Old County of Shetland


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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1834-45: Shetland

Shetland, a group of islands and islets lying NE of the Orkney Islands, forming a division of the county of Orkney and Shetland, and the most northerly part of the whole of Scotland. The group consists of 29 inhabited islands, about 71 smaller islands used for grazing purposes, and a very large number of waste rocky islets and skerries. All the islands except two-Fair lsle and Foula-form a compact group, the most southerly point of which, Sumburgh Head, is 50 miles NE of Point of Sinsoss, the most northerly point of North Ronaldshay. Fair Isle is 27 miles ENE of Point of Sinsoss and 24 SW of Sumburgh Head, and Foula is 27 miles W of Scalloway and 16 WSW of the nearest part of the Mainland island at Wats Ness in the parish of Delting. Four miles NE of Foula are the Havre de Grind Rocks. The group extends from N latitude 60° 51' 45" (Out Stack, N of Unst) to 59° 30' 30" (Meo Ness at the S end of Fair Isle), and from W longitude 0° 40' 20" (Bound Skerry, one of the Out Skerries NE of Whalsey) to W longitude 2° 7' (Wester Hoevdi on the W side of Foula). Excluding the outlying islands, the compact main portion extends from N latitude 60° 51' 45" (at Out Stack) to 59° 50' 56" at Horse Island W by S of Sumburgh Head, and from W longitude 0° 40' 20" (at Bound Skerry) to 1° 40' 30" at Fogla Skerry W of Papa Stour. The distance in a straight line, from either The Gord or The Noup at the N end of Unst south-south-westward to Sumburgh Head, is 70 miles, and the breadth, from Bound Skerry west-south-westward to Fogla Skerry, 35 ¾ miles, but the average breadth is very much less. Sumburgh Head lies 170 miles N of Buchan Ness, and the distance from Out Skerries across the North Sea to the mainland of Norway near Bergen is 204 miles. The principal island of the group is the Mainland, which comprises more than half the area, and contains fully two-thirds of the inhabitants. It extends from N to S for 54 miles-that being the distance in a straight line from Point of Fethaland (N) to Sumburgh Head (S)-and has an extreme breadth of 215/8 miles from Stava Ness on the S side of Dury Voe opposite Whalsey, to Matta Taing on the W near Melby. It is impossible to give any general idea of its outline, as the coast-line is everywhere broken up by deep voes, * some of which run so far inland as almost to divide the land into several islands. The chief of these bays or inlets are, from N to S, along the E coast, Burra Voe, Colla Firth, Gluss Voe, Sullom Voe-including Ell Wick (at the head) and Garths Voe (E)-Orka Voe, Dales Voe, another Colla Firth, Swining Voe, and Lunna Voe-these four all close together W of Lunnasting-Hamna Voe, Vidlin Voe, Dury Voe, South Nesting Bay, Cat Firth, Wadbister Voe, Lax Firth, another Dales Voe-these four close together to the N of Bressay Sound- Brei Wick, Voe of Sound, Gulber Wick, Aith Voe, Sand Wick, Hos Wick, Channer Wick, and Leven Wick-the last four all branches of one great opening near Sandwick: at the S end West Voe of Sumburgh, and on the other side of Scatness Quendale Bay: on the W side of the long promontory that runs southward and terminates at Sumburgh Head are St Ninian's Bay and Bigton Wick, and away to the N of this is Clift Sound, at the upper end of which is Scalloway Bay, and farther N are Whiteness Voe, Stromness Voe, Weisdale Voe, Sandsound Voe, Sand Voe, Seli Voe, Skelda Voe-the last five opening out into The Deeps and Sandsound Voe passing up into Sandsting Firth and Bixter Voe: farther W are Gruting Voe passing up into Browland Voe, and Vaila Sound; and on the W side of the island is the great St Magnus Bay (12 x 7 miles), with Voe of Snarraness, West Burra Firth, Brindister Voe, and Voe of Clousta on the S; Aith Voe (SE), Gon Firth and Olna Firth (centre), and Busta Voe (NE)-at the head; and Mangaster Voe, Ura Firth, and Brei Wick, on the N: and farther N still is Ronas† Voe. Many of the inlets are well sheltered, and afford convenient anchorages. St Magnus Bay and Ell Wick at the head of Sullom Voe approach so near to one another that the parish of Delting is connected with the rest of the mainland by a narrow neck of land only some hundred yards wide, and at Gluss Voe, Orka Voe, Lunna Voe, and elsewhere there are also very narrow necks. All round Mainland are many islands and islets, the chief of the former, exclusive of Yell, being West Linga, Whalsey, Bressay, Isle of Noss, and Mousa on the E side; East Burra, West Burra, Trondra, and Vaila on the SW; Papa Stour on the W, and Muckle Rooe, Vementry, and Papa Little at the head of St Magnus Bay. Of the islets the chief are Gruney (¾ mile N of Point of Fethaland), Muckle Holm, Lamba, Brother Isle, Little Roe, Uynarey, Bigga, Samphrey, Fish Holm, Linga, and Lunna Holm, all in Yell Sound; East Linga, E of Whalsey; Colsay, at St Ninian's Bay; South Havra, S of Burra; Papa, Oxna, Langa, and Hildasay, NW of Burra; and Linga, E of Muckle Rooe. West Linga is separated from the main island by Lunning Sound (11/8 mile), and from Whalsey by Linga Sound (4 furl.); Bressay from the main island by Bressay Sound (¼ to 1 mile), and Isle of Noss from Bressay by Noss Sound (200 yards); Mousa from the main island by Mousa Sound (½ mile at narrowest part); East Burra and Trondra from the main island by Clift Sound (¼ to ¾ mile), the one from the other by Stream Sound (200 yards), and East Burra from West Burra by Long Sound (N), South Voe (middle), and West Voe (S), none of these being anywhere more than ½ mile wide, and so narrow at the junction of Long Sound and South Voe that the two islands are here connected by a bridge; Vaila is separated from the main island by Wester Sound (¼ mile NW), Vaila Sound (N), and Easter Sound (300 yards NE); Papa Stour from the main island by Sound of Papa (1 mile); Vementry by Criba Sound and Uyea Sound (100 to 400 yards, both SE); Papa Little by The Rona (3 furl. SW) and Sound of Houbansetter (¼ to ½ mile E); and Muckle Rooe from Vementry by Swarbacks Minn (1 mile S) and from the main island by Roe Sound (150 to 300 yards NE). Four miles NE of Whalsey are the Out Skerries, the most easterly of them being Bound Skerry; and NE of Mainland are the large islands of Yell, Unst, and Fetlar. Yell is separated from Mainland by Yell Sound, which runs due N and S for 10 miles, and then passes SE for 2½ miles, and E for 4. The north-and-south portion has an average breadth of from 3½ to 4 miles; the narrowest part is about the middle of the south-easterly portion, where, at the island of Bigga, the width is only 2¼ miles; and at the E end the distance from Lunna Holm (Mainland) to Burra Ness (Yell) is fully 2¼ miles. The small islands lying in the Sound have been already mentioned, and at the NW corner of Yell is the small Gloup Holm, at the S end of Bluemull Sound is one of the many islands called Linga, and farther S opposite the middle of the E coast is Hascosay, separated from Yell by Hascosay Sound (½ mile), to the E of which beyond Colgrave Sound (¾ mile to 4 miles) is Fetlar. To the NE of Yell, and separated from it by Bluemull Sound (½ to 1 mile wide and 4 miles long), is Unst, with the Rumblings, Tipta, Muckle Flugga, and Out Stack skerries to the N, the last being the most northerly portion of Scottish land. Off the middle of the E coast are Balta and Huney; near the SE corner is the small Haaf Gruney; and at the S end is Uyea, separated from Unst by Uyea Sound (2½ furl. NW) and Skuda Sound (¼ to ½ mile NNE).

* A voe is a fiord; a geo, a rocky creek with precipitous sides; a wick is a broad, open bay.

†So the Ordnance Survey, but the proper spelling is more probably Rooe-ness-Rooe being a corruption of the Norse raudr,' red.'

