The archaeology collection of Shetland Museum and Archives has been awarded national significance status.
The collection, cared for by Shetland Amenity Trust, has become the latest Recognised Collection of National Significance awarded by Museums and Galleries Scotland.
Between 300,000 to 400,000 items make up the collection, which provides an archaeological record of Scotland the UK and Europe.
The collection covers all aspects of life in Shetland from 4000BC to the 17th century, when the isles were at the heart of European trade routes.
Excavated prehistoric settlements have highlighted a huge range of locally made tools, early agricultural implements, vessels for food preparation, textile production and animal bone deposits giving insight into the diet of Neolithic communities.
The collection also holds evidence of funerary traditions and an important group of wooden tools is suggestive of a ritual tradition shared throughout Northern Europe.
The collection has been widely praised and noted by academics globally as “by far the most complete record of the Viking/Norse presence within the British Isles”.
Shetland Museum curator Ian Tait said it was an honour to receive the “prestigious award”.
“It is testament to the dedication of our staff, the status of the collection, and the importance of it as a source of research.
“The award will help bringing this, one of our most significant collections, to the public in increasingly innovative and creative ways.
“We applied because we want to raise awareness of the archaeology collection, to safeguard continuing levels of investment and to enable us to further increase public access.
“The work done by Jenny Murray and Laurie Goodlad on this application will enable us to do just that.
“Recognised status will enable us to further develop our ongoing work in research, exhibition, and interpretation to people in these islands and beyond. This will be a huge boost for Shetland’s cultural heritage.”
Fiona Hyslop cabinet secretary for culture and external affairs, said: “The Recognition Scheme serves to highlight Scotland’s most important national and international collections and contain some of our most important, best quality, historic artefacts and artworks.
“This very significant archaeology collection absolutely falls into that category.
“The award of recognised status is fully deserved and will help Shetland Amenity Trust in bringing the collection into the public eye”.
Chief executive of Museums Galleries Scotland, Joanne Orr, said:“We are delighted to be welcoming the archaeology collection at Shetland into the recognition family, which holds some of the finest collections in Scotland.
“This award of recognition status to the collection at Shetland Museum and Archives will give them a boost in funding and give it the recognition it deserves.”