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NORTHMAVINE - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer (1868)]

"NORTHMAVINE, (or Northmaving), a parish in the Mainland, Shetland Islands, coast of Scotland. It comprises the northern part of Mainland, which is indented with many voes or inlets, affording safe harbours for the fishing-boats, and is surrounded on all sides with small islands, holms, and rocks, as Eagleshay, Lamba, Dorholm, Maiden Skerry, Hamnavoe, Burravoe, &c., but only one of these - Lamba - is inhabited. It is a peninsula united to the parish of Delting by a narrow isthmus about 100 yards broad at high water, called Mavis-grind, but so low that at high spring-tides it is entirely surrounded by water. It extends in length about 16 miles from S. to N., with an extreme breadth of about 8 miles.

The surface is of a hilly nature, the highest altitude being at Rona's Hill, which is 1,470 feet above sea level. This hill has on its summit an ancient building crowned with a pyramidal tower of small stones, which serves as an excellent landmark, being the first Scottish land sighted by ships approaching from the N.W. The surface is chiefly rock, moss, and pasture, with but a small portion of land devoted to agricultural purposes.

The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the fisheries. All the fish caught in the parish are shipped for exportation at Hillswick Harbour, in St. Magnus Bay, where there is safe and excellent anchorage. At the village of Hillswick, which is the only commercial place in the parish, are good warehouses and salt and fish cellars, also a commodious beach for drying fish.

This parish is in the presbytery of Olnafirth and synod of Shetland. The minister has a stipend of £158. The parish church, situated in the village of Hillswick, was erected in 1733, and restored in the years 1764 and 1825. There was formerly another church at Ottabery, on the E. side of the parish, but this has been in ruins since 1761. There are parochial and other schools. The Wesleyans have a chapel at North Rae, and the Independents one at Sulerne. Three fairs for cattle and horses are held annually.

The ward-hills or watch-houses along the coast are supposed to have been originally built to give notice of approaching danger, but were subsequently used to call the people together when shoals of small whales appeared, for which purpose they are still employed in the Tawe Islands. Fetheland is a small peninsula at the northernmost point of the parish, enclosed by a stone fence, off which are the three lofty rocks called Ramna-Stacks.

"ASHSHENESS, in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, was formerly a separate parish, but is now united with the parish of Northmavine."

"DOREHOLM, one of the Shetland islands, forming part of the parish of Northmavine. On the W. side is an arch, 70 feet high, made by the sea."

"GUNNISTER, a small island of the Shetland Isles, Scotland, in the parish of Northmavine."

"HILLSWICK, a postal village and minor seaport, in the parish of Northmavine, N.W. Shetland islands, N.E. coast of Scotland, 23 miles N.W. of Lerwick. It stands on a creek indenting the bay of St. Magnus, and forms a very excellent harbour."

"KILLSWICK, in the Shetland Islands, Scotland, was formerly a separate ancient parish, but is now united with the parish of Northmavine."

"KLEBERGIS, a wild spot near Fiedeland Point, in the parish of Northmavine, Shetland Islands, coast of Scotland. It is celebrated for its minerals, including asbestos, magnetic iron ore, &c."

"STENNESS, an island in the parish of Northmavine, Shetland Isles, coast of Scotland. It is situated on the N. side of Magnus Bay."

"NORTHREW, an ancient parish in the Shetland Isles, coast of Scotland, now joined to Northmavine."

[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2003]