The Sixern of Shetland

By R. Stuart Bruce, published September 1914


Credit: NMM SLR1298

The Shetland sixern (sixareen) six-oared open offshore fishing boat was very like a miniature Norse longship with an average overall length of 28-30 feet, beam of 6-8 feet and depth of hold amidships of about 27 inches. After the disaster of 20th July 1881 when ten sixerns and fifty-eight men were lost in a heavy gale their numbers dwindled with the advent of larger decked boats. The Islanders used to import the boats from Norway in disassembled form all ready to be put together. At a later period local carpenters began to build sixerns at home from sawn boards but the fishermen did not reckon these so good as the imported craft. The many local old Norse names employed for the various parts of the sixern and her gear are given by the author.

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Filed under: Atlantic | North Sea | Other (Nineteenth C)
Subjects include: Leisure & Small Craft | Ship Handling & Seamanship | Shipbuilding & Design

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