Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC4179: Hoga Ness, Unst  

Sources: Esri, DigitalGlobe, Earthstar Geographics, CNES/Airbus DS, GeoEye, USDA FSA, USGS, Getmapping, Aerogrid, IGN, IGP, and the GIS User Community

HER:  Shetland Amenity Trust 157

NMR:  HP 50 SE 3 (50)

SM:  2072

NGR:  HP 5578 0052

X:  455780  Y:  1200520  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The broch on the low cliff-line of Hoga Ness has been reduced largely to a mound of rubble, but the outer defences are relatively spectacular, comprising an inner wall with two external ditches and a medial rampart drawn in an arc to bar access to the promontory from the N and E. The outer rampart returns and unites with the inner wall around the terminal of the ditch on the E side of an entrance causeway on the NNW, while W of this entrance the wall and the ditch run straight out to the cliff-edge, the ditch exploiting a natural cleft running in from the sea. In behind the wall at this point this W sector of the interior his heavily eroded, and even a conservative restoration of the original edge suggests that the broch stood eccentrically on the E side of the enclosed area. The remains of the inner wall cannot be traced all the way round this eastern side, and the inner ditch, which is about 7m in breadth, stops short of the cliif-edge, though two slighter banks of rubble fill the gap; whether these are blocking an earlier entrance or the ditch is unfinished and these banks are perhaps the remains of an earlier perimeter is unclear. While the outer defences are conventionally interpreted as outworks to the broch, they are certainly not concentric to it and they may once have independently enclosed a much larger area measuring at least 40m deep from NE to SW by 50m transversely (0.15ha).

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Confirmed:  The relationship between the broch and its outer defences is unknown, but the latter are likely to be the remains of a promontory fort.

Location

X:  -109157  Y:  8553656  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -0.980572  Latitude:  60.684145  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Shetland Islands

Historic County:   Shetland

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Unst

Condition

Extant:  
Cropmark:  
Likely Destroyed:  

Land Use

Woodland:  
Commercial Forestry Plantation:  
Parkland:  
Pasture (Grazing):  
Arable:  
Scrub/Bracken:  
Bare Outcrop:  
Heather/Moorland:  
Heath:  
Built-up:  
Coastal Grassland:  
Other:  

Landscape

Hillfort Type

Contour Fort:  
Partial Contour Fort:  
Promontory Fort:  
Hillslope Fort:  
Level Terrain Fort:  
Marsh Fort:  
Multiple Enclosure Fort:  

Topographic Position

Hilltop:  
Coastal Promontory:  
Inland Promontory:  
Valley Bottom:  
Knoll/Hillock/Outcrop:  
Ridge:  
Cliff/Plateau-edge/Scarp:  
Hillslope:  
Lowland:  
Spur:  

Dominant Topographic Feature:  

Aspect

North:  
Northeast:  
East:  
Southeast:  
South:  
Southwest:  
West:  
Northwest:  
Level:  

Elevation

Altitude:  10.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

In the absence of excavation, there are neither stratified artefacts nor radiocarbon dates to provide a chronology for the defences.

Reliability:  D - None

Pre 1200BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
1200BC - 800BC:  
400BC - AD50:  
AD50 - AD400:  
AD400 - AD 800:  
Post AD800:  
Unknown:  

Pre Hillfort Activity:  ✗  

Post Hillfort Activity:  ✓  Overlain by a later rectangular building

None:  No details.

Investigations

RCAHMS also hold a range of photographic material from various visitors, and aerial views

1st Identified Written Reference (1774):  Noted by G Low (1879, 151)
Other (1822):  Noted by Samuel Hibbert (1822, 397)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1878):  Annotated Brough on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Shetland 1882, sheet 8)
Earthwork Survey (1930):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1946, iii, 131-2, no.1545, fig 659; RCAHMS SHD 11/1-2 & SC336007)
Other (1938):  Scheduled
Other (1969):  Visited by the OS

Interior Features

The E side is occupied by the broch

Water Source

None:  
Spring:  
Stream:  
Pool:  
Flush:  
Well:  
Other:  

Surface

The broch

No Known Features:  
Round Stone Structures:  
Rectangular Stone Structures:  
Curvilinear Platforms:  
Other Roundhouse Evidence:  
Pits:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  

Excavation

No Known Excavation:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Geophysics

No Known Geophysics:  
Pits:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Quarry Hollows:  
Other:  
Nothing Found:  

Finds

No Known Finds:  
Pottery:  
Metal:  
Metalworking:  
Human Bones:  
Animal Bones:  
Lithics:  
Environmental:  
Other:  

Aerial

The broch

APs Not Checked:  
None:  
Roundhouses:  
Rectangular Structures:  
Pits:  
Postholes:  
Roads/Tracks:  
Other:  

Entrances

See main summary.

Total Number of Breaks Through Ramparts:  

Number of Possible Original Entrances:   

Guard Chambers:  

Chevaux de Frise:  ✗  

Entrance 1 (North):  Passage-way/Corridor:  Rampart and inner wall return and unite around the terminal of the inner ditch
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Simple Gap:  Causeway across the ditch blocked by rubble banks
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Blocked:  Either blocking or an unfinished construction

Enclosing Works

An inner wall and a rampart with two ditches cutting off an eroded promontory

Enclosed Area 1:  0.15ha.
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  0.2ha.

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  2

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  2
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  1

Current Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  
Unknown:  

Multi-period Morphology

Partial Univallate:  
Univallate:  
Partial Bivallate:  
Bivallate:  
Partial Multivallate:  
Multivallate:  

Surface Evidence

Inconsistency in the line of the ditch might be the result of an incomplete scheme

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Rubble:  
Wall-walk:  
Evidence of Timber:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
Other:  

Excavated Evidence

None:  
Earthen Bank:  
Stone Wall:  
Murus Duplex:  
Timber-framed:  
Timber-laced:  
Vitrification:  
Other Burning:  
Palisade:  
Counter Scarp Bank:  
Berm:  
Unfinished:  
No Known Excavation:  
Other:  

Gang Working

Gang Working:  ✗ 

Ditches

Ditches:  

Number of Ditches:  2

Annex

Annex:  ✗  

References

Hibbert, S (1822) A Description of the Shetland Islands. Edinburgh

Low, G (1879) A Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Schetland in 1774. Kirkwall

RCAHMS (1946) The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Twelfth report with an inventory of the ancient monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3v. HMSO: Edinburgh

Terms of Use

The online version of the Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland should be cited as:

Lock, G. and Ralston, I. 2017.  Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland. [ONLINE] Available at: https://hillforts.arch.ox.ac.uk.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.