Maritime history lecture to be broadcast online

A PhD student who is researching the history, folklore and construction of Shetland boats will give a lecture that will be broadcast live on the internet.

Marc Chivers’ talk, “The Shetland boat: history; folklore & construction” will be the first to be live streamed by the Shetland Museum.

An example of a traditional Shetland boat.
An example of a traditional Shetland boat.

Viewers worldwide will be able to join him, thanks to technical support from the Promote Shetland broadcast team. The lecture is also free to attend in person.

The subject matter is likely to be of particular interest to historians, boat builders and mariners. The nineteenth century traditional, double-ended, and clinker constructed open four and six-oared boats are unique to Shetland.

These boats share similarities with four and six-oared boats in Norway, both in terms of boat naming convention, boat construction, and boat shape – but there are some significant differences as well.

Marc’s seminar will examine the evidence for the boat trade with Norway and attempt to determine when Shetland began to build Shetland specific boats.

He said: “Shetland’s boats it must be remembered existed because there was a need for them, they were the cars and lorries of their day, and the sea and voes were the roads upon which people transported themselves, their goods, livestock, and by which they also earned a living through fishing.

“Like all everyday objects the value of these boats was not recognised until they, and the people who used and built them began to disappear. The boats as objects are of huge cultural importance, as are the people who built and used them.”

Marc has spent a considerable amount of time in the Shetland archives examining the Bruce of Symbister collection of papers, and has found a number of interesting things during this research. This includes a discovery that boatbuilding in Shetland began earlier than previously thought.

The lecture is free to attend in the auditorium. Doors will open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start on Thursday 14th May.

Those who want to tune in online can view the lecture at


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