Atlas of Hillforts of Britain and Ireland

SC4260: Fetlar, Sna Broch  

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HER:  Shetland Amenity Trust 2

NMR:  HU 59 SE 1 (1390)

SM:  2084

NGR:  HU 5780 9334

X:  457800  Y:  1193340  (EPSG:27700)

Boundary:  

Summary

The Sna Broch has been reduced to no more than an arc of ramparts and ditches at the top of a beach. Sited on soft till deposits rather than the typical precipitous locations more usually adopted by promontory forts, there is now insufficient evidence to demonstrate whether these were simply the outworks of a broch or whether they incorporate elements of a promontory enclosure, the rocks lying some 70m offshore perhaps indicating its possible extent. Nevertheless, the arc includes the remains of at two ditches with external ramparts and it is likely that there was also a third rampart within the inner ditch rather than simply the wall of the broch (RCAHMS 1946, 55-6, no.1210, fig 542; MacKie 2002, 119); recent fieldwork along the shore has observed evidence of waterlogged deposits beneath rubble in the inner ditch. On the S the outermost rampart returns to meet the middle rampart, a configuration that possibly indicates that this was the site of an entrance, though the RCAHMS investigators attribute it to access to a well noted by earlier visitors in one of the ditches (Low 1879, 166; Hibbert 1822, 387). The RCAHMS plan drawn up in 1930 identifies a gap in the outer rampart at the N end of the arc as the remains of an entrance. Pottery and hammerstones have been recovered from the eroding section, including material from beneath one of the ramparts (Fojut 1983, 21).

Status

Citizen Science:  ✗  

Reliability of Data:  Confirmed

Reliability of Interpretation:  Unconfirmed:  Unclear whether these are the remains of a broch with outworks or perhaps the defences of an eroded promontory fort

Location

X:  -105275  Y:  8538952  (EPSG: 3857)

Longitude:  -0.945705  Latitude:  60.619406  (EPSG:4326)

Country:  Scotland

Current County or Unitary Authority:  Shetland Islands

Historic County:   Shetland

Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  Fetlar

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

If there was a promontory here, erosion with extreme prejudice has removed it, leaving no more than an arc of defences

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:  2.0m

Boundary

Boundary Type:  

Second HER:  

Second Current County or Unitary Authority:  

Second Historic County:  

Second Current Parish/Community/Council/Townland:  

Dating Evidence

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:  ✗  

Artefactual:  Pottery and hammerstones recovered from the erosion

Investigations

1st Identified Written Reference (1774):  Noted by George Low (1879, 166)
Earthwork Survey (1822):  Sketch plan by Samuel Hibbert (1922, 387)
1st Identified Map Depiction (1877):  Annotated Sna Brough on the 1st edition OS 6-inch map (Shetland 1881, sheet 12)
Earthwork Survey (1930):  Plan and description (RCAHMS 1946, 55-6, no.1210, fig 542; RCAHMS SHD 15/1-2)
Other (1934):  Scheduled
Other (1969):  Visited by the OS
Other (1971):  Visited by Raymond Lamb (1980, 63-4, fig 24)
Other (2015):  Description and photographs by SCAPE (no.12939; http://scharp.co.uk/sites-at-risk/12939/)

Interior Features

Possibly the site of a broch, but this has been destroyed by erosion before the 19th century

Water Source

Supposed to have been a well in one of the ditches, but this must represent later usage

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

Surface

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

Pottery and hammerstones have been picked up here (RCAHMS 1946, 56, no.1210), including pottery from beneath on of the ramparts (Fojut 1983, 21)

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

Aerial

NO APPARENT FEATURES

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 (Northeast):  Simple Gap:  The terminals of the outermost rampart are staggered slightly to either side of the gap
Entrance 2 (Southeast):  Other Forms:  The outermost rampart returns to join the middle rampart as if part of an entrance, but now heavily eroded

Enclosing Works

probably three ramparts with intermediate ditches, cutting around the landward side

Enclosed Area 1:  
Enclosed Area 2:  
Enclosed Area 3:  
Enclosed Area 4:  
Total Enclosed Area:  

Total Footprint Area:  

Multi-period Enclosure System:  ✗  

Ramparts Form a Continuous Circuit:  ✗  

Number of Ramparts:  3

Number of Ramparts NE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SE Quadrant:  3
Number of Ramparts SW Quadrant:  
Number of Ramparts NW Quadrant:  

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

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

Fojut, N (1983) 'Snabrough Fort (Fetlar p), pottery'. Disc Exc Scot (1983), 21

Hibbert, S (1822) A Description of the Shetland Islands. Constable and Co: Edinburgh

Lamb, R G (1980) Iron Age promontory forts in the Northern Isles, Brit Archaeol Rep, BAR British Ser 79. BAR: Oxford

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

MacKie, E W (2002) The roundhouses, brochs and wheelhouses of Atlantic Scotland c. 700BC - AD500: architecture and material culture Part 1 - The Orkney and Shetland Isles. BAR British Series 342: Oxford

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.

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