Place-name of the week – Landing places, docks and harbours
The Lodberrie has become an internationally recognised landmark since featuring as Jimmy Perez’s home in the TV drama ‘Shetland’. This place-name comes from hlaðberg, one of two Old Norse words describing flat rocks or natural piers on the shoreline, alongside which boats lay for loading and unloading goods. Lerwick’s entire shoreline was once covered in a series of piers and lodberries. A lodberrie was a house, store and courtyard built into the sea, with a door in the sturdy sea wall through which goods could be moved. In 1814 there were 21 along the shorefront, most reflecting the owner’s name, and many became associated with smuggling. There is also a Ledberri in Delting, somewhere opposite Muckle Roe.
The other term hlaðhamarr gives Lamar, Lahamar or Lehamar names; there are examples in Haroldswick, Brindister Voe, Burra, Vidlin, Whalsay, Fladdabister, and Voe and Quendale in Dunrossness. Other names include Lamarsgeo in Fetlar and Lamar Banks, Papa Stour. As well as a natural landing place, the latter is interesting geologically; the rocks are lake–bed sediments brought north to Shetland by movement along the Melby fault and parts of fossil fish have been found preserved in the exposed rocks both here and at Melby in Sandness. Another term for a landing place is stöð and like the above terms, is common elsewhere in Scandinavia. There is Stoad in Gruting, Fetlar and Gungstie names (from gangr: a walk) in Noss, Levenwick and Bigton
Skipidocks, Skipadocks or Skibadocks were small docks where ships or boats could also be drawn up to be repaired. The name probably comes from skibb: to scrape a ship’s bottom. Each place is very similar in shape – Mavis Grind, Brae, South Nesting, Trondra and Lerwick. At Mavis Grind, the house also takes the name. In Lerwick the dock was a busy place at the height of the herring fisheries; today the nearby café carries the same name. Ham and Hamna place-names, from höfn, denote a haven or harbour; there are Hams in Unst, Fetlar, Muckle Roe, Foula, Burra, Bressay, Mousa and Havra, as well as Hamister in Whalsay and Hamnavoe in Yell, Eshaness, Papa Stour and Burra.
Three of the mentioned names – Gungstie, Skipidock and Lamar Banks - feature on recycled glass pavers outside the Shetland Museum and Archives. If you know further lodberrie, lamar, stoad or ham place names, or can help locate any of those listed, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Eileen Brooke-Freeman, Place Names Expert
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