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Stroma island

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1851 - Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis

STROMA, an island, in the parish of Canisbay, county of Caithness; containing 186 inhabitants. This island lies in the Pentland Firth, about three miles from the coast of Caithness, and is about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth. The rocks on the west side are of considerable elevation: the height of the waves that beat against them during storms from the westward, exceeds all ordinary description; and though the soil is fertile, the crops are frequently injured in tempestuous weather by the spray from the sea, which dashes over the rocks with inconceivable fury. In the caverns of the island were formerly to be seen several human bodies in a state of great preservation, though they had lain there between sixty and eighty years. There are ruins of an old castle, and also of an ancient chapel. The property of the isle was once disputed by the Earls of Orkney and Caithness, who, instead of having recourse to the sword or to the laws for the determination of their quarrel, agreed to a simple and curious mode of deciding it. Venomous animals, it appears, do not exist in Orkney, and quickly die when transported to the islands; on this occasion some were brought to Stroma, and as they continued to live, the island was adjudged to belong to Caithness.