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Whalsay, Suther Ness

Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Site Name Whalsay, Suther Ness

Classification Settlement (Period Unassigned)

Alternative Name(s) The Cumble; South Voe Of Brough

Canmore ID 1311

Site Number HU56NE 7

NGR HU 5517 6538

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

HU56NE 7 5517 6538

HU 551 654, A Neolithic house. 'The Cumble', lies just beyond the neck of Sutherness near the north shore of the South Voe of Brough. Much peat-ash is observable in the structure and rude stone-implements are plentiful on the site. Dish-querns, evidently taken from the building, are built into a dyke nearby.

C S T Calder 1963

At HU 5515 6536, 'The Cumble', the partial remains of a small kite-shaped enclosure, approximately 24.0m long by perhaps 12.0m wide formed by a turf-covered stony bank, about 0.6m maximum height and about 2.0m

average width. The 'house' referred to by Calder may have been inside the N end where a few stones protrude from the turf, but the remains are very indeterminate. Possibly a homestead.

Surveyed at 1/2500.

Visited by OS (RL), 29 May 1968

A Neolithic/Bronze Age house much mutilated, has a concrete chicken loop set into its E side. It remains as a hollow surrounded by a bank.

Information from P Ashmore IAM (Historic Scotland) 20 December 1973.


Field Visit (23 May 2015)

As described though does not appear to have been truncated by erosion. The wall on the seaward side of the structure runs parallel to the coast less than a metre behind the coast edge, which is vegetated and stable here. Further to the south small patches of erosion of the coast edge caused by animal burrowing contain deep cultivation soil. The chicken coop noted in the original survey does not appear to have truncated the structure but sits to the north.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 23 May 2015

Field Visit

Previously interpreted as a Neolithic/Bronze Age house, this site has since been damaged by the insertion of a chicken coop and by coastal erosion. Dish querns, stone implements and peat ash deposits have been noted in the vicinity (Calder, 1958, 370, no. 29) The remains currently visible appear more likely to be a Viking/Norse or Medieval longhouse. A sub-rectangular structure is aligned NW-SE along the slope, at 90o to the coast. It measures 7m in width by at least 16m in length; the seaward end has been truncated by coastal erosion. It is internally divided by a cross-wall. The grass-covered footings stand to 1m high and at least1m wide. At the NW end, where the remains are better preserved, the wall comprises a double face of stone with an earthen core. A large edge-set or orthostatic stone protruding through the grass to the W side of the building may mark the entrance. Further investigation will be required to confirm the nature and condition of the remains.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP)


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