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Balta Isle.jpg
East cliffs of Balta
Location: 60°45’4"N, 0°47’17"W
Grid reference: HP661081
Area: 198 acres
Highest point: 144 feet
Population: uninhabited

Balta is an uninhabited island of Shetland. It lies off the east coast of Unst and Balta Sound. It has an area of 198 acres.

The cliffs can be dramatic here, amidst the storm-whipped sea the rocks are beaten into dramatic shapes. 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.[1]


Muckle Head

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.[2]

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.

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.


  1. "Balta Island Seafare". Retrieved 2008-01-05. 
  2. Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543. 
Islands of Shetland

Inhabited islands:
Mainland  •
Bressay  • Burra (East & West)  • Fair Isle  • Fetlar  • Foula  • Muckle Roe  • Out Skerries  • Papa Stour  • Trondra  • Unst  • Vaila  • Whalsay  • Yell

Other islands:
Balta  •
Bigga  • Brother Isle  • Colsay  • Hascosay  • Hildasay  • Lamba  • Linga, Muckle Roe  • Linga, Yell  • Mousa  • Muckle Flugga  • Noss  • Oxna  • Papa  • Papa Little  • Samphrey  • South Havra  • Uyea, Northmavine  • Uyea, Unst  • Vementry  • West Linga