The surface is irregular, and generally rises higher than in Orkney. About half the whole area is over 250 feet above sea-level, but only in a few places does it rise higher than 500 feet, the highest points being Ronas Hill (1475 feet) near the centre of the parish of Delting, in the NW of Mainland, and The Sneug (137) in Foula. Particulars of all the leading islands and inlets will be found under their separate headings. Between North Ronaldshay and Fair Isle the sea bottom has a depth of from 40 to 60 fathoms, and between Fair Isle and Sumburgh Head the greatest depth is from 60 to 80 fathoms, except at two points NE of Fair Isle, where the depth is between 80 and 100. About the compact portion of the islands the depth of the voes, wicks, and sounds is nowhere greater than 20 fathoms, and a rise of 120 feet would unite the whole into one island, except Out Skerries; East Linga, Grif Skerry, and the surrounding rocks ENE of Whalsey; Ve Skerries off St Magnus Bay, Fair Isle, and Foula. The last three would not be united to the others till a rise of 360 feet had taken place, when dry land would stretch from Caithness northward far beyond Unst, but all the others would be joined by a rise of 240 feet. The slope of the sea-bottom round the coast from sea-level to 40 fathoms is rapid, but afterwards it becomes more gradual, except SE and E of Sumburgh Head, where the rapid slope continues to 80 fathoms, which is reached within about 4 miles of the shore. Moderate, however, as is the depth of the voes and sounds, the winding nature of the inlets, which, cutting inland on every hand, threaten ere long to add to the number of the islands, attest the hard nature of the struggle that is constantly taking place between the land and the surge of the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea. No spot, even on the Mainland, is 3 miles from the sea in all directions, and probably no equal land area on the face of the earth has such a large extent of coast-line. 'Probably no part of the British coast-line,' says Dr Archibald Geikie, 'affords such striking evidence of the violence of the waves as that which may be seen along the margin of the Shetlands. These islands are exposed to the unbroken fury at once of the German Ocean and of the Atlantic, while the tides and currents of both seas run round them with great rapidity. Hence their seaboard wears in many places an aspect of utter havoc and ruin. Against their eastern side the North Sea expends its full violence, tearing up the rocks from the craggy headlands, and rolling onwards far up into the most sheltered fiords. he island of Whalsey, for instance, lying off the east side of the mainland, about the middle of the Shetland group, is completely sheltered from the gales of the Atlantic. Yet in the Bound Skerry of Whalsey [Out Skerries], the breakers of the North Sea have torn up masses of rock sometimes 8½ tons in weight, and have heaped them together at a height of no less than 62 feet above high-water mark. Other blocks, ranging in bulk from 6 to 13½ tons, have been actually quarried out of their place in situ at levels of from 70 to 74 feet above the sea. One block of 77/10 tons, lying 20 feet above the water, has been lifted from its bed and borne to a distance of 73 feet from SSE to NNW over abrupt opposing faces of rock as much as seven feet in height. On the west side of the Shetland Islands the fury of the Atlantic has produced scenes of devastation which it is hardly possible adequately to describe. In stormy winters, huge blocks of stone are overturned or are removed from their native beds to a distance almost incredible. Dr Hibbert found that in the winter of 1802 a tabular mass, 8 feet 2 inches in length, by 7 feet in breadth, and 5 feet 1 inch in thickness, was dislodged from its bed and removed to a distance of from 80 to 90 feet. In 1820 he found that the bed from which a block had been carried the preceding winter, measured 17 et by 7 feet, and 2 feet 8 inches in depth. The removed mass had been borne a distance of 30 feet, when it was shivered into thirteen or more fragments, some of which were carried still further from 30 to 120 feet. A block of 9 feet 2 inches by 6½ feet, and 4 feet thick, was hurled up the acclivity to a distance of 150 feet. " Such, " he adds, "is the devastation that has taken place amidst this wreck of nature. Close to the Isle of Stenness is the Skerry of Eshaness [at the NW corner of St Magnus Bay], formidably rising from the sea, and showing on its westerly side a steep precipice, against which all the force of the Atlantic seems to have been expended; it affords refuge for myriads of kittiwakes, whose shrill cries, mingling with the dashing of the waters, wildly accord with the terrific scene that is presented on every side. " The result of this constant lashing of the surge has been to scarp the coasts of the Shetlands into the most rugged and fantastic cliffs, and to pierce them with long twilight caves. Dr Hibbert describes "a large cavernous aperture, 90 feet wide, which shows the commencement of two contiguous immense perforations, named the holes of Scranda [or Scraada, near the NW corner of St Magnus Bay], where in one of them that runs 250 feet into the land the sea flows to the utmost extremity. Each has an opening at a distance from the ocean by which the light of the sun is partially admitted. Farther north other ravages of the ocean are displayed. But the most sublime scene is where a mural pile of porphyry, escaping the process of disintegration that is devastating the coast, appears to have been left as a sort of rampart against the inroads of the ocean. The Atlantic, when provoked by wintry gales, batters against it with all the force of real artillery-the waves having, in their repeated assaults, forced for themselves an entrance. This breach, named the Grind of the Navir, is widened every winter by the overwhelming surge, that, finding a passage through it, separates large stones from its sides, and forces them to a distance of 180 feet. In two or three spots the fragments which have been detached are brought together in immense heaps, that appear as an accumulation of cubical masses, the product of some quarry." In other places the progress of the ocean has left lonely stacks, or groups of columnar masses, at a distance from the cliffs. Such are the rocks to the S of Hillswick Ness [N side of St Magnus Bay], and the strange tower-like pinnacles in the same neighbourhood called the Drenge or Drongs, which, when seen from a distance, look like a small fleet of vessels with spread sails.,

Farther interesting details of a similar nature may be found in a paper by Mr Stevenson, the eminent lighthouse engineer, in the fourth volume of the Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and in his book On the Design and Construction of Harbours (1864), as well as in a paper communicated to the British Association by Mr Peach in 1864. The tidal wave comes rushing with great speed and force from the westward, and causes everywhere round the coast currents and eddies of such a nature as to require the greatest care and skill in their navigation, and even in the calmest weather, at the northern and southern extremities, and in the narrow channels where the force of the current is greatest, there is always a considerable sea running. * The flowing tide seems to strike first at the NW, whence one branch passes down the W side, and along the N side of St Magnus Bay towards its head. The rush of water into the bay itself strikes on the southern shore, and while part flows out by the Sound of Papa, the rest is deflected eastward to the top of the bay, and meeting the current from the N side rushes with great force into the open space at Mavis Grind, N of Muckle Rooe. The portion that passes through the Sound of Papa is again united with the main current, which beats against the whole coast on its passage southward, till at Sumburgh Head it turns off south-eastward through Sumburgh Roost. Other branches in the extreme N rush through Bluemull and Yell Sounds, and meeting at the E side with the branch of the tidal wave that has passed round the N end of the group, produce very wild and dangerous cross currents, particularly all round Fetlar. At Out Skerries and Whalsey this current again divides, one branch passing onward to the SE and the other down the E coast of Mainland to meet the W coast current at Sumburgh Roost. During the ebb the flow of the various currents is almost exactly reversed.

* When a south-easterly gale is blowing against the run of flood tide, Sumburgh Roost, at the S end of Mainland, is probably the wildest portion of sea all round the British coast.

Set thus 'far amid the melancholy main,' and that main, too, of such a boisterous and uncertain nature, it is hardly to be wondered that the Shetland Islands long remained a terra incognita-of which the inhabitants of 'the adjacent islands of Great Britain and Ireland, had only the vaguest idea, and that idea, like everything vague, almost entirely wrong-more especially when we consider that the only means of communication in the beginning of the century was a sloop, which was supposed to sail from Aberdeen once a month for Lerwick; but as the start depended on the weather and the skiper, only some seven voyages a year were actually made. Yet notwithstanding this, one is hardly prepared to find in the edition of Bailey's Dictionary, published in 1800, Shetland described as consisting 'of about forty islands at the north of Scotland, where the sun does not set for two months in summer, and does not rise for two months in winter;' or that somewhere about 1810 the Commissioners of Customs refused to pay bounty on some herring caught about Shetland in the winter, on the ground that, as the islands were surrounded by ice at that season of the year, no fish could possibly have been caught there; though perhaps such ignorance can hardly be wondered at when we reflect that about 1854 the Home Office authorities seem to have laboured under the delusion that Gaelic was the common dialect in Orkney; that in 1872 the Education Department were so ignorant of the real condition of the islands, that they approved of plans whereby the school board of Mid and South Yell proposed to spend about £7000 in the erection of six schools, while the whole rental of the parish, from rates on which this was to be paid, amounted to only £1300; and that in 1882 one of the leading London dailies in formed its readers that a Glasgow artist had been drowned at 'Kirkwall, Shetland!' Except business men and an occasional traveller of scientific tastes, the islands had, before the publication of the Pirate, and still more the introduction of steam communication all the year round in 1853, practically no visitors at all, but this is now changed, and the northern archipelago has a very large tourist traffic. Nor is this to be wondered at, for the scenery of Shetland is far before that of Orkney, and the rocks are surpassed by nothing anywhere in Britain, and hardly equalled out of Cornwall-'a strange wild land of stacks and skerries, of voes and geos, and of cliffs and caves,' with but few things to compare with the grand sweep of St Magnus Bay, as seen from the top of Sandness Hill, or with the cliffs of Foula. 'It would almost seem,' says Sheriff Rampini, 'as if the Shetland Islands had been specially prepared by nature to be the home of a Scandinavian people. None but the hardy Norsemen,

"Whose house, of yore,
was on the foaming wave,"

would voluntarily have selected this desert of peat-moss and weathered rock-"this wilderness of mount and moor and moss, quhairin are divers great waters', -for his chosen resting place. For, after all, this "Old Rock, " as its sons love to call it, is no land flowing with milk and honey, no Goshen, no Deseret, no Land of Promise, no

"Emerald isles of Paradise
Set in an azure sea."

