- RONALDSHAY, SOUTH, a parish, in the county of Orkney; containing 3194 inhabitants, of whom 1867 are in the district of St. Peter, 789 in that of St. Mary, and 538 in that of Burray. This parish includes the old parish of St. Peter in the northern, and the old parish of St. Mary in the southern, portion of the island of South Ronaldshay, with the isles of Swona and the two Skerries in the Pentland Frith, of which the former and one of the latter are inhabited; it also includes the old parish and island of Burray, with the isles of Hunda and Glemsholm in the bay of Holm Sound, of which the latter is uninhabited. These three parishes have been united from time immemorial. The island of South Ronaldshay is supposed to have derived its name from one of its ancient proprietors, Ronald, a Danish count. From the great irregularity of its form, its extent has never been correctly ascertained; it is about six miles in length, and four miles in average breadth. The island of Burray, which is situated to the north of it, and is separated by the ferry of Water Sound, about one mile broad, is four miles in length, and averages from one mile to two miles in breadth. Swona, which is nearly four miles to the west of South Ronaldshay, and in the Pentland Frith, is a mile and a half in length and nearly one mile in breadth; the northern of the Skerries, on which a lighthouse has been erected, is something more than a mile in circumference; and the other is of still smaller extent.The surface of the parish is generally low, the highest lands not attaining an elevation of 300 feet above the level of the sea. The soil is various, consisting of clay, black loam, sand, and moss, frequently in combination, and sometimes in all their varieties upon one field; that in Burray is generally a light sand, and in the isle of Swona, a black earth mixed with sand and gravel. The chief crops are oats and bear, with potatoes and turnips; and there are some fine fields of red and white clover, and natural grasses yielding luxuriant pasture. The system of agriculture is, however, in a very unimproved state; and, from the abundance of shell-sand, more than double the quantity of land now in cultivation might be made to produce excellent crops of corn. The farm-buildings, also, are of very inferior order. The substratum is principally blue or black clay-slate, alternated with sandstone, and sandstone flag; lead-ore has been found here, and some attempts were made to work it, but without success. The village of St. Margaret's Hope is pleasantly situated on the eastern coast, on the shore of the bay of that name, which forms a safe and commodious harbour; and on the western coast is the harbour of Widewall, opening to the Pentland Frith and Stromness. The former of these is much frequented by smaller vessels and smacks employed in the fisheries, and the latter is accessible to ships of 600 or 700 tons, which frequently have recourse to it for shelter. There are several bold headlands, some of which rise perpendicularly to a height of nearly 300 feet above the level of the sea. The population are engaged both in agriculture and in the fisheries; and many of the females are employed in the platting of straw. There are eleven sloops engaged in the cod-fishery till the season for herrings commences, during which many thousand barrels are annually cured for exportation; the quantity of cod, ling, and hake taken and cured here averages nearly 120 tons. In the village of St. Margaret's Hope is a post-office with a daily delivery; and a subscription and parochial library has been established there. A fair for lean cattle is held annually in November, and others are growing into use.The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney. The minister's stipend is £200, with an allowance of £8. 6. 8. for communion elements, a manse, and a glebe valued at £12. 6. 8. per annum; patron, the Earl of Zetland. The church of St. Mary, in the south, is situated near the western shore; and that of St. Peter, in the north portion of the parish, within a few yards of the sea, on the eastern coast. They are both ancient buildings, and were repaired in 1802; the former contains 273, and the latter 413 sittings. The church of Burray has been in ruins nearly from the commencement of the present century. Considerable addition might be made to the number of seats by the erection of galleries in the two existing churches. There is a place of worship for members of the United Secession. The parochial school is near the village of St. Margaret's Hope; the master has a salary of £26, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £15 per annum. A school was founded by William Tomison, Esq., who endowed it with a house and £40 per annum for the teacher, for the gratuitous instruction of children of the three united parishes. Mr. Tomison also bequeathed £200 for the poor of the South parish, of which he was a native, and a sum for the erection and endowment of a female school, which is being suffered to accumulate for that purpose. William Sutherland, Esq., a resident heritor of the North parish, bequeathed £200 for the benefit of the poor of that parish. There are several subscription schools. The poor are supported by collections at the church and by the proceeds of the abovenoticed bequests. There are some remains of Picts' houses and tumuli, and numerous vestiges of intrenchments consisting of mounds of earth. Near the manse is a subterraneous building, eleven feet long, three feet wide, and nearly of equal height; the interior is paved with stones evidently taken from the beach. Several ancient coins have been found; and there are Druidical relics, and remains of ancient chapels.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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Ronaldshay, North — RONALDSHAY, NORTH, an island and a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Cross and Burness, county of Orkney, 30 miles (N. E. by N.) from Kirkwall; containing 481 inhabitants. This island, the most northern of the Orkneys, is bounded on the… … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
RONALDSHAY, NORTH AND SOUTH — two of the Orkney Islands; North Ronaldshay is the most northerly of the Orkney group; South Ronaldshay (2) lies 6¼ m. NE. of Duncansby Head; both have a fertile soil, and the coast fisheries are valuable … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
Burray — BURRAY, an island, forming part of the ancient parish of St. Peter, island of South Ronaldshay, South isles of Orkney, and containing 532 inhabitants. This is a low island, bounded on the south by Water Sound, and on the north by Holm Sound,… … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Hunda — HUNDA, an island, forming part of the parish of St. Peter in South Ronaldshay, south isles of Orkney, and containing 6 inhabitants. It lies in Scalpa Flow, to the north of Ronaldshay, and west of the isle of Burray; and is of small extent … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Swona — SWONA, or Swannay, an isle, in the parish of St. Mary, island of South Ronaldshay, South Isles of the county of Orkney; containing 54 inhabitants. This isle is about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth, lying on the west of the… … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Margaret's Hope, St. — MARGARET S HOPE, ST., a village, in the parish of St. Peter, island of South Ronaldshay, South Isles of Orkney; containing 260 inhabitants. This is a considerable place in the north of the island, having a safe and pleasant roadstead opening… … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Peter, St. — 1) PETER, ST., South Isles of Orkney. See Ronaldshay, South. 2) PETER, ST., North Isles of Orkney. See Stronsay and Eday … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Mary, St. — MARY, ST., Orkney. See Ronaldshay, South … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Orphir — ORPHIR, a parish, in the county of Orkney, 8 miles (S. W.) from Kirkwall; containing, with the island of Cava, 1064 inhabitants. This place derives its name, in the Norwegian language Orfer, from the mossy nature of its soil: towards the close … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland
Orkney Islands — ORKNEY ISLANDS, a group forming, with that of Shetland, a maritime county, in the northern extremity of Scotland; and bounded on the north by the waters which divide Orkney from Shetland; on the east by the North Sea; on the south by the… … A Topographical dictionary of Scotland