A Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland-Firth & Caithness

Author(s): Brand, Reverend John


A Brief
Orkney, Zetland,
Pightland-Firth & Caithneſs,
After a ſhort journal of the Author's Voyage
thither, Theſe Northern Places are firſt
more Generally Deſcribed; Then a Particular
View is given of the ſeveral Iſtes thereto
belonging; Together with an Account of
what is moſt Rare and Remarkable therein:
with the Author's Obſerves thereupon.
Printed by George Moſman, An. Dom
M. DCC. I.
May it pleaſe your Grace,
UPon my Return from Zetland,
as bound in Duty, I
payed my Reſpects to Your
GR. Who was pleaſed to
ask, It l had kept a Diary?
Which I acknowledged,
but could not ſhew it, till
the Remarks therein contained
, were Tranſcribed, which when
done, Y. GR. ſhould have them to glance
at, ſome leiſure Hour. Thus Your Command
giving, Riſe to this Undertaking, I
have preſumued to make the dedication to
Y. GR.
The Noble and Illuſtrious Family of HAMILTON,
the firſt in the Nation, ſtandeth in no
need of Panegyricks from me, to ſet forth its
Eminency. His GR. Your FATHER was very
Instrumental in Settling the Peace and Quiet
of this Kingdom at the late Merciful and Wonderful
Revolution, as became a Patriot of
His Country;Under whoſe Preſidency, in the
Convention of Eſtates, the Goverment of
Our Church was Reſtored, which ſince hath
been Confirmed by the ſubſequent Parliaments.

In His Surviving Conſort, Your Pious MOTHER,
theſe: Endowments and Qualifications
requiſite in the Conſort ot a Prince, have Eminently
ſhined Forth, which will Embalm
Her Name to ſucceeding Generations: Her
likewiſe being ſo very Helpful to many Afflicted
Ones, both in the former Years of this
Churches Diftreſs and Trouble, and in the latter
of great Scarcity and Dearth, She knowing
how Valuable are the Bleſſings of thoſe, who
were ready to Periſh.
Your GR. Honourable Appearance for, and
Acknowledgment of Presbyterian Government,
in the laſt Seſſion of Parliament, was
Acceptable to many: And I hope Y. GR.
ſhall never have Cauſe to Repent of Your Continuing
to Favour the Ancient Government of
this Church, which as it is Conform to the
Scripture-Plan, ſo the Lord hath been Graciouſly
Pleaſed to owne and Countenance it, in
the Great Things, he hath done for and by the
Miniſters and Profeſſors thereof.
Among theſe things for which You ſtand
Obliged to the Wiſe Conduct of Providence,
One is, That You have been ſo well Directed
in the Happy Choice of Your Conſorts: Your
Preſent LADY of a Sweet and Gentle Temper,
Her Carriage Obliging and Diſcreet to all, Her
Loving to Entertain Pious and Religious Diſcourſe,
Her Modeſt and Exemplary Dreſs: I
wiſh She may prove a Bleſſing to Y. Illuſtrious
Family, and be as Rachel or as Leah,
which two did Build up the Houſe of
Your Nkble Brother LORD GEORGE,
hath been Created by Our Preſent GRACIOUS
Heroick Appearances, under the Auſpicious
Conduct of Our King, who was pleaſed to
take notice thereof, ſome of theſe being under
His Majeſties View; And in Teſtimony of
His Royal Favour, Dignify Him with this
Honourable Title, which in the Years of Ancient
Times, hath Blazoned the Eſcutcheons
of Kings.
The Branches of Y. Illuſtrious Family do
Flouriſh in ſeveral Parts of the Nation, tho
God in His Holy Providence, hath made lately
a Breach thereupon, to Y. Grief, and the Nations
Your GR. Relation to the Ancient and Honourable
Family of Douglas, gives me occaſion
to mention that old Alliance betwixt that Houſe
and the Princes of Orkney. William Lord of
Niddiſdale, commonly called the Black Douglas,
by Egidia or Giles Daughter of King Rob. 2,
had a Daughter of the ſame Name, Married to
Henry Sinclar uſually Styled Knight of the Cockle,
of the Garter, and Prince of Orkney. To Him
Succeeded his Son William Sinclar, Married to
Elizabeth Douglas, Daughter to Archibald Earl
of Douglas, Sir-Named Tineman; Whoſe Titles
were, Knight of the Golden Fleece and of
the Cockle, Prince of Orkney, Duke of Holdenburgh,
Earl of Caithneſs, Lord Sinclar, Lord
of Niddisdale, Great Admiral of Scotland
My L. the Knowledge of Hiſtory, is that
which the moſt of Men are taken with, as being;
both Pleaſant and Uſeful; And it can
but ſtain the Reputation of any, tho able
give Account of what is Rare in other Countrys,
it they be Ignorant of their own, and Places
which Depend thereupon, where things no leſs
Remarkable do Occur, which may both Exerciſe
the Ingenious, and Edify the Gracious
But above all, Bleſſed are they who make
a Religious Improvement of Natural Obſerves,
and uſe all Arts and Sciences as Hand-maids to
Religion and Piety; The Knowledge of Chriſt
is the Queen of Sciences, Hence a Learned
Paul determineth to know nothing but Chriſt and
Him Crucified; And thoſe who in all Ages have
been Wiſe unto Salvation, have preferred
Chriſt's Croſs to the Worlds Crown; And
with Moſes, reckoned His worſt things better than
the Worlds beſt. The Knowledge of all other
things without the Knowledge of Chriſt, is as
a Shadow without the Subſtance, and a Body
Without the Head, as ſome have Inſtituted the
Compariſon; Yea they are κνοήτος without Mind
and Judgment; The Cardinal Vertues, as
they are called, may he Attained in Shew,
but not in Truth, quid enim illis cum Virtutibus
qui Dei Virtutem Chriſtum ignorant? All
the Glory and Grandure of the World, laid in
the Ballance with this piece of Saving Knowledge,
is but as a Grain Weight to counter-ballance
a huge Mountain: Hence a notable ſaying
of a truly Noble Lord, when ſet upon by
the Jeſuits, to change his Religion, Tempting
him with Splendid and Rich Offers, Let their
Money, ſaith he, Periſh with them, who think all
the Glory of the World, worth one days Communion
with Jeſus Chriſt. And truly it is but ſmall
Gain, the moſt Painful and Able Student doth
Reap, if after all his Labour in the Records of
Antiquity and Reſearches of Nature, and it
may be through the Maze of Intricate Diſquiſition
he loſe his Soul, and notwithſtanding
of all his Learning be thruſt into Hell, being
forced to cry out on Death Bed, as it is reported
the Learned Grotius once did, Ab vitam perdidi,
operose nihil agendo.
My Lord, I hope it will not prove Unſavory
to Y. GR., that I have a little Enlarged
his Epiſtle, in Commending of Chriſt and Religion,
which ſo much Tranſcendeth Our
Commendation and Praiſe, whence ſo many Advantages
do Accrue to Us, and among others,
when there are early Impreſſions of Piety, on
any, the Conſcience for ever after uſeth to hang
about them, notwithſtanding the Tenor of their
Lives hath been aſſaulted with manifold Tentations.
That Y. GR. may ſtill continue
to be a True Lover of Your Country, and
a Zealous Aſſerter of Her Rights and Liberties,
is and ſhall be the Deſire of him
who is
May it pleaſe Your GR.
Your GR. moſt Humble
and moſt Dutiful Servant
John Brand.
I ſhall not inſiſt on an Apology, why I trouble the
Sweating Preſs, tho I might uſe and plead the
common Topicks taken from the Advice and Imporunity
of others, and to prevent the Publiſhing of
ſome of theſe Remarks, excerpt from my Papers, by
ſome, into whoſe hands, they had fallen, after they
had lien by me ſeveral Months.
There are ſeveral Grave Perſons in theſe Iſles of
good and ſolid Judgment, both Miniſters and
Others, who being better acquainted with the Places
of their ordinary Reſidence, then it can be ſuppoſed
had occaſion to be, might have Publiſhed ſomething
more Valuable on this Head, and ſet their
remarks in a clearer Light As likewiſe ſome of
my Dear Brethren of the Commiſſion, might
have done it to greater Advantage. Yet the Engagements
that lay on me, to Tranſcribe the moſt
Remarkable Occurrences, and the Solicitation of ſome
Whereupon, to Publiſh them, have ſome way obliged
me to make this Appearance. However if others
hereby ſhall be excited to ſerve the Publick, by gaining
a fuller and clearer Deſcription of theſe Generally
little known Places, this Eſſay will not prove altogether
unuſeful. And if I had known that anyone intended
to have Publiſhed ſomething of this nature,
the World had not been troubled with my Scriblings.
I hope none will judge, that I Act without
Line in giving Deſcriptions of this Nature,
ing all are called to Remember the Works of the
Lord and Talk of His Doings, as they
occaſion: And all along, I endeavour to keep in
mind the Character I hear, dropping ſomething to
Spiritual Improvement.
Our Hiſtorians, ſuch as I have conſulted, have
given but a very brief and lame, and in ſome things
a falſe Account of theſe places, eſpecially Zetland,
which is unknown to the moſt of the Nation, if what
that they have only heard, there were ſuch Iſles in
the Zetlandick. It is true, there is one
Wallace a late Miniſter in Orkney, who
gratified the World, by giving a Deſcription of
the Orkney-Iſles; But neither Zetland nor
Caithneſs doth he meddle with: And as to Orkney,
there are ſeveral things which deſerve their
on Remark, he makes no mention of; And
have fallen out ſince his time, which I have not .
So that, on the whole, the Account now given here
of Orkney, will appear almoſt new to any, who will
be pleaſed to compare the two Deſcriptions together.
No doubt but ſuch as know thee Places, will conſiderate
ſeveral things no leſs Remarkable, then
are Obſerved; But ſltll my Reader would remember,
That this is but a Diary Tranſcribed. Yet
I may ſay, as I have not willingly ſuffered my ſelf
to be impoſed on, ſo neither have I impoſed any thing
on the Credulous World, but delivered ſuch things
which either I was witneſs to, or had good ground
to beleive from Perſons wordy of Credit. So that
if any appear Queſtionable, I have ordinarly
in general given my Author for it.
I ſuppoſe the judicious Reader in peruſing the
following ſheets, will find things both Curious and
Inſtructive, affording matter of Meditation to the
Wiſe Obſervers of Providence.
As to any Philoſophical or Philological Obſerves,
as I am unfit for, ſo am I far from a Magiſterial
dictating of them to any, but ſoberly propoſed my
own Sentiments, which if my Reader do not reliſh,
he may follow his own.
Altho the Style be not Quaint and Elegant,
embelliſhd with the Ornaments of Art; .yet I hope
it will be found plain and intelligible; and tho
ſometimes obliged to expreſs my ſelf in the Dialect
or Idiotiſm of the Countrey, yet ordinarily ſuch
Words and Phraſes are ſome way explained. So
when I ſpeak of Orkney or Zetland, as not in
Scotland, tho depending thereupon, I expreſs myſelf
as the Countrey do.
