Co-ordinates: N 60º09'15", W 001º08'28"
Weather: Partly cloudy
Air Temperature: 12ºC
Pressure: 1002 hPa
Wind: 25 knots
This morning, as we approached the Shetland Islands sailing on a westerly direction from Bergen, the winds started to pick up as predicted. We had however, great weather in Lerwick and a great day indeed.
The morning was one at sea and our onboard archaeologist and Viking expert Colleen Batey entertained us with a fascinating lecture entitled “The Vikings in Scotland: A Stepping Stone across the North Atlantic”. Colleen’s latest research is changing our perceptions and providing a much fuller view of the nature of the settlement and economy of the Northern and Western Isles and beyond into the Irish Sea: the same route to Dublin we are following.
Just as she was finishing her lecture, the R.A.F. and the Shetland’s Coast Guard requested our permission to perform a training exercise. A helicopter dropped a person off on our sun deck and performed a drill of an airlift at sea. It was quite exciting to have this big helicopter hovering on top of our ship as people came down and back up a rope. We were lucky to have had this opportunity.
This drill was followed by a Recap & Briefing hosted by Expedition Leader Robin West and the Expedition Team. Right after that and just before lunch, our guests had to do a face to passport check to clear immigration into the UK.
At 2 pm we started the disembarkation for our “Jarlshof & South Coast Tour”. Three comfortable coaches took us from Lerwick to the island’s most southerly point. We passed the rural townships of Fladdabister and continued down the west coast and passed St Ninian’s Isle, where the famous Pictish horde of silver dating from the 9th century was found in 1958.
We continued on to the remarkable archaeological site of Jarlshof. The site was uncovered by a violent storm in the winter of 1896/97, revealing an extraordinary settlement site embracing at least 5,000 years of human history. The site contains a remarkable sequence of stone structures - late Neolithic houses, a Bronze-Age village, an Iron-Age broch, and wheelhouses, several Norse longhouses, a medieval farmstead, and the 16th-century laird’s house. An extraordinary archaeological site indeed. We then walked back to Sumburgh Hotel for tea and biscuits before returning to Lerwick for an evening at leisure as we were alongside until 11 pm.
Many of our guests (and crew) took this opportunity to go out and explore the town at their leisure, and many ended up having dinner and drinks ashore. Being a Saturday night the atmosphere was quite lively, for the Shetlands anyway.