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Heading for the stars in Shetland

Press Release   •   Oct 20, 2016 13:44 BST

A unique visitor attraction in Shetland which allows people to delve into more than 4,000 years of human settlement has been awarded VisitScotland’s highest Quality Assurance grading.

Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlements, in Sumburgh, managed by Historic Environment Scotland, have attained their 5 Star Historic Attraction Quality Assurance award from the national tourism organisation.

Visitors to Jarlshof can journey from prehistory into history. Neolithic people first settled on this site around 2700 BC and it remained in use until the AD 1600s. Vikings from Norway settled at Jarlshof in the 800s. The traditional longhouse at the heart of the farm is still clearly visible.

The farmstead grew and shrank in size over some 12 to 16 generations. By the late 1200s, this settlement had been replaced by a farmhouse to the east, with a barn and corn kilns attached.

The headland above the natural harbour of West Voe was the ideal place to settle for communities spanning several millennia. Layer upon layer of settlement built up on the headland. Earlier houses were abandoned and later ones built on top. Sand blown by the wind from the nearby dunes settled in between the layers and eventually sealed and protected the whole site.

Storms eventually revealed the hidden site in the 1890s and excavations then, as well as in the 1930s and 1950s, uncovered the remarkable sequence of stone structures spanning the low headland that are still visible today.

Developed and improved for over 30 years, VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance (QA) schemes are world-leading and provide a trusted, independent and impartial source of information for visitors. They allow businesses not just to meet visitor expectations, but exceed them.

QA can open the door to new customers. It is a powerful marketing tool and works well with online review sites in using an independent perspective to measure visitor experience against tried and tested criteria, so visitors know exactly what to expect.

Susan Loch, Head of Visitor Operations and Community Engagement at Historic Environment Scotland, said:

Providing great customer service is important to us at Historic Environment Scotland, so we are really pleased that the team at Jarlshof have been recognised for their world class service with an upgrade to a five star visitor attraction.

“Jarlshof is a monument rich in history and has a range of different types of interpretation, which all help our visitors to engage with and learn about the history of the site and Shetland. It is great to see that this has been recognised by VisitScotland, and has helped Jarlshof become a five star visitor attraction.”

Steve Mathieson, VisitScotland Islands Manager, said:

“Jarlshof Prehistoric and Norse Settlements thoroughly deserve this recognition following all the excellent work done at the site, which is one of the best known and important of Shetland’s numerous world-class archaeological sites.

“This historic attraction is an ideal fit for Scotland’s themed year for 2017 – the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Discoveries made here include a wide range of archaeological treasures in one place, such as late Neolithic houses, a Bronze Age village, an Iron Age broch and wheelhouses, a Norse longhouse, a medieval farmstead and a 16th century laird’s house.

“Our Quality Assurance scheme helps businesses to reach their full potential and truly shine. The scheme is about more than just the ‘stars’ on the door - it’s about the entire visitor experience, about investing in your business and making it as economically sustainable as it can possibly be.”

For more information on Jarlshof, visit: https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/jarlshof-prehistoric-and-norse-settlement/

For more information on VisitScotland’s Quality Assurance scheme, please visitwww.visitscotland.org/quality_assurance.aspx

Notes to Editors

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  • VisitScotland is Scotland’s national tourism organisation. Its core purpose is to maximise the economic benefit of tourism to Scotland.
  • The organisation’s core objective is to contribute to the Tourism 2020 Strategy ambition of growing tourism revenues by £1 billion by 2020.
  • This will be supported by seven overarching strategies:
    1. Marketing: we will market Scotland and its outstanding assets to visitors from all parts of the world, including the promotion of Scotland to people living in Scotland       to visit different parts of the country
    2. Events: we will support the national events strategy and its delivery, and sustain, develop and promote Scotland’s international profile as one of the world’s foremost events destinations
    3. Internationalisation and International Engagement: we will utilise all our platforms to enable Scottish-based tourism businesses to better understand international       opportunities and market to a global audience and we will work within One       Scotland Partnerships to optimise the potential of Scotland’s Diaspora and our strategic partners at regional, European and global levels
    4. Customer Experience: we will provide information and inspiration to visitors both locally and globally via their preferred medium of choice
    5. Quality and Sustainability: we will provide support and advice to businesses, with the goal of improving the quality and sustainability of the tourism sector in Scotland. We will provide quality assurance to visitors through our Quality Schemes
    6. Inclusive Tourism: we will strive to make tourism in Scotland inclusive and available to all
    7. Working in Partnership: we will listen to and work with the industry, partners and communities to shape our offering and support
  • VisitScotland works together with tourism businesses to make tourism a success for everyone and ensure the industry continues to grow.
  • The organisation employs 700 people and has offices and VisitScotland Information Centres across Scotland.
  • Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity in the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP (in basic prices). This represents about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
  • The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit www.gov.scot or follow @scotgovESIF
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  • For holiday information on Scotland go to www.visitscotland.com
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      2016 Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design

  • 2016 will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s achievements in innovation, architecture and design through a wide-ranging, variety of new and existing activity.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design started on 1 January 2016 and will end on 31 December 2016.It will build on the momentum generated by the 2015 Year of Food and Drink as well as previous years including Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland’s position as an “innovation nation”, its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Architecture + Design Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 
  • Join the conversation at #IAD2016

ERDF.