Jarlshof / Isle of Mainland ***
Region: Shetland Islands
This remarkable site is the most important in the archipelago and probably one of the most impressive in Europe.
More than 4000 years of Scottish history, from 2500 BC right through to the 17th century. A visit takes you from the Bronze and Iron Ages right up to the era of Scottish lairds. Exploring Jarlshof, you will first investigate the vestiges of a Bronze Age village where sailors and farmers lived in oval houses with thick walls, half-buried in the ground as if to better protect the flames of the fire that sustained their way of life. Back in 2000 BC, people made a living from fishing, raising sheep and pigs and worshipping unknown idols. Walk a few more steps, and you are suddenly in the Iron Age, face-to-face with one of those famous brochs, a round hollow-walled tower, typical of north and west Scotland. A little further on, the original foundations of Pictish dwellings mix with those of a Viking chief’s longhouse. Finally, there are the impressive and iconic ruins of a Scottish nobleman’s fortified farmhouse dating from the beginning of the 17th century.
The fascinating interpretation centre houses a hands-on display of local materials traditionally used on site including wool, stone, slate and bone. Visitors can also learn all about prehistoric life and the history of the site.
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