The kindly fruits of the earth are conspicuous by their absence. There is never a tree on its whole surface, for the stunted specimens-twisted by the wind and lopped by the gales-which exist in some sheltered localities, scarcely deserve the name. It lies amidst boiling seas. Terrible tempests range round its coasts. There is scarcely a feal-thatched cottage within its bounds from which the cruel sea has not taken toll of its inmates. Sky, sea, and shore are too often of a dull leaden hue. Its climate is damp and humid. It has ten months of winter, says a facetious traveller, and barely two of summer. Its shortest day is only five and a half hours long. Still there are compensations. If there are dayless winters, there are also nightless summers. In the months of June and July darkness is unknown. The sun sets only to rise again. One can read small print at midnight, and the lark'- `Our Lady's hen," as the country people used to call it-may be heard singing at one in the morning. So, too, though the winters are long, the cold is never intense. If the winter days are dark, the nights are illuminated with the brilliant rays of the Aurora Borealis. Above all, if nature has been chary in her gifts of luxuries to the rich-in the fruits and flowers of more genial and southern climates-she has made up for this in her abundant supply of necessaries to the poor. Peats and fish and oil-fuel and food and light-are the heritage of every Shetland peasant. Thus, though in his lot there may be great poverty,- there never can be, except by his own indolence and want of energy, actual privation. As for the scenery of this lone, northern land, it has a subtle charm which is all its own. It is only within the last few years that the attractions of the Shetland landscape have begun to be recognised. It was reserved for Sir Walter Scott, whose wonderful eye for the picturesque is not the least attribute of his genius, to discover its capability as a theme for graphic and picturesque description. But even Sir Walter himself failed to perceive wherein its principal charm lay. Grand and romantic as is the rock scenery of its western coasts, tender and touching as on a calm summer eve is the beauty of its quiet voes and solitary lochs, the true beauty of the Shetland landscape consists in its unequalled effects of light and shade. Other parts of Scotland can boast of as beetling crags, as solitary stacks, as gloomy caves, as peaceful beaches, as reposeful nooks as any to be seen within its limits; but none can approach it in the weird and splendid variety of its aerial aspects. Its gorgeous sunsets, its opaline dawns, the changing lights and shadows on its green hillsides, the diversified hues and colours of its seas, have a fascination and a spell which only those who have seen them can adequately understand. From these results the passionate attachment of the islanders to their native land-an attachment so intense and so deep-rooted as to produce at times, in the case of Shetland girls in domestic service in the south, a peculiar and aggravated form of nostalagia, known in the faculty by the name of morbus islandicus. From these, also, results that atmosphere of mystery and romance which has always gathered around the very name of Ultima Thule. What Britain was to Rome according to Lord Macaulay, in the days of Procopius, the Shetland Islands have always been to the rest of Scotland. Even if we discount the fertile products of local tradition and superstition-the legends of trows and elves and fairies, of giants and gay carles, of mermaids and seal-maidens, of bokies (bogies) and gruties (gruesome beings), of Niogles and water-horses, of Finns and ghosts and devils-in which the native mythology of the islands abounded, there still remains sufficient to satisfy the imagination of the most ardent lover of the marvellous. The works of the older travellers are full of the wonders of this distant and enchanted land. Brand, whose credulity was only equalled by his piety, has preserved for us a long list of the ferlies of which the Islands boasted in his day. On the top of a hill in Unst, he solemnly assures us, there was a hole, covered with a slate, down which a Dutch skipper let eighteen fathoms of rope, without finding a bottom. In the kirk-yard of Papa Stour was a gravestone which had floated ashore with a dead man tied to it. There was a gentleman's house at Udsta in Fetlar, where the needle turned to all the points of the compass. It was a well-known fact that no cats would ever stay in the island of Vaila. It was an equally well-known fact that not only were no mice found in the islands of Burra and Haskassey, but that earth taken from them and sprinkled in other places, would infallibly drive them away. Nor is the marvellous confined only to the soil. It attaches to its history as well. Few countries so limited in area can boast of so thrilling, so romantic-I was almost going to say-so pathetic a history; nor one which is so sharply defined in the various stages of its progress. Alike in its Pre-historic, its Heroic, its Feudal, and its Renascent age-although these are each and all of them an age later than in other parts of the Kingdom-it excites in us an interest entirely disproportionate to its territorial extent, while, at the same time, presenting us with almost typical representations of the social and political characteristics of these various phases of civilisation. And though the materials for its annals are meagre and few, consisting only of the mute records of the Brochs, the doubtful testimony of Skaldic songs, and the stained and mutilated fragments of old charters and parchments, they have attracted the attention of antiquarians and scholars as the chronicles and archives of no other country have done.'

There are a large number of little brooks, many of which near their mouths contain good trout. There are also a large number of fresh water lochs, many of them of fair size. The principal are the lochs of Cliff, Watlee, Stourhoull, and Snarravoe in Unst; Gossa Water, Lumbister, Colvister, Vatsetter, and Kettlester in Yell; Papil Water in Fetlar; Moosa Water, Muckle Lunga Water, Tonga Water, Roer Water, Gluss Water, Eela Water, Punds Water, and Burraland Loch, in the N and NW of Mainland; Clousta Loch, Vaara Loch, Sulma Water, Burga Water, Lunga Water, Voxterby Loch, and Gossa Water in the centre (W) of Mainland; and- Strom Loch, Tingwall Loch, Vatsetter Loch, and Loch of Spiggie in the centre and S. Formerly the fishing was poor, as every means legal and illegal was used to destroy the trout, but as Shetland was erected into a fishery district in 1883, matters will now be much improved. The close time extends from 10th September to 24th February, both inclusive; but the rod season lasts from 1st February to 15th November, both days inclusive. In many of the lochs the fishing is free, and for most of the others the necessary permission is by no means difficult to obtain.

The land area of the islands is 551.4 miles or 352, 876 acres. The inhabited islands, with their populations in 1871 and 1881 respectively, are as follows:-Bound Skerry (2; 2), Bressay (878; 847), Burray, one of the Out Skerries (43; 59), East Burra (239; 215), West Burra (442; 427), Fair Isle (226; 214), Fetlar (517; 431), Foula (257; 267), Grunay, one of the Out Skerries (19; 25), Hascosay (4; 0), Hevera or South Havra (32; 35), Hildasay (3; 7), Holm of Papil or Papa (5; 4), Housay, one of the Out Skerries (71; 71), Langa, in Tingwall (7; 4), Linga, close to Hildasay (12; 10), Linga, N of Vaila (10; 13), Muckle Flugga (3; 3), Muckle Rooe (216; 230), Noss (24; 3), Oxna (29; 30), Papa (20; 14), Papa Stour (351; 254), Mainland (21, 698; 20, 821), Trondra (126; 133), Unst (2768; 2173), Uyea in Unst (9; 5), Vaila (11; 9), Whalsey (784; 870), and Yell (2732; 2529).