As to the Commiſſions Work I have not meddled
therewith, except when the threed of the Hiſtory
did require me to touch it. However this I may
add, Our weak endeavours, for the Advancement
or the Intereſt of Our LORD JESUS, in
theſe remote Corners, have not been found, by Superiour
Judicatories, altogether unſucceſsful; And
I ſuppoſe, it repents none of us, of our Voyage thither;
however dangerous it did prove.
Of the Chapters.
INtroduction. Pag.
Chap. I. A Journal of our Voyage. 6
Chap. II. A Deſcription of Orkney in General. 18
Chap. III. A Deſcription of the ſevcral Iſles of Orkney
in Particular. 42
Chap. IV. Concerning ſome Remarkable things
in Orkney. 62
Chap. V. An Account of ſome ſuperſtitious Rites,
Charms &c. Yet remaining there. 82
Chap. VI. A Decription of Zetland in General. 96
Chap. VII. A Deſcription of the ſeveral Pariſhies, and
moſt conſiderable Iſles in Zetland. 125
Chap. VIII. An Account of ſome Remarkable things
in Zetland. 148
Chap. IX. Concerning their Fiſh-Trade. 193
Chap. X. A Deſcription of Pightlind-Firth. 207
Chap. XI. A Deſcription of Caſtleneſs. 220
Appendix, 241.
SOme Typographical Errors have crept into the Preſs, which
the Reader would be pleaſed to correct, as page 7. We ſaw
lege, when we ſaw. page 18. my Lord Darlin, lege my Lord Darly
or Darnly. p 94. Hilesha, lege Hildesha. Upon the head of
the Pages, 137, till 146, a Deſcription of Zetland, lege a Deſcription
of Pightland Firth. Some otherer ſmall Errata's there are,
which the Candid Reader will pardon, ſeeing in ſo far as I obſerve,
they do not marr the ſenſe.
Deſcription of Orkney
Zetland and Caithneſs.
It is a Principle generally ackowledged , That all
Men in their ſeveral Stations, according to their
Capacities, are carefully to ſtudy the maintaining
and promoting of the good and intereſt of
that Kingdom, Nation or Society, whereof they are
Members; For if it go not well with the Publick in
common, it cannot reaſonably be thought, that the happineſs
of any in particular can long continue, more than
it can go well, with the ſeveral Members of a Natural
Body, when the Body it ſelf is diſtracted. It was this
generous Love and Concern for their Country, that ſo
ſignaliſed the Ancient Romans, and made them in a ſhort
time, arrive to ſuch a height of Glory and Honour;
Unto this did their Philoſophers, Poets, and Oratours
warmly excite their Fellow-citizens, ſo that the more,
or the leſs any laid out themſeIves this way, their Atchievements
accordingly were reputed Noble and Heroick,
and their Perſons renowned.
Yet ſuch more will we find ourſelves bound to
advance one another's good, if we look on our ſelves
not only as Men and Members of the Body Politick,
but as Chriſtians and Members of that Body, whereof
Chriſt is the Head: Therefore our Love of, Care for,
and Sympathy with one another, is much commended
in holy Scripture, which the Apoſtle well illuſtrateth
in ſeveral places by that appoſite and elegant ſimilitude
of the Members of a natural Body . their conſpiring to
the mutual good of one another; and expreſsly commandeth,
Look not every Man on his own things, but
on the things of others: And the want thereof he doth
heavily regrate in the ſame Chap. For I have no Man
likeminded, who will naturlly car for your ſtate: For all
ſeek their own, not the things which are Jeſus-Chriſt
Which ſelfiſh and narrow Spirit, as it hath too much
prevailed in aII Ages of the Chriſtian Church, ſince
the Days of the Apoſtles; ſo in none more, then this
ours, As the learned Owen obſerveth, imputing the
ſhame & the almoſt Ruine of Chriſtianity thereunto
"The Lord Chriſt ſaith he, hath ordained, that the
"Members of the ſame Church and Society, ſhould
''mutually watch over one another, and the whole
"Body over all the Members unto their Edification.
"And that the practice of it is ſo much loſt as it is,
"the ſhame and almoſt Ruine of Chriſtianity.
But more eſpecially theſe cloathed with Authority
Civil or Eccleſiaſtick ſtand obliged to this publick care,
Miniſters being as Pilots or Governours under Chriſt
to the Ship of the Church, as Magistrates under God
are to that of thc State. And the Charge of Miniſters
having a more immediate reſpect to the Soul arid better
part of Man, they are called the more diligently to
take heed thereto, and ſo to ſteer their Courſe through
the boiſterous Sea of this World, as that not only they
themſeIves at length may arrive and reſt at the Fair
Heavens of Immanuels Land, but that alſo through
Grave they may carry alongs many with them embarqued
on the ſame bottom of the Covenant, by the
Means Of Word and Diſcipline. Miniſters are Steweds,
Watchmen, Shepherds, Biſhops, or Overſeers &c. All which
do imply a Charge to he diſcharged by them for the
good of others.
Mniſters may be conſidered in a threefold Relation.
1. As Chriſtians related to Chriſt, which is
ninon to them with all believers. 2. As Miniſters,
& related to that particular Church or portion of the
Church in general, the inſpection whereof is aſſigned
to them, and in which is more eſpecially and immediately
yhey are called to labour. 3. As they ſtand in relation
to the Church National, whereof they are Miniſters,
whoſe good they to endeavour as God in
his holy & wiſe Providence ſhall afford them acceſs.
And that in all their reſpects Miniſters may the more
prove themſelves unto their great Lord and Maſter,
according to his Appointment, the Apoſtles Example,
and the Practice of the Church in all Ages, they do
associate themſelves unto Councilss, Meetings or Aſſemblies
more or Ieſs GeneralI, that ſo by common Counsel
& Conſent, they may conſult the intereſt of the
Church of Chriſt, within their reſpective diſtricts and
Bounds. Which as it hath been the laudable practice
of other Churches, ſo of the Church of Scotland, ever
ſince her firſt Reformation from Popery.
For which end the Generalral Aſſembly of this National
Church, moved with zeal for the Glory of God, hath
travelled much ſince the late happy Revolution in planting
the North of Scotland, and that they might not be
wanting in viſiting the utmost bounds thereof, with the
Iſles thereto belonging, have deputed ſeveral Commiſsions,
who repairing thither might upon the place
take under their conſideration, the concerns of the
Church of Chriſt in theſe corners, and determine
therein as they ſhould ſee cauſe, according to the Word
of God and Acts of Aſſemblies of the Church. Particular
one was ſent to Caithneſs and Orkney Anno 1698.
who did God and his Church good ſervice there.
In like manner the General Aſſembly Anno 1700,
upon the deſire of Certain Miniſters in Zetland, and Information
of the State of Affairs in theſe remote Iſlands
found it neceſſary to depute a Commiſſion thither,
conſiſting of ſeven Miniſters and one Ruling Elder;
With Power not only to Viſite and order the Churches
there, but likewiſe to concur with and aſſiſt the Preſbyteriesr
of Orkney and Caithneſs,as there ſhould be
Of this Commiſſion the Author, being one , deſigns
a brief deſcription of theſe remarkable parts; after a
ſhort Journal of his Voyage thither, with ſome curſory
Obſerves thereupon.
Containing a brief Journal of our Voyage from
Leith to Orkney, and thence to Zetland: As
likewiſe of our Return from Zetland by Orkney
to Caithneſs: Together with a Summary
count of the remarkable Dangers we were in.
ON Friday 12. April 1700. about ſix a CIock in
the Morning, we ſet Sail from Leith for Orkney,
the Wind fair tho faint, which not being able
to bear us up againſt the Tide, we dropt Anchor two
Miles Eaſt of Inch-Keith, where we lay from Ten til
three in the Afternoon, when a Brisk-gale ariſing, we
weighed Anchor, and Sailed down the Firth, the Ship
making ſo good way, that before next Morning at break
of Day , we were paſt Montroſe.
On Saturday the Wind leſſened, yet about Sunſet
we paſt Peterhead , Steering towards the point of
Kinnaird, leaving the Bridges of Ratray (a ridge of
Rocks) on our Larboard. Next Morning , being
Lords Days , with a gentle Wind, we made the beſt
of our way through Murray Firth, ſpending the Day
in Religious Exerciſes with the Mariners and ſome
Paſſengers in company with us. When before Peterhead
we ſaw the fins of a great Fiſh, about an yard
above the Water, which they call a Pricker; Alſo about
Ten at Night, a Whale was ſeen by the help of Moonlight,
at a little diſtance from our Ship , caſting forth in
the Water in a hideous manner.
Next Morning about Seven a Clock we got ſight of
Orkney, and the Wind blowing ſome what harder,
then it had done the former Night, in the Afrernoon
we paſſed the Eaſt end of Pightland Firth, which though
ordinarily raging with the impetuous current of a Sea,
by reaſon of the many Tides meeting, there , yet we
found it not ſo , but in the midſt of that part we paſſed,
dined upon Deck, ſo meeting with leaſt danger,
where we feared the greateſt. We put in to Holms--
ſound and arrived there about Seven at Night, on the
monday after our letting ſail.
The Ship's Crew told us, that tho they had frequently
sailed theſe Seas to and from Orkney, yet never
had they a better or pleaſanter Voyage: Which Providential
favour was the more obſervable, the Wind
next Day after we Landed, blowing ſtrong from the
North and laſting ſeveral Days. Which if it had come
on before we had accompliſhed our Voyage, we
would not only have been blown back to Sea , but
thereby a tempeſt ariſing , we had been in no ſmall
danger. We deſired to look upon this as a ſignal Mercy,
and a token for good.
We would have hired our Bark, to Zeetland, but
the Maſter being under Charter-party, was obliged to
return with a fraught of Victual to Leith, and not
having the occaſion of any other Ship or Bark, we
were forc't to hire one of theſe open Boats of about ſixty
Meils which the Orkney Men uſe for carrying Victual
to Zetland, elſe we could not go for Zetland this ſeaſon,
tho the Miniſters and others told us our Paſſage
might prove dangerous.
Our ſtay in Kirkwal, the chief Town in Orkney,
[assisting that Presbytery in ſome of their attairs] was
from the 16. to the 27. of April, when with 3. Miniſters
of this Country on the Commiſſion, we took
boat for Sanda about 30. Miles North-Eaſt from Kirkwal,
and in our way to Zetland, having ordered our
own Boat to follow with the firſt fair Wind. We put
off about two in the Afternoon, the Men rowing with
ſix Oars about half way, when the Wind riſing ſomething
favourable with a little Sail and 4. Oars we got
over Stronza Forth. Tho as we came near our landing
place in Sanda, the increaſing Wind raiſed the waves
ſo high, that ſometimes they intertcepted the ſight of
the Iſland. Yet we got all ſafe on ſhore betwixt 9
and 10. at Night. The Mercy of our eſcape was the
more remarkable, that our Boat was throng'd with
Paſſengers; and ſo overloaden that the Water came almoſt
to her brim; ſo that if the Sea had not been
ſmooth and calm, when we paſt throw Stronza Firth,
we had been probably all loſt: As theſe who had knowledge
ot thole Seas did afterwards declare unto us.
