Iron Age Old Scatness artefacts on display at museum

Shetland Museum and Archives is hosting an exhibition of archaeological artefacts from Old Scatness until 27th April.

Project team members (from left) Lewis Murray, Samantha Dennis and Tracey Hawkins.

Old Scatness – A Walk Through Iron Age Shetland is the culmination of more than two years work by museum staff and a team of volunteers to unpack, research and catalogue thousands of objects of interest which were unearthed during the excavations between 1995 and 2006.

The Old Scatness Broch assemblage had been housed at the University of Bradford since the excavations began in 1995, until “coming home” to Shetland in 2015.

These objects are now part of Shetland Museum’s permanent archaeological collection – which was recently given the exalted status of being a recognised collection of national significance by Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS).

A grant from MGS, which is the national body of Scottish Museums, enabled Shetland Amenity Trust to employ a project team to take on the task of assimilating the Old Scatness artefacts into the wider archaeological collection.

For the past two years a small team of museum professionals, archaeologists and volunteers have been busy digitising the artefacts found during the excavations at Old Scatness.

The process involved identifying each artefact, entering a description into the museum collections database, and taking a digital photograph. This enables the museum to readily access artefacts both on the premises and to share images to a worldwide audience. This will help researchers and the public who perhaps cannot travel to the museum to see the items for themselves.

Somne of the artefacts in the “Team Treasures” case.

Curator of collections for archaeology and project leader Jenny Murray said the exhibition was a celebration of all the work that had been undertaken by the project team. It aimed to highlight the importance of the Old Scatness finds while telling a story of life in Shetland over the millennia – from the Neolithic period through to the modern era.

Ms Murray said: “The displays include the tools they used, games they played and the jewellery they wore during the Iron Age. These three focus displays offer a chance to see an array of artefacts not seen since they were ‘dug up’ more than a decade ago.

“This is the culmination and the fun bit at the end of a two-year project. The team have worked incredibly hard and this is their chance to show off some of this huge collection, including some of the team’s favourites.

The permanent museum cabinets show ‘highlight’ items such as the Scatness bear but this exhibition reveals the everyday side of life at Old Scatness over millennia – what they cooked, how they dressed and even the games they played.”


Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • March 27th, 2018 15:45

    Well done to those who have worked so hard to bring Shetland History closer to home, so to speak.

    It is fantastic looking at artefacts which were made, worn and used by people so many thousands of years ago.

    Archaeology is one of Shetland Tourist Attractions, and it is good we can look back on our history to those people who lived on the islands and to get a glimpse on how they lived. No doubt, they probably complained about the weather then. lol

    It is not just reflecting on who lived on the islands, but how they traded with people from other parts of Scotland, Scandinavia and further afield.

    It is amazing how we can dig up a few artefacts and get an overall picture of what life may have been like for people so many thousands of years ago.

    It is a shame though that funding projects like Archaeology struggle hard to get support, considering the huge benefit it brings to us, as a whole.

    We spend billions on how to destroy each other (war and conflict) and very little on science and the huge benefits it brings to society.


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