Shetland has a much more equable temperature throughout the year than most places on the mainland of Great Britain, the total average range of temperature being as in Orkney about 16°, while at Thurso it is 20°, at Leith 22°, and at London 25°. The general remarks made as to the temperature of Orkney apply equally here, except that the averages are from 1° to 2° lower, except for August, when they are higher in the same proportion. The variations of temperature are, however, very rapid, and even at midsummer wind from the N or NW causes a fall at once. The mean average rainfall is considerably above that of Orkney, being about 48.6 inches, and this dampness renders the climate unpleasant to strangers, though the natives do not seem to find it unhealthy. The prevailing winds are from NW to SW, and in autumn the gales from these quarters are so heavy as often seriously to injure the crops. Next in frequency are winds from N and NE, which are generally- accompanied by settled weather, but though dry and healthy they are bitterly cold, and as they are common in spring they often check the progress of vegetation. -The spring is thus generally cold and late, and can hardly be said to begin before the end of April, and there is but little real warmth till the middle of June, but from that time till summer terminates between the middle and end of September the growth of vegetation is very rapid. Sometimes sudden and dangerous gales occur about midsummer, and in one on 20 July 1881 ten ` sixern ' boats belonging to the North Isles were lost and 58 persons drowned. The magnificent sum of £15,500 was raised by public subscription throughout Great Britain for the relief of the widows and orphans, and being much larger than was required a portion of it was set aside as the nucleus of a general Shetland Fishermen's Widows' Relief Fund for the relief of those left destitute by disasters at sea. Autumn extends to about the middle of October, and from that time till the end of March there is an almost constant succession of high winds and heavy rains. Fogs are frequent in May and June, and the few thunderstorms that occur generally break in winter during high winds and long-continued falls of rain or snow. Owing to the high latitude the summer evenings are long and in fine weather charming. At the longest day the sun rises at 38 minutes past 2 and sets at 33 minutes past 9; but even after his departure he leaves his glory behind in the bright glow of delicate tints of violet, yellow, and green that lie along the northern horizon. For a month at this season the light is so strong all night through that small print may be read without difficulty. At the shortest day the sun rises at 12 minutes past 9, and sets at 59 minutes past 2; but the long nights are often lit up by very brilliant displays of aurora borealis. Stray specimens of walrus that had wandered too far S have been seen on several occasions. The common seal and grey seal, which were at one time very numerous, are now greatly reduced in numbers; but schools of ca'ing whales are very common, no fewer than 1540, it is said, having been killed at Quendale Bay within two hours on 22 Sept. 1845; and solitary specimens of the razor-backed whale, the narwhal, and the manatee are known to have occurred. Among the birds of prey are the golden eagle, the white-tailed eagle, the osprey, the Greenland falcon, the Iceland falcon, the peregrine falcon, and all the common hawks, except the sparrow-hawk, which is rare, as are also the first three birds mentioned. Ravens are common, but rooks are rare, and grouse, though introduced, have never prospered. Among the rarer plants may be mentioned cochlearia officinalis at Out Stack; ophioglossum vulgatum and polypodium dryopteris, near Ordale House; hymenophyllum Wilsoni, at Skaw; trientalis Europœa, at Hermaness; saxifraga oppostifolia, at Sand Voe; and nymphœa alba, in a loch at the base of Ronas Hill.

Geology.—The geology of Shetland presents certain remarkable features which never fail to arrest the attention of visitors to those regions. The great development of the metamorphic crystalline rocks, containing an abundant series of minerals, has become widely known through the descriptions of Dr Hibbert and Professor Heddle; while the isolated masses of Old Red Sandstone, with their associated igneous rocks, give rise to much of the striking scenery along the seaboard.

Beginning with the stratified metamorphic rocks, they are divisible into two groups with well-marked lithological characters-(1.) dark blue and grey clay slates and schists, with occasional bands of limestone; (2.) coarse micaceous and hornblendic gneiss, with quartzites, chlorite-schists, mica-schists, and limestones. The members of the former group occupy a considerable tract on the Mainland, extending from the S promontory at Fitful Head, N by the Cliff Hills to Laxfirth Voe; while the more highly crystalline gneissose series covers wide areas in Tingwall, Weisdale, Nesting, Lunnasting, Delting, and along the E seaboard of Northmaven. Along the line of junction between these two groups, extending from Scalloway N by Tingwall Firth to Laxfirth Voe, the strata are generally inclined to the WNW; and hence, if we take the order of superposition as an index of the succession, we might naturally infer that the clay slate group represents the oldest members of the metamorphic series. Beds of limestone occur in this group at Ocraquoy and Fladabister, but their development is insignificant compared with the massive limestones of Tingwall and Weisdale. At Tingwall the massive limestones are overlaid by coarse micaceous and hornblendic gneiss, which is the prevailing rock in the centre of the Mainland, forming, indeed, all the great parallel ridges between Scalloway and Weisdale Voe, except the promontory between Whiteness Voe and Stromness Voe. Another great belt of limestone crops out in Weisdale Voe, and extends N to Dales Voe in Delting. To the W of this limestone zone the strata consist of coarse micaceous gneiss, mica-schists, and quartzites, which, both in Weisdale and Delting, are inclined to the WNW and NW at angles varying from 60° to 70°. The metamorphic rocks that have become famous for the variety and beauty of the minerals contained in them, are to be found along the E seaboard of Northmaven, and on the Hillswick promontory between Sandwick and Urie Firth. The latter locality has been carefully explored by Dr Heddle, who has published detailed descriptions of the minerals in the Mineralogical Magazine. From his descriptions, and those of Dr Hibbert, it appears that the strata forming the Hillswick promontory consist of mica-schist, chloriteschist, and hornblendic gneiss, pierced by numerous dykes and veins of pink quartz-felsite-evidently offshoots from the great intrusive granite mass so largely developed in Northmaven. Among the minerals found in the rocks on this promontory, the following may be mentioned: hornblende, actinolite, epidote, anthophyllite, precious serpentine, steatite, chlorite, kyanite, calcite, and fluor-spar.

Again, along the E seaboard of Northmaven, between Ollaberry and Fethaland Point, there are several excellent mineral localities in the metamorphic series. In Colafirth Voe, not far to the N of Ollaberry, the strata consist of chlorite-schist, margarodite-schist, hornblende rock, hornblendic-gneiss, serpentine with chrysotile, which are flanked on the W by the great granitic mass of the Biurgs. Perhaps the most interesting of the sections in this part of Northmaven occurs at Fethaland, where some beautiful minerals have been obtained. The peninsula of Fethaland is composed mainly of gabbro, a crystalline rock consisting of diallage and triclinic felspar. Above Kleber Geo excellent specimens of the former mineral are to be found. In this bay chloriteschist, actinolite-schist, and steatite occur-indeed, the name Kleber Geo is given to this locality from the occurrence of steatite or soap-stone, which is termed ` Kleber ' or ` Klemmer stone ' by the Shetlanders. Many tourists purposely visit this locality, to examine the curious sculptures on the weathered face of the steatite, in the form of squares and circles. From this locality the following minerals have also been obtained: ilmenite, magnetite, pyrite, asbestos, and amianthus. Not far to the S, in Pundy Geo, Professor Heddle found a band of chlorite of singular beauty, containing octahedral crystals of magnetite.

The island of Yell is composed of coarsely crystalline gneiss with granite veins, the prolongation towards the N of the gneissose strata of the Mainland. Similar strata are met with in Whalsey and in the Out Skerries of Whalsey, but in the latter islets the gneiss is associated with crystalline limestone.

The metamorphic series in Unst and Fetlar presents several interesting features on account of the remarkable development of serpentine and certain minerals associated with it. The prominent ridge of high ground along the W coast of Unst is composed of gneiss, inclined to the SE, succeeded by mica-schist, chloriteschist, and graphite-schist. The schistose strata overlying the gneiss are well developed in the hilly ground in the N of the island, between Burra Fiord and Norwick Bay. At Cliff a band of limestone is associated with these schists, which, however, has not been traced across the island. The graphitic schists pass underneath the serpentine at the S end of the island near Bellmont, and again on the E coast in Norwick Bay. The serpentine crosses the island from SW to NE, extending from the Gallow Hill near Bellmont to the Nivv Hill beyond Haroldswick Bay, varying in breadth from ¼ to 2 miles. It is widely known, on account of the veins of chromite found at Hagdale, which will be referred to under the section on Economic Minerals. Native copper and malachite have also been found on the S side of Haroldswick Bay, and at other localities asbestos, brucite, talc, magnetite, and arragonite have been obtained. There is one celebrated locality in this island where talc can be got of an exquisite apple-green tint-indeed, it would be difficult to obtain finer specimens of this mineral. The locality, which was discovered by Dr Heddle, is situated in the NE corner of Haroldswick Bay, in Quin Geo, where it is associated with dolomite, magnetite, and other minerals. To the E of this mass of serpentine there is a belt of gabbro, forming a parallel strip upwards of a mile in breadth, flanked on the E by chloriteschists and mica-schists, exposed on the shore near Muness Castle. At the extreme SE promontory there is another small area of gabbro resembling that on the Vord Hill and on Balta Island.

The group of stratajust described are continued towards the S in the island of Fetlar. In the centre of the island the chlorite-schists and graphitic-schists form a low arch, throwing off to the E and W gabbro, diorite, and serpentine. Along the W seaboard the gabbro and diorite are succeeded by coarse micaceous gneiss; while towards the E, in Gruting Bay and at Heilinabretta, the micaceous, chloritic, and graphitic schists again appear.

Only a passing reference can be made to the large mass of diorite in Northmaven, stretching from Mavis Grind to Roeness Voe, and to the remarkable epidotic syenite described by Hibbert near Loch Spiggie in Dunrossness, which is traceable through the islands lying to the W of the Cliff Hills to the Mainland at Bixetter.