We waited in Sanda for a Wind from April 27.
till May 9. when the Wind preſenting, we went to
the Iſle of Eda lying a little to the Weſt of Sanda
where our Boat was, but before we could get aboard,
the Wind ſhifted to South-Eaſt and then to Eaſt and
by South, which was too ſcrimp to fetch Zetland; however
the Wind now being very changeable, we judged
it expedient for us to ly near our Boat and lay hold of
the firſt occaſion: So May 11. the Wind at South-Eaſt
we put to Sea, but ſcarce well were we without the
Red-Head of Eda, when the Wind proving contrary,
we returned to Calf-Sound May 12. being the Lord'sDay
we ſpent in Religious Exerciſes with the People
of the iſle; in the Evening the Wind turning fair, we
reſolved next Morning early to get Aboard, if the
Wind hold. This laſt Night, after we returned to
Calf-Sound, was terrible for Wind and Rain from thc
Weſt, the Wind ſoon altering, after we had got in
again to Calf-Sound) with which we could not have
kept the Sea, in all probability. A great Mercy then
it was, that we were determined to return, and did
not keep the Sea, as ſome adviſed , for tho within
half an hour after we had got in to the Sound, the Wind
rned fair, yet being too ſtrong, the Sea became foul
and tempeſtuous , which was not for our open Boat.
Monday Morning May 13. about two of the Clock,
we were called to go Aboard which we did accordingly,
the Wind at Weſt or Weſt and by North, the
Gale was brisk, but not very great, which we were
glad of, thereby expecting a ſpeedy paſſage: So we
with two other Boats in Company looſed, but ſcarce
were we a Ieague without the Heads, we ſaw a ſtorm
of Wind and Rain making in the Weſt whence the
Wind blew, wherupon one of the Boatmaſters in company
adviſed us to tack about, and endeavour to
fetch Calf-Sound again, which counſel we judging to be
safe, accordingly eſſayed to follow it, but the Wind
and Sea riſing more boiſterous and the Current of the
Ebb being ſtrong from the Sound, we could not by any
means effectute our deſign, tho we made ſeveral Trips
not without danger; the Sea with its broken and ſwelling
waves threatening to ſwallow us up every moment:
The Mariners ſtood by their ſails, crying, This
work was very dangerous, and at one time, as one
of them obſerved, the Boat had taken in about 10.
Barrels of Water, the Pump was ſtill kept going, we
judged our ſelves to be loſt Men, and ſome expreſſed
ſo much. In theſe ſtraits we deſired the Boatmaſter
sitting by the Helm, to ſee if he could make any other
Harbour or Bay; He anſwered, God have Mercy upon
us, for the Sea we dare not keep , and there is not
another Harbour in Orkney we can make, The Men
were fatigued with the toil of their hard work, and
almoſt at the giving over. We then knew to our
experience the meaning of that Scripture Ps. 107.27.
of Seamen in a ſtorm's being at their wits end. Tho
the Wind was fair for Zetland, yet we durſt not hold
on our Courſe, the Sea not only being tempeſtuous, but
we had alſo ſeveral Rouſts or impetuous Tides to paſs,
and then the Ebb was in the Sea, which made them
so much the more dangerous. Thus ſtreitened we
thought it adviſeable, to go down with ſome Sail before
the Wind to the North end of Sanda, & endeavour
to get in to Otterwick or 7 .ap;rart , we inf
attempted Otterſwik, and leſt we ſhould have been blown
by the Bay's mouth, we held ſo near Land, that the
Boat beat ſeveral time upon a Rock, however we got
in and drop't Anchor on the weatherſide of the ſhore.
We were all much refreſhed with this great deliverance
from ſo imminent a danger. When we had ridden
ſome hours at Anchor, the Wind and Sea calmed
About 7. at Night one of the Boatmaſters in company
who had entred the Bay a little before us, weighed Anchor
and put to Sea again. Some of our number were
for lying ſtill, till the Weather was better ſetteld,
others thought that ſeeing God had commanded a Calm
that we had a favorable Wind, that the skie appeared to
be well ſet and promiſing, and that the other Loadened
Boat had gone to Sea before us, it might ſeem
from theſe things Providence invited us to Sea again:
Whereupon we put off, but before we had come the
length of North Ronalſha, ſcarce a League diſtant from
the Bay, we had been in , the Wind became ſo faint
that the Mariners took than to their Oars, to help
them through North Ronalſho Rouſt, thence when we
came to Dennis Rouſt, we made ſome way with our Sails
without Oars, the Tide then turning and the Flood beginning
to run in the Sea.
Tueſday May. 14. about 1. or 2 in the Morning the
Wind ſhifted to Eaſt South Eaſt, then to Eaft, and
our Boatmaſter telling us, that he was forced to ſteer
a Northern Courſe, elſe he could not bear Sail, and
ſo holding on, not a ſtone in Zetland he could hit, as
he expeſſed himſelf, we all judged it moſt proper
to return to Orkney: When we had tacked about, the
Wind ſhifted to North Eaft, a ſtrong Gale together with
great Rains, which cauſed a rolling and a ſwelling Sea
(for Rains here without Winds do raiſe, or canker
(as they terme it) the Sea, and much more when Wind
and Rain come on at once) however we got in ſafely
to Stronza Road, which was the readieſt we could make.
It was a happy Providence that we then returned at
that nick of time, for the Flood not being all ſpent,
we were thereby likewiſe haſtened in our way, ſo that
within a few hours we came to our Port, tho as was
reckoned, we were near mid-way between Orkney and
Fair Iſle. The ſtorm increaſed with the Day, and after
our landing it was ſo very great, that we were obliged
to keep within doors, for ſeveral hours; And if
then we had been at Sea, it is terrible for us to
think upon the diſmal effects which might have followed
thereupon, for without all peradventure, we
had certainly periſhed, if the Lord by ſome wonder
of mercy had not reſcued us, as indeed he had formerly
done. "O that we would praiſe the Lord for his
"Goodneſs, and for his wonderful works to the Chil"dren
of Men, And that ſo long as we live, we may
"never forget, the 13th. and Days of May,
"wherein the Lord wrought a great deliverance for us.
Thus being diſcouraged, we were in great perplexity,
not knowing, what to do, Whether to make
any further attempt, or to return home, re infecta,
ſeeing God in his Providence had ſo croſſed us hitherto,
and it might be his mind, we ſhould not go forward.
Upon theſe fluctuating and perplexing thoughts.
we askt God's mind in the matter, atter which more
light did ariſe, and we unaminouſly reſolved yet to
trie, what the Lord would do with us.
Fryday May 17. between 8. and 9. in the morning,
Wind and skie promiſing well, we put to Sea and
paſſed the Fair Iſle about 5. Afternoon, keeping it
on our Starboard, then our Gale increaſing, but continuing
fair, at South-Weſt, we made good way. About
Midnight we paſt Swanburgh Head, the ſouthernmoſt
point of Land in Zetland, havine, thence 24.
Miles to Sail up within Land to Lerwick, whether we
were bound. The Wind growing more vehement, we
lowed our Mainſail, and took in a Riff; With the breaking
of the Day, there aroſe a Miſt, whereby we
could ſcarce ſee Land, however however we judged ſafest, to
keep as near it, as we could, and ſailed away by the
Coaſt; but being to paſs through a Sound having the
Iſle of Muſa on our Starboard and Burra Land on our
Larboard, our Seamen miſtook the point of Muſa, taking
another point in the Mainland for it, and the Miſt
lying on, we wire almoſt engaged in the Land, and
ſo would have fallen among rocks, which they coming
to ſuſpect, held to sea, reſolving to Sail without the
point which they did with difficulty, the Boat being
cloſe haled, and the blaſt great, that the Helm-a-lee,
was twice able to command her and keep her by the
Wind: Which when they had done, came to diſcover
their Errour. Hence failing through Muſa Sound, we
came to Braſſa Sound, and arrived at Lerwick on Saturday
about 4. in the Morning.
We had a quick paſſage, failing about 100. Miles
19. or 20. hours time: Eſpecially conſidering, that
we were not half an hour on ſhore, when a ſtrong Wind
blew from the North, which if it had come on but a
little ſooner we would have been driven back to
Sea. There is likewiſe another Providence remarkable,
that we had only an ordinary deſirable Gale,
when we paſſed the Fair Iſle, where always there goes
a great rolling Sea, but when within the Heads of the
Land ot Zetland, vve had it very ſtrong, ſo that ſcarcely
we could have wreſtled and held out againſt it in
the Ocean.
We arrived in Zetland May 18. and having brought
to ſome Period and Cloſe our principal work there
we ſet Sail for Orkney, June 11. ſaluting and bidding
heartily farewell to the Miniſters and ſome Gentle
men ot the Countrey and to the moſt conſiderable
habitants ot Lerwick, who kindly accompanied us to
our Boat. We left Teuſday June 11. about 5
Afternoon, and having the Wind at North-Weſt or
North Weſt and by North we paſſed the Start Head of
Sanda about 4. next Morning, and endeavouring to
ſet in to Ketteltaſt to Sanda, to put one of the Miniſters
of that lſle aſhore; our Boat through our Boatmaſters
inadvertently ſtruck on a rock, without ſuſtaining
any damage, we knew; But the Wind not permitting
to turn up to that Road, we all came to Kirkwal,
and arrived there before 9 in the morning. Our
paſſage from Zetland to Orkney, was yet quicker, then
it was from Orkney to Zetland, we being but 16. hours
in running 120. or as ſome ſay, 128 Miles. Staying
in Orkney a few days, we paſſed Pightland Firth to Caithneſs,
and having diſpatched our work in conjunction
with the Presbytery there; we came home by Land,
repairing with joy to our ſeveral Charges, Where we
may ſet up our EbenEzer, ſaying, Hitherto hath the
Lord helped us.
I think we are called ſeriouſly to reflect upon the Manner
of the Lord's dealing with us, we have been long
detained and croſſed in our way to Zetland, tho we
made ſeveral attempts to goe forward; As to our Commiſſion
we were appointed by the General Assembly of this
Church, and it being put upon us without any deſire
of ours, or inclination that way, we accordingly undertook
our Voyage, and came with a favourable Gale
to Orkney: It is true, that there are natural cauſes of
Wind and Rain, whereof we are to make a Spiritual
improvement, eſpecially when they do impede or promote
our deſigne; Moreover Gods Judgements are a
great depth, and by the courſe of Nature, in giving
greater or leſſer Winds at his pleaſure, he may carry
on his more General Works of Providence, and yet
thereby more eſpecially intend the puniſhmcnt of the
wicked, or the Chaſtiſement of his People, which they
are called to conſider and improve: And as true it is,
God in his Wiſe Soveraignity may ſo deal with his
People, for the trial of their Faith and other Graces,
that they may be ſtill and know that he is God, ruling
as he pleaſeth among the Children of Men: The Devil
alſo, who is the Prince of the power of the Air may have
an evil and malicious hand in things of this nature
Eſpecially when Men purpoſe to do good, which tends
to the overthrow of his Kingdom. O that what we
have met with may be ſo bleſſed, as to render us more
zealous againſt him and all Sin, whereby his Kingdom
is eſtabliſhed in the World, That we may fight with Devils
and be more then Conquerours through him who loveth us.
