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Loch Of Brindister

Dun (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Loch Of Brindister

Classification Dun (Period Unassigned)

Canmore ID 1002

Site Number HU43NW 9

NGR HU 4326 3701

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Shetland Islands
  • Parish Lerwick
  • Former Region Shetland Islands Area
  • Former District Shetland
  • Former County Shetland

Archaeology Notes

HU43NW 9 4326 3701.

(HU 4352 3703) Brough (OE)

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

A confused mass of ruins occupies the whole of an island. Partial excavation by Goudie in 1888,(G Goudie 1889), revealed a structure 50ft N to S by 51ft E to W overall, with a wall about 8ft thick and 5ft high,and probably not more than 12ft high at any time. Despite the relative thinness of the wall and the apparent absence of any mural chambers, etc., both the RCAHM (who did not visit the site) and Goudie regarded it as a broch. On the north side is an entrance 3' 9" to 4' wide, but there is no sign of a causeway connecting the island with the shore.

RCAHMS 1946.

Not a broch, but the massive dry-stone wall of a dun occupying the whole of an islet in the Loch of Brindister. The crudely-built wall is best seen at the NNE entrance, excavated by Goudie, where it is at its widest, 2.5m thick and 0.9m high. It narrows rapidly away from the entrance and where the inner wall face can be distinguished on the SW side, it is only 1.5m thick. Elsewhere only the outer wall face is occasionally visible through the tumble. There are no cells or passages within the walls, and no internal structures are apparent. Soundings around the islet failed to reveal a causeway.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (NKB) 21 June 1968.


Publication Account (2002)



The most recent description from personal observation of this probable broch, situated on an islet in the loch of that name near Lerwick, is that of Goudie in 1888, who undertook some excavation there [3]. There is no sign now of a causeway to the land. Goudie exposed the outer wall face, the entrance passage and part of the inner face and according to him the walls were found to be standing only 5 ft. high; the overall diameter was 50 ft. from north - south and 51 ft. from east - west. The average wall thickness was 8 ft. and the width of the entrance from 3 ft. 9 ins. to 4 ft.. If these measurements are correct the walls are exceptionally thin for a broch -- the wall proportion being about 31.7% -- but, as Goudie notes, it may be that the special situation of the structure made high walls unnecessary. No evidence for intra-mural features was observed.

Sources: 1. OS card HU 43 NW 9: 2. RCAHMS 1946, vol. 3, no. 1248, 72: 3. Goudie 1889, 246-9.

E W MacKie 2002

Field Visit (September 2016)

HU 4326 3701 (HU43NW 9) The Shetland Islets survey, carried out in September 2016, intended to examine a range of islet sites including two brochs, a dun and a castle in Shetland. The aim was to gather survey data concerning the nature of the submerged portions of the islets to enable comparison to mainland Scottish crannogs.

The Loch of Brindister Dun is located on a small islet in the centre of the Loch of Brindister, 4km S of Lerwick. The islet measures 24 x 20m. The dun sits centrally on the islet, and is c16m in diameter. The survey, on 19 September 2016, located the probable location of the 19th-century excavation that focused on the interior and entrance way to the dun. Exposed outer walling is only apparent on the N side of the dun, where it survives to a maximum of 1.2m. There appeared to be some rebuilding of the exterior dun wall immediately E of the entrance way. A modern marker cairn has been built in the centre of the dun.

Below water, the extent of the rocky islet is 36 x 36m before giving way to soft loch sediments. The islet is composed of 0.2–0.5m diameter angular boulders with smaller angular cobbles and gravel in the voids between. These sit on and adjacent to outcrops of bedrock. It is unclear the extent to which this material is tumble from the dun above, deliberate deposition of material to form the islet or natural deposits.

Archive: Shetland Amenity Trust (intended)

Funder: Shetland Amenity Trust

Michael J Stratigos – University of Aberdeen

(Source: DES, Volume 18)


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