September 2010 Visit Shetland Newsletter
Welcome to the Visit.Shetland.org newsletter for September 2010, which we hope will inspire you to come up and visit us.
Purple heather covers the Shetland hills at this time of year and there's no better season to experience a long, or short walk if preferred, to the Stanes of Stofast. On the way you will come across lochs and streams, valleys and crags, planticrubs (plant shelters) and prehistoric sites. Look out for otters playing along sheltered shores and climb to the Hill of State and view the islands of Orfasay, Samphrey, Fish Holm and Linga. Approach the dramatic 2,000 tonne glacial erratic boulder, split in two by frost, known as the Stanes of Stofast. Watch the sun dip and the sea turn cobalt grey and the rocky profiles rising magnificently in a wild and stunning landscape.
Shetland's economy, at the turn of the 18th and 19th century, was mainly based on fishing. The Böd of Gremista, built in 1780, and located in Lerwick, was the birthplace of Arthur Anderson, co-founder of the P&O shipping company. The building is an example of a typical late eighteenth-century böd (booth), which provided family accommodation as well as a working store for the nearby fish-drying beach. The böd is also a temporary home for the Textile Museum. Items on show demonstrate Shetland's traditional heritage through knitted garments and accessories. Members of the Shetland Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers demonstrate, on specific days, the traditional spinning and knitting techniques involved in producing the world famous Shetland textiles. The böd is open from May – September and admission is free. Find out more on the Shetland Heritage Association website.
Whilst in Lerwick, why not visit the Town Hall? A 19th century Gothic Baronial building, designed by Alexander Ross and standing proud on the ridge of Hillhead. Funds, from the rising prosperity of the herring industry, from 1880 onwards, built the Hall. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and second son of Queen Victoria, laid the foundation stone in 1882. An impressive build inside and out; used for social and cultural events and the seat of local government. Striking stained glass windows reflect Shetland's history; in particular its Scandinavian links. This unique building dominates the landscape; combining beauty and functionality and conveying powerful images of Shetland's heritage and Lerwick's civic pride. Admission is free and the Town Hall is open throughout the year. A guide is available to purchase on-site.
To the far north we go and the island of Unst and Muness Castle. The castle was built in 1598 for the reviled Lawrence Bruce. Lawrence was appointed Foud of Shetland in 1573. He collected taxes for the notorious Robert Stewart, his equally reviled half brother and illegitimate son of King James V. Bruce abused his position and was eventually tried by the Privy Council. He was found guilty and asked to leave Shetland. However, he soon returned and commenced building Muness. Bruce was said to have exquisite taste. The castle remains are impressive and situated in a beautiful location, within close proximity to many more sites of interest.
One of Shetland's top visitor attractions is Jarlshof. A prehistoric and Norse settlement discovered at the end of the 19th century, after violent storms uncovered an extraordinary settlement embracing 4,000 years of human history. Excavations revealed Bronze Age, Iron Age, Pictish and Viking settlements. A 16th century laird's house was also discovered. This house, built by the tyrant Earl Patrick, son of Earl Robert Stewart, dominates the area. The name Jarlshof (earl's house) was bestowed on the site by Sir Walter Scott, in his novel The Pirate. Jarlshof is open from May – September and an audio guide is available on-site.
After so much historical information, it's definitely time for some light relief! October showcases the best in traditional Shetland music at the Shetland Accordion and Fiddle Festival. Club events are held throughout the year, in addition to the annual festival. Local and visiting artists, from 7th - 11th October, perform across the islands. It's a time for dancing, eating and having great fun!
See you soon!
We would welcome any comments you have about this newsletter, or about the www.SHETLAND.org site.
Also, if you have any enquiries at all about Shetland we would be more than happy to assist you. Please contact us using any of the methods listed on our contact page.
Thank you again for taking the time to read this newsletter and please feel free to forward it to anyone else who may be interested in Shetland.
The team at www.SHETLAND.org
Stanes of Stofast