For many hundreds of years Unst was in the midst of one of the richest fishing grounds in the world.
The Unst Boat Haven (part of the Unst Heritage Centre, although a separate building) is dedicated to the maritime history of Shetland boats. During the 1800’s herring fishing played an increasingly important role in Unst life. In 1861 Unst had a population of 3000 and in 1869 there were 28 fishing boats registered in Uyeasound. In one week in 1904 seven steamers sailed from Baltasound with 3000 tons of cured herring. In the three summer months of 1905 almost a quarter of a million crans of herring were landed at Baltasound. The maritime history of Unst is really worth taking a look at!
The Unst Boat Haven showcases 17 boats, mainly traditional Shetland, but including one from each Faroe and Norway, a Welsh coracle and a Berhon folding dinghy. A privately owned replica of a 19th century sixareen is based at the Boat Haven all year round. The boats are all traditionally built for use under oar and sail. They are double-ended, clinker built following the Viking method of construction which can be traced back around 1700 years. This provides a very light, strong, seaworthy but flexible hull, ideally suited for local conditions. The boats cover a period from the late 19th Century to the 1960’s and include working and racing boats.
In addition to the boats themselves, the Unst Boat Haven also offers models of old tools, fishing gear, documents, photographs, charts, historical information, and interpretation.
For more information, visit the Unst Heritage Trust website.
1st May – 30th September
11.00am – 5.00pm