Fetlar Museum Digitisation Project

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Daily Life in Fetlar
In the 19th century, most of the food used in Fetlar households was grown on the island or caught in the surrounding waters. Milk was made into butter, kirn (curd cheese) and blaand (a drink made from whey). Fish was salted and dried, as was mutton, and wool was carded, spun and knitted into jumpers, lace shawls and other garments.

The first school in Fetlar was at Urie in the early 1800s and was funded by the Society for the Propogation of Christian Knowledge. Later the school moved to Still and then to its current position near Setter, and classes by the end of the 19th century were huge compared to today. Children would take a peat to school to fuel the fire, and would take time off at certain times of the year to help with the croft work. Schooling only lasted a few years.

The Kirk was an important influence on people's lives, and attendance on Sundays was just about compulsory. Even if a lifesaving windfall of food such as a beached whale appeared on a Sunday, it was unlikely that the men would be allowed to miss church. Occasions where they did have gone down in local tradition. There were also strong social penances for anyone transgressing the church's moral codes, such as having children out of wedlock.

But there was also fun and leisure time - Fetlar folk have always known how to enjoy themselves. "Guizing" was popular at New Year and Hallowe'en, when children and sometimes adults would dress up in strange costumes and go around the houses playing music and singing. Throughout most of the 20th century, dances were popular, especially when the Cheyne family provided them at Leagarth House and later gave over part of the house as a community hall.

Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
Handwritten letter Fetlar Schoolchildren - probably early 20th century Fetlar Schoolchildren - late 19th century Fetlar flit boat carrying goods from the steamer "Earl of Zetland" to Brough beach Guizers at a concert party, Fetlar, c.1932 Fetlar Schoolchildren - 1930s
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Click on a thumbnail picture below to view a larger image and a full detailed description.
Fancy dress ball - 1930s Frankie Coutts with three of his children at the old shop, Beach of Houbie - 1930s Cobbler's last Griddle Bone spoon Glove boards
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Heritage Lottery Fund
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Beach of Houbie, Fetlar, Shetland, ZE2 9DJ
Tel: 01957 733206 email: info@fetlar.com