Font Size

100% 150% 200%

Background Colour

Default Contrast
Close Reset

We are now accepting Search Room bookings. Click here for further information.

Archaeology Notes

Event ID 843380

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Archaeology Notes


HU30NE 1.00 centred 39819 09551

HU30NE 1.01 HU 398 095 Stone Discs

HU30NE 1.02 HU 39820 09531 Old House of Sumburgh

HU 398 095 Jarlshof (NR)

(In Ruins) Burial Ground (Bruce family) (NAT)

OS 6" map, Shetland, 2nd ed., (1903).

Fully described in Official Guide.

Jarlshof, Shetland Official Guide 1953.

Jarlshof as described in the Official Guide.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS(AA) 18 May 1968.

Crutch-headed pin of type attributed to the Viking period.

L R Laing 1973.

Donations to RMS.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1971; 1979; 1981.

Donations to the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

NMAS 1977.

HU 397 095 In connection with the extension of the sea wall at Jarlshof to the W of the site, archaeologists from AOC (Scotland) Ltd cleaned and recorded the eroded parts of the cliff-section. To the S of Jarlshof, W of the present sea wall, the eroded section consisted of beach shingle overlain by a 2m-thick layer of spoil heap deposits from earlier excavations. One area contained a concentration of coarse pottery and fragments of steatite vessels, probably dumped by the excavator. To the W of the site, the eroded section consisted of windblown sands, in places overlain by spoil heap deposits. One stone structure was discovered in this area, embedded in windblown sand and covered by spoil heap deposits. The structure is badly eroded and consequently difficult to interpret; it may represent the remains of a building with a flagged floor.

M Dalland 1993.

(Clay mould for socketed axe of Meldreth type). Settlement find from the third and last occupation layer of house III. Mould of clay, broken, one half only, for a Meldreth axe without collar, much of lower part missing; overall length of fragment 87mm, possible length of axe 105mm. From the same layer have come a rib-tanged knife, fragments of clay moulds for at least eight socketed axes, seven swords, a socketed axe and a sunflower pin.

P K Schmidt and C B Burgess 1981.

HU 3980 0950 A watching brief was carried out by A Fox for Shetland Amenity Trust between November 1993 and February 1994 during construction work on new sea defences. The two features in the section were fully protected and work was stopped whenever the Guardianship site was threatened by cement dust. Oil, thought to be from the Braer incident, was located just above bedrock.

A full photographic record has been deposited at the NMRS.

V Turner 1994.

HU 398 095 Archaeological supervision was provided during a small excavation to lay founds for a storm porch which was to be added to the visitor centre. Nothing of archaeological significance was recorded.

Sponsor: Historic Scotland

D Murray 1998.

An 8 week excavation took place in the summer of 1998. It intended to investigate the broch and surrounding settlement. The main North-South section of the broch was excavated. During the dig, over 2000 small artefacts were found. The largest group was pottery (including both prehistoric and post-medieval) to which 1684 small finds were allocated. See the detailed analysis and interpretation, see in MS 1941.

The archive from the Jarlshof 1993 archaeological assessment in advance of coastal protection works has been catalogued. The archive consists of geophysical survey and site reports, finds cards, photographic archive and section drawings of each segment investigated.

Historic Scotland Archive Project (SW) 2002

HU 398 095 Excavation in the NE zone of the Guardianship area of Jarlshof took place in July 2004. The extreme NE corner had been excavated by Richardson and Childe in 1937 and revealed the earliest occupational evidence and a sequence of midden and sand deposition spanning this early activity to the medieval period. The aim of the 2004 research excavation was to provide a fuller understanding for the site's development within this zone, enabling the cultural deposits and intervening sand blow events to be fully investigated. The research programme was designed to establish an economic and environmental reconstruction for the sequence observed by Childe, including the geoarchaeological investigation of the sand deposits within a detailed scientific chronology based on the integrated use of AMS radiocarbon dating and OSL. These sequences were examined in three areas.

Trench 1 was located on the first terrace, NW of the displayed remains representing the features within Childe's early sequences. The stratigraphic sequence revealed in Trench 1 can be

summarised as: topsoil, a grey sand, midden (equating to Childe's Midden II), and a white windblown calcareous sand which separated this upper midden from a more extensive lower midden (equating to Childe's Midden III). Both midden deposits contained artefacts and bone and showed clear signs of ard cultivation. Below this, a series of mineral sand deposits and buried turf lines sealed a black humic silt which covered bedrock. This silt seems to be the same as that sealed by mineral sand and Mesolithic midden at nearby West Voe (this volume, 118).

Trench 2 was located on the second terrace in order to provide a link between the prehistoric middens in Trench 1 and the Norse midden and possible Iron Age soils identified by Childe as overlying the deposits in the NE corner of the site. Trench 2 was also excavated to natural, revealing in the lower part substantially the same stratigraphic sequence as that observed in Trench 1, except that here, the humic silt above the bedrock also contained the remains of oyster shells and some charcoal. The upper stratigraphy showed clear evidence of a partly disturbed Norse midden containing steatite and other artefacts. Topsoil stripping in the 1930s prior to further excavation seems responsible for the disturbance. A total lack of mammal and fish bone within these Norse levels and a degree of bioturbation of the upper deposits is interpreted as being associated with degradation caused by this stripping and the subsequent landscaping of this zone.

A third intervention (Trench 3) on a small triangle of material that had survived this stripping revealed uncontaminated Norse midden with excellent bone survival. Excavation here allowed sampling of undisturbed Norse and Viking deposits that can be stratigraphically linked to the sequence in Trench 2.

Sponsors: HS, British Academy, Shetland Amenity Trust, University of Bradford.

S J Dockrill, J M Bond and C E Batey 2004.

People and Organisations