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Fair Isle, Burrista

Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Site Name Fair Isle, Burrista

Classification Promontory Fort (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Site 237

Canmore ID 3774

Site Number HZ27SW 11

NGR HZ 20186 72721

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/3774

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

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

Archaeology Notes

HZ27SW 11 2026 7263.

At HZ 2027 7261 exploratory excavation, by a visitor to Fair Isle bird observatory, has revealed slight traces of apparent walling across the neck of the promontory of Burrista, reached by a dangerous knife-edged ridge. The "stonework" exposed appears to be similar to natural rock formations nearby, and nothing is visible on the promontory itself, so until further excavation reveals something more definite a firm decision cannot be made about the site.

A scatter of shells which could be mistaken for a shell midden appears to have been dropped over the years by birds.

Visited by OS(AA) 2 June 1968.

Activities

Field Visit (2 June 1968)

At HZ 2027 7261 exploratory excavation, by a visitor to Fair Isle bird observatory, has revealed slight traces of apparent walling across the neck of the promontory of Burrista, reached by a dangerous knife-edged ridge. The "stonework" exposed appears to be similar to natural rock formations nearby, and nothing is visible on the promontory itself, so until further excavation reveals something more definite a firm decision cannot be made about the site.

A scatter of shells which could be mistaken for a shell midden appears to have been dropped over the years by birds.

Visited by OS(AA) 2 June 1968.

Field Visit (1985)

Possible promontory fort or stack settlement located on peninsular. Access gained by naorrow precipitious track over natural arch (reference point). No detailed survey possible this year but observations made of low earthworks on level area c. 30 x 20 m.

Site 356.

Hunter, JR 1985

Note (1 April 2016 - 31 August 2016)

Burrista is a spectacular promontory on the W coast of Fair Isle, where a visitor reported to the OS that he had uncovered traces of a wall barring access across a razor-backed neck that links it to the adjoining cliffs across a natural sea arch at the SE end. A subsequent visit by the OS suggested that the wall was no more than natural outcrop, but while John Hunter could find no evidence of defences across the neck, he recorded traces of at least three structures on the irregular summit area, which on satellite imagery appears to measure about 40m from NE to SW by 30m transversely (0.09ha), though the promontory itself extends another 200m into the sea on the NW, with an accessible area of 0.65ha. The remote and precipitous character of the promontory led Hunter to speculate that it was possibly a monastic site, and that erosion may have removed any trace of an enclosing work at the SE end (1996, 93).

Information from An Atlas of Hillforts of Great Britain and Ireland – 31 August 2016. Atlas of Hillforts SC4259

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