Travelling: Shetlands

Fjord Hogweed
Heather landscape Shearing sheep
Café, Pub, Post office
Above left:    Many times, the clouds are drifting along the summits of the hills.
Above right:  Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium).
Below left:    The isles are mostly covered with heather and in August the main colour of Shetland is purple.
Middle right: There are more sheep than people and the wool is famous! Here the shearing of the sheep.
Below right:  Café, Pub and Post office, the ferry house at the ferry from Yell to Unst. Complete with a real
                      English... ehhhm,.. sorry; British telephone box.
Very soon I found that these people are offended when you call them 'English', they are 'British'! So I told them not to call me 'Hollander'; I'm a 'Dutchman'... Great fun; the same question in such a small country?

Sullum Voe Great Britains' most northerly house.
Widows' asylum on the Knowe
Above:          Sullum Voe; the only place on Shetland, where the oil industry is
                     established, raising the level of prosperity as shown by the local
Above right: This is Great Britain's most northerly house on the Isle of Unst.
Middle right: Lerwick; 'Widows' asylum on the Knowe', the sea killed many men
                     of the islands. Formerly the main building had a spire, but a gale
                     blew it away.
Below right: Peat, the national Shetland fuel for burning the stove and for
                     cooking. It is said that there will be enough for another hundred of
                     years. Every inhabitant has the right for peat, but he has to cut it
                     by himself.

Arrived in Lerwick, I don't stay in the harbour. I like to see more of the islands, but then I had a three weeks holidays only, so I used one week for sailing to the islands, one week to look around and one week to return home. Sailing around for one week seems nice, but the weather is very changeable there and there is no any safe harbour or anchorage. The first time I made a trip by touring car. You can make an arrangement at the local tourist office. I made an overland tour from Lerwick to Yell and finally to Unst and back. The driver wasn't in a hurry and he told me to warn him when I thought a place to be worth to make a picture. He then would stop for some time. So I asked him for a nice possibility to make a photo of the peat. He agreed and drove to a typical peat cutting place on the isle of Yell. I also booked a trip to Sumburgh Head to see the airport, but more interesting; the 'Jarlshof'. On later visits these tours were fully booked, so I then rent a car.
Yell - Peat

Lerwick - Broch of Clickhimin Broch of Clickhimin
Lerwick - Broch of Clickhimin
Lerwick - Entrance Broch of Clickhimin
Broch of Clickhimin Passage Mousa - Broch
Life in the Broch of Clickhimin Broch of Clickhimin - Wall
Living tower Cupboard
Above left:     Broch of Clickhimin as seen from the highway.
Below:            The entrance through the wall to the broch.
Middle left:     Entrance of the living room through the wall.
Middle right:   The broch on the isle of Mousa.
Middle below: The solid wall with watch tower.
Below left:      Inside a living room.
Below right:    A built in 'cupboard'.

The various illustrations show (as we think it was...) how the people were living in those times. They were no vikings! Vikings built rectangular houses, as you can see on the picture down of the 'Jarlshof'. Very remarkable is the round shape of the houses; 'wheelhouses'; these are very similar to those found in the Mediterranean area; perhaps a migration from there to the islands?


For people who love archeology the Shetlands are a real paradise. The Anglo-Saxons obviously don't have the behaviour of the Germans to clean everything. An old vessel, house, building, shed and so on, won't be cleared if not in somebodies' path. Of course, they are very clean people; I don't want to say that they are dirty. Rubbish and litter you won't find! This 'laziness' to avoid work that is not necessary, made it possible to find many archaeological objects. Near Lerwick you'll find the Broch of Clickhimin. A living tower surrounded by a solid wall. Inside this wall, but outside the tower, of course, you'll find the remnants of old farm houses. The building dates from about 700 to 500 b C. It is situated on the southwest bank of the Loch of Clickhimin. East of Mainland, on the isle of Mousa, there's also a stone built living tower. A very well-known and large settlement, is the 'Jarlshof' in the vicinity of Sumburgh Head. There people lived for centuries during the stone, bronze and iron age. Later on the vikings settled there. They were farmers. The houses were covered by sand and disappeared from sight. At the end of the 19th century they were recovered by accident after a few severe gales had washed away parts of the shore.


Jarlshof - plan.
Jarlshof Entrance to house Passage
Wheelhouses Cupboard living room
Living room Living room
Suite Room Viking settlement
After what has been told before, there's no need to explain much about these pictures. Upper most, left, just below the plan, you'll see the 'Jarlshof'. Very down at the bottom, right side, you'll see, taken from the broch, a picture of the remnants of the livings of the vikings. These were farm houses. But the inhabitants of the Shetlands don't have the bad memories as they have in Europe. Perhaps because nothing could be taken from the islands. The broch is from the 16th century and the cruel earl Patrick Stewart extended it in the years 1604 to 1605. He might never have known, that underneath and around his broch, there were the remnants of livings for centuries before him. Patrick Stewart called the broch; 'The Old House', but the romantic author, Sir Walter Scott, named it; 'Jarlshof'.


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Last updated on December 10th 2003 by: