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Shetland Islands Home for Rent

Kinlea in Weisdale the Shetland Islands

2 Bedrooms    1 Bathroom    Sleeps 4    Children Welcome    No Pets    No Smoking

Shetland Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Shetland" redirects here. For other uses, see Shetland (disambiguation).

The Shetland Islands, also called Shetland (archaically spelled Zetland) formerly called Hjaltland, comprise one of 32 council areas of Scotland. It is an archipelago between the Orkney Islands and the Faroe Islands, north of mainland Scotland, with a total area of approximately 1466 km². It forms part of the division between the Atlantic Ocean to the west and the North Sea to the east. The administrative centre and only burgh is Lerwick.

Shetland is also a lieutenancy area, comprises the Shetland constituency of the Scottish Parliament, and was formerly a county.


Out of the approximately 100 islands, only twelve are inhabited. The main island of the group is known as Mainland.

The other inhabited islands are:
Bressay, Burra, Fetlar, Foula, Muckle Roe, Papa Stour, Trondra, Vaila, Unst, Whalsay, Yell in the main Shetland group, plus Fair Isle and Out Skerries (see below).

Other , uninhabited, islands include:
  • Balta, Bigga, Brother Isle
  • East Linga
  • Fish Holm
  • Gloup Holm, Gruney
  • Haaf Gruney, Hascosay, Havra, Hildasay, Huney
  • Lady's Holm, Lamba, Linga near Muckle Roe, Linga near Shetland Mainland, Linga near Yell, Little Roe, Lunna Holm
  • Moul of Eswick, Mousa, Muckle Flugga, Muckle Ossa
  • North Havra, Noss
  • Orfasay, Out Stack, Oxna
  • Papa, Papa Little
  • Samphrey
  • Sound Gruney, South Havra, South Isle of Gletness
  • Urie Lingey, Uyea, Uynarey
  • Vaila
  • Vementry
  • West Linga

Fair Isle lies approximately halfway between Shetland and Orkney, but it is administered as part of Shetland and is often counted as part of the island group. The Out Skerries lie east of the main group. Due to the islands' latitude, on clear winter nights the aurora borealis or 'northern lights' can sometimes be seen in the sky, while in summer there is almost perpetual daylight, a state of affairs known locally as the 'simmer dim'. Indeed, when standing at the highest point in the Isles, Ronas Hill (height 450m latitude 60° 32' 04"), the sun does not set at mid summer. In midwinter, by contrast, the sun does not fully rise.

(In Detail) (Coat of Arms)
Motto Með lögum skal land byggja
(Old Norse: With laws land shall be built)


The old Gaelic name for the Shetland Isles (Innse Cat, "Islands of the Cat People") suggests that the original inhabitants were the same tribal group who inhabited Caithness ("Cat People's Headland", ) and Sutherland (Cataibh, "Cat People's Land"). Missionaries arrived around the 7th century and began converting the population to Christianity. Sometime in the 9th century, Shetland was invaded by the Norse and became a Norwegian colony for approximately 500 years, but ownership of Shetland, along with Orkney, defaulted to the crown of Scotland on 20 February 1472 following non-payment of the marriage dowry of Margaret of Denmark, queen of James III of Scotland. Subsequent attempts to make good on the debt and reclaim Shetland have been ignored, including the last bid in the early years of the twentieth century. (citation needed)

During World War II, boats from the Shetland Islands provided a relief service to occupied Norway, known as the "Shetland bus".

Norse names

The old Norse names of the principal islands were:
  • Hjaltland (Mainland)
  • Jell (Yell) - believed to be pre-Norse
  • Unst - believed to be pre-Norse
  • Fetlar - believed to be pre-Norse
  • Kvalsøy (Whalsay)
  • Brusøy (Bressay) - most likely named after a Norse nobleman Bruse
  • Fugløy (Foula) - literally ''bird's island''
  • Frjóey (Fair Isle) - Fertile island (Froøy/Fræøy in modern Norwegian)


The culture of Shetland is similar to that of scandinavia. However it also combines elements of the scottish culture as well.

