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World Heritage Status

“Mousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof: the Zenith of Iron Age Shetland”

Mousa Broch - potential World Heritage Site. Image by Didier Piquer Mousa Broch - potential World Heritage Site. Image by Didier PiquerZoomMousa, Old Scatness and Jarlshof were accepted onto the UK Tentative List for World Heritage Status in 2011 and this list has now been adopted.  The next stage is to submit a Technical Evaluation, followed by a full application.  Shetland Amenity Trust expect to submit the Technical Evaluation to the next UK round-up, however there is no date set for this yet.  There is a maximum period of 10 years in which the application can proceed.

To be successful, the application has to demonstrate that these sites each have “Outstanding Universal Value”.  The text below is taken from our application to the UK list. Being on the UK list indicates that DCMS believe that these sites “have the potential to demonstrate “Outstanding Universal Value”

Brochs, 2000 year old drystone towers, are the crowning achievement of prehistoric people in Northern Europe.  At 13metres, Mousa is the best surviving example. Old Scatness, a Broch and Iron Age Village, (up to 4m high, with c.1400metres sq uncovered) was excavated with cutting edge techniques.  Possibly the most accurately dated site in Europe, it demonstrates how broch society developed and flourished.


Old Scatness Broch & Iron Age Village Old Scatness Broch & Iron Age VillageZoomBrochs are the crowning achievement of prehistoric people living in Northern Europe.  Dating from around 400-200BC they represent complex engineering architectural solutions to creating multi storied towers up to 13m high, within a treeless landscape.  Mousa is the most complete extant example in the world.  The Broch and Village at Old Scatness is unique, demonstrating how the broch style developed into the construction of huge single skinned roundhouses and how values changed architecturally and culturally as the village became Pictish.  The excavation used cutting edge scientific techniques, overturning current theories, for example, the date and origin of brochs.


Jarlshof site. Image by Didier Piquer Jarlshof site. Image by Didier PiquerZoomJarlshof is internationally renowned for encapsulating 4000 years of settlement, including the transition from Iron Age/Pictish to Viking, transforming the culture and lifestyle: a cultural upheaval which strongly influences life today. Jarlshof (171m x 81m max, over 2m high) is internationally renowned for its well preserved, multi-period, remains spanning 4,000 years of human achievement, and encapsulate the transition from this complex Iron Age society into an exceptional Viking Village. The sites are a tribute to the capacity of humans to adapt and live in a harsh, windswept, environment.