC to the early second millennium BC. Although there has been some disturbance to the centre of this cairn, much of the monument appears intact suggesting that archaeological information is likely to survive beneath its surface. One or more burials may survive, either positioned centrally or away from the centre. The excavation of similar mounds elsewhere in Scotland has shown that cairns often incorporate or overlie graves or pits containing cist settings, skeletal remains in the form of cremations or inhumations, pottery and stone tools. These deposits can help us understand more about the practice and significance of burial and commemorating the dead at specific times in prehistory. They may also help us to understand the changing structure of society in the area. In addition, the cairn is likely to overlie and seal a buried land surface that could provide evidence of the immediate environment before the monument was constructed, and botanical remains, including pollen or charred plant material, may survive within archaeological deposits deriving from the cairn's construction and use. This evidence can help us to build up a picture of climate, vegetation and agriculture in the area before and during construction and use of the cairn.

Contextual characteristics

Cairns are well represented in the Shetland Islands, but this example has particular interest because of its relatively unusual location on low-lying ground at the head of a voe. It has further significance because it is one of a number of cairns in the vicinity with which it can be compared, including one at Seggie Burn 1.1km to the WNW, and examples on the S side of Dury Voe, among them a cairn on Muckle Head 4.6km to the SE, a cairn known as 'Stany Cuml' 6.1km to the SE and the chambered cairn at Felshun 6.4km to the SE. There is also a standing stone on the S side of the same valley, 1.1km to the SW. The position and significance of this cairn in relation to contemporary agricultural land and settlement is likely to be significant and merits future detailed analysis. Given the many comparable sites in the area, this monument has the potential to further our understanding not just of funerary site location and practice, but also of the structure of early prehistoric society and economy.

Associative characteristics

The monument is labelled 'Tumulus' on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map.

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, particularly the design and construction of burial monuments, the nature of burial practices and their significance in prehistoric and later society. Buried evidence from cairns can also enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. This monument is particularly valuable because it lies in a landscape where there are a number of comparable cairns. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the placing of such monuments within the landscape and the meaning and importance of death and burial in prehistoric life.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland



RCAHMS records the site as HU46SW 4. The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR reference is MSN2159 (PrefRef 2042).


RCAHMS 1946 Twelfth Report with an Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 80.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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