Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale

   TINGWALL, WHITENESS, and WEESDALE, a parish, in the county of Shetland, 5 miles (N. W. by W.) from Lerwick; containing, with the village of Scalloway, and the islands of Linga, Oxna, and Trondray, 2957 inhabitants. This district consists of the ancient but now united parishes of Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale. The first of these at one time comprehended the lands of Lerwick, which were disjoined from it, and erected into a separate parish, in 1701, and also those of Sound and Gulberwick, which were severed in 1722, and united to Lerwick. Tingwall appears as a place of some consideration in the ancient history of the Shetland Isles. It was created an archdeaconry, after bishops had been appointed for these islands by permission of Adlebert, Archbishop of Bremen; and most of the church lands were conveyed by Sir Jerome Cheyne, one of the archdeacons, to his nephew, in whose family they were allowed to remain without litigation. At the establishment of Presbyterianism in Scotland, in 1592, this place became the seat of the presbytery of Shetland, the business of which was, however, afterwards removed to the village of Scalloway. It is also celebrated in the ecclesiastical history of Scotland for its process of augmentation, a former incumbent, the Rev. William Mitchell, having obtained from the house of lords a decision in favour of an increase in the stipends of the clergy, by an appeal from the court of session, where, after a sharp discussion, the case had been rejected. During the time that Shetland belonged to the Danish crown, the chief magistrate, who was called the Foud, resided here; and when, in 1271, the isles were separated from those of Orkney, and united to Faroe, one "Foud" and "Lagamand" was appointed for both localities conjointly, who resided at Scalloway. The assize was held at a small holm in the loch of Tingwall, where, also, an appeal was admitted from the other courts, which were all regulated by the law called Gula Thing; and the final sentence was executed on criminals upon a hill in the vicinity. This superior court was removed to Scalloway when the islands were ceded to Scotland.
   The parish is situated in the Mainland, and washed on the north, south, and west by the sea. Tingwall is from twelve to fourteen miles in length, from north to south; Whiteness, lying on the west of Tingwall, between five and six miles in length; and Weesdale, to the north-west of Whiteness, from six to seven miles in length; the three comprising together upwards of 20,000 acres, about 2500 of which are under tillage. The shore in general is similar to that on the other parts of the islands; but this locality is superior on account of its excellent harbours, formed by arms of the sea. The principal of these are, Deals voe, Laxfirth voe, Wadbister voe, and Catfrith voe, on the north; Weesdale voe, Binnaness voe, and Whiteness voe, on the west; and Cliff sound and Scalloway voe on the south; to the west of the latter of which is a cluster of islands belonging to the parish, and affording, in the waters towards the interior, several spots of fine anchorage. The surface comprehends much variety. A number of valleys lying parallel with each other run through the district from north-east to south-west; and on the sides rise hills, for the most part barren, and unfit for tillage, but serviceable for the pasturage of cattle and sheep, and for the supply of peat, which constitutes the chief fuel. Among the numerous lakes, most of which are well stocked with fish, the principal are, the lakes of Tingwall, Asta, and Girlsta, in Tingwall; and that of Strom, in Whiteness, where are the remains of a small fort which, according to tradition, was inhabited by a son of one of the ancient earls of Orkney, who was slain at the Standing-stone of Tingwall by order of his father.
   The soil is in some places a light brown earth, in others a dark loam, and frequently moorish. The produce consists of almost every variety: wheat and rye seldom arrive at maturity for want of sun, but barley, oats, turnips, and potatoes thrive well, and with the last Lerwick and Scalloway are usually supplied from this parish. Grass-seeds, hay, peas, and pasture-grass, are likewise cultivated; and an improved system being practised here, founded on a regular rotation of crops, the district has advanced in husbandry far beyond most others in the Shetland Isles. The land in many parts is prepared by the spade; but ploughs are also much used, drawn generally by horses, but often by horses and oxen together. Shell-marl, of which there is a good supply, is found highly beneficial as manure. Draining has recently been carried on to a considerable extent, and is still attended to. Much waste land, also, has been reclaimed; but a large proportion of open common of the best quality is destroyed by the practice of cutting up the turf for various purposes, and carrying it to the respective farms. On many of the high grounds, too, especially those on the east side of Tingwall, which appear capable of cultivation, the moss has been so deeply cut out in places as to leave nothing but