Earliest History

Upper Scalloway, where over 2000 years of settlement have been traced through archaeological excavations

The ridge that runs through the centre of the valley in which Scalloway is situated was been found to be the location of human occupation of the area reaching right back into the Bronze age.

During the construction of new houses in 1989 in the area known as Upper Scalloway a graveyard was discovered and subsequently a broch and evidence of a long period habitation in the area surrounding it.  The site was excavated by arcaeologists from Cardiff University and what was revealed was cross-section of life extending more than two millenia.

The clearest evidence of early occupation was in the creation of the broch, though it was found that an earlier Bronze Age cremation burial took place at the site. The broch itself is though to have been occupied for at least 600 years, with a small settlement forming around it as the community changed over time. The evidence found during the excavation suggests that this was an agricultural settlement in one of the most fertile areas of Shetland. A major fire caused a change in the form of the settlement. Around seven houses were built around the burned out broch. The community living here are though t to have been entirely self sufficient, but there is also signs of metal working using copper, iron, silver and maybe even gold. The community continued up until the eight century AD.  As one of the amazing aspects revealled by this nationally significant excavation is evidence from the items found here that the community had contact with the rest of Britain as part of an agricultural economy, including Anglo-Saxon areas of southern England, long before the Vikings arrived in the area.

Information above extracted from Niall Sharples publication “Scalloway – A Broch, Late Iron Age Settlement and Medieval Cemetery in Shetland”

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