Open main menu

Hoswick (pronounced Hos-wick) is a village in the south mainland of Shetland, Scotland, on the west of the ancient parish of Sandwick. It is separated from the rest of Sandwick by the Hoswick burn and from Channerwick in the south by the hill on which the village is situated.

Hoswick from Stove - - 1702585.jpg
Hoswick viewed from Stove
Hoswick is located in Shetland
Location within Shetland
OS grid referenceHU414238
Civil parish
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtZE2
Dialling code01950
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
59°59′53″N 1°15′22″W / 59.998°N 1.256°W / 59.998; -1.256Coordinates: 59°59′53″N 1°15′22″W / 59.998°N 1.256°W / 59.998; -1.256


The settlement most probably grew as a fishing island in its own right, drying and curing fish on Hoswick beach, then many residents subsequently worked from the nearby fishing station on the mainland at Broonie's Taing which was at its height in the early 1900s but had declined by the late 1930s. Hoswick isle was also home to a Shetland tweed weaving industry post WW2, but this came to an end in the 1980s and the Visitor Centre (cafe and museum) is housed in one of the former weaving sheds. The tweed industry was developed by LJ Smith, who also built up a substantial knitwear industry based on home knitters but served from premises in Hoswick. According to John Stewart(P294)[full citation needed] the name derives from the Old Norse Hausvík and means "skull" in light of the steep hills adjacent in the area.

The "Hoswick Whale Case"Edit

The residents of Hoswick are known for a legal case following the annual whale drive when, in 1888, they drove around 340 whales ashore. They then resisted the landowner, John Bruce Jnr of Sumburgh's claim for a third share of the profits which was customary under Udal Law (the catch was traditionally split three ways, one for the 'admiral', one for those who drove the whales ashore and one for the owner of the land on which the animals were beached). The case was heard at the Court of Session in Edinburgh (Bruce v Smith) and in July 1889 Sheriff MacKenzie found in the Hoswick residents' favour. The court refused to recognise Bruce's claim, saying it was not 'sufficiently inveterate, uniform, or uninterrupted'. Bruce appealed the decision in 1890 but lost, and no further claims were made by Shetland landowners.[1][2][3]

2003 FloodEdit

Heavy rains in the early morning of 19 September 2003 caused extensive flash flood damage to the village with many buildings affected (eleven houses were flooded, two of which had to be evacuated), the Hoswick bridge destroyed, a large section of the beach swept away and fresh water supplies cut off (two kilometres of water main were destroyed, resulting in the community having to rely on bottled water for several days).[4][5]

Notable buildingsEdit

  • Hoswick Visitor Centre - contains a cafe, gift shop, weaving exhibits, interpretative local history displays and a large collection of vintage radios. The building is a former Shetland Tweed weaving shed[2][6][7] and is home to the Sandwick History Group[8]
  • Hoswick Woollen Mill - a working factory and shop which houses Laurance Odie Knitwear. The company was started by Laurence Odie in early 2004 following the closure of Laurence J. Smith Ltd which was based in the same premises.[9]
  • Neilanell Design Studio - boutique and design studio owned by Hoswick resident and textile designer Neila Nell[10]
  • Orca Country Inn (formerly the Barclay Arms Hotel)- a three star guest house[11][12]

Hoswick contains many examples of the traditional two-story, two or three-bay croft houses that are particularly associated with the district.[13]


  1. ^ "Udal Law – Past, Present and Future?" (PDF). Udal Law. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Hoswick Visitor Centre". Undiscovered Scotland. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Hoswick Whale Case". Shetlopedia. Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  4. ^ "Flooding and Flood Management Inquiry". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  5. ^ "Floods cut off villages in isles chaos". The Free Library. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  6. ^ "Visitor Attractions". Visit Shetland. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  7. ^ "Hoswick Visitor Centre". Shetland Heritage Association. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  8. ^ "Sandwick History Group". Shetland Heritage Association. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  9. ^ "Knitting Bounces Back - The Shetland Times". Knitting News. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  10. ^ "Nielanell - Shetland Knitwear - Home". Nielanell. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  11. ^ "Welcome to the Orca Country Inn". Orca Country Inn. Archived from the original on 24 October 2010. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  12. ^ "Sandwick Community Online - Hoswick". Shetland Communities. Archived from the original on 20 August 2008. Retrieved 26 August 2010.
  13. ^ "Sandwick Community Council Area Statement" (PDF). Shetland Islands Council. Retrieved 26 August 2010.

External linksEdit