Scheduled Monument

Fort Charlotte,LerwickSM90145

Status: Designated


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

The legal document available for download below constitutes the formal designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The additional details provided on this page are provided for information purposes only and do not form part of the designation. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within this additional information.


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Supplementary Information Updated
20th Century Military and Related: Fort, Secular: fort (non-prehistoric)
Local Authority
Shetland Islands
HU 47568 41524
447568, 1141524


The monument consists of the 17th century artillery fortification known as Fort Charlotte. Although a fort seems to have been built at Lerwick to protect ships of the English Republican Navy, no trace survives. The present fort was begun during the Second Dutch War (1665-7). Its construction was placed in the hands of Robert Milne, Charles II's master mason, and cost £28,000. It was roughly pentagonal in shape, with a battery set behind a zig-zagged parapet wall facing out over Bressay Sound to the east, and angled bastions defending the landward sides. It contained a two-storey barrack block holding 100 men, with space for another 200 to be quartered near by. The battery was never fully armed, and the rampart had not been finished by the time peace was made in 1667. During the Third Dutch War (1672-77) the fort was not garrisoned, but in 1673 the Dutch landed and burnt the abandoned barrack block.The fort was eventually completed during the War of American Independence (1776-83), when Britain was opposed by the naval forces of Spain, France and the states of northern Europe. It was named after George III's queen, Charlotte, and in March 1781, it was garrisoned by 270 soldiers of the Earl of Sutherland's Regiment.

The ramparts follow the outline of the fort left incomplete in 1667, with a seaward battery for up to 12 guns and bastioned defences to landward. A plan drawn in 1783 shows four traverses running back from the battery walls, designed to prevent enemy fire raking the battery, but it is doubtful if these were ever built. Otherwise all the principal buildings on this plan still survive, some with later modifications (these are separately listed and do not form part of scheduled monument). The main gate lies between the west and southwest bastions, while secondary gates are set in the north and south walls. A small postern gate between the west and northwest bastions appears to be a 19th- or early 20th-century slapping.

The area proposed for scheduling encompasses the whole area contained within the walls of the fort, the walls themselves, and a zone extending for 2m in front of the base of the walls on all sides, excluding all buildings in use as is shown in red on the accompanying map.

Statement of National Importance

The monument is of national importance as an almost completely preserved example of a late or 18th-century coastal battery and associated barrack, built in a period of tension to control one of the principal shipping lanes between the states bordering on to the Baltic and North Sea on the one hand and the European colonies in America and the Far East on the other. Its importance is enhanced by the fact that it partly encapsulates an earlier fort of 1665-7, and incorporates modifications made subsequently in the 19th and early 20th centuries.



RCAHMS records the monument as HU 44 SE 3.


Ball, R. G. (1965) 'The Shetland Garrison, 1665-1668', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 43, 5-26.

Brand, J. (1701) A Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland-Firth & Caithness, 132-133, 165.

Fojut, N. and Pringle, D. (1993) The Ancient Monuments of Shetland (Edinburgh), 56-62.

Gifford, T., Historical Description of the Zetland Islands in the Year 1733 (London 1786; repr. Edinburgh 1879) 5-7.

Hibbert, S. A., Description of the Shetland Islands (Edinburgh 1822; repr. Lerwick 1891, 1931), 128.

Low, G. (1879) A Tour Through the Islands of Orkney and Shetland' 1774, Kirkwall, 66.

Ritchie, A. (1985) Exploring Scotland's Heritage: Orkney and Shetland, Edinburgh, 24-25, no. 4.

RCAHMS (1946) Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland, 3 vols, Edinburgh, II, 63-64.

Historic Environment Scotland Properties

Fort Charlotte

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Related Designations

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

    Designation Type
    Listed Building (A)

About Scheduled Monuments

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.

Scheduling is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for monuments and archaeological sites of national importance as set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

We schedule sites and monuments that are found to be of national importance using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Scheduled monument records provide an indication of the national importance of the scheduled monument which has been identified by the description and map. The description and map (see ‘legal documents’ above) showing the scheduled area is the designation of the monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. The statement of national importance and additional information provided are supplementary and provided for general information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland accepts no liability for any loss or damages arising from reliance on any inaccuracies within the statement of national importance or additional information. These records are not definitive historical or archaeological accounts or a complete description of the monument(s).

The format of scheduled monument records has changed over time. Earlier records will usually be brief. Some information will not have been recorded and the map will not be to current standards. Even if what is described and what is mapped has changed, the monument is still scheduled.

Scheduled monument consent is required to carry out certain work, including repairs, to scheduled monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are made to us. We are happy to discuss your proposals with you before you apply and we do not charge for advice or consent. More information about consent and how to apply for it can be found on our website at

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Printed: 22/05/2024 17:37