Neil Oliver meets the man who designed the first hydrogen car in Unst. Neil also visits the old Baltasound Herring Station. Dr Alice Roberts unearths a mysterious skeleton.
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What a fantastic place to start our journey -
on Unst, the most northerly inhabited island
in the British Isles.
I already know a few things about Shetland - it hasn't got any trees,
it's had an oil boom, and its history is more Scandinavian
But when you get here, you find this.
An early warning station.
Saxa Vord used to track German U-boats and Soviet aircraft.
But it's not on red alert anymore. Now, the island's going green.
This tiny car runs on hydrogen gas.
It's the brainchild of Unst man Ross Gazey.
-How you doin'?
-Not too bad.
-What is a hydrogen-powered car doing on Unst?
Well, I had this idea for hydrogen power, and all the things
it could be used for, and this car has become part of that.
And where do you get hydrogen from? You don't see a lot of that in the cold counter at a supermarket.
We actually make our own hydrogen from wind power and tap water.
You're pulling my leg.
No, not at all. Not at all.
We take the electrical power from the wind turbines that we have,
and we use it to generate hydrogen from tap water.
You do that just by passing your electrical current through water,
and it breaks water down into hydrogen and oxygen.
-Couldn't give us a lift, could you?
-No problem. Jump in.
This car's got no harmful emissions. The only thing that comes out
of the exhaust is water.
What is the top speed of the vehicle?
Hi-tech hydrogen cars might be the island's future,
but right now, this one's taking me on a journey back in time.
I'm travelling down the east coast of Shetland, to Baltasound.
This is exactly the sort of scene I was expecting. Just a few houses
and buildings dotted about, there's not a soul to be seen,
it's very peaceful and quiet.
But I know for a fact that here at Baltasound,
it wasn't always this way.
This was once a boom town. In its heyday, the prize was silver.
The silver darlings of the sea - herring.
Ian Napier knows the story.
What would this bay have looked like at the height of the herring boom?
It would have been a real hive of industry,
there's a record of as many as 16,000 people being here for
-the herring season.
-So this place would just have been crowded?
I mean, you hear stories about being able to cross the bay
without getting your feet wet. There were more than 2,000 fishing boats
based in Shetland for the season. All along the foreshore
there would have been a series of piers, each one would have had
a little huddle of buildings with it. When the fleet was in, it must have been very crowded.
At its peak in 1905, almost a quarter of a million barrels
of cured herring were packed here and dispatched to Eastern Europe.
It created opportunities.
The gutting and the packing of the herring, the emptying of the barrels
was all done by women. There would've been thousands of women working here.
It was perhaps the first time that they had the opportunity to earn cash.
The boom was inevitably followed by bust.
By the 1930s, bigger, faster ships started to bypass Baltasound,
and this small harbour fell silent.
Shetlanders have to live with the ebb and flow of opportunities.
The history of their struggle is written around the ribbon of this coast.
Remarkable secrets of an ancient civilization are beginning to emerge
at Sandwick Bay.
When coastal erosion revealed curious stones, the foundations of a 2,000-year-old settlement,
the islanders got together with a team of archaeologists
to unearth their Iron Age past.
It's the discovery of a virtually-intact skeleton
that makes this dig so exciting. Who is this?
And what can their burial tell us about this ancient society?
It's a mystery that bone expert Dr Alice Roberts hopes to solve.
Now, this dig is quite special to me,
because it's a chance to find out more about prehistoric Shetland,
and to find out specifically about the lives of people in the Iron Age here on Unst.
But also to meet one of those people.
'The islanders are working with Dr Olivia Lelong and her team
'to investigate this community and their unusual buildings.'
-It is literally right on the shore, isn't it?
-Yeah. You can see the wall,
standing up here. And it would've carried on up, probably curving around like that,
-with the slabs forming the walls and the roof.
-And all of this construction is going on in stone.
Which is very weird, isn't it, compared with the rest of Britain,
where you've got a lot of timber roundhouses and things being built in the Iron Age.
Here you've got buildings with stone floors, stone walls, stone roofs.
Yup. They're just using what they had and in very clever ways.
They didn't have trees, so they used the materials they had.
The discovery of hearths, fish and animal bones,
and pottery, suggests that these are homes. But who was living here?
I've been asked to put my skills as a bone expert to the test,
and examine the remains of this ancient islander.
The bones have been carbon dated at 1,800 years old,
but that's all that's known.
It is quite unusual to have bones this well preserved.
So this means the better preserved they are, of course, the more they can tell us.
We can tell whether this person's male or female, how tall they were, how healthy they were in childhood...
and that's somebody who lived... 1,800 years ago. On Unst.
If you just take one of these pelvic bones and just look at it,
and the narrowness of that would very much lead me to the conclusion
that this is likely to be male.
In terms of what you can look for on the skull, there is a ridge
above the ear hole just here. So that's masculine.
And quite a nose. I'm gonna say on balance I think it's a male.
And it's a male with quite a nose on him!
Now I know the sex, I can calculate his height from his bone measurements.
Five foot seven. So he's the same height as me.
There's no evidence of disease or malnutrition here.
This coastline provided a rich, varied diet for these Iron Age people.
The teeth are in pretty good condition, actually.
There's no tooth decay. So this is a young adult who,
if they were alive today, wouldn't need to have any fillings.
'We're gradually piecing together what life was like for this ancient community, but there's more.'
-Are these some of the artefacts that were buried with it?
That's amazing that it was actually found in the excavation - it's so tiny!
It's a little spiral of copper alloy bronze,
-with two little rings of what might be glass.
This was placed just beside the mouth.
There are various theories about what they were. The most popular is they were mirrors, or a picture
-of the moon.
-It almost looks like it's got little craters on it, doesn't it?
-It's one of those things we'll never know, isn't it?
-Yeah, probably not.
This coast once nurtured a people who didn't just survive here - they had an appreciation of beauty,
they made exquisite things, and they shared a culture where respect for the dead was important.
1,800 years ago, a young man was buried on this beach looking out to sea.
And this burial, and in fact the whole excavation,
has brought together the community to uncover its own heritage,
and to find out what it really means to be an islander on Unst.
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Neil Oliver meets the man who designed the first hydrogen car in Unst. Neil also visits the old Baltasound Herring Station. Bone expert Dr Alice Roberts unearths a mysterious skeleton which reveals the surprising lifestyle of ancient Shetlanders.