Sandwick and Cunningsburgh

   SANDWICK and CUNNINGSBURGH, a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Dunrossness, county of Orkney and Shetland, 9 miles (S. by W.) from Lerwick; containing 2167 inhabitants. This place comprises the ancient parishes of Sandwick and Cunningsburgh, annexed at an early period to Dunrossness, from which they were separated for ecclesiastical purposes, by act of the General Assembly, in 1833, and erected into one quoad sacra parish. The district occupies that portion of the southern peninsula of Shetland which extends from Dunrossness Proper, on the south, to the parish of Quarff, on the north; and is bounded on the east by the North Sea, and on the west by the sound of Cliff. It is nearly eleven miles in extreme length, and varies from two miles and a half to almost six miles in breadth, comprising about 20,000 acres, of which not more than 1200 are arable, and the remainder moorland pasture, moss, and waste. The surface is diversified only with hills of moderate height, chiefly covered with moss; and the scenery, from the want of timber and plantations, is somewhat destitute of interest. The shores are bold and rugged; and between the headlands of Haly Ness, on the north, and No Ness, on the south, is the small island of Mousa, off the eastern coast of Sandwick. On this island are some very perfect remains of an ancient Scandinavian fortress or Pictish castle, a circular tower fifty feet in diameter and forty-two feet in height; the walls are about ten feet in thickness, with an intermediate space between the outward and inner surfaces. It is situated close to the shore; and on the opposite shore of the main land are the ruins of a similar fortress, around which are the foundations of several small houses. There are no rivers in the parish, with the exception of a streamlet near Channerwick, and a small stream which flows from Cliff sound, and falls into the sea near the hamlet of Cunningsburgh, at the head of Sandwick bay. The soil of the arable land is tolerably fertile, but nothing that can properly be called a system of husbandry has been introduced. The parish is generally inhabited by persons engaged in the fisheries off the coast, and to whose cottages, which are scattered in clusters, are attached small portions of land in the cultivation of which they employ themselves during the intervals of the fishing-season, for the maintenance of their families. The mosses afford abundance of peat for fuel: almost in the immediate vicinity of the several cottages are tracts of moss, on which the people have a right of cutting turf. Some few families, however, make use of coal, obtained chiefly from the north of England.
   The hills and rocks are of the secondary sandstone formation, and the substrata mainly whinstone and slate. Stone of good quality for building, and a greyslate which is well adapted for roofing, are quarried to a moderate extent; limestone is also found in abundance, and kilns for burning it have been erected at Cunningsburgh. Towards the close of the last century, a vein of copper was discovered at Sand Lodge, and was wrought for some time by a company from England; but not being found sufficiently productive to remunerate the working of it, it was soon after abandoned, and the mine has not been re-opened. The fish taken here are, ling, tusk, saith or coal-fish, cod, skate, halibut, haddock, flounders, and other kinds of white-fish; and during the season, which usually commences about the beginning of August and continues till the end of September, the inhabitants are engaged in the herring-fishery, for which a considerable number of large boats have been fitted up at a great expense. The herring-fishery is moderately successful; and in favourable seasons, several thousand barrels of fish have been taken by the boats belonging to the parish, for the accommodation of which a very convenient harbour has been formed. The fish caught here are purchased by the merchants of Lerwick, the nearest market-town, and are sent thence by vessels to the various markets on the English and Irish coasts. The only gentleman's seat in the parish is Sand Lodge, a neat modern mansion situated on the shore, and to which several additions have been recently made by the proprietor. There is no village properly so called, and the facilities of inland communication are very inconsiderable; a turnpike-road from Lerwick to Dunrossness was commenced a few years since, but was discontinued for want of funds. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lerwick and synod of Shetland. The minister's stipend is £120, paid from the exchequer, with a manse built by government, a garden, and an acre of uninclosed land; patron, the Crown. The church, erected by the heritors in 1807, at a cost of £700, is a neat substantial structure situated on a level green at the head of Sandwick bay, and contains nearly 600 sittings. There are also places of worship for Wesleyans and Independents. The parochial school is attended by about sixty children; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 4., with a house, an allowance of £2. 2. in lieu of garden, and the fees, averaging £8 annually. A school is supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; and there are also two small subscription libraries, one in Sandwick, the other at Cunningsburgh.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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