The isolated relics of Old Red Sandstone still preserved to us in Shetland clearly show what an important development of this formation is to be found in those islands. Fossils are not very plentiful throughout the strata, but recently the remains of plants have been obtained at new localities in the neighbourhood of Walls, in altered sandstones and flags. This discovery has resulted in the addition of about 40 square miles of ground to the area occupied by the Old Red Sandstone. Along the E seaboard of the Mainland the representatives of this formation occur at intervals between Rovey Head, N of Lerwick, to Sumburgh Head, and may be grouped in the following order:-

5. Flaggy series of Bressay.
4. Lerwick Grits and Sandstones.
3. Rovey Head Conglomerates.
2. Brenista Flags.
1. Basement breccia resting unconformably on the crystalline rocks.

The breccia forming the base of this formation on the E seaboard is seen only at a few localities owing to the existence of faults, which bring different zones into conjunction with the metamorphic series. In the neighbourhood of East Quarff, at Fladabister, and again near Loch Spiggie in Dunrossness, the unconformable junction is admirably seen, the breccia being composed of angular fragments of the underlying rocks. The red and chocolate coloured flags of the second subdivision are to be found capping the breccia between Fladabister and East Quarff, but the best exposure of them is to be found on Brenista Ness, where they are gently inclined to the E, and conformably overlain in Gulberwick Bay by coarse conglomerates belonging to the third group. The latter can be traced at intervals N to Rovey Head, situated about 2 miles N of Lerwick, where, by means of a fault, they are thrown against the crystalline schists. Resting on these conglomerates, and forming the hilly ground in the neighbourhood of Lerwick, we find a succession of grey massive sandstones and grits with shaly partings which occasionally yield plant remains in the quarries to the S of the town. The members of this group are followed in regular order by a great development of flags, shales, and thin-bedded sandstones of the island of Bressay, in which specimens of Calamites Cannaeformis have been found. An admirable section of the flaggy series of Bressay is to be seen in the great sea-cliff of Noup Head (477 feet), at the base of which certain dark shales with calcareous nodules occur, resembling the well-known fish-bed of the Moray Firth basin.

When we pass to the W side of the Mainland there is a remarkable change in the features presented by this formation. Instead of an unbroken succession of sedimeutary deposits, there is a striking development of contemporaneous and intrusive igneous rocks forming noble cliffs in Northmaven, Sandsting, and in Papa Stour. There can be little doubt that during the deposition of portion of the strata on the E side of Shetland volcanoes must have been active in the W area, discharging sheets of lava and tuffs which were spread over the sea-floor and buried underneath the accumulating sediments. But in addition to the volcanic materials ejected at the surface, there are extensive areas occupied by granite and felsite which were injected amongst the sedimentary deposits and crystallised at a considerable depth. Before indicating the areas where these igneous rocks occur, reference must be made to the tract of highly altered strata in Weisdale, Walls, Sandsting, and Sandness. Till the discovery of numerous plant remains in these altered strata in 1878 by Messrs Peach and Horne, they had been grouped with the metamorphic series of Shetland; but the nature of the plant remains, comprising specimens of Psilophyton princeps and Lepidodendron nothum, clearly showed that they are merely an altered portion of the Old Red Sandstone. This tract of altered strata is bounded by two great faults, one extending from Aith Voe in Aithsting to Selie Voe in Sandsting, and the other from the island of Papa Little, by Clouster Voe, Burra Firth, to Sandness Hill. There is a small patch of sandstones and shales at Melby resembling the unaltered beds on the E seaboard.

The contemporaneous lavas and tuffs associated with this formation occur at several localities on the W side of the Mainland. The best exposure, however, is to be found in Northmaven between Stenness and Ockren Head, where they are thrown into a synclinal fold, the axis of which runs in a N and S direction from Stenness by Hamna Voe to the mouth of Roeness Voe. On the S side of the latter sea-loch they are brought into conjunction with a great intrusive sheet of pink felsite by a fault which is admirably seen on the sea-cliff. Similar interbedded lavas and tuffs are to be found at various points round the shores of Papa Stour, where they are overspread by a later sheet of pink felsite. A bed of diabase porphyrite is to be found in the Holm of Melby, close to Papa Stour, while at Clouster Voe in Aithsting, on the Mainland, there are dark green diabase lavas associated with the indurated flags and shales. The only relic of these interbedded rocks on the E seaboard occurs on the E shore of Bressay, where a thin band of tuff is intercalated between the flagstones. Interesting as these volcanic ejectamenta doubtless are, there are still more striking manifestations of the volcanic activity which characterised that period, presented to us in the form of sheets, dykes, and necks. Of these, the intrusive sheets are the most important, as they cover large areas in Northmaven and Sandsting on the Mainlaud, a great part of Meikle Rooe, a portion of Vementry, and nearly the whole of Papa Stour. The masses in Northmaven, Sandsting, Vementry, an d Meikle Rooe consist of coarse granite composed mainly of pink orthoclase, felspar, and quartz, with only a small quantity of mica, while the great sheet in Papa Stour is made up of pink spherulitic felsite. On the E shore of Bressay and in the island of Noss there are traces of old volcanic vents or necks from which some of the igneous materials were discharged.

The glacial phenomena of Shetland are of special interest on account of the evidence in favour of a remarkable extension of the Scandinavian ice sheet in the North Sea during the primary glaciation. From recent researches it would appear that along the E seaboard of the Mainland and in Whalsey, the Outskerries of Whalsey, Yell, and Unst, the general trend of the glacial striæ is W, WSW, SW, and, in certain instances, SSW. But when we cross to the W side of the Mainland the direction of the ice-markings swings round to the N W and NNW. These are supposed to have been produced by the Scandinavian ice sheet crossing the islands towards the Atlantic during the primary glaciation. A detailed examination of the boulder clay sections on the W side of the Mainland and in the N islands points to the conclusion that stones have been transported in the moraine profonde from the E to the W of these islands. For instance, blocks of serpentine and gabbro derived from the E side of the Vallafield ridge in Unst are found in the boulder clay on the W coast, while striated blocks of flags and grits derived from the E side of the Mainland between Lerwick and Dunrossness are also found in this deposit on the W coast. These facts evidently point to an ice movement from E to W, but there are also certain data which point to a later glaciation, when local glaciers radiated from the more elevated parts of the Mainland and the N islands. During this period the direction of ice flow between Lerwick and Dunrossness was towards the SE, when certain morainic deposits were accumulated containing fragments of slates from the Cliff Hills.

Economic Minerals.—Some of the mineral localities in Shetland have been indicated in the foregoing article, but there are certain mineral veins demanding special notice. In Unst a valuable vein of chromite occurs in the serpentine on the SE slope of the Heog Hills. According to Dr Heddle this vein has yielded thousands of tons of ore, and runs in an E and W direction, not continuously but in irregular ` bunches, ' throwing one or two offsets near Buuess. The chromite at Hagdals is associated with Emerald Nickel, Arragonite, Kammererite, and Williamsonite. Another important vein of ore occurs at the Sandlodge mine on the Mainland, from which is obtained sparry carbonate of iron, or chalybite and copper pyrites. With these are associated native copper, limonite, chalcopyrite, fibrous malachite, and psilomelane. According to Hibbert there is evidence of the presence of magnetic iron in a small hill in Whalsay proved by the deflection of the magnetic needle. Magnetite also occurs at Fethaland Point on the Mainland, and at Osta in Fetlar. Iron pyrites occur at Garthsness and at Fethaland. Excellent building stone is obtained from various members of the Old Red Sandstone on the E side of the Mainland, especially from the Lerwick grits and sandstones.

