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UNST - Extract from National Gazetteer, 1868

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

"UNST, a parish in the Orkney and Shetland islands, Scotland. It comprises the most northerly of the Shetland Isles, including Unst, Uya, Balta, and many smaller islands, as the Skerries, off Skaw Head, and the Outstack rock, being the most northerly point of the British Isles. It is of an oblong form, extending from N.N.E. to S.S.W.; in length about 11½ miles, with a mean breadth of about 3½ miles. The coast is rocky, and is indented by bays and creeks. In the W. and N. the headlands sometimes reach an altitude of 400 feet. On an outlying conical rock 201 feet in height was erected in 1858 a tower 60 feet high, which serves as a lighthouse, 4 miles from Burra Fiord.

The surface is moderately even, compared with that of the other Shetland islands, and abounds in hilly pasture. Its greatest altitude is at Saxaforth Hill, which rises 938 feet above sea-level, and in the Vallafield range, on the W., the cliffs rise 700 feet, but the spray sometimes dashes over them. The prevailing rocks are gneiss, serpentine, chlorite slate, and diallage rock. The principal minerals are amianthus, asbestos, hydrate of magnesia, and chromate of iron found in the serpentine.

Seals and otters frequent the coast, which abounds with kittiwakes, the large skua gull, and other sea-fowl; shells, coral, sponges, and pebbles. The soil is fertile, and a considerable portion of land is under cultivation. There is an abundance of game, and the rare snowy owl and the swan are sometimes seen. Limestone is burnt and quarried for manure. There are traces of Scandinavian burghs and Picts' houses.

The courts of Shetland were held at Crossfield prior to their removal to Tingwall. The principal seats are Belmont, in the vicinity of Uyla Sound, and Buness, near the head of Balta Sound. The village of Unst is about 2 miles N.E. of Yell. Many of its inhabitants are employed in the fisheries and in framework knitting. This parish is in the presbytery of Burravoe, and synod of Shetland. The stipend of the minister is about £248. The church was erected in 1827. There are a Free church, Independent and Methodist chapels, and a parochial school and library."

"SAXAFORTH, a mountain in the island and parish of Uist [sic], North Shetland Isles, coast of Scotland. It attains an elevation of 938 feet above sea-level, and has a remarkable cave 300 feet long."

"UYA, (or Uyea), a village in the parish of Unst, Shetland Islands, Scotland. It is situated between Unst and Yell islands, at the head of the sound to which it gives name. It is a place of modern date, and has a good harbour."

"WEATHERHOLM, an island in the parish of Unst, county Shetland, Scotland, near the island of Unst."

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