Cultural Heritage

Shetland has some world class historic sites, many of which are concentrated in the south mainland and within easy driving of Shetland Glamping:


Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement (7.5 miles):  The exceptional multi-period settlement of Jarlshof sits in a striking location right on the edge of the coast at Sumburgh.  Excavations in the 1890s, 1930s and 1950s uncovered a remarkable series of human settlement structures spanning more than 4,000 years.  The site has a visitor centre which is open April to September (Wednesday to Saturday only).  On Sunday to Tuesday the site can be explored free of charge although the visitor centre will not be open.  Tickets can be purchased here.

Old Scatness Broch and Iron Age Village (6.5 miles):  The Iron Age settlement at Old Scatness, Virkie was first discovered in 1975 during construction of a new road with excavations taking place 20 years later.  A mix of excavated and reconstructed buildings, the site is open on Friday’s only from mid-May to end August.  For bookings, contact Shetland Amenity Trust.


Mousa Broch (7 miles):  The magnificent Iron Age roundhouse, or broch, located on the island of Mousa is believed to be around 2,000 years old and is the best preserved broch in existence.  Standing around 13m tall, the broch is in an excellent state of preservation and visitors can climb the staircase to marvel at its construction and take in its commanding views.  Passage to the island is provided by The Mousa Boat from Sandwick.

Ness of Burgi (7 miles):  The Iron Age Blockhouse at Ness of Burgi on the southern tip of the Scatness headland at Virkie is one of three such monuments in Shetland, this one being particularly well preserved.  Access to the site is via a short walk from the car park at the end of the Scatness road, the final section involving a tricky scramble across uneven ground and rocks.

St Ninian’s Isle Chapel (1.5 miles):  The monument on St Ninian’s Isle comprises the remains of a small stone church likely to date from the 12th century, traces of an earlier church and other buildings, and an ancient burial ground.  The site is famous for a hoard of buried Pictish silver treasure discovered by a local schoolboy during excavations in 1958, replicas of which are kept at the Shetland Museum and Archives.  Access to the Isle involves a stunning walk across the beautiful sand tombolo from the car park at the east end of the beach.

The south mainland is also home to a number of museum and visitor centre attractions that are well worth a visit:

Shetland Crofthouse Museum (4 miles):  For a glimpse of the past visit the Shetland Crofthouse Museum; a restored 19th Century thatched crofthouse located at Dunrossness, to experience how Shetlander’s would have lived in the 1870s.  Smell the lit peat fire and listen as experienced custodians speak about traditional crofting life.  The Crofthouse Museum is operated by Shetland Museum and Archives and is open May to September.  Booking is essential.  Opening times can be found here.

Quendale Water Mill (5.5 miles):  Built in 1867, Quendale Mill was one of three large water mills operating in Shetland at the time and remained in commercial use until 1948.  Beautifully restored in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Quendale Water Mill opened as a visitor attraction in 1993 and also houses a craft shop.  Open daily, 10am – 5pm, during mid-April to mid-October.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse, Visitor Centre and Nature Reserve (9 miles):  Set in a stunning cliff top location at the southernmost tip of the Shetland mainland, the superb visitor attraction at Sumburgh Head features a restored lighthouse and buildings dating from 1821 and includes a café, gift shop, marine life centre, restored WW2 radar hut and more.  Set in the grounds of Sumburgh Head Nature Reserve, visitors will also get the opportunity to watch an abundance of seabirds as well as take in some spectacular views.  The site is open April to September.  For opening times and ticket prices click here.

Hoswick Visitor Centre (6 miles):  Situated in the village of Hoswick in Sandwick, the Hoswick Visitor Centre hosts interpretive displays providing a fascinating insight into the local fishing and textile heritage of the area, as well as a café and craft shop.  The Centre is open 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Saturday from April to October with a reduced opening schedule during the winter.

Sandsayre Interpretive Centre (7 miles):  Located in Sandwick where The Mousa Boat departs, the Sandsayre Interpretive Centre is a converted boat shed, housing a former ‘flit boat’ with historical, cultural and environmental displays relating to the local area.

Cunningsburgh History Hut (9 miles):  Situated next to the community hall at the north end of Cunningsburgh, the Cunningsburgh History Hut features displays and exhibits relating to the area’s local history.  Also on display outside is the “Queeboat”, an upturned boat thought to be a lifeboat from the Oceanic which was wrecked off Foula in 1914.