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Historical Resources




The Scottish Screen Archive allows you to view old and not so old films of Fair Isle, Shetland and the rest of Scotland online, to see how people lived. 


Scotland on Film (BBC) also offers a range of film and audio recordings




Fair Isle


Standing Into Danger by Anne Sinclair offers a detailed description of Fair Isle wrecks from AD900 to 2001 and an excellent map of the island showing wreck sites.


Fishing Traditions of Fair Isle by Emma Perring, details the fishing history and illustrates the “fishing hands”.


Fair Isle (the archaeology of an island community) by JR Hunter gives detailed description of archaeological work done on the island in the 1980s with maps and photographs.


Two Calves in the House  Edited by Harald R Bowes, is the diary of the Reverend John Lewis between 1823-25, when on his mission to convert Shetlanders to Methodism.  Religious or not, the detail of this man’s struggle is humbling.


Fair Isle-An Island Saga by Valerie M Thom is out of print, but currently readily available second hand on the internet.  An excellent history of the island with photographs, including detail of the Bird Observatory.


Fair Isle-A Photographic History by George Waterston and Jean Jones is also out of print, but still available as above.  A priceless collection of images.


Eight Acres and a Boat, by Jerry Eunson is also out of print and currently difficult to find, but another excellent history with incredible photographs and great detail.


Words, Phrases and Recollections from Fair Isle by Jerry Eunson, is also out of print and difficult to source, but worth the effort.


The Dunrossness Story by James Irvine is also out of print but can be found.  It gives great detail of the land close to Fair Isle and has a detailed section on the island written by Anne Sinclair.


A Vehement Thirst After Knowledge by John Graham details four centuries of education in Shetland.


The Northern Isles: Orkney and Shetland  by Alexander Fenton offers great detail on every aspect of ordinary life on the islands, including Fair Isle, from ancient times until the 20th century.


The Shetland Times Bookshop prints new titles every year, most of the books pertinent to aspects of Shetland life.  Look up their web site for current availability.




For those wishing for a more general background on Scotland’s history, there are many, many books from which to choose. I find that these three offer modern, accessible views on old topics.


A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver  This is a general history of Scotland from early times.


Scotland 1600 to 1800 Edited by Elizabeth Foyster and Christopher Whatley


Scotland 1800 to 1900 Edited by Trevor Griffiths and Graeme Morton


These last two books are collections of essays written by a range of modern historians, so that each chapter deals with ordinary behaviour, experiences and beliefs of Scottish people.  Both books show how life was changing over the centuries in different parts of Scotland.


Tom Devine is generally recognised as an acclaimed expert on Scottish History and he has written a range of books on the topic that are eminently accessible.


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