Scalloway (HU401394), (Old Norse :Skalavagr - bay with house), was the ancient capital of Shetland. Built from 1599 onwards by Earl Patrick Stewart, the remains of Scalloway Castle is the most notable feature of the village.
Parliament of Shetland
Scalloway was a place of historical significance in Shetland from early on. The shape of the land provided a natural safe harbour for vessels from rough seas, and it had an easy connection into Shetland's central Mainland and Tingwall.
Scalloway was the primary harbour in Shetland prior to the development of Lerwick in the 1800's. It was only a short distance from Shetland's norse Parliament (or Thing/Ting/Þing), the Law Ting which sat on a small promontory (the Law Ting Holm) on the Loch of Tingwall. The full purpose of this building is not entirely clear, but it was certainly used as a parliament/assembly hall and as a court. The structure is no longer in place, but the connecting stone bridge is still visible.
Importance as an early port
In a letter of 1563 by the governor of Shetland, concerning merchants from North Germany, Scalloway is referred to as Schalewage. It was no doubt a good sheltered harbour on the route to Hillswick.
Norwegian boatbuilders from the Bergen area, (Os and Tysnes ), built Yoals, which were then taken apart and 'flat packed' for shipping to Scalloway, from about the 16th century. Instead of sending complicated assembly instructions, they sent boatbuilders to re-build them. Many of those stayed for years in Shetland, and some married there.
The end of the Norse rule of the Isles in 1469 began a 300-year period of hardship for Shetlanders. Control of the isles was handed out, given away and inherited by a series of Scottish noblemen. The rulers of Shetland were not kind to the local peasantry. The most famous ruling family in Shetland were the Stewarts, Robert and Patrick.
Earl Robert Stewart was made 1st Earl of Orkney by Queen Mary I of Scotland. Robert was the illegitimate son of King James V of Scotland and was gifted the Isles by his half-sister Mary. Robert was conducted the majority of his business either in Orkney or the Scottish Mainland, and records of his appearances in Shetland are limited. But it was his son, Earl Patrick Stewart, who remains Scalloway's most notorious resident. With the titles of Earl of Orkney and and Lordship of Zetland which he obtained aged 28, Patrick established himself in Shetland. In 1599, he had Scalloway Castle built close to the shore.
The castle is a magnificent structure that still punctuates the modern skyline of Scalloway today. It was from this castle that Patrick administered his own brand of law and justice, mostly to the detriment of the peasantry of Shetland and the benefit of himself (much like his father had done). Patrick demanded peasants bring him sheep and cattle, and where those were not produced, money. He also imprisoned individuals, confiscated their property and forbid Shetlanders from leaving the Isles. Along the way, he earned the nickname "Black Patie".
While his crimes are well-documented and undeniable, Patrick did help to boost the Shetland economy by taxing incoming ships. Although the majority of that money was undoubtedly siezed by Patrick himself.
His maleficence grew to such a level that word reached the Royals and Parliament in Edinburgh - how it reached them it is not clear but it is thought that the bishop of Shetland was responsible. Patrick was promptly arrested and imprisoned in Edinburgh. On 6 Feb 1615, he was beheaded for treason.
Scalloway after the Stewarts
The Gallow Hill, above Houll and overlooking the village, was Shetland's place of execution during the 17th century. Barbara Tulloch and her daughter Ellen - the last witches to be burned in Shetland - were executed there, perhaps around 1680.
According to Williamson, the story goes that Barbara was accused of witchcraft and her daughter Ellen was accused of being promiscuous. Verbal stories state that someone wanted her land therefore accused Barbara of being responsible for the death of a neighbour because she gave him herbs. On clearing the area where she and Ellen were burned silver crosses were found. Both Barbara and Ellen were pardoned, a bit too late! There are no official death records as the church didn't record witch deaths although research at Edinburgh University and other places list Barbara and Ellen as the last witches to be burnt at the stake in Shetland.
Scalloway declined in influence during the 18th century, but began to flourish again around 1820, when cod fishing became important in the central mainland of Shetland.
During World War II, Scalloway was the home base and housed for some time the headquarter of The Shetland Bus, part of the Norwegian resistance against Nazi-Germany. The Norway House and the Prince Olav Pier / slipway, which formed major parts of the base are still existing. Details about the history of The Shetland Bus are on display at the Scalloway Museum,  Willie Smith has written a memoir of this period. Other notable Scalloway authors are the prolific James R. Nicolson and the photographer/writer C.J. (Clement) Williamson.
After the war Scalloway served as harbour of the Shetland-Orkney ferry service (mv Orcadia on the Scalloway - Stromness route).
Today Scalloway is best known as home of the North Atlantic Fisheries College.
After the opening of the Schiehallion Oil Field off the West Coast of Shetland, Scalloway took over some functions as a service base for the oil business.
Businesses, Services, and Amenities
|Shops||Restaurants, Take Aways, Clubs, Hotels & Bars||Other Businesses||Services & Amenities|
- Scalloway Streets and Roads
- The Shetland Bus
- Scalloway Castle
- Scalloway Junior High School
- Scalloway - East Voe Marina
- Scalloway - Port Arthur Marina
- Scalloway Pier
- Scalloway Harbour - Information
- Tourist Information
- Visit Shetland
- Broch House - Bed & Breakfast
- Panphotos - Scalloway
- Dough Houghton - Photos of Scalloway
- NHS - Scalloway and Central Mainland
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