Soils and agriculture.—The soil is of much the same nature as in Orkney, but there is less inducement to cultivate even the good alluvial soil along many of the voes in consequence of the damp and stormy climate. There is in Mainland and Unst a considerable extent of peat-moss, which is cut for fuel; but this has been done in many cases so injudiciously that the heavy rains have washed away the whole of the lower soil. The mosses abound in roots and stems of trees, which show that the islands have not always been in their present treeless condition. The land is held as in Orkney, the original udal tenure having now in the majority of cases been converted into feudal holding by the same causes as are noticed in the article on the Orkney Islands. At Tingwall and Dunrossness, and in Bressay, Whalsey, and Unst, there are some good farms-one in Bressay indeed being almost as early as any farm in the north of Scotland-` but the uncertainty of the returns from the grain crops is a great bar to extensive agricultural - projects, and the feeling is yearly gaining ground that improvement of land should proceed in the direction of grazing and green crops. The harvest in average years is generally so late, and the weather so uncertain, that crops which promise all that could be wished to-day, are, to-morrow, blackened and blasted by an unexpected change to rain, sleet, or snow. No single cause, however, is so injurious as the drift which, in stormy weather, is blown from the sea over the land, carrying ruin in its train. ' The rest of Mainland and by far the greater part of Yell is pasture or peat-moss; and Unst and Fetlar, which are noted for the production of butter, abound in excellent pasture land, there being almost no moss. The small average size of the holdings, the want of roads, rents paid till recently in kind, and the many exactions piled on tenants by the crown donatories or their tacksmen all operated against any improvement in Shetland agriculture, and just as in the case of Orkney and the failure of the kelp trade, so in Shetland such slight improvement as has taken place is due to the failure of the potato crop in 1847-49. The small holdings still operate against improvement, more than half of the arable land being held by crofters-and by crofters too who, looking on a croft and its accompanying scathold or right to hill-grazing as an absolute necessary of existence, yet cannot possibly, like their Orcadian brethren, exist by agriculture alone, but look to the sea to supply their chief means of living. The fundamental idea on which the old system of agriculture was based was the ` toun ' or township, the nature of which has been already sufficiently indicated in the article on Orkney; but in Shetland it is much more of a living power than in the other group of islands, and runrig itself is not yet altogether a thing of the past. The tillage is mostly done by the long-handled spade, and the only crops are oats, bere, and potatoes, the latter occupying about a fourth of the holding, which averages from 3 to 10 acres. There is no rotation, and land is rarely, if ever, allowed to lie fallow. The only manure is sea-weed or large quantities of peat-earth that has been used for bedding cattle. Hay is practically unknown. Potatoes became a common article of diet about the middle of last century, and the few turnips grown are for domestic use only. Cabbages, which were introduced by Cromwell's soldiers, are kept during winter in small walled patches called plantie-cruives, and transplanted in summer.* The first step to any improvement in such cases must be by a division of the scatholds, and this has in many cases been already accomplished. Of a total of 3839 holdings, 3765 were of 50 acres or under, 34 between 50 and 100, 30 between 100 and 300, 7 between 300 and 500, and 3 over 500; and the average area of the smaller holdings was 9¾ acres. The ground under crop and permanent pasture rose from 50, 454 in 1870 to 58, 383 in 1884. The acreage under the various crops at different dates is given in the following table:-

Year. Barely or
Oats. Turnips. Potatoes.
1866 2139 8695 347 2609
1874 2398 8606 505 2831
1882 2610 8123 869 3313
1884 2531 7789 1066 3344

while about 200 acres are annually under other green crops; about 1000 acres on the large farms are allowed to lie fallow; and there are 41, 649 acres under permanent pasture.

The agricultural live-stock in the county at different dates is shown in the following table:—

Year. Cattle. Horses. Sheep. Pigs. Total.
1868 20,255 .. 73,506 5385 ..
1874 21,683 5951 86,718 4853 119,205
1882 21,345 5305 81,163 3788 111,601
1884 22,373 5345 84,003 3753 115,474

The cattle, which seem to be descended from Norwegian animals, are small, and somewhat resemble Alderneys. They are well shaped and flossy, and when fattened weigh from 2 to 3 cwt. They are thoroughly suited for a country where the grazing is poor; are good milkers when well fed; and their flesh forms tender and finely flavoured beef. The sheep are, like the native sheep of Orkney and the Hebrides, small animals of Scandinavian origin, but a bones of similar animals are found in the brochs, the must have been introduced into the island before the Norwegian occupation. Though small they are very active and even intelligent, and their wool is note for its fine quality, the best of it being moorat, i.e., yellow brown in colour. The animals are not shorn in the usual way, but the fleece is removed by ` rooing ' or plucking. The finest wool is procured from the neck and shoulders. The mutton is excellent. Considerable numbers of black-face, Cheviot, and half-bred sheep are now, however, to be found in various districts. The ` horses ' are the well-known Shetland ponies, from 9 to 10 hands high, and the best animals are black, bay, or iron-grey in colour. They are supposed also to have a Scandinavian origin, and to owe their dwarfed condition to neglect and hard living, for they are seldoin or never admitted within the walls of a building; and, ranging about in herds in a half wild state over the commons and hills, they have to find their own food both winter and summer. A considerable number are said to perish every winter from exposure and hunger, but this seems to weed out the weak specimens, and the animals, which are in great demand for children, as well as for work in coal pits, are strong, spirited, and enduring far beyond the proportion of their bone and bulk. They do not reach maturity till about eight or nine years old, and till they are three or four their bodies are covered with long woolly-looking hair. The pigs, like all the other domestic animals of Shetland, are small and peculiar. They have small bones, erect and pointed ears, and very strong snouts. The back is short and arched, the legs long, and the body covered with long bristly hair, varying in colour from dunnish white to black, and from which formerly the ropes used by the cragsmen on the ` banks ' were made. They are hardy and active, and as they are generally allowed to run about wild, they do a great deal of mischief, especially where the soil is sandy. Poultry of all kinds, particularly geese, are extensively kept, and the annual exports of eggs alone are worth probably nearly £30, 000 a year. In 188 4 the number of turkeys in the islands was 86, of geese 4463, of ducks 7368, and of fowls 37,113.

* 'The liberal custom of the country.' says Sir Walter Scott, ' permits any person who has occasion for such a convenience to select out of the unenclosed moorland a small patch. which he surrounds with a dry-stone wall. and cultivates as a kail-yard, till he exhausts the soil with cropping, and then he deserts it and encloses another. This liberty is so far from inferringan invasion of the right of proprietor and tenant that the last degree of contempt is inferred of an avaricious man when a Zetlander says he would not hold a plantie-cruive of him.'

Industries.—Fish of all kinds are plentiful round the shores of the islands, and for centuries the great mainstay of the Shetlanders was the ling or haaf (Scand. hav or haaf, ` the deep sea ') fishing, but of late years the herring fishing has been so enormously developed, as to throw the haaf fishing quite into the shade. The herring fishing in the Shetland seas was practically in the hands of the Dutch fishermen till the early part of the 18th century, when a French fleet destroyed a large number of their busses, and the field began to be left open to home enterprise. During the Napoleonic wars the Hollanders had to keep away from their old ground, and advantage was taken of the opportunity by the proprietors along the coast to get the fishings into their own hands, each of their crofters being bound as a condition of his tenancy to assist in fitting out and manning a boat, as well as to assist or provide assistance in curing operations. Proprietors who were non-resident, or did not care to embark in the fishing, leased their rights and privileges to fish-curers, and as both classes set up shops for the supply of their tenants, goods being given in exchange for produce and work, this was really the origin of what is known as the Truck System of Shetland, which was investigated by a Government Commissioner in 1872, and which the force of public opinion has now almost, if not altogether, stopped, much to the welfare of the Shetland fishing community. The Dutch have never recovered their old hold, though a large number of booms and luggers still make their appearance every year. These gather in Bressay Sound, and during the period that intervenes between their arrival and St John's Mass when they begin to fish, the sailors land at Lerwick and hold high festival, pony-riding affording great amusement, both to themselves and to those who have the good fortune to witness their brilliant exploits in horsemanship (see the account of this in Campbell's pamphlet on the Great White Herring Fishery, and in Dr Kerr's Shetland and the Shetlanders in Good Words for 1866). From 1834 to 1842 the boats engaged in the Shetland herring fishing were about 1100 annually, but as the average catch over the whole fleet was sometimes as low as 5 barrels, and never during that period more than 60, the number gradually diminished, till, in 1874, only 96 boats were here so employed, the total catch being 1180 barrels; by 1879 the number of boats had increased to 206, and the catch to 8755 barrels; while in 1880 with 217 boats the catch was 48,552 barrels; in 1882 with 372 boats the catch was 134,187 barrels; and in 1883 with 807 boats 256, 664 barrels. The boats are gathered from all the fishing ports on the N and E coasts, as well as from England, Ireland, and the Isle of Man, and they are scattered round the islands at about 100 different stations, the chief of which are Lerwick and Balta Sound. The great development of the industry since 1875 seems to be due to the introduction of first-class decked boats in place of the old ` sixern ' or six-oared boats used by the Shetland fishermen. These-lineal descendants of the lang-schip of the Vikings-were about 20 feet in the keel, 6½ wide, and 3 deep. They carried a lugsail, containing about 60 yards of canvas, and though the Shetlanders managed them with the greatest skill, and would even venture in them in rough weather long distances from land, they were quite helpless in gales. In 1877 there were 3 decked boats belonging to the island, and by 1882 the number had risen to 77. Shetland forms one of the Scottish fishery districts, and there were, belonging to the islands in 1883, 654 boats, employing 3064 resident fisher men and boys. The principal stations for first-class boats were Lerwick with 45, Whalsey with 14, and Burra with 14; for second-class boats, Dunrossness with 13, Levcnwick with 11, Whalsey with 11, Out Skerries with 14, Gloup with 12, Fethaland with 16, Stennis with 24, and Papa Stour with 10; and for third-class boats, Dunrossness with 50, Vaila with 16, Scalloway with 18, Bigton with 10, Quendale with 16, Foula with 12, and Fair Isle with 13. The boats were valued at £34,096, the nets at £23,074, and the lines at £5200; and the total number of persons employed in connection with them, inclusive of fishermen, was 5654. The deep-sea fishing was in the hands of German merchants down to 1712, when a high duty imposed on imported salt and the establishment of a custom house at Lerwick proved fatal to their interests. The fish caught are cod, ling, and tusk, the latter a white and flaky-fleshed fish, never seen S of the Moray Firth, and more plentiful on the E side of Shetland than on the W. The dried cod goes to Spain, and the ling to Ireland, but the tusk is mostly used at home. Nearly one-half-sometimes nearly two-thirds-of the total quantity of cod, ling, and hake captured in the whole of Scotland come from Shetland, the number of fish having in 1883 been 1, 617,262 out of a total for the whole of Scotland of 3, 620, 207. Besides boats, 40 smacks, with a total tounage of 1932 tons, and employing 468 men, were engaged in the fishing, the number of fish thus caught being 625, 309, weighing 14, 934 cwts. The smack fishing is carried on about the Faroe islands and Iceland. Conger, skate, and halibut (locally turbot) are also caught, and in 1876 boxes of these packed in ice began to be sent to the south markets. In that year the fresh fish so exported amounted to only about 60 cwts., but in 1878 the amount was 300 cwts.; in 1879, 1000 cwts.; in 1880, 6000 cwts.; in 1881, 10,000 cwts.; at or near which figure it has since remained. Many of the fishermen also sail with whaling and sealing ships to the Davis Strait and Greenland whale and seal fishings, joining the vessels at Lerwick. A small quantity of kelp is still made along the shores of Yell Sound, but besides the fishing the great Shetland industry is the knitting of woollen articles from the fine worsted yarn made from the wool of the native sheep. The manufacture of coarse stockings, gloves, and nightcaps has long been carried on, and an extensive trade is done every year with the Dutch and German fishermen. When trade with Leith was developed the articles were sent to that port, and so great was the success of the industry that in one of the early years of the present century the stockings alone that were exported were estimated to be worth £17, 000. The manufacture of shawls was introduced in 1837-39, and the demand for them became common in 1840. In 1850 veils were introduced, and since then neckties and various fancy articles have been tried. The amount sold averages from £10, 000 to £12, 000 yearly. Each district has a special ` line,' Northmavine producing underclothing; Westing, stockings; Walls and Sandsting, socks and small shawls; Whiteness and Weisdale, fancy coloured gloves; and Lerwick, shawls and veils. The fine, soft and light but very warm Shetland flannel or tweed is manufactured in Northmaven, Delting, and Lunnasting. The commerce is noticed under Lerwick, as is also the means of communication with the mainland. Internal communication, though greatly improved since the end of last century, when there were practically no roads, still leaves much to be desired.

