Evie and Rendall

   EVIE and RENDALL, a parish, in the county of Orkney; containing, with the island of Gairsay, 1518 inhabitants, of whom 907 are in Evie, 18 miles (N. W. by N.) from Kirkwall. These two ancient parishes, which appear to have been united since the time of the Reformation, are situated on the mainland of the Orkney Isles, and are bounded on the north by the Atlantic Ocean; on the north-east and east by Enhallow Sound or Frith, which separates them from the islands of Rousay and Shapinshay; on the south by the parish of Firth; and on the west by the parish of Birsay and Harray. The coast is not distinguished by any of those prominent features which are so conspicuous on the shores of the other islands; the chief headland is Costa, at the northern extremity of Evie, a bold hill rising from a wide base to a considerable elevation, and presenting towards the sea a large mass of precipitous rock. On the east, opposite to the deeply indented bay of Woodwick, is the island of Gairsay, forming a part of Rendall, from the main portion of which it is separated by a narrow sound. This island is of nearly circular form, and about four miles in circumference; the ground rises from the shore, and terminates towards the centre in a beautiful green hill, on the summit of which is a cairn.
   The surface is diversified with hills forming a continuous range, averaging from 300 to 400 feet in elevation above the level of the sea, and dividing the parish from Birsay and Harray; and with several smaller hills, between which are some pleasing and fertile valleys. Towards the sea it has a gentle declivity, varying from half a mile to nearly a mile and a half in breadth. On the boundary between Evie district and Birsay is a beautiful lake, about two miles in length, and half a mile broad, in the centre of which is a small island; it abounds with trout of excellent quality, and, though of no great depth, is found very serviceable in propelling a corn-mill during the summer, when other mills are useless from want of water. The soil is partly a rich black loam, and partly clay alternated with sand, and in Rendall is of lighter quality than in Evie; there is a very considerable deposit of marl on the shores of Woodwick bay, and in the valleys which intersect the hills is an abundance of peat-moss. Peat bogs occur in the lower lands, and in Rendall is a valley of peat-moss, which is almost impracticable from the number of roots and branches of trees imbedded in the soil. There is no timber of any kind, and the only trees are some recently planted in the manse garden, of which the permanent growth seems very doubtful. The land in cultivation yields favourable crops, and the pastures are fertile; the natural grasses are thickly interspersed with wild flowers of every description: the cattle and sheep reared in the parish thrive well. The rocks are all of the secondary formation, and vary from blue slate to white sandstone. There is no village: fairs for cattle and horses are held in June and October. Cod, ling, haddock, dog-fish, skate, halibut, and the young of coalfish are found in abundance off the coast, and many of the inhabitants occasionally engage in the herring-fisheries, but, though the place is admirably suited for the purpose, no regular fishing establishment has been settled here.
   The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney. The minister's stipend is £154. 6., of which more than half is paid from the exchequer, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £50 per annum; patron, the Earl of Zetland. There was originally a church in each of the united districts, but, both falling into decay towards the close of the last century, one church was erected in a centrical situation in 1799, by the heritors, in lieu of the two; it is a neat structure containing 498 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and Independents. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £30, out of which he pays £4 to an assistant for teaching a small number of children in the island of Gairsay; he has also a house and garden. A school is supported by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge. Along the shores of the parish are numerous Picts' houses, and in Evie several tumuli, some of which, on being opened, were found to contain small areas from one to two feet square, inclosed with flat stones, and about eighteen inches in depth, and in which were ashes, charcoal, and small fragments of burnt bones. In 1832, on taking down an old farm-building in Rendall, 150 silver coins were found wrapped in coarse woollen-cloth, in a hole in one of the walls, supposed to have been concealed there during the visit of Cromwell; they were of the reigns of Elizabeth, James, and Charles I., with a few of Scottish currency.

A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. . 1856.

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