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Gairsay

An island of the Orkney Isles, situated at the head of the Wide Firth between Mainland Orkney and Shapinsay, Gairsay is separated from the island of Wyre to the north by Gairsay Sound. Extending to 240 ha (593 acres), it rises to a height of 102m (335 feet) in the centre of the island. Its had a population of 71 in 1841 but this had reduced to 5 by 1931 and Gairsay was uninhabited by 1961. A small population has been re-established, recorded as; 7 (1971), 6 (1981), 3 (1991), 3 (2001) and 3 (2011). The island is associated with the Viking Sweyn Asliefsson. During the 17th century a mansion house was built by Sir William Craigie at Langskaill on the site of Sweyn's drinking-hall. There are piers at Langskaill and to the east in the shelter of Millburn Bay which is sheltered by the peninsula known as the Hen of Gairsay. The island is surrounded by small islets, reefs and skerries including Sweyn Holm, Holm of Rendall, Grass Holm, Holm of Boray, Taing Skerry, Boray Skerries, Skertours and Little Seal Skerry.


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