The Iron Age Broch and 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 road was realigned to protect the site when it was identified as a broch by a local historian. Some twenty years later, excavations were initiated by Shetland Amenity Trust as part of an “Access to Heritage” project. From its inception, the aim was to excavate the site to the highest possible standard, while breaking down the perceived academic barriers of archaeology.
From the beginning, local volunteers were involved with the excavation, and took the opportunity to train alongside the students until the excavations came to an end.The site has since been open every year during the summer season, with costumed guides provided guided tours to visitors who can also spend time by the fire in the reconstructed buildings, or trying their hand at Iron Age and Viking crafts.
A new phase of development is in the pipeline for Old Scatness, which will focus on evolving the project, creating a year round, world class visitor attraction. Plans include roofing the site with a dome in order to safeguard the archaeology, inserting walkways to provide access to fragile areas, and maximising the potential for dramatic interpretation using state of the art media. Living History will be further refined and developed, with improved educational provision and strengthened links with the nearby sites of Jarlshof, Sumburgh Head and Mousa.