Balta (Shetland)

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Norse name Baltey
Meaning of name Old Norse for
Balta is located in Shetland
Balta shown within Shetland
OS grid reference HP661081
Physical geography
Island group Shetland
Area 80 ha (198 acres)
Area rank 162 [1]
Highest elevation 44 m (144 ft)
Political geography
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Country Scotland
Council area Shetland Islands
Population 0
References [2][3][4][5]

Balta (Old Norse: "Baltey"[5]) is an uninhabited island in Shetland, Scotland.

East cliffs of Balta
Muckle Head


Balta lies off the east coast of Unst and Balta Sound. It has an area of 80 ha.

There is a natural arch on the eastern side of the island.

Balta Island Seafare and Skaw Smolts are the most northerly fish farm and fish hatchery in Britain.[6]


Historic remains on the island include the ruins of a broch and of a Norse chapel dedicated to Saint Sunniva. There are no census records of more recent inhabitation.[3]

John MacCulloch visited Balta in May 1820 to carry out the Trigonometrical Survey for the Ordnance Survey. Balta was the northernmost station of the zenith sector.[7]

The Balta Light, at the southern tip of the island was one of the first concrete structures in Shetland. The lighthouse was designed by David Stevenson and built in 1895. It was demolished in 2003 and replaced by a small solar-powered light.[8]


  1. ^ Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands >20ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
  2. ^ National Records of Scotland (15 August 2013) (pdf) Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: First Results on Population and Household Estimates for Scotland - Release 1C (Part Two). "Appendix 2: Population and households on Scotland’s inhabited islands". Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7. 
  4. ^ Ordnance Survey. Get-a-map (Map). 1:25,000. Leisure. Ordinance Survey. Retrieved 21 August 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Anderson, Joseph (ed.) (1873) The Orkneyinga Saga. Translated by Jón A. Hjaltalin & Gilbert Goudie. Edinburgh. Edmonston and Douglas. The Internet Archive. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
  6. ^ "Balta Island Seafare". Archived from the original on 18 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  7. ^ Derek Flinn (1981). "John MacCulloch, MD, FRS and his Geological Map of Scotland: His Years in the Ordnance. 1795–1826". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London (London: The Royal Society) 36: 91. doi:10.1098/rsnr.1981.0006. JSTOR 531659. 
  8. ^ Marter, Hans J. (10 November 2003). "Historic lighthouse to go". Machine. Retrieved 15 October 2013. 

Coordinates: 60°45′N 0°47′W / 60.750°N 0.783°W / 60.750; -0.783