Ancient Monuments

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South Newing, house and field system 170m west of

A Scheduled Monument in Shetland North, Shetland Islands

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Latitude: 60.2851 / 60°17'6"N

Longitude: -1.1576 / 1°9'27"W

OS Eastings: 446684

OS Northings: 1155954

OS Grid: HU466559

Mapcode National: GBR R1HK.871

Mapcode Global: XHF9C.BRR5

Entry Name: South Newing, house and field system 170m W of

Scheduled Date: 24 December 1974

Last Amended: 14 November 2012

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3591

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: house

Location: Nesting

County: Shetland Islands

Electoral Ward: Shetland North

Traditional County: Shetland


The monument comprises the remains of a prehistoric house and associated field system. The prehistoric house is oval in shape and measures approximately 5m by 4m. A low wall runs around the house, forming a large, approximately oval enclosure, measuring a maximum of 60m NW-SE by 45m transversely. The monument is believed to be late Neolithic or Bronze Age in date, probably from around 3000 to 1000 BC. It is located on sloping ground around 40m above sea level, on semi-improved grassland, overlooking South Nesting Bay. The monument was originally scheduled in 1974 but the scheduled area was inadequate and the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, measuring 74m N-S by 69m transversely (maximum), 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.

Cultural Significance

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

Intrinsic characteristics

The monument is in good overall condition, although there are signs of disturbance caused by burrowing animals. The house is visible as the southern half of an oval structure, with the northern half probably buried beneath ground slip. The remains consist largely of stony debris, but the shape of the house is visible and there are traces of recesses in the interior. The house is surrounded by a low, stony and partly turf-covered enclosure wall. Within the enclosure there are traces of other banks and walls indicating the presence of an associated field system. The monument is situated on sloping ground, overlooking West Voe of Skellister to the southeast. A later planticrub has been built on to the SW edge of the enclosure, which may have been built using materials from the prehistoric house. The site is likely to contain important buried deposits, including artefacts, as attested by the find of a rounded stone implement within the vicinity of the house. The site is also likely to contain ecofacts and other environmental evidence, which could help to further our understanding prehistoric domestic life and agricultural activity.

The site is likely to contain important buried deposits, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental evidence. Examination of the building foundations can provide detailed information about the form and construction of prehistoric houses in Shetland, and buried features in the interior can contribute to our understanding of how houses were used and organised, and how this might change over time. Buried artefacts, ecofacts and soils can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, and provide insight into 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 much fuller picture of prehistoric domestic life. There is also the potential to compare the building with the enclosing bank and clearance cairns to determine whether these features are contemporary, and to ascertain how the inhabitants managed the landscape in the immediate vicinity of the house. There is particular potential to determine how the field system developed, whether the soils were improved, and if so how and at what dates.

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 monument's situation within the landscape further enhances its importance. It is in an exposed and elevated location, with the Loch of Skellister some 450m to the west and having access to fresh water in the Mill Burn, as well as good views across South Nesting Bay. There are a number of broadly contemporary prehistoric monuments in the surrounding area, particularly to the north, where there are three other prehistoric house sites and a burnt mound. Another prehistoric house is situated just 265m to the east of this monument. Further to the south there are also prehistoric remains relating to ritual and funerary activity within the landscape, such as the standing stone at Skellister. This monument is clearly 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. Comparison of this site with the other prehistoric domestic remains in the area would help us to develop a much better understanding of prehistoric domestic life and landuse.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

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 landuse 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 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



The eminent archaeologist, Charles Calder, suggests the northern half is buried beneath ground slip (see reference below).

RCAHMS records the site as HU45NE 7.


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

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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