Sumburgh Head

Sumburgh Head is located at the southern tip of the Shetland Mainland in northern Scotland. The head is a 100 m high rocky spur capped by the Sumburgh Head Lighthouse. The Old Norse name was Dunrøstar høfdi, it means "The Head onto the loud tide-race", referring to the noise of Sumburgh Roost.

Sumburgh Head
A webcam installed near Sumburgh Head lighthouse. The cliffs used to be home to large numbers of seabirds. The area is an RSPB nature reserve.

The area is an RSPB nature reserve. The cliffs were home to large numbers of seabirds with for example 33,000 puffins in the year 2000. These numbers have declined sharply with number dropped to 570 in 2017. This decline also applies to other species.[1]

Sumburgh Airport lies immediately to the north of the head, and is Shetland's main airport. Flights from here connect to mainland Scotland, the Orkney Islands and Norway.

Close to the head is the archaeological site of Jarlshof, at which a series of settlements existed dating back to the neolithic period.

The tiny settlement of Grutness, which is the terminus of the Shetland Mainland to Fair Isle ferry service, lies one mile (1.5 kilometres) north of Sumburgh Head.

Robert Stevenson was the engineer in charge of building the Sumburgh Head lighthouse. Work started on the building in 1819, and the light was first lit in 1821.

As well as birds, Sumburgh Head has become a popular viewing point for whales and dolphins.


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Coordinates: 59°51′15″N 1°16′31″W / 59.85429°N 1.27531°W / 59.85429; -1.27531