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(The Ness)

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.

This edition is copyright © The Editors of the Gazetteer for Scotland, 2002-2019.

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Dunrossness, a parish in the S of Shetland, containing the hamlet of Boddam, near the head of a long voe, on the E coast, 7 miles N of Sumburgh Head, and 20 SSW of Lerwick, under which there is a post office of Dunrossness, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. There are also post offices at Conningsburgh, Virkie, Fair Isle, and Sandwick, the last with telegraph department.

The parish comprises the ancient parishes of Dunrossness, Sandwick, and Conningsburgh; and, besides a large tract of Mainland, includes a number of islands. The Mainland portion is bounded on the N by Quaff, and on all other sides by the sea, extending southward to Sumburgh Head; and measuring in straight line, from N to S, about 18 miles. The chief islands are Mousa, in the NE; Fair Isle, far to the S; and Colsay and St Ninians on the W. The coasts are rocky and unequal; and the principal bays or creeks are Quendale Voe, West Voe, Grutness, and Aiths Voe. Sumburgh Head rises boldly in the extreme S of Mainland, and is crowned by a lighthouse, showing a fixed light, visible at the distance of 22 nautical miles. Fitful Head, as bold and loftier, rises on the N side of Quendale Voe, 5¾ miles NNW of Sumburgh Head. The interior consists largely of bleak mossy hills; and in the S end, much of what formerly was arable land has been destroyed by sand drifts; yet a considerable aggregate of moss and moor has been brought into a state of pasture or tillage by processes of reclamation. The rocks of the western half are claystone slate, of the eastern secondary sandstone; and at Sandlodge is Scotland's one active copper mine, from which, in 1879, were raised 778 tons of copper ore, valued at £2723. Several small lakes, abounding with fish, are dotted over the surface; and the neighbouring seas yield to the crofters a richer harvest than their fields. Between 1872 and 1877 three Runic and two Ogham inscriptions were discovered near the ancient burying-ground of Conningsburgh church, which, dedicated to either St Paul or Columba, stood close to the seashore, a little E of the present Free church. Inland is the broch of Aithsetter, and across the bay to the southward is the more celebrated broch of Mousa (procs. Soc. Ants. Scotl. 1879, pp. 145-156). Two proprietors divide most of the land, 1 other holding an annual value of between £100 and £500, 1 of from £50 to £100, and above 40 of less than £50. In the presbytery of Lerwick and synod of Shetland, this parish is divided quoad sacra into Sandwick and Dunrossness, the latter a living worth £290. Its church, built in 1790, contains 858 sittings. There are also Free churches of Dunrossness and Conningsburgh, and Baptist and Wesleyan chapels of Dunrossness. Eight public schools have been recently built in the civil parish, at Conningsburgh, Sandwick, Bigtown, Levenwick, Boddam, Quendale, Virkie, and Fair Isle, with respective accommodation for 90, 130, 80, 60, 110, 60, 70, and 40 children. Valuation (1881) £3728, 8s. 9d. Pop. of civil parish (1801) 3201, (1831) 4405, (1861) 4830, (1871) 4522; of registration district (1871) 1970, (1881) 1604.

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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