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Parish of Cross and Burness

A historical perspective, drawn from the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

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1791-99: Cross, Burness, North Ronaldshay and Ladykirk
1834-45: Cross and Burness

Cross and Burness, a united parish in the N of Orkney, comprising the south-western and north-western limbs of Sanday island, and also, in its quoad civilia estate, the island of North Ronaldshay. It contains a post office of the name of Sanday, with money order and savings' bank departments, under Kirkwall; and, bordered on the E for 1¾ mile by Lady parish, is on all other sides surrounded by the sea. Cross, which forms the south-western section, terminates in a dismal moor of 200 acres, separating it from Burness. Well sheltered by Eday from westerly winds, it presents a diversified surface, which rises at two points to more than 300 feet above sea-level, and breaks down, at one of its heights, in a coast precipice perforated by curious caverns; a considerable lake is occasionally visited by flocks of wild swans. Burness, separated on the E from the greater part of Lady parish by Otterswick Bay, has flat shores and a verdant fertile surface. The rocks are sandstone, sandstone flag, and a little limestone. The neighbouring sea-waters produce enormous quantities of shell-fish. This parish is in the presbytery of North Isles and synod of Orkney; the living is worth £245. There are two parish churches, Cross, with 248 sittings, and Burness with 262. In May 1880, in making excavations for the foundations of an addition to the manse, it was discovered that the old building, lately demolished, had been standing on the ruins of an ancient broch. For schools and population see Sanday.

An accompanying 19th C. Ordnance Survey map is available, or use the map tab to the right of this page.

Note: This text has been made available using a process of scanning and optical character recognition. Despite manual checking, some typographical errors may remain. Please remember this description dates from the 1880s; names may have changed, administrative divisions will certainly be different and there are known to be occasional errors of fact in the original text, which we have not corrected because we wish to maintain its integrity. This information is provided subject to our standard disclaimer

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