The Vikings found Unst before 700 AD. One of their first settlements was at Norwick. Among the many artefacts found there in 2003 about half the steatite pieces were fromNorwayand half were from Clibberswick. It seems possible that they took their basic goods with them and possibly even wood to build their houses. Surprisingly many pieces of rough pottery were also found there.
Norwick was a popular place to settle. The old churchyard is reputed to be built on a Broch site and the church is said to be originally built on a pagan site. Since then ‘Viking Unst’ has excavated three very different sites from the Norse period and many more Norse houses have been found. There are several stone, boat shaped graves on Balta. They measure about five metres by three, and are very similar to the boat graves at Lindholm Hoje inJutland. From boats to place names and customs the Vikings certainly left a huge legacy in Shetland.
They appear to have co-existed with the ‘Papar’, the monks who came to spread Christianity. There is a monks ‘retreat’ on the top of the Bluemull.
A list of 18 accessible archaeological sites is available at the Heritage Centre.