Old Scatness - History and Facts | History Hit

Old Scatness

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC / Van de Beek

About Old Scatness

Located at the south end of Shetland’s Mainland, Old Scatness is an Iron Broch and Village, although aspects of the site demonstrate that it was occupied for two millennia. It contains medieval, Viking, Pictish, and Iron Age remains.

History of Old Scatness

The site was discovered during construction work for airport improvements in the late 1970s. Excavation began 20 years later, and revealed an Iron Age broch, surviving to nearly 4m in height, and a substantial post-broch village built around it.

A Pictish carving of a bear was discovered on the floor of one of the wheelhouses. Other finds include a Pictish boar, an arch and V rod, and a number of painted pebbles.

The later Iron Age buildings have unearthed Viking-period artefacts which suggests that the Norse reused of the buildings. The site was also used in post-medieval times with a 17th-century barn and corn-drier having been discovered. On the north side of the site was a crofthouse constructed during the mid-19th-century.

Old Scatness Today

The site is managed by the Shetland Amenity Trust. In the summer, costumed guides provide tours of the site and the replica Iron Age and Pictish buildings. The visitor centre also includes exhibits, and there are demonstrations of ancient crafts.

Getting to Old Scatness

From the centre of the village of Sumburgh, Old Scatness is a 5 minute drive or 25 minute walk via the A970 road. There’s also an airport nearby.

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