We spent the night in Lerwick, so we left early on our bus ride to the south of the island. The main island of Shetland is green, lush, rolling hills, natural bays with rocky shores, occasional sheep, Shetland ponies, and lots of bunnies running around. We stopped a couple of times for photo-ops on our way to Jarlshof at the south tip.
About 100 years ago a storm washed away some of the cliffs to reveal foundations of old settlements beneath an abandoned stone house once belonging to relatives of Scottish royalty. Archeologists started to work and uncovered a site that has been occupied continuously from around 3000 BC to the middle ages. There were stone age homes, bronze age homes, iron age homes, a Viking settlement, and the middle-age’s house all enclosed in a few acres. Quite an amazing place!!!
The first inhabitants seem to have arrived in Shetland 5000 to 6000 years ago, and found a lush island surrounded by seas full of food. There is evidence of ongoing trade with Orkney to the south, and the Celtic Christians arrived around 700 bringing Christianity to the people. The Vikings arrived a century or two later and ran the monks off. The Vikings/Norwegians held the islands until 1469 when the Norwegian king’s daughter married the Scottish king. The Norwegian king promised a sum of money for the dowry, but being short of cash ended up giving Shetland to the Scots.
In the afternoon we started heading west and stopped at Foula Island for a long hike and to visit the 30 inhabitants (not counting ponies and sheep and bunnies). Another beautiful, lush, grass-covered island with some steep hills. We walked to the north end where 800 foot cliffs fall off into the Atlantic and sea birds float by.
Shetland sits between the North Sea to the east and the Atlantic to the West, so tomorrow we head further into the Atlantic to the Faroe Islands.
This may be the last post with lots of pictures. I have been getting internet access from hotels and public areas on shore the last two days, but now we are off to Iceland and the connection will not be so good….