the rugged substratum of clay-slate and micaceous schistus, with stones of coarse granite and gneiss. The progress of agricultural improvement is much obstructed by the nature of the subsoil in some lands, and of the substratum in others. A bed of fine blue slate was lately discovered on the north-east of Tingwall, which is very superior to the grey slate generally quarried, and being such a valuable acquisition, it was for a time wrought. Sienite is found on the shores, and hornblende on some of the hills, where there is also a considerable quantity of quartz. The rateable annual value of the parish is £957. The only village is Scalloway (which see); and communication is carried on without any other tracks than those formed by the feet of horses, except in the Tingwall district, where roads have been constructed, which are now in very superior order compared with their former condition. Here, as in the Shetland Isles generally, the principal article of trade is fish, the taking of which constitutes the main occupation of the inhabitants. The first fishing in the year, which is that of cod and ling, begins in the spring, and is carried on in open boats; the produce is very considerable, and is exported partly to Leith and Liverpool, and partly to Spain. The "summer" fishery begins about the end of April, and is carried on in sloops of twenty tons' burthen, which bring home large freights of ling, saith, tusk, and other fish; that of herrings commences in June, and again in August, and is often a source of great profit to the inhabitants, who, however, by its failure at times, as well as by that of the agricultural crops, are occasionally reduced to great distress. Cattle and ponies, with several articles common to the islands, are exported to England; and oatmeal, tobacco, coffee, tea, and spirits, are imported for the use of the inhabitants.
   The parish is in the presbytery of Lerwick and synod of Shetland, and in the patronage of the Earl of Zetland: the minister's stipend is £263, exclusive of a manse, and a glebe of the annual value of £20. The church at Tingwall was built in 1788, and contains 570 sittings, but, when full, can accommodate 700 persons. A church has recently been built at Whiteness, in the place of the old church dedicated to St. Ola, for the use of the districts of Whiteness and Weesdale; and a missionary officiates who is supported by the Royal Bounty. A church has also just been erected at Scalloway, for the benefit of the village and its neighbourhood. There is a small place of worship for Independents. The parochial school is situated at Tingwall; the master receives a regular salary of £35 a year, a dwellinghouse built in 1799, and £8 fees. In addition, there are a school in Weesdale, another in Whiteness, and a third at Scalloway, all supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge: in the island of Trondray, also, a school is maintained by the General Assembly; and at Laxfirth, a spacious school and a dwelling-house have been built by Mr. Hay. The principal antiquities are, the remains of numerous chapels, and the fine ruin of a castle near Scalloway. There are also several tumuli, originally used as places of sepulture by the Scandinavians, in which have lately been discovered urns containing calcined bones; and arrowheads, and steinbartes, or stone axes, here called thunderbolts, have been frequently found. A church formerly existed at Weesdale, dedicated to Our Lady, whose shrine is still visited by persons from various parts of Shetland, in the expectation of obtaining relief from trouble.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Weesdale —    WEESDALE, county of Shetland.    See Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Whiteness —    WHITENESS, county of Shetland.    See Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Scalloway —    SCALLOWAY, a village, in the district of Tingwall, parish of Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale, county of Shetland, 6 miles (S. by W.) from Lerwick; containing 405 inhabitants. This place, the name of which is said to signify the harbour by… …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Linga —    1) LINGA, an isle, in the parish of Delting, county of Shetland. It is of very small extent, and is one of a group of islands lying in Yell sound, between Yell and the Mainland. There is safe anchorage for fishing sloops between this place and …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Oxna —    OXNA, an isle, forming part of the parish of Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale, county of Shetland; and containing 19 inhabitants. This is a small island in the bay of Scalloway, about four miles southwest of the village of Scalloway, and… …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

  • Trondray —    TRONDRAY, an isle, in the parish of Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale, county of Shetland; containing 8 inhabitants. This island lies in the sound of Cliff, south of Scalloway, and opposite to that village. It is about four miles in length and …   A Topographical dictionary of Scotland

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