Place of last resort
Ness of Burgi lies on an exposed headland near the most southerly tip of Shetland. It is an extraordinary site, well worth the clamber over rocks and a narrow causeway to get there.
The site occupies a small promontory, protected on three sides by steep cliffs plunging to the sea. On the fourth, landward side are two ditches. Between the ditches is an eroded stone rampart with a narrow, forbidding entrance through it. And behind them rises a solid, blank-walled building. This is the so-called 'blockhouse', its only entrance a low, covered passage that forces a stooping arrival into the compact fort area behind.
An Iron Age blockhouse
It is the solide, blank-walled blockhouse that gives the site its special interest. This contains two oval, corbelled cells and the ruins of a third - entered from the central entrance passage, like a guard chamber. The entrances are fitted with door checks and bar holes for timber doors.
The presence of those corbelled cells and doorway features firmly associates Ness of Burgi with Iron Age crochs. There is another, larger blockhouse at Clickimin in Lerwick, where the blockhouse stands in front of the broch tower. Blockhouses seem to have been a speciality of Shetland.
- The walk - an invigorating, if somewhat difficult, hike over rough ground, rock and a narrow causeway.
- The isolation - stand on top of the blockhouse and stare out across the southern tip of Shetland and the wild waves of the Sumburgh Roost.
- The blockhouse - an intriguing Iron Age legacy.
Region – Shetland
At the South Easternmost point of Scatness, South Shetland off the A970. Access is across rocks.
Grid reference - HU 388 084.