Fetlar and North Yell
- FETLAR and NORTH YELL, a parish, in the county of Shetland; containing 1745 inhabitants, of whom 761 are in Fetlar, 36 miles (N. by E.) from Lerwick. This parish, which is situated nearly at the northern extremity of the Shetland isles, consists of the island of Fetlar and the northern part of that of Yell. The former is bounded on the north by the channel separating it from the islands of Unst and Uyea, on the south by the wide channel which divides it from Whalsey island and the Mainland, on the east by the German Ocean, and on the west by Colgrave Sound, separating it from the island of Yell. The latter district, North Yell, is bounded on the west and north by the northern ocean, and on the east by the frith called Blue Mull Sound, which divides it from the island of Unst. Fetlar is seven miles in length and four in breadth, and comprises 786¾ merks of land under cultivation (each merk being about three-quarters of an acre), and between 10,000 and 12,000 acres which, with the exception of 1200, are undivided common; North Yell is six miles long and five broad, and contains 634 merks of cultivated, and from 12,000 to 15,000 acres of uncultivated land.The situation is bleak, and the surface hilly; but there are no lofty elevations, the highest grounds not rising more than 300 feet above the level of the sea, and being, in each district, alternated with tolerably fertile valleys. The islands are singularly irregular in figure, and the coast is indented with fissures, creeks, and bays of various extent. Of the last the principal, in Fetlar, are those of Aith, Tresta, Strand, Mowick, Funzie, a lingfishing station, Gruting voe, and Urie bay, where a kind of pier has lately been erected; but none of these are considered safe harbours. North Yell, in this respect, has much the advantage, the bays of Basta voe and Cullivoe forming excellent retreats and landing-places; besides which, it has the bays of Papal, Gloup voe, and other inlets. Colgrave Sound, encompassing Fetlar from south-west to north-west, is a rapid and dangerous channel, about nine miles across in the widest, and three miles in the narrowest, part. Blue-Mull Sound measures in the narrowest part about a mile across, and the Sound between the islands of Fetlar and Unst is five miles broad; in both these channels, but especially in that of Blue-Mull, the tide runs with great force, and the passage is often hazardous. The rocks on the coast are frequently covered with sea-fowl; wild pigeons are numerous, and flocks of wild swans often visit the islands. There are many small lakes, abounding with trout, the largest of which is one in Fetlar, near the manse, about three-quarters of a mile in length, and a quarter in breadth.The inhabitants are employed in agriculture and fishing, the latter occupation engaging most of their attention. The soil in Fetlar comprises sand, clay, and marl; that in North Yell is chiefly a peat-moss: each produces good oats and potatoes, but barley is cultivated only to a very limited extent, and wheat is rarely seen, the want of inclosures to protect these kinds of grain, and of sun to ripen them, being the chief obstacles. The rotation system is partially practised; but the ground is generally turned with a spade, the number of ploughs being very small; and the state of agriculture throughout the two districts indicates strongly the want of resources, and much more attention and skill, to place it on a respectable footing. In North Yell, many plots of common ground have recently been brought under cultivation, and a few in Fetlar. The sheep and cattle are mostly of the native breed, small but hardy, and appear to thrive better than any others: a mixed breed of sheep, introduced some time since by Sir Arthur Nicolson, has not been found well suited to the climate, and a few cows of a larger growth which have been tried, have in the same manner proved unequal to meet the severity of the district. The ponies bred are of the same size, vigorous spirit, and untiring strength, as those in the other isles of Shetland. The rocks comprise mica-slate, quartz, chlorite-slate, gneiss, clayslate, and serpentine containing chromate of iron, the last of which, formerly exceedingly abundant, was for long occasionally quarried in the island of Fetlar. With the common stone from the same locality, a mansion-house has been recently built by Sir Arthur Nicolson, and another by Mr. Smith, a heritor; and quarries in the island of Yell have supplied a material for the erection of the houses of Gloup, Greenbank, and Midbrake, the dressings, however, being of free-stone brought from Lerwick. The rateable annual value of the parish is £806.The fisheries of ling and herrings, which are among the principal, occupy much of the time of the inhabitants; in addition to which, tusk, cod, saith, and other kinds are taken nearly all the year round. The fish caught in winter are salted, and preserved in vats till spring, when they are dried and exported to Leith; the fish taken in summer are preserved in the same manner, and sent, not only to the market of Leith, but also to Ireland and Spain: the produce of the herring-fishery, which is carried on to a tolerable extent in August and September, is forwarded, when cured, to Leith and to Ireland. The stations for the ling-fishery are, Funzie, on the eastern side of Fetlar, and Gloup, on the north side of Yell, towards the northern ocean; and Urie, Strand, and Aith banks, in Fetlar, and Cullivoe and Bayanne, in North Yell, are stations for the curing of herrings. A large quantity of skate, halibut, haddock, sillock, piltock, and whiting, is also taken, furnishing the inhabitants with a considerable portion of their subsistence; and there are oysters at Basta voe, and a good supply of several other kinds of shell-fish. The parish is entirely destitute of conveyances and roads; and the intercourse with Lerwick, the only markettown of the Shetlands, is so uncertain and dangerous, that, although the post-office in North Yell communicates twice a week with that place in fair weather, letters are often delayed for a long time on their route. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the presbytery of Burravoe and synod of Shetland, and the patronage vested in the Earl of Zetland; the minister's stipend is £180, including the sum for communion elements, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £9 per annum. There are two churches, both very near the sea-shore; that in Fetlar was rebuilt in 1790, and accommodates 269 persons, and that in North Yell was built in 1832, and contains sittings for 390. The Wesleyans have a place of worship in Fetlar. The parochial school is in North Yell, and affords instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, and navigation; the master has the minimum salary, and receives a few pounds in fees. In Fetlar is a school of much longer standing than the parochial school supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge; the master, who teaches the same branches as those taught in the other school, receives a salary of £15, and a small amount in fees. There is also a small subscription library. The antiquities comprehend the remains of several chapels and forts, a Roman camp at Snawburgh, several fonts, which have been dug up at Aithsness, and a few urns containing ashes and bones.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.
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