Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis - 1851
YELL, an island, in the county of Shetland; containing 2689 inhabitants. This island, one of the most northern of the Shetland group, lies to the north-east of Northmavine on the Mainland, to the south-west of Unst, and to the west of Fetlar. It is about twenty miles in length and six in breadth, having, generally, a bold and rocky coast, indented with numerous bays and voes, several of which form safe and convenient harbours, and serve as excellent fishing-stations. Two ranges of hills, varying from 200 to 400 feet in height, extend almost the whole length of the island, in a nearly parallel direction, from north to south, and are in some parts intersected by other hills running east to west; the surface otherwise is moderately low, particularly along the whole of the eastern coast. For the most part the soil is of a mossy quality, mixed with particles of decayed rock; and in several places are extensive peat mosses, in which are found large trees, though scarcely a shrub is now to be seen growing in the isle. The arable land is chiefly near the shore, and is very inconsiderable in proportion to the undivided common, which is estimated at about 45,000 acres, producing an abundance of a rough sort of grass, here called lubbo, that grows naturally, and affords a tolerable pasture for sheep, horses, and black-cattle. In the northern part of the island the principal bays are Basta voe, Gloup voe, the sand of Brecon, Papal-ness, and Cullivoe; on the south the chief harbours are Hamna voe and Burra voe, about a mile distant from each other. Gloup voe is the only place where the ling or deep-sea fishing is now carried on in Yell. The fishing-boats belonging to the east side of the island assemble at this station for the summer fishing about the 1st of June, and leave again about the 12th of August: the boats on the west side fish at Northmavine. The nearest market-town is Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, distant, due south from Hamna voe, about twenty-six miles. The island is included in the two parishes of Fetlar and North Yell, and Mid and South Yell, which see.