Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see ‘About Listed Buildings’ below for more information.


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Supplementary Information Updated
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
Planning Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 53916 62400
453916, 1162400


Probably 18th century, with alterations of circa 1830. 2-storey asymmetrical former pier house, of predominantly rectangular plan with E gable advanced (prow-like) at centre; straddling stone pier sloping down to E from shore and tapering to point at N edge; pier bounding S side of dock, open to W, and enclosed to N by N pier. Predominantly random rubble granite walls, coursed to E gable, with droved sandstone ashlar dressings.

E (ENTRANCE) GABLE: asymmetrical, vertically-boarded timber door at ground to right of rubble forestair, rising to vertically-boarded timber door to left at 1st floor.

N ELEVATION: small 4-pane fixed timber window at lower floor to left of centre; single 12-pane timber sash and case window centring elevation below eaves; deep-set vertically-boarded timber infill to full-height loading bay recess at outer right, rubble jettied out to either side support stone slab lintel and catslide-roofed canopy over timber hoist.

W GABLE: single 12-pane timber sash and case window at 1st floor to outer right.

S ELEVATION: single window at 1st floor to left of centre; ground floor continuous to right of E gable as coped buttress.

Stone slab slated roof with cut granite skew copes, block finial to E gable, and square gablehead stack with tapered cope angled to W gable.

HEM DOCK: roughly U-plan, open to W, bounded to E by retaining wall above beach; bounded to N by random rubble granite pier projecting SE from shore, with sandstone slabbed carriageway and granite steps to water at S side.

Statement of Special Interest

This building was the pier house for the nearby trading booth originally used by ships of the Hanseatic League. The League was a trading body of merchants and shipowners centred on Lubeck, operating from Russia to Portugal, whose influence peaked in the 14th century. In Shetland, Hansa trade lasted 500 years, first by way of the League s Kontor in Bergen, then as illicit trade became the norm, direct with Hamburg and Bremen. Stockfish (dried and salted cod and ling) was exported, and luxury goods imported. The Germans retained their trading by extending credit from one season to the next. A decline in activities at the end of the 17th century came about by the emergence of Scottish merchants and then local merchant-lairds, famine, disease, and war when the French plundered German ships. The final demise was the 1707 Act of Union which favoured local commercial activity. Restored in 1984 by Richard Gibson, the pier house is an essential element in this group of great historic value.



John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p516. Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p80.

About Listed Buildings

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.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to WHALSAY, SYMBISTER, PIER HOUSE AND HEM DOCK

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 05/07/2020 09:34