A Walk Through Time: The Fethaland Fishing Station

The Shetland Islands lie in the North Sea, far from the coast of Scotland. Situated closer to Bergen than Edinburgh, the islands retain close links to their Norse heritage and seafaring past. Fishing is still an important industry in Shetland, but at the end of the nineteenth century, men rowed out to distant fishing grounds in small open boats. Remaining in their boats for days on end, they caught cod and ling on long lines, bringing their haul back to fishing stations where the fish were salted. The men spent the summer months at fishing stations, and at Fethaland, at the far northern tip of Northmavine, the houses and boat noosts still remain. The buildings are now collapsing, and severe weather and coastal erosion threaten to obliterate the memory of this once thriving coastal settlement.

Narrated by Douglas Murray, the last person to be born at Fethaland, this haunting short film tells the story of the fishing station. Using archive images and sounds recorded at Fethaland, Douglas describes a way of life that has now disappeared, and event that helped bring about the demise of the Shetland fishing stations.

SCAPE (Scotland’s Coastal Archaeology and the Problem of Erosion) and the University of St Andrews have been part of a project to keep the memory of the fishing station alive, and Fethaland is just one of many sites where the team have worked with local communities on heritage sites threatened by erosion. This film was made to compliment a detailed laser scanning project, historical research and photographic survey.

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