Joined March 2008

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This wonderful archaeological marvel we have in the Ness, christened “Jarlshof” by Sir Walter Scott when he visited Shetland back in 1814… Here, an insight into Shetland’s human history…

Human settlements date back to [at least] 6,000 years ago in Shetland. Men went north by boat… from Scotland via Orkney and Fair Isle… [some adventurous hops!] They notably settled in the southern tip of Shetland’s main island [“Mainland”] when they saw fertile land there… Their dwellings [shelters] hence dated Neolithic [Stone Age]… Men continued to build round-shaped dwellings throught the Bronze & Iron Age. We ken they were farmers, living off both land [bere, barley ancestor] + cattle [sheep, pony, pig] they brought with them & sea [fishing + seabird egg collection, incl. great auk, seal hunting] … Our iron Age is [currently] estimated by debating experts at some 2000+ years ago [and still arguing!] during which brochs were built.
What you see, “wheelhouse”, appeared during the late Iron Age period. Men recycled flat stones from earlier constructions to develop this type of complex dwellings. They comprise cells [different house parts. And because they were round, they look like cart wheels. Hence their name :).
Now, when Sir Walter Scott visited Shetland and stayed at Sumburgh Farm, home of the Bruce, all the famous author could see was the ruin of Patrick Stewart’s New Hall [single ruin dating back early 17th century…]. Scott named it “Jarlshof”. He had come to Shetland to write his novel, “The Pirate” [which starts at Sumburgh…].
And then a massive storm in the late 19th century unveiled the archaelogical site we can visit today. Bruce The Young, a keen archaelogist, began to dig as he thought he had a “treasure” under his feet. Today Jarlshof remains one of Europe’s most complex archaelogical sites, for it comprises a formidable slice of Shetland’s human adventure :)).

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