Parish of St Andrews and Deerness

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: St Andrews and Deerness
1834-45: St Andrews

Deerness, a parish of Orkney, comprising a peninsula in the extreme E of Pomona and the islands of Copenshay, Cornholm, and Horse. Its kirktown stands on the E coast of the peninsula, 8½ miles E by S of Kirkwall, under which it has a post office. Extending from Moul Head south-westward to the isthmus that connects it with St Andrews parish, and measuring 5 miles in length by 3 in extreme breadth, the said peninsula is bounded W and NW by Deer Sound, E by the North Sea, and SE by Newark Bay; the islands lie from 11/3 mile to 3 miles to the E. From the shores, which are haunted- by myriads of sea-birds, the surface of the peninsula rises to a somewhat tabular summit. The soil consists mostly of loam, resting on red clay, and is highly susceptible of improvements, such as draining. and a liberal application of shell sand, of which there is an inexhaustible supply- From 50 to 60 boats are employed in the herring fishery; kelp is manufactured; and very strong ropes, fitted for various economic purposes of the farmer, are made from the shoots of Empetrum nigrum, from the roots of Arundo arenaria, and from the herbage of Holeus lanatus. Several tumuli are on the higher grounds; and remains of a large Pict's house, called Dingy's Howe or Duncan's Height, stand near the end of the isthmus- The parish is united quoad civilia to St Andrews, from which, however, it was separated quoad sacra in 1845; Deerness itself being a living in the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney, with stipend of £120, a manse, and 3 acres of glebe. The church was originally a parliamentary one. There is also a Free church; and three public schools-Deerness, St Andrews, and Tankerness-with respective accommodation for 155,55, and 80 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 92,50, and 44, and grants of £80,4s., £41, and £33,14s. Valuation of civil parish (1881) £1976,16s. 6d. Pop. of same (1801) 660, (1831) 661, (1861) 831, (1871) 863, (1881)

St Andrews, a parish in the SE of the Mainland of Orkney, whose church stands near the W shore of Deer Sound, 6 miles ESE of the post-town, Kirkwall, whilst Deerness church on the E coast is 12 miles ESE of Kirkwall by road, though only 9 ¼ as the crow flies. It is bounded NW by Kirkwall parish and Inganess Bay, N by Shapinsay Sound, NE, E, and SE by the North Sea, and SW by Holm parish; and it is deeply indented by Deer Sound, which, penetrating the land for 5 7/8 miles south-westward and south-south-eastward, alternately broadens and contracts, from 3 3/8 miles to 1 mile, from 1 ½ mile to 5 furlongs, and from 2 miles to 2 ¼ furlongs. The parish thus consists of two natural divisions, connected by a sandy isthmus only 250 yards broad - St Andrews proper to the W and Deerness to the E. The former has an extreme length from NW to SE of 5 3/8 miles, and a varying width of ½ mile and 5 3/8 miles; the latter, in outline rudely resembling a topsy-turvy kite, has an extreme length from SSW to NNE of 4 ¾ miles, and an extreme breadth of 3 ¾ miles; and the area of the whole is 12, 830 acres. The coast is in places sandy, in places rocky, and sometimes precipitous; and the interior rises in St Andrews to 183, in Deerness at the Ward Hill to 285, feet above sea-level. The shallow fresh-water Loch of Tankerness (7 x 4 ½ furl.; 13 feet above the sea) lies 5 furlongs N of St Andrews church. The predominant rock is Old Red Sandstone, with interesting dykes of trap; and the soil is capable of much improvement. A curious cavern, the Gloup, has been noticed separately. Tankerness Hall, near the NW shore of Deer Sound, is the chief residence. In the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney, the civil parish since 1845 has been ecclesiastically divided into St Andrews and Deerness, the former a living worth £308. St Andrews church was built in 1801, and contains 400 sittings. There is also a Free church of St Andrews; and three new public schools - Deerness, St Andrews, and Tankerness - with respective accommodation for 155, 55, and 80 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 99, 44, and 41, and grants of £91, 9s. 6d., £42, 16s., and £40, 2s. 6d. Valuation (1884) of St Andrews, £2094, 9s.; of Deerness, £2178, 11s. Pop. of entire parish (1821) 1548, (1861) 1681, (1871) 1733, (1881) 1695, of whom 828 were in St Andrews and 867 in Deerness.

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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