I ſay tho theſe things and the like ſometimes may and
ought to be had a regard unto, yet I do humbly judge
that upon theſe ſo very dreadful dangers we have in
great mercy eſcapcd, we are called to examine our
ſelves, and ſearch unto our Sins as we are Chriſtians.
and is we are Miniſters, for which the Lord may have
a controverſie with us; Our not being ſo faithful in our
perſonal and paſtoral work, in working out our oun
and others Salvation; Our impatience in not waiting
the Lords time. but being too anxious to be in Zetland
at any rate: And it is like in our not being ſo ſingle in
our ends in goeing, as we ought to be &c. I conclude
this Chap. As the Pſalmiſt doth Pſ. 167. Reflecting
on the Wonders of Providence, Who is wiſe
and will obſerve thoſe things; Even they ſhall underſtand
the loving kindneſse of the LORD.
A Deſcription of Orkney, its Situation, Name,
firſt Planters, Language, manners of the
People, Wholeſomeneſs of the Air, Corns &c
THE Iſles belonging to Scotland have commonly
been divided into three Claſſes; The Weſtern
ſcaattered in the Deucaledonian Ocean, on the
Weſt, the Orkney and ZetIandick, both lying to the North
of Scotland. As to the Weſtern Iſles, tho in number far
exceeding both the Iſles of Orkney and Zetland, yet
take no notice thereof, in the ſubſequent Deſcriptione
our Commiſſion not being deputed thither, ſo only the
latter ſhall I give ſome breif account of, not intending
to advance any thing, but what I have either found
to be true from my own obſervation, or had by good
information from ſenſible and grave Perſons worthy of
credit; And ſhall begin with Orkney as order requireth,
we firſt Landing there.
Orkney lyes to the North of Scotland, bounded on
the Weſt by the Deucaledonian Ocean; on the Eaſt, by
the German; On the North, by the Sea, which divides
Orkney from Zetland; And on the South, by Pightland
Firth, 12 Miles broad, from Dungisbie-Head or John
Grot's Houſe, the Northermoſt Houſe in Scotland to
Burwick in South-Ronaldſha, the Southernmoſt point of
Orknev. It is commonly ſaid to be about the 59th degree
of Latitude at Kirkwal which lyes within the Countrey;
tho the Southmoſt point of South-Ronaldſha. is
diſtant from the Northernmoſt of North-Ronaldſha,
near a degree.
That Orkney or Orcades is the name of theſe Iſles,
is agreed in, by ancient and modern Writers, But of
the Etymologie and whence the name is derived, none
I ſuppoſe will be found to give a ſatisfying account,
Some alledging it to come from Orcas, which Ptolomy
reckons to be a Promontory of Caithneſs, oppoſite to
Orkney; Others from the Greek word ειρκω Coerceo.
Theſe Iſles breaking and reſtraining the force of the rageing
Waves: Or from Hurricano becauſe of the boiſterous
Winds and Hurricanes which often blow in this
Countrey: Or from Erick or Orkenwald, or ſome other
Pictiſh Prince famous there at its firſt Plantation. Which
derivations, ſome of them at leaſt cannot but appear
far fetcht to the thinking Reader: And indeed many in
giving the Reaſons of names, do rather pleaſe their own
Curioſity, then render a true account of their OriginaI;
ſeing the Reaſons generally of the Ancient Names
of Countries are buried in oblivion, through the want
of Writers, and neglect of the firſt Inhabitants, eſpeciallv
in theſe parts of the World, wherein Learning more
ſlowly advanced.
The firſt Planters, and Poſſeſſours of the Countrey
ſeem to have been the Picts, there being ſeveral
Houſes, both here and in Zetland, which to this Day
are called Picts or Pights Houſes, and the Firth between
Orkney and Caithneſs, is ſtill called Pight-land Firth.
Whereupon ſome ot our Hiſtorians, as Boethius, Writing
of the Iſles of Orkney, doth obſerve,) deſign Orkney the
moſt ancient Kingdom of the Picts; Orchades insulæ,
antiquiſſimum Pictorum Regnum a quibusdam noſtrarum rerum
Seraptoribus vacitatæ. And we find mention made of the
Kings of Orkney, at Buchanan tells us of one Belus
who having Invaded Scotland, was defeated and put to
Flight by Ewen 2d. King of Scots, Killing moſt of
his Army, upon which Belus being much diſcouraged
and broken in Spirit, deſpairing of life, put hand in
himſelf, and became his own executioner. Boethius
calls him Balus; Balus autem Orchadum Rex fractus animo,
deſperatâ Salute, ne in hoſtium poteſtatem veniret, manum
ſibi intuſit. And in the Church of Birſa at the Weſt end
of the Mainland in Orkney, there is a long Stone yet
ſtanding erect, with the name Belus inſcribed thereon
in ancient Characters; Probably this was the
Place of his Interment. Alſo the Miniſter of Sandwick
Manſe is ſaid to have been the Reſidence of one of the
Kings of Picts, and therefore to this Day is called Koningſgar,
or the Kings House; And that part of the Manſe
which they ſay ſerved for the Palace of a King. is ſo
litle, tho now keept in ſome Repair, that it could
not accommodate a Family of an ordinary rank; The
Figure thereof and contrivance of its two Rooms or
Chambers one above and another below, of narrow dimenſions,
are antick, and the Building hath been but
courſe. Boethius likewayes tels of another King called
Banus, whom Claudius-Cæſar having ſubdued, anno Chiſti
43. He carried him with his Wife, and Children Captive
to Rome, and were led by him in Triumph: Buchanan
queſtiones the truth of this Hiſtory, Tacitus aſſuming
that part of Britain then to have been altogether
unknoun to the Romans, nec temere tamen crediderim quod
noſtri tradunt Scriptores, &c. quod Tacitus affirmet ante
July Agricola adventum, eam Britanniæ partem Romanis
omnino incognitam fuiſſe. But if Boethius his Relation be
true, the vanquiſhing of Orkney hath been reputed ſomething
conſiderable, ſeeing not to every Conqurerour was
allowed by the Roman Senate, the Glory a Truimph
It is alſo probable, the Government of theſe Iſles
continned with the Pictiſh, till the Dayes of
Kenneth 2nd. King of Scots, a Warlick Prince, who having
prevailed with his Nobles contrairy to their own inclination,
by a, notable peice of craft, to engage in a War
againſt the Picts, with an undaunted valour and courage,
routed the Pictiſh Army and waſted their Countrey
with Fire and Sword, purſueing them to the Orkney Iſles
which he then annexed to the Crown of Scotland, reigning
from Orkney to Adrian's Wall Anno Dom. 854. Thence
Orkney continud in the Poſſeſſion of the Scots, till
the Dayes of Donald Bane, about the Year 1099, who
that he mightt ſecure the Kingdom to himſelf, promiſed
the Iſles to Magnus King of Norway, it he would aſſiſt
him with a neceſſary force; Which offer Magnus accepted,
the Norwegians became Maſters of the Iſles, till
Alexander 3d. about the Year 1263 Recovered them by
expelling the Norwegians; Which ever ſince were poſſeſſed
and diſpoſed of by our Kings. To be breif, at length
William Douglas, Earl of Mortoun got a Wadſet of Orkney
and Zetland from King Charles the firſt, Which Wadſet
with all the Rights, Contracts, Infeſtments &c. Thereunto
appertaining, was reduced by a Decreet of the
Lords of Seſſion, obtained at the inſtance of this Majesties
Advocate againſt William Douglas alſo Earl of Mortoun
grandchild to the foreſaid Earl, February 1669. which
Decreet was ratified and confirmd by Act of Parliament,
in December following, erecting the Earldom of Orkney
and Lordſhip of Zetland into a Stewartry to be called
in all time comeing the Stewartry of Orkney, and Zetland.
The reaſon commonly given, why the Earl of Mortoun
loſt the Wadſet. was becauſe ſome Cheſts of Gold
were Seiſed by the Earls Deputs in Zetland, got out of
a rich Ship, called the Carmelan of Amſterdam, caſt away
there Anno 1664; None of this Gold coming to the
Kings Thesaury, tho ſome of it, as was alledged, came
to the Earls hands.
From our Hiſtory we may know, that Orkney and
Zetland have been reckoned ſo great and conſiderable
a part or his Majeſtes Ancient Kingdom, that for divers
ages they occaſioned much expence of Blood and Treaſure,
for the maintaining thereof againſt the Invaſion of
Foreiners, and recovering the ſame out of their hands
by Arms and Treaties. The Title likewayes of theſe
Iſles hath ſtill been reputed honourable, hence it hath
pleaſed Our preſent King to confer this Title of Earl of
Orkney, upon Lord George Hamilton, Brother to his Grace
the Duke of Hamilton, for good ſervices done by him
to his Majeſties Perſon and Government.
I proceed to conſider the preſent ſtate of the Countrey.
The People here are Perſonable and comely, and
many of them, as I obſerved, are of a Ruddy complexion,
which may be by reaſon of the Sea Air and their frequent
Fiſh-diet, ſuch a colour and countenance as our
Mariners uſe to have and retain for ſome Dayes after
they are come from Sea: They are generally Hoſpitable
and civil, giving kind and humane entertainment to
Strangers, which we found to our experience. Both
Men and Women are faſhionable in their cloths, no
Men here uſe Plaids, as they do in our Highlands; In
the North Iſles of Sanda Weſtra &c. Many of the Countrey
People wear a peice of a Skin, as of a Scale, comonly
called a Selch, Calf or the lik. for Shoes, which they
faſten to their Feet with ſtringes or thongs of Leather.
Their Houſes are in good order, and well furniſhed,
according to their qualities.
They generally ſpeak Engliſh, neither do I think,
they have ſo much of the Northern Accent, as in many
places of the North of Scotland, yet ſeveral of the
Iſles have ſome Words and Phraſes peculiar to themſelves.
There are alſo ſome who ſpeak Norſe eſpecially
in the Mainland, as in the Pariſh of Hara there are a
few yet living, who can ſpeak no other thing, this
language not being quite extinct among them, ſince
the Norwegians whoſe language it is, had this Countrey
in poſſeſſion. And tho Cathneſs be near to Orkney, yet none
on Orkney can ſpeak Iriſh, tho the greateſt part in Caithneſs
can; Nor any in Caithneſs ſpeak Norſe, tho ſome in
Orkney yet can do it.
The Air as it is peircing and cold, ſo it is free and
healthy; Hence many arrive at a good old Age: One
Evie brought forth a Child in the 63 Year of her
Age, as the Miniſter who had enquired thereunto, declared:
A Man in the Pariſh of Holm, who died not
many Years ſince, lived with his Wife in a conjugal
ſtate above 80 Years, as the preſent Miniſter of the
place informed me: A Gentleman in Stronſa, who died
but two Years ſince, was begotten of his Father when
100 Years old, this was atteſted by the Miniſters who
knew the truth thereof. One William Muir in Weſtra lived
140 Years, and died about 16 Years agoe, by a decay
of Natures heat and vigour, incident to ſuch an infirm
decrepit age, without any ordinary Sickneſs, as a
gentleman in theſe bounds well acquainted with him,
told me. The think they are moſt obnoxious unto
he Scurvey, occaſioned, as is judged, by the SeaAir,
Fiſhes, Saltmeats &c. It is obſerved likewayes that
it is colder in the Summer time, then it is with us in
the South, but warmer in the Winter, the Snow not
using to ly long; For (beſide other things that might
be said or this head, which alſo reſpect other Conntreys)
in the summer cold breezes come off the Sea, which
tempers the heat; And in the Winter ſeaſon the ſame
breezes may qualify the extreme cold and froſt, which
hath failed, many of the Enſter Men, who were ordinary
fiſhers upon theſe Coaſts, being killed there.
