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Roundhouse (Prehistoric)

Site Name Fethaland

Classification Roundhouse (Prehistoric)

Alternative Name(s) Fedeland; Isle Of Fethaland

Canmore ID 876

Site Number HU39SE 1

NGR HU 3753 9429

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


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

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

Archaeology Notes

HU39SE 1 3753 9429.

(HU 3751 9432) A mound about 5' high, with the appearance of a ruined broch, was excavated under Abercromby's direction in June 1904, and found to be a chambered structure, standing only a few inches above the natural surface.

Finds included sherds of hand-made pottery containing much mica, are of the pieces showing a flat bottom.

J Abercromby 1905

Classing this site as a probable broch RCAHMS admit that 'most of Abercromby's constructional details clearly belong to structures of secondary character' but go on to state - 'Nowadays the larger part of what Abercromby saw has been destroyed, but it is possible still to trace the arc of the semi-circular wall shown on his plan in the interior of the structure at 'A' and 'B'. It might be claimed that this may possibly represent the foundation course of the inner face of a broch wall but in the absence of any definite masonry above, no more positive identification can be made'.

RCAHMS 1946, visited 1931

At HU 3752 9432, are the remains of a chambered structure, oval on plan, measuring overall approximately 20.0m E to W by 15.5m transversely. The walling appears to be c.3.0 m thick but only the inner face is evident on the N and E arc. A number of upright slabs and internal walls indicate the remains of cells or chambers and the site gives the appearance of a domestic dwelling. This is clearly not a broch, and is probably an Iron Age round-house of Calf of Eday type.

Surveyed at 6" scale.

Visited by OS (RL) 17 May 1969

Scheduled with HU39SE 19 as Fedeland, fishing station and prehistoric house.

Information from Historic Scotland, scheduling document dated 10 October 1994.


Publication Account (2002)

HU39 1 FETHALAND ('Easter Wick')


Possible broch in Northmavine. A structure exists there and was partially dug out and planned in 1904 [4]. It bears little resemblance to a broch except in what may be two curved, rectangular wall chambers which seem to lie on the circumference of a circle about 30 ft. in diameter, rather small for a broch [2, fig. 603]; the site has been extensively quarried. More of it had been destroyed by 1931 [2].

A list of the finds made in 1904 includes nothing specifically of broch type [4, 174].

Sources: OS card HU 36 NW 10: 2. RCAHMS 1946, vol. 3, no. 1355, 91 and fig. 603: 3. C. S. T. Calder in Discovery and Excavation, Scotland, 1956, 28: 4. Lord Abercromby in P.S.A.S., 39 (1904-5), 171.

E W MacKie 2002

The RCAHMS reference for this site is HU39SE 1.

Information from RCAHMS (LMcC) 17 July 2009

Field Visit (30 August 2015)

Found as described.

Visited by Scotland's Coastal Heritage at Risk (SCHARP) 30 August 2015

Field Visit

A well-defined sub-circular stone structure is partially covered with coarse vegetation. Overall, it measures 12m in diameter. The outer wall stands up to 1m high and is at least 2.2m, increasing at the entrance to form an elongated entrance passage. The passage is 7.5m long and is flanked by intermittent large orthostats. This leads to a dished central area, 5.5m in diameter. Intermittent stone settings indicate internal divisions and features. The site was partially excavated early this century (Abercromby, 1905); the site plan appears to show a collection of secondary structures built over a large round house. While undoubtedly much disturbed, it would appear that neither excavation or stone robbing have yet uncovered the primary deposits at this site. Its location, on a narrow isthmus, suggests that this structure played a strategic role, although it does not appear to have had outer defences. Its size and shape indicate that it is not a true broch, but may be a house of contemporary date which incorporates elements of broch architecture. The suggestion of an outer ditch is indicated on aerial photographs (RAF neg.4140, 541 (A)/390, 18.5.48).

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


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