Category: archaeology

If you are ready to listen to me blether on about Scottish history for 10 minutes straight, go ahead and click the video. 

Scalloway Castle, Shetland

Scalloway Castle was built for Patrick Stewart, 2nd Earl of Orkney and Shetland (as was the Laird’s House in Jarlshof) between 1599 and 1600. He spend a lot of money for new residences on Orkney (e.g. The Earl’s Palace in Kirkwall) and Shetland once he became Earl, despite being heavily indebted. And so Scalloway Castle reflects the best building techniques of the time, offering a compromise between security and comfort. The windows had (and still have) glass and shutters, guest rooms had their own fire places and latrine cupboards, the big hall had beautiful tapestries, with everything spread across four floors. The central court of Shetland would meet here for trials and prisoners awaiting trial would be kept in a part of the castle.

Patrick Stewart upheld local law, but often quarrelled with big landowners, making demands of tax and labour on them, flying into a rage when he wouldn’t get his way. Once the Bishop of Orkney was re-instated by James VI, Patrick lost a lot of income and would ransack properties of the richest men of Shetland to cover his debts. Eventually, so many complaints had piled up against him that he was arrested and after instigating his son Robert to regain his properties by force, both men were executed for treason in 1615. 

By 1701 the roof shingles had fallen off, leaving the timber inside to decay, slowly turning the castle into a ruin. Scalloway remained the capital of Shetland for a while longer, but lost its status as centre of administration and commerce to Lerwick by the 19th Century.

Shetland Day 3 – A history lesson on my YouTube channel.

This is my favorite one so far! Still on the 2nd Day: A tour around Jarlshof, Shetland, and visting St Ninian’s Isle. Enjoy!

Photos of Jarlshof are here.

Jarlshof, Shetland

This site is quite special due to the
fact that it has been occupied for over 4000 years and still retains
remnants and features from each period, starting with the Early Bronze
Age, 2500 BC. There is an Iron Age broch, part of which has been washed
away by the sea. There are wheelhouses, which are unique to the Northern
and Western Isles of Scotland. Inside, wooden beams have been replaced
with stone due to the lack of timber on Shetland, which gives them their
unique character. There are Viking farm houses from the 9th Century
well into the Middle Ages, when settlers from Norway would come in large
numbers to Shetland. And then there’s the ‘Laird’s House’, dating from
the 17th Century, built by the Earl of Shetland and Orkney, after
Shetland had fallen into Scottish hands. Interestingly, just as with
Skara Brae on Orkney, the site was discovered by the land owner after a
heavy storm, who then excavated it. Today, it is maintained by Historic
Environment Scotland. The name Jarlshof itself comes from the novel ‘The Pirate’ (1822) by Sir Walter Scott, who wrote it after visiting the ruins, which were then known as ‘Sumburgh House’. A must see if you’re visiting Shetland!

A tour of Jarlshof is up on my channel!

Shetland Day 2! A tour of the Broch of Mousa and the island around it is on my YouTube channel. 😀

Broch of Mousa, Shetland

This is an Iron Age style broch, which was built round about 100 BC and it the tallest of all brochs, as it still preserves its full structure, save the (likely thatched) roof. In fact, it is one of the best-preserved prehistoric buildings of Europe. It is situated on the Island of Mousa, which is now uninhabited, and it can only be reached by boat, which operates between April and September. Storm petrels, European shags and seals can be seen on the island, as well as, a beautiful rugged coastline.   

You can see more of the island here.

A tour of Mousa Broch on my Youtube channel. 

Island of Mousa, Shetland

This is a small uninhabited island, which mainly serves as a nature reserve. There you can also find the Broch of Mousa, which is preserved almost in its entirety. The Mousa Boat takes you across for a few hours from April to September, before the stormy winter season begins. We were able to watch birds and seals from the distance and enjoyed the circular walk along the beautiful cliffs before the boat took us back to the mainland of Shetland. 

Here you can see Mousa Broch up close.

My Youtube video about the trip to the Island of Mousa.

First Day of my Shetland adventure! I’m planning a series with these, one video per full day on Shetland. It’s once again lo-fi, but it has Shetland ponies! 😀 

I wanted to vlog, but since it was three of us, it wasn’t possible, so I decided to do a voice-over instead. I will try to improve the sound quality for the next videos, but until then I hope you enjoy this one. 🙂

Clickimin Broch, near Lerwick, Shetland

This is a well-preserved Iron Age style broch from roughly the 1st Century AD. The site was occupied since the Late Bronze Age and originally the peninsular would have been a small island, accessible by a stone causeway. The broch was probably quite impenetrable at the time. It has been restored and is maintained by Historic Scotland, but free to visit. It is quite well preserved for being right next to Shetlands biggest town. 

I have filmed around and inside the broch for my Youtube Channel. 

Bastei, Saxon Switzerland, Germany | Basteibrücke, Sächsische Schweiz

This is probably the most famous rock-formation and main tourist attraction in the Saxon Switzerland National Park. In 1851 this stone bridge was build to replace the previous wooden one from 1824, however, there has been human activity here long before that. The bridge leads to Neurathen Castle, the largest rock castle known in the region. It was first mentioned in documents in 1289 but fell into disuse after the medieval period. Now,

the wooden constructions have disappeared and only some of the carved rooms and passages remain, including the cistern. This rock-formation has a great view over the river Elbe, which flows on the plains below and gives the region its name, ‘Elbe Sandstone Mountains’.