Inventory Garden & Designed Landscape


Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 48743 69309
448743, 1169309

Probably the best surviving example of a formal designed landscape laid out in characteristic Shetland style with garths, walled enclosures, eyecatchers and ancillary buildings situated in a direct relationship to one another. The mid-17th century layout was increasingly formalised and ornamented during the early 18th and early 19th centuries, accompanying major additions to the house.

Type of Site

Formal designed landscape, laid out in characteristic Shetland style with garths, walled enclosures, eyecatchers and ancillary buildings situated in a direct relationship to one another.

Main Phases of Landscape Development

Mid 17th century; early/mid 18th century and early 19th century.

Artistic Interest

Level of interest

The Lunna designed landscape is exceptional in Shetland in terms of its scale, execution and detail. This gives the site outstanding value as a Work of Art.


Level of interest

Lunna's role in international events, together with human activity over a considerable period give the site high Historical value.


Level of interest

The flower garden and formal tree planting, give Lunna some Horticultural value.


Level of interest

The quality of design of the house and landscape including ancillary structures are integral to the design layout with the result that the ensemble is of outstanding Architectural value.


Level of interest

The Scheduled Ancient Monuments, known archaeology and potential archaeological interest in the area give the site outstanding Archaeological value.


Level of interest

The range of buildings within the Lunna designed landscape is prominent features and local landmarks. The Lunna landscape forms a distinctive contribution to the Mainland and the site thereby is of outstanding Scenic value.

Nature Conservation

Level of interest

The combination of heath, rough grassland, garden and coastal habitats at Lunna give it high Nature Conservation value.

Location and Setting

Lunna House is situated on the Lunna peninsula, East Mainland, 14.5km (9 miles) east of Voe and 40km (25 miles) north of Lerwick. A public road, the B9071, leads along the length of the Lunna peninsula, northwards from Vidlin and Lunnasting. The House and designed landscape are situated at the isthmus of the Lunna peninsula, with the House sited on high ground to the north, and follies and eyecatchers situated on high ground, opposite to the south. From these highpoints there are extensive views over Lunna Sound to the west and Vidlin Voe to the east.

It is difficult to determine the full extent of the designed landscape, due to the rugged topography and rough grassland extending across the area. Architectural design features extend throughout an area of c 58ha (143 acres), with the main concentration in 26ha (64 acres) around the house and farm. The extent of the designed landscape has not altered since the early 19th century (1875, OS 6"; 1900, OS 6").

Site History

There is evidence of prehistoric and early historic settlement in the environs of Lunna. South-west of Lunna House is Chapel Knowe, situated on the design axis, the site of a monastery (Scheduled Ancient Monument). It is enclosed by the remains of a medieval stone and earth rampart, up to 1.2m (4ft) high and 1.8 (6ft) in breadth. In the western half of this enclosure are the foundations of a building (8.3m by over 2.7m) said to be the early parish church. Lunna House may be the site of an earlier, medieval haa.

Lunna House dates from 1660 and was built for Robert Hunter, Chamberlain of the Lordship of Zetland (d.1695). The marriage of Thomas Hunter and Grisella Bruce in 1707 is commemorated in an armorial panel in the house's south gable wall. Although it is difficult to date the various architectural features relating to the formal landscape, some date to the 18th century and others are 19th century additions. Lunna Kirk, adjacent to Chapel Knowe, was built in 1753 at Robert Hunter's expense, on the site of the family mausoleum.

In the early 19th century innovative features and Gothic ornament were added. A series of flues forming a 'hot wall', modelled on the method used in walled gardens, was constructed at the kirk (Scottish Vernacular Buildings Working Group, 1997 mentioned in 'List of Buildings…'). Buttresses were also added and appear to have originally been terminated by tapered obelisks with beach-stone finials. These complemented Gothic elements comprising the West Gates, Gothic Cottage and Folly, the latter acting as an eyecatcher from the House and said to have been used by the Hunters to watch the comings and goings of their tenants to prevent them trading with other merchants.

The major 19th century intervention was the construction of Lunna harbour and pier and its adjacent beehive-shaped lime kiln, along with the Walled Garden.

In 1893, Robert Bell Hunter, the 8th Laird, sold the property to John Bruce of Sumburgh who enlarged it in the early 20th century. The architect/designer is not known.

Lunna is famous for its role in the 'Shetland Bus' operations between 1941-45, but following the war it was close to dereliction. In the 1960s it was acquired by the Lindsay family who commenced buildings restoration. The designed landscape is now divided between two principal owners. The major part of the landscape is associated with Lunna Farm, the core area remaining with the House.