When I was in Papa Weſtra, the y pointed out to me a
Holm upon the Eaſt ſide of the Iſle, where I ſaw the
ruines of ſome Huts or little Houſes, whereunto theſe
Enſter Men ſometimes reſorted, during the Herringfiſhing.
A Gentleman living in this Iſle told me, that
the former Year t699, there was a great quantity of
Herring Sperm or Spawn driven upon the ſhore, and
lay there for ſome time in heaps; which evidenceth
that Herrings in their ſeaſon, are yet on theſe Coaſts:
tho means be not uſed to take them.
Beſide the many other excellent hires, as Keeling,
Ling , Scate, Turbot, and ſometimes they ſay Sturgeon
&c. there are alſo many Shell fiſhes taken; as
lobſters ſold for an half penny or 4 pen. Scots; Oiſters
much bigger then with us, for 4 ſhill. Scots per 100.
Partens and Muſſels; and Cockles in ſo great plenty,
that they make much good Lime of their ſhells, beſide
which they have no other Lime in Orkney, ſave what
they bring from the South.
They have plenty both of Land and Sea Fowls: as
Eagles, Hawks , Ember Gooſe, Claik-Gooſe , Dunter-Gooſe,
Solen-Gooſe, Swans, Lyres, Scarffs,
Ketiwaiks, Hover, Muir-Fowl, Duck and Drake &c.
The Kings Falconer uſeth to go every year to theſe
Iſles, taking the young Hawks and Falcons to breed,
and every Houſe in the Countrey is obliged to give him
a Hen or a Dog, except ſuch as are exempted. The
Eagles do much hurt to the young ſtore, falling doun
upon their Lambs and Hens, and taking them away
with them to their Neſts, Killing and pulling out
the eyes and hearts of their Sheep; Hence there is an
Act ſtanding in the Steward's books, that whoever
ſhall kill an Eagle ſhall have a Hen out of every Houſe
of the Pariſh, where he is killed; yet notwithſtanding
of this encouragement, I hear but of few killed, they
fleeing high, and diſpatching their prey ſo quickly:
I ſaw a young one in the Palace of Birſa, almoſt twice
the bigneſs of a Gooſe tho not a month old, it is a
ravenous fowl, and would have run upon us, if we had
not kept it of with our ſtaves, As to its colour, it is
for the moſt part black, and ſomething of a yellow or
golden colour about the Head, and in ſome parts of
the wings. It is obſerved of the Eagle, that he doth
more deſtruction in places at ſome diſtance from his
neſt, then in theſe that are nearer it. Eagles, Hawks
and ſuch like fowls have their neſts ordinarily, on
ſome high, ragged rock, waſhen by the Sea beneath,
ſome of which we ſaw as we had occaſion to ſail by
The Ember-Gooſe tho not altogether ſo big as our
Land-Gooſe, yet it uſeth to weigh a ſtone weight. It
hath ſhort wings, not able to bear. up the body for
fleeing, hence it is never ſeen flee, neither ſit on any
rock in the ſea , as other Fowls do, but hath it's neſt,
wherein it hatcheth its Eggs, one or two at once,
under the Water, at the foot of a rock, as they informed
me, hath been found. It is of a darkiſh grey colour,
and white about the neck, of broad feet like out
Land-Gooſe, and a long beck and tho ever in the Water,
yet hath not, I think, ſuch a ſtrong fiſh taſte, as
the sulen-Gooſe. It is more difficult to get them
ſhot , then other Sea fowls, they being very quickſighted,
and on the 1ſt. apprehenſion of danger, get
beneath the Water: Yea by reaſon of their many feathers.
they will receive a ſhot on their breaſt, and it
not penetrate; wherefore who would be at them,
deſign for their Heads. or to ſhoot them againſt the
feathers. The Lyre is a rare and delicious sea fowl
ſo very fat, that you would take it to be wholly fat;
it is ſomewhat Ieſs then a Duck.
The Sea-fowls are ſo numerous, that a Gentleman
ih Westra told his Miniſter, that ſome Years ago, he
for his own part killed ſo many, as afforded him 50,
60. and ſome Years 100. ſtone weight of feathers,
whereby accrues to the Owners more gain, then by
the fleſh of the fowls) tho for ſome ſeaſons paſt, he
hath taken but few; For it is obſerved, that theſe
fowls follow the ſmall Fiſhes, which are their ordiary
food, hence the mo Fiſhes, the mo Fowls, and
when the Fiſhes forſake this and the other place, the
fowls likewiſe du ſo within a ſhort time. Becauſe of
its abundance of Fowls, therefore it is, that the
Gentlemen and ſome others have the rocks in ſeveral
places divided amongst them, as they have their Land.
Which Fowls they either kill by ſmall ſhot out of Boats
at the foot of the frequented rocks, or elſe Men are let
down by ropes from the top of the rocks, who ſearch
for the Neſts, taking the Eggs, and what Fowls they
can apprehend. Many kinds of the Sea-Fowls are of a
pyed colour, ſome of which are not to be found with
us in the South.
There are here no Partridges, but plenty of Muir--
Fowls, hence in ſome Iſles they will take 20, 30. or
40. pair in one day, the hills covered with heather,
being by Nature fitted for their living and accommodation.
Conics alſo do abound in Moſt of the Iſles, but
no Hares are to be ſeen, to that if any be brought into
the Country, as they ſay, hath been tried, they will
not live and propagate as in other places. I hear of
few , if any venomous creatures in theſe Iſles, as Boethious
of old did obſerve, Serpentes aut aliud animal venenoſum
nullum, id quod de Hibernia quoque verum et: No
bees either are here, there being no proviſion proper
for them, beſide they would not take well with this
coId Climate.
No Trees there are in this Countrey, nor Buſhes,
save a few in the Biſhops Garden at Kirkwal, which
are eſteemed as a rarity, for when planted and taken
care of, they ſometime grow up the height of their
Garden Wall, but afterwards they gradually go back
and decay: This ſeveral Gentlemen very deſirous of
having Tress to grow, declared; Which then muſt be
imputed to the nature of the Soil, and ſharpneſs of
the Sea-air, and not to the ſloth of the Inhabitants,
as our Hiſtorian aſſerts, Nulla uſquam Arbor ac ne Frutex
quidem præter Ericam nec id tam cœli aut ſois vitio
quam incolarium ignavia, quod facile oſtendieur ex arborum
radicibus, quæ pluribus in locis eruunter. For tho indeed
it be true, that Roots, and ſometimes Bodies of Trees,
are found in Moſſes; yet this is rare, and only to be had
in ſome places; whereas Gentlemen ſay, they bring
in exotick or foreign Plants, they ſow Seed for Nurſeries,
which uſeth to arrive at ſome greater growth,
then what is planted, yet after all their pains and expence
in uſing ſuch proper Means, ſo conducivee, for
obtaining their end, no perfection or bearing of Fruit
can be attained. And that Trees, which yet are but
ſmall, and look dry and withered, do grow in the
Biſhops Garden, may be becauſe of its incloſure, having
the Church on one ſide. the Town of Kirkwal on
another, and the Biſhops houſe on a third; Which
kind of fences, may keep off the cold breezes, than
come from the Sea, and deſtroy the growth of !Trees
in other places.
Tho there be no Trees, and ſo no Fruits for the
Table, yet there is no lack of good Roots for the
Kitchen, as Cabbage, Carrots, Parſnipes, Turnipes,
Crummocks, Artichoaks &c. All which uſeth to be
bigger here then with us ordinarly; eſpecially the
ArtiChoaks excel, hence ſome Gentlemen do barr
and ſend them out of the Country for a preſent
their Friends. Beſide theſe, they have likewiſe variety
of Herbs in the field, very beneficial to ſuch as underſtand
their vertue and uſe.
Pites and Turff are t be ordinary fewel they uſe,
which they have very good and in great plenty
through the Country, except in ſome places, which
not ſo abound therewith, as in Sanda they are obliged
to bring, pites frum the adjacent Iſles, they not having
in their own Iſle to ſuffice them. And the uſual
nner of agreement with the Proprietor of the
Moſs, is for ſo much a day, for ſo many Peits as a Man
can caſt. And in ſuch places, where there is ſcarcity
of Fewel, the poorer ſort make uſe of dried Kine's dung,
or Tangles, which in Summers heat they prepare for the
inters cold. They have a few Salt-Pans, in ſome
places, where plenty of Pites, which are very uſeful
the Country. At ſome times, much Timber, the
wrack of Ships caſt away at Seal or broken on their
Iſles, is driven aſhore, which the inhabitants ſeiſing
keep for burnwood, and if good and freſh, (as ſometimes
Ships from Norway ſuffer Shipwrack upon or nigh
theſe Iſles) they make other uſes of it; I ſaw ſeveral
Chimney pieces thereof. The more ignorant People
conſtruct this as a favourable Providence to them, therefore
they call theſe wracks, God's ſend, tho not In favourable
to the poor Mariners and others who ſuffer thereby.

Although the Sea ſeemeth to favour them, by
bringing ſuch Timber, and ſometimes Casks and
Hogſheads of Wine, Brandy &c. to their doors, yet
this turbulent ſwelling Sea, and ſtrong Current of a
Tide pays thew home ſore, for frequently thereby their
ſmall Paſſage or Fiſher-Boats are caſt away, ſometimes
in them periſhing, at other times ſome ſaved with
difficulty. And at all times it is highly dangerous,
for any not experienced with theſe Seas, to paſs
through between the Iſles, tho with ſmall Boats, becauſe
of the many blind Rocks lying there, upon which
ſometimes the Inhabitants themſelves to ſpleet, what
through ſome miſtake, inadvertency, darkneſs of the
night or otherwiſe.
The Miniſters inform us, they are often in great
anger in going to their Churches from Iſle to Iſle,
Viſiting their Pariſhes, going to the Presbytry, &c.
ſometimes, pale death, with its grim countenance,
preſenting it ſelf, and ſtareing them in the Face, as
one drawn our by the hair of the Head; another
eſcaping on the Keel of the overwhelmed Boat; Sometimes
they are arreſted by a ſtorm in the Iſles, and
kept from their own Families for ſome weeks, even
when the paſſage will be ſcarce a Mile or half a mile
over. They tell us, in the Iſle of Weſtra, there was
a Marriage not long ſince, where about 100 Perſons
were conveened from other Iſles, and were detained
for 6 or 7 weeks together, ſo that tho many of them
daily ſaw their own houſes, yet they durſt not adventure
to paſs over, till the falling Wind and Sea took
off their confinement.
In every Iſle there is a Ware or Ward-Hill, the
higheſt Hill in the Iſle, on the top whereof they uſed
to kindle a fire, when they ſaw an Enemy approaching,
or diſcerned any danger, that ſo they might
alarm the Neighbourhood, that the diſperſed lnhabitants
of the Country having thereby notice given them
might conveen for their ſuccour, or be upon their
own Defence, which Beacons on the tops l,1 Mountains
the Scripture makes mention of, as Iſa. 30. 17.
