Located in the North Sea one hundred fifty miles north of Scotland is the Shetland Islands where modern opportunities and history meet. Most buildings in Lerwick, the major town in the archipelago, are made of local stone and have the appearance of being from a different era. Narrow alleys and streets don’t appear to have been made with automobiles in mind at all. The town owes its success to its location, finding shelter in the lee of the island of Bressay across the channel and its good harbor. The town takes its name from Norse meaning ‘mud-bay’ and was a safe harbor for Dutch fishermen in the seventeenth century. This town is a good base for exploring the Scandinavian history, beautiful seascapes and wildlife of the Shetland archipelago.
In the mid eighteenth century relations between the British and Dutch deteriorated and the British built Fort Charlotte in 1781 to protect what they believed was Scottish territory. After that the herring fishing brought a boom and a building explosion showed off the archipelago’s new wealth. In the twentieth century the North Sea oil bonanza again gave Lerwick, with its good port location, another economic boom.
Coat of Arms displayed in Lerwick
“Nemo me impune lacessit” is the motto on the Royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Scotland and translates to “No one attacks me with impunity”, and has been loosely rendered in Scots as Wha daur meddle wi me? (in Scottish Gaelic Cha togar m’ fhearg gun dìoladh, ). It is also alternatively translated into English as No one can harm me unpunished.
The Broch of Clickimin is a large, well-preserved but restored broch (a broch is an Iron Age stone hollow-walled structure unique to Scotland) dating to the late Bronze Age and is located just a mile west of town.
Fort Charlotte in the centre of Lerwick, Shetland, is a five-sided artillery fort, with bastions on each corner. The grounds and exterior battlements are open to the public and it offers good views of the towns harbor area. Today Fort Charlotte is managed by Historic Scotland, and is the base for Shetland’s Territorial Army. Visitors must call to get the keys to visit.
Broch of Mousa requires a boat ride but it is the best preserved example of an Iron Age round tower or broch. It is on the small island of Mousa in Shetland, Scotland and is the tallest broch still standing and amongst the best-preserved prehistoric buildings in Europe.
The Shetland Islands are home to a large population of puffins, making them a good place for puffin-watching as well as other bird watching. Within the Shetland Islands there are a number of places to see puffins, with some requiring only a short hike.