Notable places

  • Clickimin broch
  • Fort Charlotte
  • Jarlshof archaeological site
  • Mavis Grind
  • Mousa Broch
  • Muness Castle the most northerly castle in the United Kingdom
  • Old Scatness archaeological site
  • Scalloway Castle
  • St Ninian's Isle
  • Sullom Voe oil terminal
  • Sumburgh Head
  • Skaw the most northerly settlement in the United Kingdom


Traditionally, the economic activities of Shetland were primarily agricultural, especially the raising of Shetland sheep, known for their unusually fine wool, along with the Shetland Sheepdog as well as the Shetland pony. Crops raised include oats and barley; however, the cold, windswept islands make for a harsh environment for most plants. Crofting, the farming of small plots of land on a legally restricted tenancy basis, is still practiced and viewed as a key Shetland tradition as well as important source of income.

More recently, oil reserves discovered in the 20th century out to sea have provided a much needed alternative source of income for the islands. The East Shetland Basin is becoming one of Europe's largest oil fields. Oil produced there is landed at the Sullom Voe terminal in Shetland.

  • Crude oil and Natural gas production
  • Agriculture
  • Aquaculture
  • Fishing


The Pictish language was replaced by Old Norse, which evovled into Norn, which was replaced by the Northern Dialect of Scots, which in turn is being replaced by Scottish English. However, the legacy of Norn remains in the grammar and a number of words, making the Shetland dialect distinctive from Scottish English.

As Norn was gradually replaced by Scots, the original Scandinavian name of the islands, Hjaltland (high land) became Ȝetland (the initial letter being the old Scots letter, yogh (which can also be found in the forename Menzies, e.g. Menzies Campbell.) This sounded almost identical to the original Norn sound, 'hj'). When the letter yogh was discontinued, it was often replaced by the similar-looking letter 'z', hence Zetland, the mispronounced form used to describe the pre-1975 county council.


Shetland is served by a single weekly local newspaper, The Shetland Times, published every Friday. Radio Shetland, the local opt-out of BBC Radio Scotland, and SIBC, a commercial radio station, broadcast daily.

New media sources include The Shetland News the online daily newspaper: since 23rd November 1995, that brought the landmark web hyperlink debacle with The Shetland Times to the forefront of everyone's attention in the UK. Had the Shetland Times won the case against The Shetland News, Internet growth would have been stifled in the UK.

Other sources include

Shetlink a community centric portal "Connecting Shetland" where people can express opinions on Shetland and related issues. The online Shetland Encyclopedia.

Notable Shetlanders

  • Arthur Anderson (1792-1868), co-founder of P&O
  • Tom Anderson MBE, a fiddler, composer, folklorist and teacher who was a profoundly influential figure in the development of Shetland music
  • Ian Bairnson (b. 1953), session guitarist (The Alan Parsons Project)
  • Aly Bain (b. 1946), fiddle player.
  • Morgan Goodlad (b. 1950), controversial Chief Executive of Shetland Islands Council (see, for example, Private Eye No 1144 p27, or this story from the Sunday Herald.)
  • Sir Herbert John Clifford Grierson (1866-1960), a literary scholar and critic
  • Norman Lamont (b. 1942), Conservative MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1990 to 1993.
  • Steven Robertson, a theatre and film actor from Vidlin
  • Robert Stout (1844 - 1930), Prime Minister of New Zealand on two occasions in the late 19th century
  • Astrid Williamson, musician
  • Sandra Voe (b. 1936), actress appearing in many small film and TV roles (including Coronation Street) and mother of Pulp keyboard player Candida Doyle.
  • Neil from Seven Up!
  • Eddie Irvine, Dawn O'Donnell from Mossbank

Shetland Islands on film

Michael Powell made The Edge of the World in 1937. This film is a dramatisation based on the true story of the evacuation of the last thirty-six inhabitants of the remote island of St Kilda on 29 August 1930. St Kilda lies in the Atlantic Ocean, ten miles (16 km) off the west coast of Scotland, and west of the Outer Hebrides; the inhabitants spoke Gaelic. Powell was unable to get permission to film on St. Kilda. Undaunted, he made the film over four months during the summer of 1936 on the island of Foula, in the Shetland Isles. Despite the fact that the Foula islanders speak the Norse-tinged dialect of Shetland, the film loses none of its power.
  • The Edge of the World (1937) dramatizes the evacuation of the Islands and the ensuing tragedy.
  • Return To The Edge Of The World (1978) was a documentary capturing a reunion of cast and crew of 1937's The Edge Of The World, 40 years after the fact, as they revisit the island.
  • ''Devil's Gate'' (2003).
  • ''It's Nice Up North'' (2006) comedy documentary by Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth.

Council political composition

  • Independent - 17
  • Liberal Democrats - 5

This article was copied on 11 July 2006. The current version with history is available on Wikipedia.
Text on this page is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details)

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