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Community / Wartime Lerwick comes to life through archaeology

(L-R) Fiona Watson, archaeologist, Steven Jennings, chair of Archaeology Shetland and Allan Kilpatrick, data/recordings project officer and 20th century war heritage expert, from Historic Environment Scotland.

A LOCAL archaeology group will be exploring wartime Lerwick next week in a series of special events to mark the completion of their recording project on WWII sites around the town.

Archaeology Shetland will focus in particular on the ‘Staney Hill Line’, in partnership with Scotland’s Urban Past.

On 12 March (7-9pm) the community group will present a Defence of Shetland evening in the Lerwick Boating Club, with talks by Stephen Jennings on the recording project which revealed Lerwick to be the best example of a fortified town left in Scotland.

With extensive archive and field work from Archaeology Shetland and Historic Environment Scotland, over 100 additional sites were interpreted and added to the record.

Jennings’ talk will be followed by Chris Dyer of the Shetland Amenity Trust, also known for his extensive work on WWII sites and especially the Sumburgh Head Radar Hut, who will put the Lerwick defence into the wider context of the defence of Shetland and beyond.

Finally, Jon Sandison of Anderson High School will put Shetland in the context of the overall war effort.

Two days later, 14 March sees a guided walk around the Staney Hill Line from 10am-12.30pm led by Stephen Jennings and local WWII expert Samuel Sjoberg to explore the recent work of Archaeology Shetland and Scotland’s Urban Past.

Examples of many newly catalogued sites will be examined and explained and will conclude at the observation post on North Staney Hill from which vantage point each critical point of the defence will be seen. Binoculars are recommended.

This will be followed by a World War II ‘British Restaurants’ luncheon at the Staney Hill Hall from 12:30-3pm featuring authentic World War II ration recipes served in period garb and set to the music of the time. Admission and meal £6/£4 (concessions).

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Archaeology Shetland is a community archaeology group founded in 2015 to create a meeting point between professionals, amateur archaeologists and the community focussing on research, recording and excavation.

The group has been “very active” over the last five years, involved with at least one excavation annually and many recording projects both working with external researchers and run by the group itself.

For more information get in touch with Archaeology Shetland on Facebook, Twitter or via their website at

More details on the wartime Lerwick project are available at

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