Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

Fort Charlotte, excluding scheduled monument SM90145, Commercial Street and Harbour Street, LerwickLB37255

Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
Planning Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 47552 41516
447552, 1141516


Fort Charlotte was designed by John Mylne, Master Mason to King Charles II. Work began on the original fort in 1665-7, and it was subsequently rebuilt in 1781 after lying in disrepair for almost a century. The fort has roughly pentagonal ramparts with bastions at the corners enclosing a complex of predominantly 18th century buildings (some with later alterations) with lime harled walls and droved sandstone ashlar dressings. The roof is grey slate with cast-iron gutters and downpipes.

The external walls of the fort, are constructed of: random rubble with a flagged wallhead. The east wall is battered to Commercial Street and the west wall buttressed on its east side.

Western block: This is a 2-storey, 11-bay symmetrical block on the west side of the fort. East (entrance) elevation: This elevation has a timber entrance door which has a heavy bracketted cornice above the door. The barrack block has a blank (rather than a window) at 1st floor level above the door. The rest of the barrack block has regular windows, although left and right ends of the building are stepped forward and higher than the main block. North and South elevations: This elevation has a door at ground floor in its centre with a window above and windowless blank bays flanking the door. The south elevation mirrors the north. West (rear) elevation: This is a 10-bay near-symmetrical elevation with doorways flanking the centre bay at ground floor level. There are regularly spaced windows at 1st floor with segmental-arched lintels. There are additional doorways at ground floor level in the bays to the outer left and right with an additional window inserted to the left of the latter.

Northern block: This is a 2-storey, 7-bay asymmetrical barrack block on a sloping site comprising a 5-bay near-symmetrical building which has been extended to the west by 2 wider additional bays. The building has 12-pane timber sash and case windows, a grey slate M shaped roof with harled chimney stacks with copes and circular cans. South (entrance) elevation: This elevation is made up of 7 bays with a harled stair which accesses the 1st floor in the penultimate bay to the left. This bay also contains the main door into the building. The barracks have regular windows across the elevation. East and West elevations: These elevations have M shaped gable; the east has two doors at ground floor level. North (rear) elevation: This elevation is asymmetrical, grouped in 5-2 bays. The 5-bay group is symmetrical with a door at 1st floor in the centre bay. The 2-bay group is blank at ground floor level.

Out-house: This is a harl-pointed building with a hipped grey slate roof. Of note is the single 16-pane timber fixed-light in the west elevation to the right of centre.

Southern block (artillery storehouse): This is a single storey 11-bay building by the south gate. It is constructed of random rubble. The building is part harled with timber doors and timber sash and case windows. The roof is hipped grey slate with harled and coped ridge chimney stacks. A rubble store stands adjacent to the west elevation.

Reservoir: This is a single storey rubble building with a platform roof with pitches flanking it to the east and west.

Powder magazine: This has a harl-pointed and coped rubble wall enclosing a submerged and flagged courtyard with shifting room at the southeast corner and magazine at the centre. The shifting room is gabled with 2 evenly spaced square windows in west elevation and a door in the centre of its north elevation. The gabled magazine has slit windows in the middle of each elevation and doors on the south elevation.

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM90145 (Fort Charlotte: see separate designation record).

Statement of Special Interest

The ramparts of the 18th century fort follow the outline of those begun in 1665-7. It is uncertain, however, whether the fort was ever completely finished before peace was declared at Versailles in 1783. Drawings made that year by Captain A Frazer show traverses but it is doubtful that they were ever built. Otherwise, all the principal buildings shown on Frazer s plan still survive, some with later modifications. Except for being burnt with the town of Lerwick by the Dutch in 1673, Fort Charlotte has never seen enemy action throughout its history. The buildings inside have been variously used as the town jail and courthouse (1837-75), custom house, coastguard station, RNR depot and armoury, and drill hall for the Territorial Army. A photograph of the North bastion in the 1860 s shows the gun embrasures "with breeching and quarter-tackles rove exactly as in Nelson s day". They were used at this time for training seamen of the Royal Navy

In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following are excluded from the listing: scheduled monument SM90145 (Fort Charlotte: see separate designation record).

Statutory Address revised in 2018. Previously listed as 'COMMERCIAL ROAD AND HARBOUR STREET, FORT CHARLOTTE'.



Finnie M (1990). Shetland p18.

Fojut N and Pringle D, (1993). The Ancient Monuments of Shetland p59.

Gifford J (1992). Highlands and Islands p491.

Henderson T (1978). Shetland from Old Photographs plate 43.

Irvine J W (1985). Lerwick p51, 58, and 138.

RCAHMS (1946). Inventory Volume 3 Shetland p63 (Item 1244).

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Fort Charlotte

Find out more

Related Designations

  1. Fort Charlotte,LerwickSM90145

    Designation Type
    Scheduled Monument

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. 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 Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. 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 current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8716 or at


There are no images available for this record, you may want to check Canmore for images relating to Fort Charlotte, excluding scheduled monument SM90145, Commercial Street and Harbour Street, Lerwick

There are no images available for this record.

Search Canmore

Printed: 10/12/2018 22:45