Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement

Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement

Jarlshof lets you journey from prehistory into history. The headland above the natural harbour of West Voe was the ideal place to settle for communities spanning several millennia – from the late Neolithic era to the AD 1600s.

At the end of the 19th century, storms ripped open the low cliffs at Jarlshof, near the southern tip of Shetland. They revealed an extraordinary settlement site embracing 4,000 years of human history. Upon excavation, the site was found to contain a remarkable sequence of stone structures – late Neolithic houses, Bronze-Age village, Iron-Age broch and wheelhouses, Norse longhouse, medieval farmstead, and 16th-century laird’s house. The excavations also produced a wonderful array of artefacts.

Discoveries made here include oval-shaped Bronze Age houses, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, Norse long houses, a medieval farmstead, and a laird’s house dating from the 1500s.

What to see and do

Marvel at Jarlshof’s complexity – more than 4,000 years of human settlement on a single site
Visit the Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, which amazingly survived despite the sea’s best efforts to wash them away
See physical proof of the Norse communities set up in the Northern Isles in early medieval times
View a rich collection of artefacts spanning the different eras – many of them on display in the visitor centre
Enjoy the site’s dramatic location on a headland overlooking the West Voe of Sumburgh
Take our fun fact-finding quiz while exploring the settlement.
Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlement
Sumburgh, Shetland, ZE3 9JN


For more information about Jarlshof please visit the Historic Scotland website