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Date 1 March 2016 - 18 May 2016

Event ID 1044095

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Note


This fort occupies a rugged cliff-girt promontory on the E side of the peninsula running out to the Hog of Ness and sheltering the W flank of the West Voe of Sumburgh. The defences comprise a blockhouse facing WNE onto the inner of two broad ditches with a medial rampart, which bar access to an area on the top of the promontory measuring about 30m in length from NW to SE by 25m in breadth (0.07ha), though a much larger area of sloping outcrops descends to the sea on the ESE. The blockhouse was excavated in 1935 (Mowbray 1936) and subsequently in 1971 restored, comprising a rectangular block, which though eroded at one end, measures at least 23.8m in length by between 5.6m and 6.4m in breadth. A lintelled entrance passage with checks and a bar-hole towards the outer end leads through the centre of the block and has a doorway into a chamber on its N side, while a second chamber with an independent entrance opening into the interior lies immediately SSW of the passage, and a smaller third chamber in the partly destroyed SSW end. Two hearths representing successive occupations were found in the chamber on the SSW side of the entrance, and the earlier was associated with a number of cobbles set on end at the doorway. The entrance opens outwards onto the rocky scarp rising up some 3.5m above the bottom of the inner ditch, and lies roughly opposite the mouth of a passage aligned E and W through the medial rampart, but there may also have been access to the rest of the promontory around its NNE end, where the block stops well short of the cliff-edge, and the inner ditch likewise has not been cut all the way through the outcrops. The excavations recovered a range of pottery and midden from within the blockhouse, while two carved discs found in a 'Broch ...on the rocky point Scatness (Smith 1883, 296-7) are also considered to have come from here. Reassessment of the sherds found in 1935 tentatively assigns a date of 200 BC to AD 200 (Carter et al 1995, 447), though how these relate to the construction of the blockhouse is unknown.

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 18 May 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC4180

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