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Working together to uncover Shetland's coastal

archaeology & maritime heritage 

Moder dy:  a Shetland dialect phrase meaning mother wave, an underlying swell of the sea, which 19th-century small open boat fishermen used to guide them to land.

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Coastal archaeological survey

What we do


Moder Dy is a not-for-profit organisation, founded by maritime ethnographer, Dr Marc Chivers and archaeologist, Dr Esther Renwick. We work to increase awareness of Shetland's eroding coastal maritime heritage by engaging with and supporting our communities through coastal archaeology research projects.


We believe it is vitally important to work with our local communities to identify and record Shetland's eroding coastal archaeology so that a more complete narrative of an almost forgotten, boat dependant, way of life, can be constructed.   


Communities should have the opportunity, be supported, and actively engaged to discover and record their own heritage. Through these projects we believe communities can become more resilient through the discovery of the narratives of the past.

Our community projects are provided free of charge. This means that we are reliant upon funding support and donations to ensure that our work can continue.


If you would like to show your appreciation and give Moder Dy a little boost, then please click the buy me a coffee button.

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Our social purpose

Shetland has a powerful story of strong connected seaward-facing communities. Through sharing these stories and encouraging hands-on participation in active research we believe we can build confidence and resilience in both communities and individuals.

  • We believe that heritage should be accessible by all and we work to identify and remove these barriers to heritage engagement and participation. 


  • We believe that fresh air, good company, and interesting projects are powerful tools for well-being. 


  • Through our projects, we aim to empower individuals by supporting them to learn new, transferable, skills which in turn helps to build confidence and improves self-esteem.

  • As a member of the Climate Heritage Network we have pledged to bring the power of arts, culture and heritage to climate action. 



Collaborative projects


Where possible we partner with other organisations in order to broaden project expertise and engage with as wide a cross-section of the community as possible. We are particularly keen to support and involve groups and individuals who might not normally engage in coastal archaeology and maritime heritage projects.

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We believe research should be accessible. See the link above for our open-access reports, presentations, useful links and publications. 

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