And a late Learned Author aſſerteth, That great flame
with ſmoke riſing up out of the City, which was appointed
as a ſign between the Men of Iſrael, and the Lyers on Wall
Jurg. 20 38, 40. ſeems to be meant by this.
There are ſeveral Gentlemen in Orkney who have
conſiderable Eſtates, but the King is the great Proprietor,
having about the one half of the Rents of the
whole Country. Which Rents are let out to Taxmen
for ſo much per Annuni, as is agreed upon at the publick
Roup, who by their Deputes gather in the Revenues
of the Crown, and being the Kings Steward
they are the proncipal Judges of the Country. The
Rents when Collected, whether payed in Money,
Meal, Oats, Barly or Butter are ordinaily ſent South
which cauſeth a great grudge among, the People, ſome of
them thereby being redacted to great ſtraits, not getting
Meal, Barley or the like ſometimes to buy, as in the
late dearth, tho then the product of theſe Iſles, commparatively,
were beyond that of many other places in
the Kingdom. The Biſhops Rents amounting to 8 or
9000. Merks per Annum, and ſo more conſiderable then
the Rents of ſeveral other Biſhopricks in the Kingdom,
Now ſince the abolition of Prelacy coining in to the
Kings Treaſury and at his diſpoſal, are alſo ſent
South and not conſumed within the Iſles, as they uſed
formerly to be, when the Biſhops reſided here, at which
the People are likewiſe diſſatisfied, and thereby, as ſome
better acquainted with their humours and inclinations do
inform me, the Presbyterian Government is made thc
leſs acceptable to many of them.
The People greatly cry out of the oppreſſion they
groan under, by reaſon of the frequent change of Stewards
their Maſters, who being Taxmen, and to only,
continue for ſuch a definite time, each endeavours
to gather in his Rents, and that as ſoon as may be, which
many of the poor People cannot get to quickly given,
whereupon ſeveral of them are put to doors, and all
taken from them, which hath occaſioned much of the
King's Land now to be lying waſte and lee; Whereas
if they always had one Maſter, their Circumſtances
might be much better, for ſometimes it ſo falleth out,
that the Husband- Man will gain as much in one year,
as will compenſe the loſs of another, the Maſter likewiſe
would be more encouraging to them, and concerned
in their wellfare, and they having Leaſſes ſet
them, would more endeavour the improving of their
ground, which now they do not, they not knowing,
but the next year they may have a new Maſter, whoſe
little finger may be thicker then his Predeceſſours Loyns.
Yet let not my Readerr judge, that I hereby intend the
Impeachment of any particular Perſon or Perſons, who
have been Taxmen there, or now are, but my deſign is
to ſhew, that this is the common complaint of the Counry
both in Orkney and Zetland.
The Gentlemen tell us, they have another kind of
Holding here, then is in other places, and the beſt right
they have to their Lands, is that which they call Udail
right, a Poſſeſſion which the Natives ſucceſſively have
without either Charter or Seaſin; All then Lands being
either ſuch Udail Lands, or Kings Lands, or Fewed
Lands. This Udall right is ſaid to be called from one Ulaus
King of Norway, who when he poſſeſſed the Countrey,
gave to the Inhabitants a Right to ſo much Land, he
alwayes retaining to himſelf the 3d part, and enjoying
the increaſe thereof.
Their meaſure is not the ſame with ours, they not
uſeing Peck and Firlot, but in ſtead thereof, weigh
their Corns on Piſmires or Pundlers. The leaſt quantity
is called a Merk, which is 18 Ounces; 24 Merks
make a Leiſpound or Setten, which with the Danes is
that which we call a Stone. 6 Settens, a Meil, which,
is their Boll; And 18 Meils make a Chalder. Neither
do they uſe rocks or sacks as we do; But carries and
keeps their Corns and Meal in a ſort of Veſſels made
of Straw, bound about with Ropes of the ſame, called
Wherein the feveral Iles and Pariſhes belonging;
to Orkney, are enumerated, and breifly
Having geven ſome deſcription of Orkney in general,
I ſhall now give ſome more particular account
of the ſeveral Iſles thereunto belonging. Which are divided
into ſuch as are Inhabited, and ſo are more commonly
called Iſles; and ſuch as are not Inhabited, which
they call Holms, only uſeful for Pasturage. The iſles
are ſaid to be 26 in number, viz. Pomona or the
Mainland being much larger than any of the reſt "Gram"ſey,
Hoy, Swinna, South-Ronaldſha, Burra, Lamb"holm,
Flotta, Faira, Cava, Copinſha, Shapinſha, Damſay,
Inhallo, Gairſa, Rouſa, Eagleſha, Stronſa, PapaStronſha,
Eda, North-Faira, Weſtra, Papa-Weſtra,
Wyre, Sanda, and North-Ronaldſha. To which may
be added Pightland Skerrres, it being ſometimes inhabited
in the sunrnter time, and Waes whicch in a high
ſtream is divided from Hoy, whereunto it is joyned by
a low and narrow neck of Land; As alſo the Calf of
Eda, it having a Salt Pan in it:. It may be obſerved
that moſt of the Names of theſe lſles end in a or-ey,
which in the Teutonick Tongue ſignifieth Water, to ſhew
that theſe Iſles are pieces of Land ſurrounded with Water.
The firſt is Pamona or the Mainland, ſaid to be 24
Miles in length from Eaſt to Weſt, and in ſome places
7 or 8 Miles broad; nigh to the middle whereof is the
Toun of Kirkwal, about 3 quarterss of a Mile in length
from South to North, the only remarkable Toun in
all this Countrey, and beſide which there is no other
Royal-Burgh in Orkney or Zetland; The Danes who
had the Orcades long in poſſeſſion, called it Cracoviaca,
which Name Buchanan takes to be the ſame with Kirkwal
but corrupted. "Quod Dani Cracoviacum appela"bant,
nunc nomine corrupto Kircua Scotis dicitur. It
ſtandeth upon the North ſide of the Iſle in a low and
moiſt Ground, hence a Miniſter in this Countrey told
me, that in ſeveral places of their large Church, where
more reſpected Burgers ordinarily Bury their Dead,
they can ſcarce dig, two foot of Earth but Water will
ariſe, ſo that he hath ſeen when they Interred the Corps
they behoved to preſs them doun in the water till the
Mold or Earth was caſt upon them. It is now much
decayed as to Trade and Number of Inhabitants, as
many ancient Burghs in this Kingdom are. In it hath
been two ſtately Edifices the King's and the Biſhops Palace,
the former is now very ruinous being the Ancienteſt
of the two, built, as is thought, by ſome of the Biſhops
of Otkney; It having the veſtige, of a Biſhops Mitre
and Armes Engraven, upon the Wall that looks to the
ſtreet: And in which, it is ſaid, the Biſhops, of old,
had their Reſidence. The other, called the Biſhop's
Palace, wherein the Biſhops lately lived, was built by
Patrick Stewart Earl of Orkney Anno 1606, son to Robert
Stewart Natural son to King James the 5th. This Palace is
alſo goeing to Ruine; Tho, with ſome expence, it
could be keept, in good Repair.
The Church is a very noble and large structure; Having,
in it, 14 or 15 ſtrong Pillars, on each ſide, The
steeple ſtanding, on 4 bigger and higher Pillars, in the
midle of the Church, wherein there are ſeveral old and
good Bells. In the Eaſter part only, of this great
Church, Divine ſervice performed, which is furniſhed
with good seats, for accommodating the inhabitants,
and other conveniencies, proper for that end. It is
commonly called St. Magnus Church; being built, or
at Ieaſt, as ſome ſay, the foundation laid. by Magnus
King of Norway; Whom they report, to have been
Buried here: Tho, others ſay, he was Buried in Eagleſha,
an iſle to the North of Kirkwal. There are many,
of this name, of Magnus, in this Country.
At Kirkwal, there is a ſafe Road; But Ships. coming
from the South, cannot get ſo eaſily into it, by reaſon
that the ſame Wind which brings than to Orkney, often
will not ſuffer them to turn up to Kirkwal, they
being obliged to encompaſs a point of Land ſtretching
to the North-Eaſt before they can make the Road, ſo
that frequently they ly at Elwick or Deer-Sound two
Anchoring places to the Eaſt of North-Eaſt of Kirkwal,
until that the Wind ſhall favour them.
On the Mainland good Corns do grow in ſeveral places,
tho likewayes there be much mooriſh Ground, but
the Pleaſenteſt part of the Iſle I take to be the Weſt end
thereof, about Birſa, Hara, Sandwick and Stromneſs, where
there are ſeveral ſpots well furniſhed with Graſs and
Corn. In the Pariſh of Birſa is the Kings Houſe ſituated
on a plain Champain Ground on the Weſt end of the
Mumland, nigh to the Sea or DeucaIedonian Ocean, which
formerly when in order hath had ſeveral pleaſant and diverting
Avenues about it. At a large quarter of a Miles
diſtance to the south, we ſaw the pleaſanteſt mixture of
Gowans ſo commonly called or Daiſies white and yellow
on every ſide of the way growing very thick, and covering,
a conſderable piece of the Ground; that ever
we had occaſion to ſee. The Palace was Built in form
of a Court by Robert Stewart Earl of Orkney, about the
Year 1574, it is two ſtories high, the upper hath been
prettily decored, the Ceiling being all Painted, and
that for the moſt part with schems holding forth ſcripture-Hiſtories,
as Noah's Floud, Christ's Riding to Jerſalem
&c. And the scripture is ſet doun beſide the Figure:
was Inhabited within theſe 20 Years, but is
now faſt decaying. When we entered the Palace gate, we
ſaw above it, that Inſcription ſo much talks of and reputed
treaſonable by "King James the 6th: Robertus
Steuartus Filius Jacobi 5th Rex Scotorum hoc Ædifici"um
inſtruxit, which inſcription could not but offend
the lawful Heir of the Croun, for it eannot well be
though that the Earl and all about him, were ſuch blunderers
in the Latine Tongue as to put down Rex in ſtead
of Regas, if there had been no deſign in it. Within
the Palace we ſaw alſo the Motto above his Arms, Sic
fust, eſt, & erst.which was a piece of too great arrogancy
for any Man to aſſume that unto himſelf, which properly
belongs to the Son of GOD, whoſe wiſe Judgement
is not unworthy of our Remark, that now only
it can be ſaid of his Hoſe and Family, now extinct.
Sic fuit: Which that great King Nebuchadnezar knew
to his experience, That theſe who walk in pride, God is
able to abaſe.