The old miserable, windowless, chimneyless hut, with the byre forming the antechamber to the family dwelling room, has now almost disappeared, and in most cases the byre is a separate building, while the cottage, poor and thatched though it be, has a ` but ' and a ` ben, ' the latter generally floored, but the former with clay floor, and very often still without a chimney. The inhabitants retain many of the old Scandinavian peculiarities of character as well as feature and complexion. The men are a fine powerful race, with an active swinging walk, and though they possess much hardihood and power of physical endurance, they are gentle in their manner and style of speech. Their acquaintance with the perils of the deep and the risks incident to egg-gathering lead to the same cool and matter-of-fact way of treating danger and death that has been already remarked on in the article on Orkney. They are markedly religious, hospitable, and outwardly courteous, but one who is well acquainted with them finds more underneath, and in many cases it seems as if Scott's opinion of ` jimp honest ' were no calumny, and that this is so is probably due to the long period of oppression they had to endure after the islands were annexed to the Scottish crown, as well as to the false system which eventuated in the quasi-truck system, and which was strongly calculated to produce hypocrisy. To the same cause is probably to be assigned the Shetlander's horror of law and lawyers, as well as his intense dislike to bind himself by any written obligation. The dislike for Scotland and the Scotch, produced by the oppressions of the mediæval lords of the islands, has also lingered to our own time and seriously retarded the progress of the islands, though probably not many are of opinion with the sailor mentioned by Dr Kerr, that the mainland has never given them anything but ` dear meal and greedy ministers. ' A fisherman who has a farm, the Shetlander retains all that reverence for the marvellous that seems peculiar to sea-faring folk. ` He still occasionally sees krakens, sea-serpents, and other monsters of the deep. Although, of course, he does not believe in them. he still dislikes to talk about trows and fairies, mermen and mermaids, ghosts, apparitions, and warnings.. He still regrets the change from the Old Style to the New, the growing indifference to the observance of old holidays and customs, the transformation of the old Norse festival of Yule, with its blazing tar-barrels and its companies of straw-clad Guizers, its Yule bread, its lighted candles, and all its quaint and antique rites, into the modern Christmas with its preaching and singing of hymns.' In short, he is in a transition period, and with the shame-facedness that belongs to it, though be no longer believes in witches, in charms and incantations, lucky and unlucky days, he has still a lingering reverence for all these things, and has in consequence a sort of uncomfortable feeling that those who laugh at all the lore that his forefathers believed, and all the customs that they observed, are scoffing at really sacred things. The language is soft and almost lisping, th being always sounded as d; the second person singular is used in address; and though the old Norse tongue-which lingered here lovingly in Foula and Unst down to the beginning of the present century-is not now even understood, the dialect is so full of Norse words that it sounds to strangers as if it were a foreign tongue. The place names belong to the same language, and though there are many Scotch family names to be found, by far the greater number of these too are of Norse origin.

The only town is Lerwick, and the only village of any size, Scalloway, but there are a large number of hamlets for which reference may be made to the parishes. According to the Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdom (1879) 305,383 acres, with a total gross estimated rental of £33,559, were divided among 549 proprietors, five together holding 126,154 acres (rental £9543), seven 88, 940 (£8156), two 10,000 (£999), eleven 38,310 (£3215), seven 9975 (£795), nineteen 13,053 (£1307), sixty-four 13, 290 (£.2052), etc.

The principal mansions are Brough Lodge, Buness House, Busta House, Garth House, Lunna House, Melby House, Reawick House, Sandlodge, and Sumburgh House. The islands are divided into the twelve entire quoad civilia parishes of Unst-which includes Balta, Huney, Haaf Gruney, Uyea, Sound Gruney, and a number of smaller islets and skerries; Fetlar and North Yell -which includes the N end of Yell, Linga, Fetlar, Urie Lingey, Daaey, and some smaller skerries; Mid and South Yell-which includes the S end of the island of Yell, Hascosay, Orfasay, Bigga, and Uynarey; Northmaven-which includes all the NW part of Mainland with Uyea, Gruney, Muckle Holm, Lamba, and some smaller islets; Delting-which includes on the E the islands of Brother, Little Roe, Samphrey, Fish Holm, Linga, and Wether Holm, and on the W, Muckle Rooe and Linga; Walls, S of St Magnus Bay-which includes Papa Stour, Holm of Melby, Vaila, Linga, and Foula; Sandsting, SE of St Magnus Bay-which includes Vementry, Papa Little, West Isle of Burrafirth (all in St Magnus Bay), and Stonda Stour in The Deeps and the skerries to the N of it; Nesting-which includes Lunna Holm, Whalsey and all the islands round about including the Out Skerry group, and all the coast islets S to South Isle of Gletness; Tingwall-which includes Greena, Flotta, Hoy, North Havra, Hildasay, Linga, Langa, Cheynies, Oxna, Green Holm, and Trondra; Lerwick; Bressay- which includes the Isle of Noss and all the islets round about, part of the mainland between East Voe of Quarff and Clift Sound, and the islands of East Burra, West Burra, Papa, South Havra, and Little Havra; and Dunrossness-which includes Mousa, Muckle Bard, Lady's Holm, Horse Island, and Fair Isle. The quoad sacra parishes of North Yell, South Yell, Whalsey, and Skerries (Nesting), Quarff (Bressay), and Sandwick (Dunrossness) are also included.

