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Underhoull Excavation

Underhoull Excavation

Underhoull Excavation Underhoull Excavation Zoom

The Upper Underhoull longhouse is situated close to the modern road, to the south of the well-preserved broch. Lower Underhoull, a second longhouse, situated closer to the sea, in the field below, was excavated in the 1950s by Alan Small.

Excavation of the Upper Underhoull longhouse revealed some exciting information.  The site appeared to have been occupied for a long period of time, and modified, with outhouses, annexes and drains added during different phases of its development.  There was a double faced stone wall on the southern, long-wall of the house, which faced the sea, and would have been built to impress. The 'back wall' was turf built on the northern side, and would have provided good insulation.

Excavation by Bradford University students in progress Excavation by Bradford University students in progress Zoom

Remains indicate that there was a wooden sprung floor, suspended over a shallow depression to keep the floor dry, as the area was probably extremely wet at the time.  There was a central fire and ash fell through the gaps between the boards, surviving on the bedrock below.  It is possible that animals were kept in the lower end of the longhouse.

Items found in the upper surface of the structure suggest that they may have fallen from a shelf or mezzanine level when the roof collapsed.  There were some beautifully made soapstone items found in addition to steatite carved line sinkers, pottery vessel fragments, spindle whorls, loom weights and whetstones (sharpening stones).  It is hoped that the items found will eventually be displayed in the Shetland Museum and Archives.

Artefacts found at Underhoull Artefacts found at Underhoull Zoom

Read more about the Underhoull Trail.