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Listed Building

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


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 08/12/1971


  • Local Authority: Shetland Islands
  • Planning Authority: Shetland Islands
  • Burgh: Lerwick

National Grid Reference

  • NGRHU 47552 41516
  • Coordinates447552, 1141516


John Mylne, begun 1665-7, rebuilt 1781. Roughly pentagonal ramparts with bastions at corners enclosing complex of predominantly 18th century buildings (some with later alteration) with lime harled walls and droved sandstone ashlar dressings.

WALLS: random rubble with flagged wallhead, E wall battered to Commercial Street, W wall buttressed on E side.

MAIN (WEST) GATE: ashlar surround to N side comprising base course, string course at arch springers, keystone centring arch-head with cornice above. Deep flanking buttresses to E side, 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber gates.

SOUTH GATE: round-arched roll-moulded original arch, rubble infilled with margined door at centre, architraved surround to blank panel centred above. Wall buttressed to N side with segmental relieving arch supporting bridge over.

NORTH GATE: Plain round-arched entrance with rubble voussoirs and 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber gates.

WEST PILE: 2-storey, 11-bay symmetrical barrack block of double pile plan on sloping site. Base course, margined windows and doors.

E (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: flush-panelled timber entrance door, margined, with heavy bracketted cornice above centring elevation, blank at 1st floor. Regular fenestration in flanking bays, penultimate and outer bays at left and right advanced with taller storey heights.

N ELEVATION: door centring elevation at ground with window above; blank bays flanking.

W (REAR) ELEVATION: 10-bay near-symmetrical elevation, doorways flanking centre bay at ground, regular fenestration at 1st floor with segmental-arched lintels. Doorways at ground in bays to outer left and right with additional window inserted to left of latter.

S ELEVATION: mirrored image of N elevation.

12-pane timber sash and case windows, grey slate M-roof with cast-iron gutters and downpipes. Paired harled stacks with deep ashlar copes, ashlar skew copes.

NORTH PILE: 2-storey, 7-bay asymmetrical barrack block of double-pile plan on sloping site comprising 5-bay near-symmetrical building extended to W by 2 wider additional bays.

S (ENTRANCE) ELEVATION: 7 bays, grouped 2-5. Doorway at ground in bay to outer left offset to right and adjacent to harled stair accessing door at 1st floor in penultimate bay to left. Regular fenestration in bays grouped to right, door at ground in penultimate bay to left.

E ELEVATION: M-gable, with doors centring each at ground.

N (REAR) ELEVATION: asymmetrical, grouped 5-2. 5-bay group symmetrical with door at 1st floor in centre bay. 2-bay group blank at ground.

W ELEVATION: irregularly fenestrated M-gable.

12-pane timber sash and case windows, grey slate M-roof, harled stacks with copes and circular cans; ashlar skew copes.

OUT-HOUSE: harl-pointed random rubble walls, gabled N elevation with vertically-boarded timber door at upper level, narrow window to left of centre with vertically-boarded timber door to outer left, single 16-pane timber fixed-light in W elevation to right of centre. Grey slate roof, piended at S end, stugged and coped sandstone ridge stack, ashlar skew copes.

SOUTH PILE: single storey 11-bay range on sloping site. Random rubble N elevation, harled at 2 bays set back at outer right, and at side and rear elevations. 2-leaf vertically-boarded timber doors at centre bay, 12-pane timber sash and case windows in flanking bays, vertically-boarded timber doors in flanking bays, 12-pane timber sash and case windows in flanking bays and at bay flanking to left, 9-pane in bay flanking to right, vertically-boarded timber doors in bays to outer left and right. Grey slate piended roof with harled and coped ridge stacks.

Random rubble store adjacent to W elevation; gabled 2-bay N elevation with vertically-boarded timber door in bay to left, 6-pane timber sash and case window in bay at right; louvered square opening in gablehead. Single-flue stugged sandstone wallhead stack centring E elevation.

RESERVOIR: single storey random rubble building, platform roof with pitches flanking to E and W. N elevation; door at centre, 2-leaf doors in bay to left, door with flanking infilled openings in bay to right.

E elevation, single window at centre. S elevation; single window to outer right.

POWDER MAGAZINE: harl-pointed and coped rubble wall enclosing submerged and flagged courtyard with shifting room at SE corner and magazine at centre. Shifting room gabled with 2 evenly spaced square windows in W elevation and door centring N elevation. Gabled magazine with slit windows centring each elevation and doors flanking at outer left and right of S elevation.

Statement of Special Interest

Monument in Care. 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 Hollanders 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 N 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.



Noel Fojut and Denys Pringle, THE ANCIENT MONUMENTS OF SHETLAND (1993) p59. RCAHMS Inventory Volume 3 SHETLAND (1946) p63 (Item 1244).

Mike Finnie SHETLAND (1990) p18. Tom Henderson SHETLAND FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS (1978) plate 43. James W Irvine LERWICK (1985) p51, 58, and 138. John Gifford HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS (1992) p491. NMRS Ref: A/404-2, 24, 22 and 37. Groome?s GAZETTEER p498.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

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.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

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 local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. 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.

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Printed: 29/05/2016 14:26