Among other pleaſant places in this Weſt end of the
Mainland we may take notice of Kofal-Hall, a Iitle to the
Eaſt of the Houſe of Brachneſs in the Pariſh of Sandwick,
which is very large on the top, and plain almoſt like a
Bowling-Green, ſo that 9 or 10000 Men could eaſily
be drawn up in order thereupon: It is all over very
green without any Heath or ſuch like growing there neither
are there any-riſing Hillocks on it, that we could diſcern,
as ordinarly are to be ſeen on other Hills; and becauſe
of it's being ſo very pleaſant the inhabitants about
call it Chearful-Hill, Within a few Miles alſo of he Weſtend
of the Mainland is the Loch of Stennis the largeſt in
Orkney, whereon are ſome Mills; ſome Trouts, and Salmon-Gilſes
are found in it,and the Brooks that run from it,
Beſide Kirkwal-Road, there are ſeveral other Harbours
or Bays on the Mainland, wherein Ships can ſafely
ly, as one at Kerſlon a ſmall Village, at the Weſt end
of the Main-land, much frequented by Ships going to
the Weſt of Scotland, or Ireland, or coming therefrom:
Another is at Holms-ſound towards the South-Eaſt ſide
of the Iſle, to which ſometimes Barks do reſort from
the South; ſeveral Ships alſo going through Land from
the South to the Weſt-Sea, drop Anchor here; and
when they paſs, they muſt Sail between Lambholm a
litle Iſle in the Sound, and the Mainland; for the way on
the other ſide between Lambholm and Burra, tho it
ſeem more open, yet it is, they ſay, ſhallow and dangerous:
But none I think will dare to Sail through theſe
Iſles without ſome meaſure both of skill and experience,
elſe it will be to the hazard of their lives, and the
loſs of Ship and Cargo; There being ſeveral Turnings
Blind-Rocks, and Shallows: Wherefore many do judge
it the ſafeft Courſe, to keep the Wide-Sea. and ſet
Sail without the Iſles, eſpecially if the Weather be not
well ſet and promiſing. Another convenient Road is
at Deer-ſound to the Eaſt of the Mainland where a great
Bay commodious for Navies to ride in. Some other
Harbours and Bays alſo there are upon the Mainland
but theſe are the moſt remarkable.
Nigh the point of Deer-Neſs ſome Years ago was
caſt away a Ship tranſporting ſome Priſoners to America,
who were for the moſt part Weſt-Country Men apprehended,
Eimpriſoned and then Baniſhed for adhering
to Presbyterian Principles; There were, as is ſaid
above 100 who Periſhed being kept under the Hatches,
tyed together by pairs, whereas if they had been at liberty,
the greateſt part if not all might have been ſaved,
as a few were, then upon Deck, with the Mariners.
The Countrey People here did and do think that
the Captain of the Ship willingly ſuffered her to drive
upon this point, and the Men there to Periſh, and if ſo,
it is probable that others tho not Aboard, have been
concerned in this miſchievous deſing, as the Authors
and Abettours thereof.
In the Mainland are 8 Pariſhes but 13 Kirks, for
any Miniſters in Orkney have 2 and ſome 3 Kirks,
herein they ordinarily Preach by turns, the firſt is
Deerneſs and St Andrews, at the Eaſt-end of the Iſle,
here two Kirks, one at Deerneſs and another at St
Andrews, wherein their Miniſter Preacheth by turns,
here live the Lairds of New-work and Tankerneſs; Under
Miniſters inſpection alſo is Copinſha a litle Iſle to
the Eaſt of the wherein a few Families, ſome
Corn-Land and Paſturage: It at a litle diſtance appears
to be as an high Rock conſpicuous to Sea-Men, but it
declineth and lieth low towards the Weſt:To the North
Eaſt of it lieth a Holm called the Horſe of Copinſha.
The next Pariſh is Holm, alſo on the Eaſt of the
Main to the Weſt of Deerneſs and St andrews, wherein is
but one Kirk; In this Pariſh liveth the Laird of Grahamſhall.
To their Miniſters Charge belongeth Lambholm
a litle Iſle to the South of the Main, wherein a Familie
or two. North-Weſt from Holm, the Pariſh and Town
of Kirkwal lieth, where one Church, but they ſhould
have two Miniſters. A part of their Charge is called
the Pariſh of St Ola. To the Weſt of Kirkwal is Orphir,
where is but one Kirk. To the North-Weſt of
Kirkwal lieth Firth and Stennis having two Kirks, wherein
their Miniſter Preacheth per vices or by turns. To this
Pariſh belongs Damſey, a little Iſle. To the North of
Pirth and Stennis, is Euse and Rendal having two Kirks,
wherein their Miniſter Preacheth per vices, To this
Pariſh belongeth Gawſey a litle pleaſant Iſle, wherein Iivrth
Sir William Craig of Gawſey.
To the Weſt of Euse and Rendal is Hara and Birſa,
where are two Kirks, in which the Miniſter Preaches
per vices; the King's Houſe is in Birſa as aboveſaid.
Next to Birſa to the South-Weſt is Sandwick and Stromneſs,
wherein are two Kirks, which their Miniſter goeth
to per vices. To Stromneſs belongeth, Kerston, where
the beſt Harbour in Orkney, and by reaſon it is daily increaſing
as to Houſes and number of inhabitants, (whol
are encouraged to dwell here upon the account of the
many Ships that do frequent this Port. and often tarry for
ſometime;) the Miniſter and Gentlemen concur in ſuplicating
Judicatories competent, that Kerston with
ſome of the Countrey adjacent, may be erected into a
Pariſh by it ſelf, that ſo the Inhabitants of the place
and ſtrangers reſorting thereunto, may be ſerved with
Preaching, and other parts of the Paſtoral Work; their
preſent Church at Stromneſs being 4 Miles diſtant from
them, wherein alſo they can have Sermon, but every
other Sabbath. In Sandwick lives the Laird of Brachneſs.
To the South of Stromneſs and Sandwick lieth Hoy and
Waes, which ordinarly make but one Iſle, tho ſometimes
by a high Sream overflowing the low and narrow paſſage.
whereby they are joyned to one another. they are
divided into two; The Iſle is about 10 or 12 Miles long
from Weſt to Eaſt. Waes at the Eaſt-end of the Iſle
better inhabited, then Hoy at the Weſt-end thereof,
lying lower, and ſo fitter for Paſturage and labouring
whereas Hoy is more Mountainous, only having ſome
Houſes on the skirts of the Hills, by the Coaſts, and
ſome Corn Land about their Houſes. The Hill
of Hoy, is the higheſt in Orkney, whence we have a fair
proſpect of alI the circumjacent Iſles, as alſo of Caithneſs,
Stranaver, Sutherland &c. On the South ſide of PightIand
Firth, yet tho it be ſo high, it cannot hold true
what ſome do aſſert, that from this Hill is to be ſeen the
Sun all the Night over in the Moneth of June when
is about the Tropick of Cancer, for facing the Sun is
ſeveral hours ſeen above the Horizon the ſhorteſt
Day of Winter, he muſt neceſſarly be ſo far depreſſed,
the ſhorteſt Nightt in Summer, ſo that his Body cannot
then be ſeen, tho ſomething of a clear light may be
diſcerned, as it were accompanying the Sun from his ſettling
to his riſing point, by reaſon of the reflexion and
retraction of his Rayes upon and through the Sea, he
dipping ſo little below their Horizon: For the further
Illustrating of this, the Miniſters of the Northern-Iſles
of Orkney told me, that in the Moneth of June they will
ſee to Read ſmall Print or Write at mid-night; And in
December for ſome Dayes they can neither ſee to Read
nor Write, unleſs that they light a Candle, as one of
them atteſted from his experience. To the South of the
Entry into the Sound between Hoy and Kerſton in the
Mainland is the Comb of Hoy, the higheſt Rock in Orkney,
looking to the Weſt or Deucaledonian Ocean much
frequented by Sea Fouls.
The Miniſter of Hoy hath two Kirks, one in Hoy and
another in Gramſey, a little pleaſant Iſle about a Mile
long lying to the North of no, between it and Kerſton
the Mainland, but Ships that go through this Sound
uſe to Sail between Gramſay and the Mainland, the way
between Gramſay and Hoy being very dangerous. The.
Miniſter of Waes, two hitless one in Waes and another
in Flotta, a pleaſant litle Iſle, and as capable of
aprovementt as any Iſle in Orkney; Faira, and Cava alſo
two other litle Iſles are a part of his Charge, theſe Iſles
ly to tha Eaſt of Waes and Hoy.
Nigh to the Eaſt of Waes and Hoy lyes South-Ronaldſha
5 Miles long from North to South, and about two
broad in ſeveral places, it is the Southernmoſt of all the
Iſles of Orkney, and my Fertile and populous, at
the South-end thereof is Rurwick, whence the ordinary
paſſage is to Duncanſhay in Caithneſs over Pightland Firth.
Their Miniſter hath three Kirks, two in South-Ronaldſha,
one at the South-end of the Iſle, called our Lady'sKirk.
and another at the North-end called St Peter's
Kirk. He hath a 3d Kirk in Burra a pleaſant litle Iſle to
the North of South-Ronaldſha, wherein much Cornland
and many Rabbets: In this Iſle liveth Sir Archibald
Steuart. To this Pariſh belonges Swinna a little iſle in
Pightland-Firth, of which It more afterward, when we
come to diſcourſe of Pightland-Firth.
To the North of the Mainland lyes the Northern Iſles
as Shapinſha to the North-Eaſt 4 or 5 Miles long, to
this Pariſh belongs but one Kirk. It hath a ſafe Harbour
at Elwick on the South of the Iſle: Here is the
Houſe of the Sound which looketh well, and hath a pleaſant
Situation on a riſing Ground, lying to the South.
To the North Eaſt, from Shapinſha lyeth Stronſa about
4 or 5 Miles long, it is well inhabited, and the
Graſs and Corns are good: Papa-Strouſa is a litle Iſle
over againſt it towards North-Eaſt, wherein but one
Family, between Papa-Stronſa and Stronſa is a ſafe Harbour
or Bay, well fenced by Promontories or Capes of
Land, it is ſaid to be the beſt North-bound Harbour in
all the Northern Iſles. Oppoſite to Stronſa to North
Weft lyes Eda about 4. Miles of length from North to
South, it is full of Moſs and Moor, and but thinly
habited: Some of the Neighouring Iſles get their Pites
hence. In it a Loch and Mill. To the North-East of
Eda is the Calf, a Holm ſo called; between which and
Eda Calf-Sound a convenient and ſafe Road. The Miniſter
of Stronſa and Eda hath two Kirks one in Stronſa and
another in Eda where he Preacheth every 3d Sabbath.
To the Weſt of Eda lyes North-Farra a pleaſant Iſle
wherein a few Families.
On the Eaſt ſide of Eda, ſtands a Houſe built by
John Stewart Earl of Carrick, An. 1633. Some of
whoſe Off-ſpring are yet living in the neighbouring
Iſles, the occaſion of his coming and living in this remote
corner, is reported to have been ſome diſcontent
which fell out between him and his Lady; He built at
a great Expence 12 Salt-Pans in the Calf of Eda, over
againſt his houſe, which for ſome time were all at
Work, he deſigning, to have driven a Foreign Trade
withh his Salt, but he dying after a few years abode
there, the Houſe and Paus not being keept in Repair
went to ruine, ſo that now only one Salt-Pan is ſtanding.
Thus his Project died with himſelf.
