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5 Dalsetter Wynd, settlement and field system 60m north of

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland South, Shetland Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 59.9245 / 59°55'28"N

Longitude: -1.2806 / 1°16'50"W

OS Eastings: 440317

OS Northings: 1115711

OS Grid: HU403157

Mapcode National: GBR R25H.RWB

Mapcode Global: XHD49.QTR4

Entry Name: 5 Dalsetter Wynd, settlement and field system 60m N of

Scheduled Date: 13 August 1975

Last Amended: 19 July 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3703

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: settlement

Location: Dunrossness

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland South

Traditional County: Shetland

Description

The monument comprises the remains of four house sites, an oval enclosure, other boundary features and several clearance cairns. The houses, enclosure banks and cairns are visible as upstanding earthworks, but the monument also includes potential buried archaeological features. The remains are most likely to be Neolithic or Bronze Age in date (approximately 4000 to 1000 BC). The monument stands 25m above sea level on ground that slopes gently to the shore of the voe 400m to the south. It lies on the E coast of Mainland, 7.5km N of Sumburgh Head. The monument was first scheduled in 1975 but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The four visible prehistoric houses lie within an area measuring about 85m by 35m. They are oval structures, mostly measuring about 14m by 10m transversely, the walls represented by low turf-covered banks and upstanding stones. Two of the houses lie within the oval enclosure, one of these adjoining the inside of the enclosure bank. The enclosure measures 70m NNW-SSE by 58m transversely. The other two boundary features are concentric and lie to the NW and W of the enclosure, within 75m, both mirroring the curve of the enclosure bank. The clearance cairns are found both within the enclosure and close to one of the houses to the N.

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 scheduling specifically excludes the above-ground elements of all post-and-wire fences to allow for their maintenance.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The house to the NW of the group has the best preservation above ground. It is defined by an oval bank with some walling visible on the outer face on the N side. Stones protrude from the turf covering the bank. The house is 14m long, with the wall bank 2m to 3.5m wide and 0.4m high. There is an entrance at the E end and a recess opening off the interior at the opposite end. On the S side of the house a low rectangular bank abuts the house remains. Some 20m to the NE, the most northerly of the houses is visible as a 'horseshoe-shaped' bank with large and medium-sized stones protruding; the S end is not visible. The most southerly of the houses lies within the oval enclosure and is visible as an oval platform 14m long, with some stone protruding, particularly at the outer edge. There are two upright stones at the N end and here the platform is slightly hollowed. Beside the platform there is a small circular structure, 3m in diameter. The fourth house abuts the NE side of the enclosure bank. It is an oval structure, marked by a bank on the W and S sides and by stones to the NNE. The oval enclosure is well defined around the NE, N, W and SW sides. It is represented by a bank on the N, NW and W sides and by protruding stones to the NE and SW. It may have been truncated by later boundaries to the SE and S. There are several small turf-covered clearance cairns within the enclosure and one larger mound with medium and large stones protruding. To the NW of the northern pair of houses, the two curving field boundaries are visible as banks with protruding stones.

The monument survives in good condition and its upstanding elements can easily be appreciated and analysed. The presence of four house sites suggests the settlement may preserve evidence for a long development sequence. There is potential to investigate the relationships between the different houses and the various field banks. This means that the monument has excellent potential to inform our understanding of the date and nature of prehistoric settlements and how their use changed over time. Examination of the building foundations can give us detailed information about the form and construction of houses and investigation of building interiors can contribute to our understanding of how structures were used and how this changed over time. Buried artefacts and ecofacts and buried soils can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the agricultural economy. The analysis of pollen from buried deposits has potential to give us indications of species that grew across different parts of the field system.

Contextual characteristics

The monument lies within a landscape that is rich in known prehistoric remains. There are traces of relict field boundaries in fields to the W of the monument and other prehistoric houses are visible 375m WNW and 295m NW. Three burnt mounds also lie between 200m and 320m from the monument in the same direction, laid out along a small water course. On the seaward side, the Broch of Dalsetter lies 350m to the E, and is accompanied by surrounding defences and extensive outbuildings. These other known archaeological sites mean that we can compare this monument with other settlements that might be broadly contemporary, with burnt mounds that reflect a different use of the landscape, and with a broch that may represent a successor settlement, established after a shift in settlement focus.

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 nature of settlement and agriculture in prehistoric Shetland. Its significance is enhanced because of the close association of houses and field boundaries, and because there are other house sites and burnt mounds in the surrounding landscape. There is excellent potential to make comparisons with these nearby sites and to study how the site fitted into a landscape that is rich in prehistoric remains. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the prehistory of Shetland.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS record the site as HU41NW 2 (Canmore ID 907). The Shetland Amenity Trust SMR records the site as MSN632 (PrefRef 632).

References

Calder, C S T, 1958 'Stone Age house-sites in Shetland', PSAS, 89, 378-9

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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