no place for flowers

Shetland – windswept archipelago north of the Scottish Mainland. It is in many ways closer to Norway than it is to Scotland or the UK. Geography, history, and culture make Shetland feel more Scandinavian than Scottish. But whatever it feels like to its inhabitants, it certainly feels remote to visitors.

wet and windy

The islands were once far more densely populated that they are now. The climate can be challenging and even though the average rainfall is far lower than it is along the western shores of Scotland Shetland is often wet and mostly cold, with strong winds gathering into gales especially in autumn.

a kind of gentle Alaska

There are hardly any trees on Shetland, wood is sparse, little grows. It makes the wind even worse: relentlessly biting on land as the waves continuously roll towards Shetland’s shores.

This is a place for basics, no frills.

no place for flowers indeed

The only flowers to be seen are carved from stone.

In Isbister burial ground on the northern tip of Shetland mainland (Northmavine), a few shy mushroom flowers adorn the side of a grave and thick moss and lichen braid the cold headstones.

Beauty comes in a different guise.

pinning flowers to the ground

To fix fresh flower bouquets to the ground, metal hooks are used all over the graveyards and burial grounds of Shetland.

There is no spot on Shetland, that is further away from the sea than 3 miles. The sea sets the rhythm on Shetland. It sustains and it can be deadly.

no flowers on a seaman’s grave

There are no roses on a seaman’s grave is a saying taken from the German Auf einem Seemannsgrab, da blühen keine Rosen.

Shetland has a strong German connection.

Trading with the German Hanse and the ports in Lübeck, Hamburg and Bremen has a long tradition ands many a ship left the Shetland shores never to return again.

 

 

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