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Friday, 31 August 2007

Visit Shetland Scotland

Visit Shetland, Scotland. Shetland is a chain of over one hundred islands to the north east of Scotland which stretches nearly ninety miles from Muckle Flugga in the north to Fair Isle in the south. Sumburgh Head is ninety miles from Caithness in Scotland, and about two hundred and ten miles from Aberdeen. The The Faroe Islands and Bergen are almost equidistant from Lerwick at about two hundred and fifty miles.

The islands were referred to by Vikings as Hjaltland, possibly because of their resemblance to a sword handle (ON hjalt), but the name may also refer to the earlier inhabitants, referred to as the Catts by the Picts, who called Shetland Innse Catt, or Islands of the Catts. Today the Viking influence remains strong, as most place names and many local expressions derive from Old Norse (ON). About 22,000 people inhabit 13 of the islands, with the majority of the population living on the Mainland. The main town and ferry port is Lerwick with a population of about 8,000.

From Orkney on a clear day Shetland appears as a series of hilltops on the horizon, Foula, Fitful Head and Fair Isle, and when approached from the sea they at first seem rocky and bleak, but on closer approach the landscape turns out to be much gentler than expected, with characteristic greens, blues and browns of land, sea and coast.

It is likely that Pytheas the Greek may have visited Shetland about 325BC during his voyage around Britain during which he established a latitude of 600, perhaps at Lerwick. Tacitus also refers to Thule, which was closely examined by the Romans when Agricola’s fleet circumnavigated Britain in AD83 after the victory at Mons Graupius.

There are many references to the islands in the Norse sagas, which date from the 13th century, and a few documents still exist going back to late Norse times, which shed interesting light on the social history of the area.

It was not until the 18th century, however, that detailed accounts began to be made about visits to the islands. In more recent times many eminent people have visited Shetland and a number have written in various terms about their experiences.

Over the years many local authors have written about their homeland, and the Shetland Times Bookshop always has a large selection of local books. The library in Lerwick has a good reference section for those wishing to consult the many books which are out of print. Shetland Museum has a large collection of old photographs, many of which may be seen on their website, while Shetland Archives is the place to research old documents.

The purpose of this Guide is to help visitors appreciate Shetland and enjoy their time here to the full. The idea is that the reader can assimilate information without effort and yet rapidly find out what they would most like to see and do, depending on interest, season or weather. There are so many interesting places to visit that a lifetime is not long enough!

Although the landscape is beautiful, there is history everywhere, and wildlife to rival anywhere on Earth, there is another aspect of the islands which is perhaps the most important and rewarding to get to know, the local people themselves. They are a friendly, hospitable people, proud of their past and at the same time go-ahead and industrious. Do not hesitate to ask the way, or about things, you are sure to get a courteous reply - and if you are lucky you might get a few good stories as well!

Maps are a great help on all such visits and the Tourist Board produces a useful one on a scale of 1:125,000. The Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 series covers Shetland in four sheets, and is recommended for all serious explorers. While some of the places mentioned in this book are signposted, most are not, and OS references are thus given for many sites of interest. The Shetland Guide Book.

Visit Shetland, Scotland, on an Ancestry Tour of Scotland. Best Scottish Tours, Best Scottish Food, Best Scottish Hotels, Small Group Tours of Scotland.

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