A History of the Shetland Islands Part 1: Prehistoric Mesolithic and Neolithic Shetland.

Posted on June 11, 2015 By

These ancient isles upon which we Shetland dwellers dwell,

Where the sun can bring you heaven and the wind can bring you hell,

Where the winter runs long and the furred cows do yell,

Where we await boats from the mainland with their withered wares to sell.

Here we sit and suffer, sit in joy, sit with friends,

Huddle round the fire till the bitter winter ends,

Sit and watch the wind as it curls around the fens,

Try and spot the otters in their hidden otter dens,

This is the life that the Viking and the ancient man chooses,

This is the life that the city dweller and the modern man looses,

This is the life that you can have if you can get through this,

This is the dream that you can live with Shetland Nature Cruises.

‘Ancient isles’ By Local Poet Paddy McPaddy McGee


Prehistoric Shetland.


Shetland is rich in prehistoric archeological sights. It is considered by many to be one of the most amazing locations in the world for digging up history as the feirce weather of the area meant that structures had to be built from firm rock and built to last. Which they have. This practice, of building such structures, dates back at the very least to the early Neolithic period which is quite a long time if you go by standards like, oh I don’t know, the history of the human race. There are over 5,000 archaeological sights on the Shetland Islands, not a bad rate for a small place!


Mesolithic and Neolithic Periods.


Over on the south coast of the Shetland Mainland there is the fabulous Midden sight, just a hop, skip and a jump away from West Voe. This amazing sight is dated to around 4320-4030 BC, and has been used to verify some of the earliest Mesolithic existence of human communities on the Shetland Islands. Also at this sight evidence has been found for very early Neolithic human influence at the great Scord of Brouster near to the small town of Walls. The sights here have been dated back to 3400 BC. Thats pretty Old! This sight has the great accolade of being the sight of the oldest hoe-blades found in all of Scotland! Take that Aberdeen! You can also visit the world famous Funzie Girt, a mind blowing dividing wall that at one point ran for the entire 2.5 mile diameter of the Island of Fetlar. If you visit it, remember the old Shetland folk Limerick:


Have you seen the Funzie Girt?

The south end is covered in dirt,

They say it was made,

By the lone Fetlar maid,

To keep lads from under her skirt.




There so much more!


There are a lot of amazing sights of prehistoric interest around all of the Shetland islands, which we have only been able to touch on here. So keep you eyes peeled for our next edition, as we take you on a ‘cruise’ through the history of our beautiful Shetland Islands!