- RASAY, an island, in the parish of Portree, Isle of Skye, county of Inverness; containing 647 inhabitants. It is a considerable isle of the Hebrides, lying between the main land of Scotland and Skye, and separated from the latter by the sound to which it gives name; it is about sixteen miles in length and two in breadth, and comprises about thirty-two square miles, or 16,000 acres. The coast on the west rises with a gentle ascent to a great height above the sea, but on the east side it is at once high, steep, and nearly perpendicular: the soil is better adapted for pasturage than tillage, though there are several spots of very fertile and well-cultivated land. Freestone of excellent quality so abounds that the quarries may be described as inexhaustible; and limestone, also, is good and plentiful: large masses are likewise found of the finest porphyry, which seem as if they had been hewn or dressed. There are some small plantations of wood in a very thriving state. They consist of Scotch fir, larch, birch, ash, oak, alder, and other trees, all of as rapid growth as can be seen in any part of the Low Country of Scotland; but the larch is the kind most suited to the soil. Rasay House, a handsome mansion built by the late proprietor, and for which the material was supplied from the freestone quarries already mentioned, has around it some fine old trees of considerable size. At the north end of the east coast is the ruinous castle of Breochel, a well-known land-mark to mariners; it is situated in a small bay, and only accessible by the approach cut on the side next the sea. The rock on which it stands is nearly round, covering an area of little more than seventy square feet; its height is forty feet, except at the place where the stairs lead up to it. The base of the rock is about sixty feet above the level of the sea, and looks as if piled upon the larger rock below. The castle, which was the chief seat of the lairds of Rasay, is built of stone and lime, and appears to have been as strongly fortified by art as its position rendered it impregnable by nature. There are several old decayed chapels in the island, one of which, in the Kirktown of Rasay, is surrounded by a plantation. At this place is a branch of the parochial school.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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