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Tentative Site: Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland

The Iron Age in Northern Europe was a time of dramatic cultural and architectural changes. Iron Age Shetland was a largely treeless, harsh, marginal, landscape within the North Atlantic, and its inhabitants had to build in stone.

UK Tentative List

Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland

Brochs, double-walled dry-stone towers standing up to 13 metres high, the succeeding single-skinned, one and half storied, roundhouses with diameters of up to 13 metres high and the later wheelhouses, demonstrate adaptation, continuity and change over a period of 1,000 years. During this period, the economy thrived despite the environmental challenges faced by the inhabitants.

The sequence of change and development, visible in the architecture, with a commitment to staying in the same place and adapting to the environment as it slowly changed, is strongly represented at three distinctive sites, located at the south end of Shetland.  Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof, strongly representative in terms of their original construction and exceptional in surviving the ravages of time, provide some of the most significant examples of the European Iron Age in an area outside the Roman Empire.

Official website

Did you know..?

The Iron Age Broch and Iron Age Village at Old Scatness was an undisturbed, pristine time capsule when first discovered in 1975, as the result of a road being put through what was thought to be a natural mound.

The island of Mousa has been uninhabited since the 19th century and is best known for the Broch of Mousa, an Iron Age round tower which is the tallest still standing in the world and amongst the best-preserved prehistoric buildings in Europe. – https://en.wikipedia.org/

Old Scatness (59.8791°N 1.3057°W) is an archeological site in the south of the Shetland Mainland, near Sumburgh Airport consisting of mediaeval, Viking, Pictish, and Bronze and Iron Age remains.


Location: Shetland Isles, Scotland

Country: United Kingdom

Year of Inscription:

UNESCO Criteria: (iii) (iv)

Contact information:

For more information about Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland, visit the website or contact visitor information on +44 (0) 1595 694 688

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