We arrived early and in a thick mist. After breakfast on board – a small but powerful loudspeaker situated near my pillow told me it was 6.30am and that breakfast was available. It repeated the core message at 15 minute intervals to allow all passengers to enjoy that point between sleep and not sleep for an extended period.
We visited a couple or three brochs during the day. They only exist in Scotland – a double skinned drystone tower with storage and stairs built into the intra-wall space. Built in the Iron Age – perhaps 200BC to 100AD. Perhaps celebrations of status and locations for trading – or not.
In the middle of the day we went to see puffins at the southern tip of Shetland (Sumburgh Head cliffs). Cute, captivating and almost careless of our presence – Alison had to use a big stick to move us back onto the coach.
Jarlshof was the days big event. The name is made up – Sir Walter Scott used the place in a novel, and he gave it the name Jarlsburg. The site contains everything from stone age dwellings, bronze age smithy, Iron Age homes, a broch, Viking settlements, a medieval farm and a laird’s house built by Patrick Stewart the Bad (more on him later) around 1590.
We also walked across a sandy bar connecting the mainland (Shetland speak for the main island) to St Ninian’s Isle where a very early church was excavated, revealing an earlier pagan burial site.
But my favourite thing was a piece of Pictish art in the Shetland museum – hope you can make out the creature, especially his face – click on the photo to see it bigger.