Shetland’s Viking Age to be explored in research project


A new research project is being set up to further explore the Viking age in Shetland, including the origins of the Norse settlers and when, and where, they first established their communities.

The Centre for Nordic Studies, part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, has been awarded £17,000 from the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) to establish the Hjaltland (old Norse for Shetland) Research Network. This will bring together international scholars of place-names, archaeology, folklore and genetics to plan a research project entitled Mapping Viking Age Shetland. Results will be published online.

Dr Donna Heddle, director of the Centre for Nordic Studies in Orkney and Shetland, said, “We’re aiming to answer some outstanding questions about Viking Age Shetland, including the date of Viking settlement, the origins of the Norse settlers, and the intensity of settlement. Findings will be presented in a conference and book, as well as online for the public.”

The project will be led by Dr Andrew Jennings, post-doctoral research associate with the Centre for Nordic Studies, based in Scalloway, Shetland. He has written extensively on Viking place-names and Shetlandic folklore.

He added, “Shetland is the perfect place to study the Viking period. It was in a central position within the Viking world. It has remained a focus for Viking studies, attracting scholars from abroad. However, it has also maintained its own tradition of high quality research in history, place-names and archaeology. It is going to be exciting drawing these together.”

Professor David Gray, director of Shetland College UHI and the NAFC Marine Centre UHI in Shetland, said,“This project is fantastic news for the centre and is recognition of the great work the team is doing in understanding the importance the Vikings played in shaping the cultural heritage of Shetland and its people.”

Source: University of the Highlands and Islands

See also our section on the Medieval Vikings