Loch of Tingwall - location of the Norse Parliament in Shetland

Tingwall, Shetland

Tingwall parish is 19 miles long and 10 miles wide, located in the centre of the Shetland Mainland and includes the settlements of Scalloway, Whiteness, Veensgarth and Gott, and the Vallafield housing estate. Tingwall extends from the Atlantic at Scalloway, to the North Sea at Rova Head and includes thetingwall-kirk-shetland-large formerly inhabited islands of Hildasay, Langa, Linga, and Oxna.

At the centre of the parish is Tingwall Kirk, which is the second oldest kirk in use in Shetland. Although the Kirk does not have a particularly remarkable exterior, the interior of the kirk is very attractive. The graveyard is notable as it has a burial vault where Andrew Crawford, the master builder of Scalloway Castle and the Earls Palace in Orkney, was laid to rest.

Tingwall is divided by a hill ridge and contains the lochs of Tingwall, Girlsta, Asta, Strom and others. At Law Ting Holm, an islet at the northern end of the Loch of Tingwall, the Norse held their annual parliament. law-ting-holm-largeTingwall was the ancient heart of Shetland, named because of meeting place.

Tingwall derives from the Old Norse Þingvöllr (field of the thing). A thing or þing was the word for a Norse parliament. þings were often held on a Þingvöllr, or “Þing field”, where a mound would be raised. The mound was built with handfuls of earth from all members different districts, so that each member could say that they were on home ground. A slight mound can still be seen on Law Ting holm, but it has been eroded. tingwall-murder-stone-shetland-large Here a group of men would meet with the Earl on an annual basis.

Standing on the eastern roadside between two lochs about 1.5 km southward of Law Ting holm is the Murder Stone – a 2m tall standing stone which was erected to commemorate the death of Malise Sperra, Lord of Skaldale. After a quarrel with his cousin Henry Sinclair, the 1st Earl of Orkney, at a Thing meeting in the year 1389, a battle broke out and Malise Sperra and seven of his supporters were slain.

Nearby in Tingwall, the Asta Golf Course can be found on the shore at the west side of Asta Loch, just north of Scalloway. This is a nine-hole course on relatively flat and grassy land (other golf courses in Shetland tend to be on hilly, peaty land) with modest charges.tingwall-airport-shetland-large

One final reason for visiting Tingwall is to go to Tingwall Airport. From here you can catch inter-island flights to and from Fair Isle, Foula, Out Skerries and Papa Stour. Inter-Island Air Services are operated by Directflight (under contract from Shetland Islands Council) There is a handy bus service which operates between Tingwall Airport and the Viking Bus Station, Lerwick.

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