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This sound walk invites you to explore Stenness beach as it once was - an important fishing station until the late 19th century. A unique, yet elusive, part of Shetland’s heritage. The soundscape encourages you to re-imagine the beach as a hive of activity, where communities of fishermen and traders made temporary homes over the summer months.

Placed in the landscape are audio fragments of sounds and voices - observations of early travellers visiting Stenness, archival documents relating to ‘haaf’ fishing, agreements binding men to the summer fishing, indebtedness, accounts of storms and loss of life, and even what the fishermen bought for their tea - so you will encounter many different voices.
















The map of the beach indicates the area containing about twenty sound clouds – it’s up to you to discover them. Take your time; slow down; absorb the place and sounds as you meander around the beach. Your entrance into a sound pool will be heralded by changes in the background sound – you might hear the crash of a wave, a bell ringing, a seabird calling, or even a ludder horn. Sound will change as you walk in and out of sound pools, voices will come and go.

To access Stenness sound walk is an easy 2-stage process: You need a mobile phone and headphones. The app holds all you need. Once downloaded the GPS signal on your phone will trigger the sounds.

IMPORTANT: download this before you go to the beach and from somewhere with a good signal.


Stage 1: Search & download 'SatsymphQR' from the Appstore or GooglePlay (it's free). It’s best to download the app from a fast wifi connection before setting off for the beach.

Stage 2: Once you have downloaded this app, open it. Point your phone camera at the QR code here and allow to download.  






How to navigate: Go to Stenness beach, Northmavine (Map: Landranger Sheet 3 Shetland - North Mainland, or use Google maps). Put on your headphones, open the Stenness app on your phone; it will start immediately. Put your phone in your pocket and wander.

Take care - watch out for the tides.

This is a site-specific sound walk so you need to go to Stenness, Northmavine and use the app to experience it fully. 

If you can't get to Shetland or don't have a mobile phone there is a shorter linear mp3 version available on the website:


Background: Significant as one of the largest of the summer haaf fishing stations, hundreds of men worked and lived at Stenness for the summer months in the 18th and 19th centuries. At its zenith 60 - 70 boats used the station, rowing out to the far fishing grounds to fish for Ling and tusk, the main salt-cured species for exporting.

Further information about the history of the fishing station is available on the website:

Stenness sound-walk has been made by Janette Kerr and Jo Millett in collaboration with art collective Satsymph. It merges recordings of sounds and spoken word, and uses innovative locative technology developed by Satsymph LLP. 

Janette Kerr is a visual artist whose work often involves walking, and historical and science-based research 

Jo Millett is a moving image and sound artist with a particular interest in temporality and location

Satsymph (Marc Yeats, Ralph Hoyte, Phill Phelps) are an artists' collective creating interactive soundworlds layered over real-world locations


Voices: Margaret Anderson, Ewan Balfour, Ruth Fisher, Gilbert Fraser, Dave Hammond, John N Hunter,  Nancy Hunter, Barbara Ridland, Peter Rutherford, John Shaw, Brian Smith, Wilma Stewart, Jim Tait, Valerie Watt.

Fiddle-player: Catriona Macdonald  - Shingly Beach, a tune written by her tutor Tom Anderson to capture the atmosphere of Stenness Beach.

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