"Deerness, a parish of Orkney, comprising a peninsula in the extreme E of Pomona and the islands of Copenshay, Cornholm, and Horse. Its kirktown stands on the E coast of the peninsula, 12 miles ESE of Kirkwall, under which it has a post office. Extending from Moul Head south-westward to the isthmus that connects it with St Andrews parish, and measuring 5 miles in length by 3 in extreme breadth, the said peninsula is bounded W and NW by Deer Sound, E by the North Sea, and SE by Newark Bay; the islands lie from 1⅓ mile to 3 miles to the E. From the shores, which are haunted by myriads of sea-birds, the surface of the peninsula rises to a somewhat tabular summit. The soil consists mostly of loam, resting on red clay, and is highly susceptible of improvements, such as draining and a liberal application of shell sand, of which there is an inexhaustible supply. From 50 to 60 boats are employed in the herring fishery; kelp is manufactured; and very strong ropes, fitted for various economic pur poses of the farmer, are made from the shoots of Empetrum nigrum, from the roots of Arundo arenaria, and from the herbage of Holcus lanatus. Several tumuli are on the higher grounds; and remains of a huge Pict's house, called Dingy's howe or Duncan's height, stand near the end of the isthmus. The parish is united quoad civilia to St Andrews, from which, however, it was separated quoad sacra in 1845; Deerness itself being a living in the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney, with stipend of £120, a manse, and 3 acres of glebe. The church was originally a parliamentary one. There is also a Free church; and three public schools, Deerness, St Andrews, and Thankerness with respective accommodation for 155, 55, and 83 children, had (1891) an average attendance of 122, 31, and 49, and grants of £1 60, 16s., £31, 7s. 6d., and £58, 5s. Valuation (1892) £2001) 4s. Pop. of q. s. parish (1891) 844."
From Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896