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Axehead(S) (Stone)(Prehistoric), Knife(S) (Stone)(Prehistoric), Vessel (Steatite)(Prehistoric)

Site Name Modesty

Classification Axehead(S) (Stone)(Prehistoric), Knife(S) (Stone)(Prehistoric), Vessel (Steatite)(Prehistoric)

Canmore ID 356

Site Number HU25NE 21

NGR HU 2652 5708

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number AC0000807262. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

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

Archaeology Notes

HU25NE 21 2652 5708

See also HU25NE 30.

Excavation of a grassy knoll, prior to the foundation of a garden on the site, in front of the house at Modesty, led to the discovery of polished stone axes, stone knives, and fragments of vessels of steatite. The knoll measured about 20 yds by 10, and sloped gently to E and W but abruptly on the S. At the beginning of the 19th century a bank of peat, 4ft thick, had been removed from the site during preparations for the building of the house. The remains of other mounds lie about 20 yds W of the house. The finds are in the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland (NMAS).

G Kinghorn 1895.

A broken stone axe and an axe-like whetstone, the latter measuring 7 1/4 by 2 1/2 by 1 3/8 ins, both from Modesty, were donated to the NMAS in 1911 by R C Haldane, Lochend, Lerwick.

Proc Soc Antiq Scot 1911.

The mound in which the finds were made cannot now be identified.

RACHMS 1946.

The natural knoll described above, now partly within the garden to the SE of Modesty, is situated at HU 2651 5708. All other mounds in the vicinity are also natural.

Visited by OS (N K B), 13 June 1968

(HU 2651 5708) Neolithic Pottery, Axes, etc found (NAT)

OS 1:10000, 1978


Note (1946)

Mounds, Modesty.

About the year 1894 some discoveries were made in a mound near Modesty. The mound, which cannot now be identified, is described as having been about 20 yds. long and 10 yds. broad, sloping gently on the E. and W. but abruptly deposit of 4 ft. of peat had at one time been removed from its surface. As they proceeded downwards, they noted the following strata: (I) grass, turf, .and sandy peat, about 8 in.; (2) yellow peat ashes, about 5 or 6 in.; (3) decomposed charred wood, about 4 or 5 in.; (4) subsoil, red gravel, and rock. The third or charred-wood layer yielded nine stone axes, fourteen oval-shaped Shetland knives of stone, fragments of three vessels of steatitic clay, and other relics. As regards these, the late Dr. Robert Munro remarked: ‘The urns would seem to presuppose burial, but not necessarily, as the vessels might have been used for domestic purposes’. Hence he thought it probable ‘that the green knoll was the site of a wooden habitation which had been destroyed by fire’, and he dated the remains ‘back to the Stone Age, whatever the chronological horizon of that period may be in these northern latitudes’ (1). The objects found are now in the National Museum.

About 20 yds. to the W. of the house are the remains of other mounds, the stones from which have been used for building the house and fences (2).


(1) P.S.A.S., xl (1905-6), pp. 158 and 160.

(2) Ibid., xxix (1894-5), p. 49.


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