"WALLS, (and Sandness) a parish in the Shetland Isles, coast of Scotland. It comprises the districts of Walls and Sandness on the mainland, and the islands of Foula, Papa Stour, Vaila, and Linga, extending in length about 7½ miles from N. to S., with a breadth of 5 miles. The surface is irregular, and the coast-line rocky, rising in many parts 100 feet above sea-level. Along the shore are Gruting, and other voes or inlets, where fish and wild fowl are caught. The rocks consist of gneiss, granitic porphyry, quartz, and Old Red sandstone. A thousand acres or upwards are under tillage. The village of Walls is about 15 miles W. of Lerwick, and is situated between St. Magnus and Scalloway bays. Many of the inhabitants are employed in the fisheries. This parish is in the presbytery of Olnafirth and synod of Shetland. The stipend of the minister is about £158. There are four parochial churches, viz:, Walls, Sandness, Papa Stour, and Foula -the first was erected in 1748. The Independents have chapels, situated respectively at Walls and Sandness. There are three Society schools.

From The National Gazetteer of of Great Britain and Ireland (1868) 

"WALLS, a parish in the W of the Mainland of Shetland, whose church stands at the head of Vaila Sound, 24 miles WNW of Lerwick, under which there is a post office. The parish, containing also the post office of Sandness, 31 miles WNW of Lerwick, comprehends the ancient parishes of Walls, Sandness, Papa-Stour, and Foula; comprises the mainland districts of Walls and Sandness, and the inhabited islands of Papa-Stour, Vaila, Linga, and Foula; and is bounded on the E by Sandsting, and on all other sides by- the sea.

Its utmost mainland length, from N to S, is 7 miles; its utmost mainland breadth is 5 miles; and its total land area is 38 square miles or 24,499 acres. The islands are separately noticed. The mainland district extends southward from St Maguns Bay to the S end of Vaila Sound; includes the most westerly ground on the mainland; is indented, but not to any considerable length, by several creeks and bays; and has mostly a rocky coast, often rising to a height of over 100 feet. The interior is hilly, attaining 817 feet at Sandness Hill, 536 at Dale Hill, and 549 at Stoubrough Hill; to the E are more than thirty small fresh-water lochs. The rocks are gneiss, quartzite, granitic porphyry, and Old Red Sandstone. The soil is mostly moorish or mossy, but forms some good arable tracts. Upwards of 1000 acres are in tillage; a great extent is meadow or pasture; and abundance of peat is on the hills. R. T. C. Scott, Esq. of Melby, is chief proprietor, 2 others holding each an annual value of between £100 and £500, 2 of from £50 to £100, and 3 of from £20 to £50. Walls is in the presbytery of Olnafirth and the synod of Shetland; the living is worth £185. The parish church was built in 1743, and contains 500 sittings. The sub-parochial churches of Sandness and Papa-Stour were built in 1749 and 1806, and contain 278 and 190 sittings. There are also Free, Congregational, and Wesleyan churches; and six schools, with total accommodation for 311 children, had (1884) an average attendance of 259, and grants amounting to £215, 18s. 3d. Valuation (1860) £1651, (1884) £2187, 7s. Pop. (1801) 1817, (1831) 2143, (1861) 2570, (1871) 2579, (1881) 2262."

F.H. Groome Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4




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Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis - 1851

FOULA, an island, in the parish of Walls-and-Sandness, county of Shetland; containing 215 inhabitants. This island lies almost twenty miles distant from any land, and is the most western of the Shetlands. It is about three miles in length, and one and a half in breadth, with bold and steep shores, and formed chiefly of three hills of a nearly conical shape. There is very little level ground; and the isle has only one landingplace. Ham, which is on the east side, and even this cannot be approached in bad weather: the island is resorted to as a fishing-station, and it affords excellent pasturage for sheep. Dense columns of birds of various kinds hover round it, literally darkening the air at particular seasons; the surface of the hills swarms with plover, crows, and curlews, and the cormorants occupy the lower portions of the cliff's. The rock scenery in this island is supposed to be the grandest in the country. The minister of Walls makes an annual visit to the isle, remaining usually two Sundays; at other times the schoolmaster officiates in the church as a kind of pastor.

LINGA, an island, in the parish of Walls-and-Sandness, county of Shetland; containing 9 inhabitants. This isle is situated in Gronfirth voe, St. Magnus' bay; and eastward of the island of Muckle Roe.

PAPA-STOUR, an island, in the parish of Walls-and-Sandness, county of Shetland; containing 382 inhabitants. This island lies at the entrance of St. Magnus' bay, about a mile west of the main land of the parish, and is about two miles in length and one in breadth. The surface is flat, and the soil sandy; excellent crops of oats, barley, and potatoes are often produced, and the pasturage is exceedingly rich. There are numerous voes, or small harbours, which afford safe anchorage for fishing-boats; and from the convenience of the beach, buildings have been erected for drying fish, a branch of trade extensively carried on here. The elevated grounds are irregular-shaped ridges, with roundish summits; and in almost every part of the coast are marks of the devastation of the Western Ocean in the form of stupendous cliffs and deep excavations. On the coast are also numbers of isolated rocks, one of which is called the Lady's Rock; and there is a very remarkable cave called Christie's Hole, into which the tide flows: here boats' crews attack the seals at certain seasons, well armed with thick clubs, and provided with lights. The inlet of Hanna Voe, though of difficult access, is a secure harbour for vessels. Divine service is performed in the church of Papa, by the minister of the parish, every fortnight, when Papa Sound is passable; on those alternate Sundays upon which the minister is absent, the schoolmaster supported here by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge acts as a kind of pastor. The church was built in 1806.

VAILA, an island, in the parish of Walls-and-Sandness, county of Shetland; containing 29 inhabitants. It lies south-west of the main land of the parish, at the entrance of a small sound, or more properly a voe, to which it gives name; and is about a mile in length and half a mile in breadth. In the centre of it is Melby House, the residence of the Scott family, principal heritors of the parish.

WALLS-AND-SANDNESS, a parish, in the county of Shetland, 19 miles (W. N. W.) from Lerwick; containing, with the islands of Foula, Linga, Papa-Stour, and Vaila, 2449 inhabitants. This parish, consisting of the four districts of Walls, Sandness, Papa-Stour, and Foula, is situated, with the exception of Foula, longitudinally about the centre of the Shetland Isles; and is bounded on the north, south, and west by the sea. Walls and Sandness, to the former of which belongs the islet of Vaila, are separated from each other by a prominent elevation, and form the chief part of a peninsula united to the rest of the Mainland by a narrow isthmus. Papa-Stour, or Great Papa, on the north of Sandness, is about two miles long and one broad, and divided from it by a boisterous and perilous channel two miles wide, called Papa Sound. Foula, another island, is distant about eighteen miles west of Walls, measuring three miles in length and one and a half in breadth. Exclusive of the latter island, the parish extends about twelve miles in length, between the extreme points of Papa and Vaila; it is five miles in breadth, and, besides considerable tracts of mossy and mountain land, comprises about 1000 acres of cultivated soil. The surface of the whole is much diversified; the Walls district is marked by numerous small eminences, and the other parts comprehend some tracts of level, and much hilly and mountainous ground. The coast is precipitous; the rocks are generally 100 feet high, and those on the western shore of Foula are even much more lofty, attaining an elevation of several hundred feet, and, in one place, of 1200 feet, and frequented in summer with swarms of sea-fowl. At the little island of Vaila, the residence of John Scott, Esq., of Melby, the principal proprietor of the parish, is a superior harbour having two entrances, called Vaila Sound.



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