Sumburgh Head

Sumburgh Head is located at the southern tip of the Shetland Mainland in northern Scotland. The head is a 330' (100 metre) high rocky spur capped by the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse. The Old Norse name was Dunrøstar høfdi, it means "The Head onto the loud tide-race", referring to the noise of Sumburgh Roost.

The area is an RSPB nature reserve. The cliffs were home to large numbers of seabirds with for example 33000 puffins in the year 2000. These numbers have declined sharply with number dropped to 570 in 2017. This decline also applies to other species.[1]

Sumburgh Airport lies immediately to the north of the head, and is Shetland's main airport. Flights from here connect to mainland Scotland, the Orkney Islands and Norway.

Close to the head is the archaeological site of Jarlshof, at which a series of settlements existed dating back to the neolithic period.

The tiny settlement of Grutness, which is the terminus of the Shetland Mainland to Fair Isle ferry service, lies one mile (2 km) north of Sumburgh Head.

Robert Stevenson was the engineer in charge of building the Sumburgh Head lighthouse. Work started on the building in 1819, and the light was first lit in 1821.

As well as birds, Sumburgh Head has become a popular viewing point for whales and dolphins.

Sumburgh Head - - 148330
Sumburgh Head
SumburghHead webcam
A webcam installed near Sumburgh Head lighthouse. The cliffs used to be home to large numbers of seabirds. The area is an RSPB nature reserve.


  1. ^ Eerie silence falls on Shetland cliffs that once echoed to seabirds’ cries, the, Robin McKie, 3 June 2018

External links

Coordinates: 59°51′15″N 1°16′31″W / 59.85429°N 1.27531°W

1821 in Scotland

Events from the year 1821 in Scotland.


Colsay is an uninhabited island off the South West coast of Mainland, Shetland. Fora Ness lies to the south, across the Muckle Sound. The highest elevation is 44 metres (144 ft), and there is an ancient cairn on the summit.

It is in Dunrossness parish, 8 miles (13 km) NNW of Sumburgh Head. It used to pasture a good many sheep mostly Cheviot/Shetland cross breeds, which were transported to the island by small boats, called Yoals, from the nearby Spiggie Beach, and landed at the only decent landing place on the island, called the "Owsin Gaet".


Cunningsburgh, formerly also known as Coningsburgh (Old Norse: Konungsborgr meaning "King's castle"), is a hamlet and ancient parish in the south of Mainland, Shetland. The hamlet is on the coast, nine miles south south west of Lerwick, about half way between there and Sumburgh Head. The parish was merged with Dunrossness and Sandwick in 1891. It is on the A970 road.Amongst the settlements in the parish are Aithsetter.


Dunrossness, (Old Norse: Dynrastarnes meaning "headland of the loud tide-race", referring to the noise of Sumburgh Roost) is the southernmost parish of Shetland, Scotland. Historically the name Dunrossness has usually referred to the area on the Shetland mainland south of Quarff. However, in 2016 there were three separate Shetland Community Councils for a) Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh; b) Sandwick; and c) Dunrossness. The 2011 census defined Dunrossness as including everybody within the British ZE2 postal code, which goes as far north as Gulberwick. It has the best and largest area of fertile farmland of any parish in Shetland. Dunrossness includes the island of Mousa, Levenwick, St Ninian's Isle, Bigton, Scousburgh, the Lochs of Spiggie and Brow, Boddam, Quendale, Virkie, Exnaboe, Grutness, Toab, Ness of Burgi, Clumlie Broch, Scatness, Sumburgh Airport, Sumburgh Head, West Voe, the islands of Lady's Holm, Little Holm, Horse Holm island and Fair Isle.Dunrossness is associated with a number of eminent people, such as Haldane Burgess, George Stewart, Sir Herbert J.C. Grierson, Jenny Gilbertson, Elizabeth Balneaves as well as that symbol of providence Betty Mouat. The author Sir Walter Scott visited Dunrossness in 1814 and wrote the novel The Pirate, which is set mostly in the Parish. Robert Stevenson built Shetland's first lighthouse at Sumburgh Head in 1821, and his son Thomas Stevenson and his grandson, the author Robert Louis Stevenson, visited the Shetland lighthouses and Fair Isle in 1870.Dunrossness had 1,505 sites of archeological interest in 2016, 181 of them scheduled (i.e. nationally important). For example, Jarlshof, perhaps the best known prehistoric archaeological site in Shetland and Old Scatness (which has mediaeval, Viking, Pictish, and Iron Age remains) both lie within the parish of Dunrossness.