There are Established churches within all the parishes and quoad sacra parishes, and there are also mission stations at Ollaberry (Northmaven), Olnafirth (Delting), Lunna (Nesting), Sandness and Papa (Walls), Whiteness (Tingwall), and Fair Isle (Dunrossness). There are 10 places of worship in connection with the Free Church; 4 in connection with the United Presbyterian Church; 7 in connection with the Congregational Church; 7 in connection with the Wesleyan Methodist Church; 5 in connection with the Baptist Church; and 1 in connection with the Episcopal Church. In the year ending September 1883 there were in Shetland 67 schools, of which 61 were public. Shetland, with a constituency of 459 in 1884-85, unites with Orkney in returning a member to serve in parliament. The islands have the same lord-lieutenant and vice-lieutenant as Orkney, but they have 8 deputy-lieutenants and 41 justices of peace of their own. They form a division of the sheriffdom of Caithness, Orkney, and Shetland, but have a separate sheriff-substitute resident at Lerwick. Ordinary sheriff courts are held at Lerwick every Wednesday during session; a sheriff small debt court, formerly held at Burravoe, is now discontinued. Justice of peace, ordinary, and small debt courts are held at Lerwick as occasion requires. The average number of registered poor in 1883 was 942 with 252 dependants, and of casual poor 33 with 23 dependants. The parishes propose to form a combination and erect a poorhouse. The average of pauper lunatics is high, being 27 6 per 10, 000, while the ratio for the whole of Scotland is 23. The proportion of illegitimate births averages about 5 per cent., and the death-rate about 16 4 per 1000. Valuation (1674) £2288, (1843) £19,929, (1874) £33,176, (1884) £44, 098, (1885) £45, 730. The civil and registration counties are identical. Pop. (1801) 22,379, (1811) 22,915, (1821) 26,145, (1831) 29, 392, (1841) 30,558, (1851) 31, 078, (1861) 31, 670, (1871) 31,608, (1881) 29,705, of whom 12, 656 were males and 17,049 females. The great discrepancy of the sexes is caused by many of the men having been away at distant fishings at the period when the census is taken. In 1881 the number of persons to each square mile was 54, the number of families 6183, the number of houses 5444, and the number of rooms 12,251. Of the 29,705 inhabitants, 371 males and 139 females were connected with the civil or military services, or with professions; 57 men and 1118 women were domestic servants; 710 men were connected with commerce; 5024 men and 941 women were connected with agriculture and fishing; and 1367 men and 4648 women were engaged in industrial handicrafts, or were dealers in manufactured substances. Of those connected with farming and fishing 2476 men and 939 women were concerned with farming alone, and 2016 farmers employed 29 men, 3 boys, 8 women, and 10 girls.

Ecclesiastically the whole of Shetland is embraced in the Synod of Shetland, which contains the presbyteries of Lerwick, Burravoe, and Olnafirth. It meets at Lerwick on the second Wednesday of July. The presbyteries are separately noticed. The Free Church has also a synod of Shetland, containing, however, only one presbytery of the same name, and including charges at Cunningsburgh, Delting, Dunrossness, Fetlar, Lerwick, Hillside (Unst), Uyea Sound (Unst), Walls, Weisdale, and Yell.

History.—The name is derived from the Scandinavian Hjaltland-or ' high-land '-whence Hjatland, Zetland. and Shetland. The history is so largely identified and intermixed with that of Orkney, that the outline given in dealing with that group is in great measure applicable to both. In 1195 the lordship of Shetland became separated from that of Orkney in consequence of the rebellion of Jarl Harald against Sverrir, King of Norway, and the two were not again united till the grant by King Hakon to Henry St Clair in 1379. During the interval the islands are in the happy condition of having no history except what may be connected with the forays of the Vikings that frequented their bays and sounds; and yet it was during this period that the Norseman, with all his ways, took firm root here, and laid the foundation of all the peculiarities of the Shetlander of the present day. Gifford, who wrote in 1733, draws indeed a melancholy picture of the state of the islands during this period under the direct rule of the Kings of Norway, but whence he procured his materials is very doubtful. If any really exist they must be in the archives at Bergen. ` The poor udallers, ' he says, ` were miserably oppressed by the governor or Foud and kept under, being forbidden all sort of commerce with foreigners, as the subjects of that king are to this day in Faro and Island: so there was no such thing as money amongst them; and what they had of the country product more than paid the corn rent, they were obliged to bring to the governor, who gave them for it such necessaries as they could not be without, and at what prices he had a mind, wherewith they were obliged to rest content, having no way to be redressed. Kept under this slavery they were miserably poor, careless, and indolent, and most of their young men, when grown up, finding the poor living their native country was likely to afford them, went abroad, and served in foreign countries for their bread, and seldom or never returned: so that these Islands were but thinly inhabited '-an excellent lesson this last for the Highland and Island crofters. After the islands passed under the sway of the Scottish kings the government was still more oppressive, as Crown donatory after Crown donatory, looking on them as a milch cow to be squeezed for their own especial benefit, ' laid heavier and heavier imposts on the long suffering people, and it is to this time that the old hatred of Scotland and the ` ferry-loupin ' Scots is to be traced. The history during this whole period and down to 1766, when Shetland was sold by the Earl of Morton to the ancestor of the Earls of Zetland, is simply one long tale of oppression (see Scalloway). During the 18th century the government was based on a series of` Country Acts ' applicable to this stewartry, and passed with consent of the heritors and kirk-session. They are excellent specimens of good old grandmotherly legislation, providing among other things that all persons should punctually attend the diets of catechising; that no person should ` flight ' with or provoke his neighbour; that no servant should disobey his or her master's or mistress's lawful commands, or use provoking and unbecoming language towards them; that no one should keep more servants than they had absolute need for; that none should marry who had not £40 Scots of free gear to set up house on, or a lawful trade whereby to subsist, and so on, all the enactments being enforceable by fine or ` personal punishment; ' and besides this, the Rancelmen or balifs had the power of inquiry into all domestic relations, as well as the highly important duty of finding out all witches and persons using charms. In 1817 the eminent French savant, M. Biot, carried on experiments with the pendulum at Buness, and was much struck by the simplicity of life and freedom from excitement enjoyed in this northern land.- ' During the twenty-five years, ' he says, ` in which Europe was devouring herself, the sound of a drum had not been heard in Unst, scarcely in Lerwick; during twenty-five years the door of the house I inhabited had remained open day and night. In all this interval of time neither conscription nor press-gang had troubled or afflicted the poor but tranquil inhabitants of this little Isle. The numerous reefs which surround it, and which render it accessible only at favourable seasons, serve them for defence against privateers in time of war; and what is it that privateers would come to seek for ? If there were only trees and sun, no residence could be more pleasant; but if there were trees and sun everybody would wish to go thither, and peace would exist no longer. ' In 1818 Captain Kater conducted similar experiments in the same place. The title of Earl of Zetland in the peerage of the United Kingdom was granted, in 1838, to Baron Dundas of Aske. The present-the third-earl, born in 1844, succeeded his uncle in 1873, but his estates in Shetland are not of very large size. His Scottish seats are at Kerse House, Stirlingshire, and Dunbog, Fifeshire. The antiquities of the Shetland Islands are numerous and interesting, and the brochs or burghs, cairns, castles, and old churches will be found noticed either under the islands or parishes in which they are. Some of the more important are treated separately.

See also Brand's Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, etc. (1683; reprinted 1701; and again, Edinb. 1883); A Voyage to Shetland (1751); A True and Exact Description of the Island of Shetland (Lond. 1753); A n .Account of the New Method of Fishing practised on the Coasts off Scotland (Edinb. 1775); Neill's Tour through some. of the Islands of Orkney and Shetland (Edinb. 1806); Arthur Edmondston's View of the Ancient and Present. State of the Zetland Islands (Edinb. 1809); Peterkin's Notes on Orkney and Zetland (Edinb. 1822); Hibert's Description of the Shetland Isles (Edinb. 1822); Sibbald's Description of the Islands of Orkney and Zetland. by Robert Monteith of Egilsea and Gairsay in 1633 (Edinb. 1845); Balfour's Oppressions of the Sixteenth Century in the Islands of Orkney and Zetland (Bannatyne Club, Edinb. 1859); two papers on ` Shetland and the Shetlanders ' by Dr. John Kerr in Good Words for 1866; Thos. Edmondston s Shetland Glossary (Edinb. 1866); Reid's Art Rambles in Shetland (Edinb. 1869); Saxby's Birds of Shetland (Edinb. 1874); Shetland Fireside Tales (Edinb. 1877); Cowie's Shetland (Aberdeen, 1879; 3d ed., 1880); Gifford's Historical Description of the Zetland Islands in the year 1733 (Edinb. 1879); Low's Tour through the Islands of Orkney and Shetland in 1774 (Kirkwall, 1879); articles by Karl Blind on the Folklore of the Islands in the Nineteenth Century, in the Contemporary Review, and in the Gentleman's Magazine for March 1882; papers by Dr M. F. Heddle in the Magazine of the Mineralogical Society, and by Messrs Peach and Horne in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society for 1879 and 1880, and in the Proceedings of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh for 187880; Tudor's Orkneys and Shetland (Lond. 1883); and Rampini's Shetland and the Shetlanders (Kirkwall, 1884).

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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