Landscape Components

Architectural Features

Lunna House built in the late 17th century, was originally T-plan, two-storeys and attic with a three-bay front, extended in the early 18th and 20th centuries.

South-west of the House are sets of droved ashlar gate piers leading to an approach lined by low drystone walls. This leads downhill on the main axis, and through the West Gate, formed by ball finialled twin gate-piers and paired mounting blocks to either side of the gateway. This lies on an axis with Lunna House, Chapel Knowe, the Gothic Cottage and hilltop Folly. The early 19th century Gothic Cottage is single-storey, built of harl-pointed rubble and drystone walls. Its north-west front is symmetrical with Gothic detailing. An early 18th century folly, Hunter's Monument, terminates this south-west axis as an eyecatcher, 0.5km south of the House. It is a harl-pointed, slab-roofed, square tower with battlemented flanking walls, which continue in dry-stone, extending downhill to the beach at West Lunna Voe on the north-west and to the Booth of Lunna, at East Lunna Voe, to south-east.

The latter is a ruined fishing booth of mid 18th century date, originally three-chambered. It is unusual in being T-plan in layout. Despite its ruinous state, it is one of the largest and best preserved of Shetland's fishing booths. It lies adjacent to a Drying Beach, partly man-made. Lunna Kirk, built in 1753 to the north-west of the booth, is a small rectangular building with a rear forestair to the gallery. The kirkyard is enclosed by a dry-stone wall, which on its south side is incorporated into a field-wall extending across the designed landscape south of the house and containing the West Gate noted above.

Lunna Harbour, pier and lime kiln date from the early 19th century and stand within the designed landscape on the shores of West Lunna Voe. The Farmsteading stands to the north-west of Lunna House.

Drives & Approaches

The main approach to Lunna House was from the south-west by a steep stone ramp. A similar ramp connected the House to the Fishing Booth on the shore of East Lunna Voe.

To the north, a drive links Lunna House to the farmstead on the main design axis (lying south-west to north-east). The public road adopts a less formal route, curving around the north and east sides of the house. To the south-west, the road passes between Chapel Knowe and the Walled Garden, then uphill to Lunna Farm.

A drive leading south east from the House is cut into the hillside and, for part of its length, is supported by retaining walls. It leads to the Croolar, a waterlogged basin.


South of Lunna House is a sloping lawn bounded by a low stone wall. Below that is the South Park, now used as a paddock, bisected by the main south-west approach.

North-east of the House is a square park enclosed by a drystone wall. It is cultivated.

Water Features

The Croolar is a waterlogged basin at the end of the south-east drive. The area is encircled by a bund and footpath. Excess water is drained by a small channel into the sea. Moss growth within the basin has resulted in distinct, formal patterns visible from elevated ground.

Adjacent to the northern boundary of the designed landscape are two natural lochans, Northgrid Loch and Loomi Shun.

The Gardens

South-east of Lunna House is a terraced, walled garden, accessed by paired gateways with rough gatepiers with beach-stone finials. It is roughly triangular in shape with a perimeter footpath. Inside the wall is a shrub windbreak. Now used for vegetables, it was built as an ornamental garden, to be viewed and enjoyed from the house. The garden was set with a sun dial, added by 1878 (1878, OS 6").

Adjacent to the garden is a rectangular walled enclosure, grassed and containing a stand of sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus).

Walled Gardens

The Walled Garden is situated on low-lying flat ground, adjacent to the harbour. It is roughly triangular in shape with an irregular internal layout. A number of internal walls create sheltered compartments for fruit and vegetables. It is currently disused.



Maps, Plans and Archives

1875 survey, 1st edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1880

1900 survey, 2nd edition OS 1:10560 (6"), published 1903


Printed Sources

Historic Scotland on Behalf of Scottish Ministers, The List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest

Finnie, M. Shetland: An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1990), p.59-60

Gifford, J. The Buildings of Scotland: Highlands and Islands (1992), p.497

Groome, F. Ordnance Gazetteer (1882), p.566

Hibbert, A Description of the Shetland Islands, (1822)

Howarth, D. The Shetland Bus (1951)

Irvine, J. W. The Waves are Free (1988)

About the Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

The inventory is a list of Scotland's most important gardens and designed landscapes. We maintain the inventory under the terms of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We add sites of national importance to the inventory using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

The information in the inventory record gives an indication of the national importance of the site(s). It is not a definitive account or a complete description of the site(s). The format of records has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

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Printed: 26/05/2019 22:35