Grutness is a small settlement and headland at the southern tip of the main island of the Shetland Islands, Scotland. The settlement is within the parish of Dunrossness. It is located close to Sumburgh Head, and is the terminus of the ferry service between the Shetland Mainland and Fair Isle. It has a pebbly beach and seals, whales and orcas can be seen in the sea nearby.

Horse Holm

Horse Island or Horse Holm and known locally as Da Holm, is one of the Shetland Islands. It lies about 2.3 km west of Sumburgh Head at the south tip of the Mainland, Shetland. In the Norn Language, it was called Hundiholmi (dog island) but later was renamed Horse Holm. It is used as an alignment point by local fishermen for several fishing marks.

Jennifer Lucy Allan

Jennifer Lucy Allan, known informally as Jen, is a British musicologist, writer and radio presenter.

Allan was educated at the University of Sheffield, where she obtained a BA in philosophy, and at City, University of London, where she achieved an MA in magazine journalism.She has written for The Guardian The Quietus, and The Wire, being online editor for the latter.She was a presenter on Resonance FM, and has presented special editions of the BBC Radio 3 programme Late Junction, making her debut on 24 July 2018. The first of three consecutive shows presented by Allan in February 2019, on the 26th, featured only tracks from live albums. For the following night's broadcast, she interviewed musician and artist Laurie Anderson. For the third night in the run, Allan presented a programme showcasing "Bagpipes like you’ve never heard them before". Allan had first appeared on the show as a studio guest, on 4 April 2018.Allan runs a record label, 'Arc Light Editions'. She is credited as 'spiritual adviser' on the album Throne by experimental musician Heather Leigh, who says she "guided me during periods of extreme self doubt while recording".

Allan has a particular interest in foghorns, and since 2015 has been researching a PhD with the subject "Fog Tropes: The social and cultural history of the foghorn 1853 to the present day" with the Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice centre, part of the University of the Arts London. She also wrote two chapters, "Horn Section: John Tyndall’s 1873 Foghorn Testing Sessions" (about John Tyndall) and "Disturbing the Peace: The Cloch Foghorn and Changing Coastal Soundscapes in the 19th Century", (about the lighthouse foghorn at Cloch) in the academic publication From the Lighthouse: Interdisciplinary Reflections on Light (ISBN 9781472477354). She co-led University of the Arts' "Large Objects Moving Air 2018" conference, which featured James Dooley and Chris Watson among its keynote speakers.In February/ March 2018, she spent a month as writer in residence at Sumburgh Head Lighthouse on the Shetland mainland.She teaches an eight-week evening course in music journalism.

List of Category A listed buildings in Shetland

This is a list of Category A listed buildings in Shetland, Scotland.

In Scotland, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of "special architectural or historic interest". Category A structures are those considered to be buildings of "national or international importance, either architecturally or historically". Listing was begun by a provision in the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1947, and the current legislative basis for listing is the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997. The authority for listing rests with Historic Environment Scotland, an executive agency of the Scottish Government, which inherited this role from the Scottish Development Department in 1991. Once listed, severe restrictions are imposed on the modifications allowed to a building's structure or its fittings. Listed building consent must be obtained from local authorities prior to any alteration to such a structure. There are approximately 47,000 listed buildings in Scotland, of which around 8 percent (some 3,800) are Category A.The council area of Shetland comprises an archipelago of around 100 islands, including 15 inhabited islands with a total population of around 20,000. There are 11 Category A listed buildings on the islands, representing a range of building dates and types. Two lighthouses merit Category A listing: Sumburgh Head Lighthouse is described as "one of Scotland's finest surviving pieces of early 19th century architecture"; while the Muckle Flugga Lighthouse is Britain's most northerly building. Other functional buildings include the grain mill at Quendale, and the waterfront warehouses at The Lodberrie in Lerwick, said to be "the most photographed building in Shetland." There are a number of haas, or laird's houses, of the 17th and 18th centuries. The 17th-century Fort Charlotte was burnt by the Dutch in 1673, and was rebuilt during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), though it saw no action in that conflict.

List of Northern Lighthouse Board lighthouses

This is a list of the currently operational lighthouses of the Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB). The list is divided by geographical location, and then by whether the lighthouses are classed by the NLB as a 'major lighthouse' or a 'minor light'. Former NLB lighthouses now disposed of are not included in the list.

List of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Shetland

The following is a list of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the Shetland Area of Search. For other areas, see List of SSSIs by Area of Search.

