Mousa Broch and Scott

A seasick Walter Scott wrote 'Mousa's Castled Coast' offshore from Mousa in 1814

On the island of Mousa, Shetland, stands the best-preserved broch in Scotland. Thought to have been constructed in about 300 BC, Mousa Broch stands 13m tall, a totem of Scottish prehistory.

A seasick Walter Scott wrote this poem, offshore from Mousa in 1814.

That summer, aged 43, Scott embarked on a voyage around Scotland’s coast, keeping a daily log of the journey. He sailed on the Lighthouse Yacht with the Commissioners of the Northern Lights.

Visiting Mousa, Scott gave a precise description of its measurements and described it as ‘a Pictish fortress, the most entire probably in the world’. While musing on its history, his group re-boarded their vessel as ‘the wind freshens and becomes contrary’. Sea-sick travellers to Shetland may relate to his experience!

Listen to ‘Mousa’s Castled Coast’

‘Mousa’s Castled Coast’ - lines penned by Walter Scott offshore from Mousa in August 1814.

Read 'Mousa's Castled Coast'

Why should I tell of Mousa’s castled coast
Why of the horrors of the Sumburgh-rost
May not these bald disjointed lines suffice
Penn’d while my comrades whirl the rattling dice

While down the cabin-skylight lessening shine
The rays & eve is chaced with mirth & wine
Imagined while down Mousa’s desert bay
Our well trimd vessel urged her nimble way

While to the freshening breeze she leaned her side
And bade her boltsprit kiss the foamy tide –
Such are the lays that Zetland’s isles supply –
Drenched with the drizzly spray and dropping sky
Weary & wet a sea-sick minstrel I.

Sir Walter Scott - Celebrating 250 Years

In 2021-22, Scotland celebrates the 250th anniversary of one of its most famous sons, Sir Walter Scott. This online exhibition and audio trail of his legacies is part of the celebrations.

'Mousa's Castled Coast' has been performed by Edinburgh actor Gavin Paul, who is looking forward to visiting some of these important historical sights.