Lunna Kirk (church) probably dates back at least in part to the 1100s and is by far the oldest building in use for Christian worship in Shetland. The church has an unusual structure, with both of the side walls supported by a series of massive buttresses. An unusual feature on the east side of the church, which is likely to date back to a major rebuild of the structure in the 1300s or 1400s, is a lepers' squint, designed to allow lepers to hear the service and see the altar without physically coming into contact with the congregation.

In 1701 the church was declared redundant following a reorganisation of parishes in Shetland and it was thereafter used as a burial place for the Hunter family, lairds of the area. It resumed duty as a parish church from 1753 and the interior and many of the details date back to what seems at least to have been a major renovation, if not a partial rebuilt, then.

The interior of Lunna Kirk is superb. A pulpit stands against the south east side wall, almost on a level with the gallery that extends around the other three sides of the church. At ground floor level wooden stalls are arranged so all eyes are on the preacher.

Access to the gallery is via an exterior stair on the south west end wall. The gallery itself fits within the sloping ceiling of the kirk.

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Founded: 1100s
Category: Religious sites in United Kingdom

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User Reviews

Margaret Stevens (4 years ago)
Great service, such great staff. I will certainly return on my next holiday to Shetland. :) xx
Margaret Stevens (4 years ago)
Great service, such great staff. I will certainly return on my next holiday to Shetland. :) xx
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The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

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The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.