Aith Meadows



Burn of Aith

Burn of Lunklet

Burn of Valayre


Clothister Hill Quarry

Crussa Field and The Heogs

Culswick Marsh

Dales Voe


East Mires and Lumbister

Easter Loch

Easter Rova Head

Eshaness Coast

Fair Isle

Fidlar Geo to Watsness


Foula Coast

Fugla Ness - North Roe




Ham Ness



Hill of Colvadale and Sobul

Keen of Hamar

Kergord Plantations

Lamb Hoga

Laxo Burn

Loch of Clousta

Loch of Girlsta

Lochs of Kirkigarth and Bardister

Lochs of Spiggie and Brow

Lochs of Tingwall and Asta

Lunda Wick



Muckle Roe Meadows

Ness of Clousta - The Brigs

Ness of Cullivoe

North Fetlar

North Roe Meadow

North Sandwick


Norwick Meadows



Papa Stour

Pool of Virkie

Punds to Wick of Hagdale


Qui Ness to Pund Stacks

Quoys of Garth

Ramna Stacks and Gruney

Ronas Hill - North Roe

Sandness Coast


Saxa Vord

Sel Ayre

Skelda Ness

Skeo Taing to Clugan

South Whiteness

St Ninians Tombolo

Sumburgh Head

The Ayres of Swinister

The Cletts, Exnaboe

The Vadills


Tonga Greff

Tressa Ness to Colbinstoft

Trona Mires

Uyea, North Roe Coast

Valla Field

Villains Of Hamnavoe


Voxter Voe and Valayre Quarry

Ward of Culswick

Yell Sound Coast

List of places in Shetland

Map of places in Shetland compiled from this list

See the list of places in Scotland for places in other counties.The List of places in Shetland is a link list for any island, town, village, hamlet or island in the Shetland Islands council area of Scotland.


Old Scatness

Old Scatness is an archeological site in the parish of Dunrossness in the South Mainland of Shetland, near Sumburgh Airport consisting of mediaeval, Viking, Pictish, and Iron Age remains. It has been a settlement for thousands of years, each new generation adding buildings, and leveling off old ones. Among the discoveries is an Iron Age broch.


Scatness is a settlement on the headland of Scat Ness at the southern tip of the South Shetland Mainland, Scotland, across the West Voe of Sumburgh from Sumburgh Head and close to Sumburgh Airport, the Shetland Islands' main airport. Scatness is in the parish of Dunrossness.

Scatness includes the housing estates of Sanblister Place and Colonial Place. On the east side of Scat Ness are the beaches of Outer and Inner Tumble Wick, which were Haaf Stations during the days of the Haaf Fishing.

At the south easternmost point of Scatness, off the A970 road, lies the Ness of Burgi fort, an Iron Age blockhouse resembling a broch. The site is in the care of Historic Scotland.

South Mainland

The South Mainland of the Shetland Islands is the southern peninsula of Mainland island. It lies south of Hellister (60° 14′N). The greater southern part of the peninsula belongs to the civil parish of Dunrossness. The rest belongs to the parishes of Lerwick and Tingwall (small part of the latter). St Ninian's Isle is a tidal island off its west coast.

Points of interest include:











Fitful Head

Sumburgh Head


Sumburgh is a small settlement in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. Sumburgh is located at the south end of Mainland on Sumburgh Head. Sumburgh Airport is just outside the village to the north. Sumburgh has a population of approximately 100. Jarlshof is situated to the west of Sumburgh, adjacent to Sumburgh Hotel. Sumburgh is within the parish of Dunrossness.

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse

Sumburgh Head Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Sumburgh Head at the southern tip of the Mainland of Shetland.

The Pirate (novel)

"The Pirate" is also the title of novels by Harold Robbins and Frederick MarryatThe Pirate is a novel by Walter Scott, based roughly on the life of John Gow who features as Captain Cleveland. The setting is the southern tip of the main island of Shetland (which Scott visited in 1814), around 1700. It was published in 1822, the year after it was finished and the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head began to operate.


Virkie is the most southerly district of Shetland, other than Fair Isle and is best defined as the area south of the Ward Hill in Dunrossness, also locally referred to as "below da hill" (below the hill), or "da laich Ness" (the low headland).

Virkie encompasses the following settlements; Exnaboe, Toab, Scatness, and Sumburgh.

Virkie is the only place which uses a ZE3 postcode.

West Voe of Sumburgh

The West Voe of Sumburgh, (grid reference: HU 395 088), is the most southerly bay on the Shetland Mainland, located between Sumburgh Head, and the point of Scat Ness.

On the west side of the voe is the settlement of Scatness, while on the east side is the famous Jarlshof archaeological site. There are Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic remains at West Voe.Across the opening of the voe, past Sumburgh Head, is the tidal stream known as the Sumburgh Roost.

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