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Skuta Noost, cists 55m west and 95m north west of

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland Central, Shetland Islands

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Coordinates

Latitude: 60.0669 / 60°4'0"N

Longitude: -1.3378 / 1°20'16"W

OS Eastings: 436960

OS Northings: 1131539

OS Grid: HU369315

Mapcode National: GBR R214.3PJ

Mapcode Global: XHD3P.Z7HD

Entry Name: Skuta Noost, cists 55m W and 95m NW of

Scheduled Date: 28 August 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM13124

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric ritual and funerary: cist

Location: Lerwick

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland Central

Traditional County: Shetland

Description

The monument comprises the remains of two burial cists probably of Bronze Age date (between around 2000 and 500 BC). The cists survive as two stone settings and associated features, some 52m apart from each other on a NW-SE alignment. The SW edges of both cists are clipped by the drainage ditch of an adjacent metalled road. They are sited in pasture on gently sloping land at 10m above sea level. They overlook the E shore of West Burra and eastwards over South Voe to East Burra.

The southernmost cist is sub-circular in shape and built of boulders of mixed sizes, mostly set upright. Four of these form the sides and top of a triangular cist. The boulders demarcate an area approximately 3m by 2m, enclosing a low stony mound. The northernmost cist is similar in size and construction, but more rectangular on plan. It also contains a slight mound in its interior and is open on its E side.

The area to be scheduled comprises two clipped circles, each 4m in diameter, 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. Specifically excluded from the scheduling are the above-ground remains of the post-and-wire fence 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

The monument survives in a stable condition, with both burial cists clearly visible. It is likely that the cists were originally sealed by earthen mounds, now removed. However, the low mounds in the interiors of both cists appear relatively undisturbed, which suggests that buried deposits, including possibly human remains, may be present. Other buried material may survive in the immediate area, ranging from skeletal remains and artefacts to environmental evidence in the underlying ground surface. Taken together, these buried remains can help to further our understanding of the practice and significance of burial, the architecture and layout of burial monuments, and commemoration of the dead in prehistory. Researchers have indicated that the site may represent part of a sequence in the practices of prehistoric burial.

Contextual characteristics

Surviving cist burials are relatively uncommon in Shetland, but they form part of a wider distribution of prehistoric burials, including burial cairns. The survival of two cists in close proximity may suggest they were part of a cemetery and that other burials may survive in the vicinity. West Burra is rich in prehistoric remains, particularly those of apparent Bronze Age date, mostly along its eastern shore. Recent surveys have identified 11 oval houses, 16 burnt mounds and 13 potential burial mounds, the latter visible mainly as circular earthen mounds varying in diameter from 2-7m. Of the 13 burial mounds, 8 occurred in two clusters indicating a cemetery. These mounds are similar to those excavated in Orkney at Quoyscottie and found to date to the Bronze Age.

This site is also interesting because of its position in the landscape. Unlike the hilltop locations preferred for burials elsewhere, these cists are located close to the shore with views of the voe to the east, as well as longer views to the Clift Hills in south Mainland. Researchers have indicated that burial mounds may be associated with other types of monument with which they may be inter-visible ' such as burnt mounds, which are present in significant numbers in this part of the Northern Isles. This monument therefore has the potential to further our understanding of burial sites and the wider significance of death and commemoration to the prehistoric communities living here.

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 and their significance for prehistoric society. Buried evidence from cairns and cists can also enhance our knowledge about wider prehistoric society, how people lived, where they came from and who they had contact with. 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

Sources

Bibliography

References

Hedges, J W, 1984, 'Gordon Parry's West Burra survey', Glasgow Archaeol J, 11, 43.

Moore, H and Wilson, G, 2001 Shetland Coastal Zone Assessment Survey: West Burra, East Burra, Trondra.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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