To the N. Eaſt of Eda is Sanda the pleaſanteſt I
think, of the Orkney Iſles, 9 or 10 Miles long from
South to North, in many places a Mile or a mile and
an half, and in ſome ſcarce half a mile broad, having
ſeveraI tongues of Land waſhen by the Sea; hence ſome
do compare it to the ſhape of a Lobſter: No place in the
Iſle is high and Mountainous, and many ſpots of it are
very plain, and even like a Bowling-Green, everywhere
it is well furniſhed with Graſs, and much good
Corn, ſaid to be the beſt in Orkney, It alone payeth to
the King 42 Chalders of Victual, every one of which
Chalders is 21 Bolls of our Meaſure; The whole Iſle
is but as one rich Cuningar or a Cony-Warren, for I
never ſaw a greater number of Conics runing in any
place then I did here; Hence the Heretors kill
ſeveral hundreds of them yearly for their uſe. There
are ſeveral Bays for Ships as Kitletofe, Otterſwick and
Taphneß Bay. Some Gentlemen alſo who have conſiderable
intereſts as Burgh, Lapneß &c : Many Fowls
frequent this Iſle, as Duck and Drake, Plover, &c.
ſo that there is good ſport for the Fowler. The Stirlins
or Starcs are as numerous I judge, as the Sparrows
are with us.
In Sanda are two Miniſters, one having one Kirk
called Lady-Kirk, on the Eaſt ſide of the Iſle towards
the North end thereof, in this Iſle are ſome ſober,
knovving, and good People; particularly in this Lady
Parish in the former Presbyterian times, there was a
Godly Zealous Miniſter, Mr. Arthur Murray, who
went South after the Revolution An. 1660 and died
there, ſome of the old people yet alive, who were under
his Ministry cannot ſpeak of him without Tears
The Righteous ſhall be had in everlaſting rememberance.
The other Miniſter hath under his inſpection
three Kirks, two in Sanda, Croſs Kirk, and Burne
and one in North-Ronaldſha, an Iſle to the North
Sanda two or three Miles long. Both theſe Iſles
Sanda and North-Ronalſha ly low, and dangerous for
Seamen, who cannot diſcover them at any diſtance
eſpccially in a miſty day or dark night, till cloſe upon
them, and ſo are ready to ſuffer Ship wrack, as many
To the Weſt of Sanda lyes, Weſtra ſeven Miles long
it is well Inhabited, having much Corn in it; here
is Fitta Hill where they ſay the Fairies are frequently
ſeen, it is the higheſt hill in all the Northern Iſles
Orkney. In the North end of this Iſle is the Caſtle
of Noutland, built by Gilbert Balfour for the uſe
James Hepburn Earl of Bothwell, Marred to Queen
Mary the 27 of May An. 1567 in the Abbey of HolyRoodhouſe
who fearing, he ſhould not always retain and
enjoy his preſent Grandure, which the Nobles envied
him for, he likewiſe being ſuſpected guilty of the
Murder of my Lord Darlin her former Husband
cauſed build this ſtrong Caſtle, which upon a change
of the Scene. he might betake himſelf unto, ſituated
upon a Rock nigh to the Deucaledonian Ocean, having
plain Champain ground about it; It is 4 Stories high
and the loweſt is ſtrongly Vaulted, above. which
a large Hall, having two Air-holes through the
Arch, ſo to give a vent to the Pouder, if at any time
they ſhowld be ſurpriſed with a blaſt, the walls are
very thick, and all the free ſtone for the building
was brought from the South: The Roof is flat and
fenced with Rayls of Stone, whence we have a fair
view of the circumjacent Country, There are ſeveral
hols or ſlits in the Building, not only to let in the
light, but to gall an approaching, Enemy with ſmall
ſhot, if at any time they ſhould be attacked: But the
Lord often taking the Sinner in his own craftineſs
ſuffered him not ſo to eſcape, by ſheltering himſelf in
this Neſt; This Caſtle was never compleated, for in
one part thereof, the Walls are hut halt the height intended,
and never hitherto covered with a Roof, and
he being purſued by the Lords of the Congregation,
never poſſeſſed it, or ſo much as ſaw it, if not at a
diſtance, for he taking himſelf to Sea with two or
three ſhips came to Kirkwal in Orkney. and being driven
thence by William Kircaldy of Grange, he fled
to Zetland, where the Purſuer had almoſt overtaken
him. if the Pilots skill in the Seas had not made a
way to eſcare, in holding down by the ſide of a
blind Rock well enough known to the Pilot, which
the Purſuer ignorant of ſpleet upon; which Rock to
this day is called the Unicorn, from the Name of the
Ship that periſhed upon it. Bothwel eſcaped to Norway
where being apprehended, he was taken to Denmark,
and caſt into a filthy Priſon, where he died after 10
years Impriſonment: His wicked life having, this miſerable
end: Tho hand join in hand the wicked
ſhall not go unpuniſhed; and ordinarly Murder, (whereof
he was ſuſpected to be guilty,) ſo cryeth from the
ground, that it bringeth down remarkable and often
tremendous Judgments in time. There are ſeveral
Gentlemens Houſes in Weſtra.
The Miniſter of Weſtra hath three Churches wherein
he Preacheth per vices, two in Weſtra, one at the
weſt end of the Iſle called the Weſt-Kirk, and another
nigh to the North end called the North-Kirk, the third
Church is in Papa-Weſtra a little Iſle of 3 Miles long
from South to North; Betwixt it and Weſtra there is a
convenient Harbour for Ships at Piriwa; As alſo
the ſame Sound a little to the North of this Harbour
lyes a holm wherein there hath been a little Chapel,
whereof ſome of the ruinous Walls are yet to be ſeen.
Papa-Weſtra aboundeth with Rabbets, and hath ſome
Corn Land, but not ſo much as ſome other Iſles, it
being hard and ſtonny ground; It belongeth to a Gentleman
called Holland; and hath been reputed famous
for St Trodwells Chappel and Loch or Lake. To the Eaſt
of this Iſle lyeth the Holm, where the Enſter Men had
their Hutts as above.
To the South of Westra lyes Rouſa an Iſle 6 Miles
long, full of heathy Hills, abounding, with MoorFowls,
there is not much corn in it, and but thinly inhabited.
There is a Loch and Mill thereon that goeth
ordinarily all the Summer over, which is rare in theſe
Iſles. The Miniſter of Rouſa hath two Kirks, one in
Rouſa and another in Egleſha, a pleaſant Iſle two Miles,
long , where a Church much frequented by ſupertitious
People with a Steeple ſeen at a great diftance
where, (as ſome would have it,) St. Magnus was buried
To his Charge alſo belongs, a little Iſle to the
Weſt of Rouſa, alſo Wyre a ſmall Iſle.
Thus I have glanced at the Deſcription of the Orcades;
moſt of which I have had occaſion to ſee, wherein
we ſee there are 17. Pariſhes, 8. in the Mainland, Viz
Kirkwall, Holm, Deerneſs and St. Andrews, Evie and
Rendal, Firth and Stennis, Orphir, Birſ and Hara
Sandwick and Stromneſs, and 9. in the other Iſles, Sciz.
South Ronalſha and Burra, Waes and Flotta, Hoy and
Gramſey. Shapinſha, Stronſa and Eda, Lady Kirk in
Sanda, Croſs Kirk and Burneſs in Sanda. and North Ronalſha,
Weſtra, and Papa Weſtra, Rouſa. and Egleſha; But
there are 31. Kirks; And theſe Miniſters look upon
themſelves as more happily poſted, who have only one
Kirk, eſpecially if they have not more Kirks in ſeveral
Iſles this tending more to the Edification of the
People under their Charge and conſequently to their
peace an encouragement, they every Loris-Day diſpenſing,
Ordinances in the ſame place, to the ſame
People, whereas theſe who have more Kirks committed
to them are ſometimes obliged to preach in one
place and ſometimes in another , and the People generally
frequent but their own Kirk, eſpecially if they be
in different Iſles, hence ordinarily they enjoy the Ordinames
only every other Sabbath, and in ſome places
one of three, which cannot but obſtruct the progreſs
of the Goſpel, among them. Beſides it is uneaſyexpenſive
and dangerous for them to travel from Iſle to
Iſle, and ſometimes a ſtorm ariſing they are neceſſarily
detained there. The ſtipends here are ſmall, and for
the moſt out payed by the Stewart or Depute, the
King being the principal Proprietour, yet they can
live very well upon them, Victual being had at an
eaſie rate.
The People are generally tractable, ſubmiſſive and
reſpectful to their Miniſters, which is very deſirable
and encourarging to theſe who labour among them,
when true Zeal enlargeth the deſires, and putteth an
edge upon the SpiritsI of Paſtors in the diſcharge of the
Lord's Work for the good of Souls.
Some things remarkable in Orkney, as Ancient
Monuments, ſtrange Providences &c. are
HAving, taken a view of the Countrey in general
and the ſeveral Iſles in particular, I ſhall now divert
my Reader with ſome things remarkable, not
together unworthy of our Obſervation, ſuch as ſome
Ancient Monuments, ſtrange Accidents, and ſome
other things not only curious and delectable, but alſo
profitable to the Judicious; affording matter "of medi"tation
to the wiſe Obſervers of theſe things, who regard
the Works of the Lord, and duely ponder the
"operation of his hands, in the years of Ancient and
"Latter times.
The firſt we take notice of is the Stone, called the
Dwarfie Stone, lying in a Valley between two Hills, to
the North of the Hill of Hoy , it is about 34. foot long,
or 17. broad and 8. thick, hollowed by the hand
of ſome Maſon, as the Print of the Maſon-Irons do yet
ſhew, it hath a square hole for the Entry , looking to
the Eaſt, 2. foot high, with a ſtone proportionable
ſtanding before this Entry at 2. foot diſtance, within
at one end is hewen out a bed with a pillow, wherein
two Perſons may ly almoſt at their full length, oppoſite
to this at the other end, is ſomething alſo hewen
out like a Couch, between which Bed and Couch there
is a large Hole above about the bigneſs of the Entry
through which a Perſon may come up to the top of
the Stone, and might ſerve, for a Vent to the ſmoke
if ſo be they had put any fire upon a Hearth between
the two Beds. Beneath this ſtone runs to the South
cold and pleaſant ſpring which might afford drink to
the Inhabitant. Who hewed this ſtone, or for what
uſe it was we could not learn, the Common Tradition
among the People is, That a Giant with his Wife
lived in this Iſle of Hoy, who had this ſtone for the
Caſtle. But I would rather think, ſeeing it could
accomodate any of a Gigantick ſtature, that it might
be for the uſe of ſome Dwarf, as the Name ſeems to
import, or it being remote from any Houſe might be
the retired Cell of ſome Melancholick Hermite. The
ſtone alſo may be called the Dwarfie Stone, per Anophrasin
or by way of Oppoſition it being ſo very
To the North-Weſt of this Stone is an high Mountain
of a ſteep Aſcent called the Wart-Hill of Hoy, looking
to the North; Nigh to the top ot which Hill about
Mid Day, is ſeen ſomething and that at a good diſtance,
which glitters and ſhines wonderfully, altho
ſome have climbed up and ſearched for it, yet
could find nothing: It ſhines moſt in the ſummer time.
The People talk of it as ſome enchanted Carbuncle:
Others take it to be a Water that reflecteth the
Sun's Rays, and ſo cauſeth ſuch a ſparkling and ſplendour;
But a GentIeman who liveth nigh to the
Rock told us, that is ſhines moſt in the greateſt Drought,
when no Water is near it.
At the Weſt end of the Mainland, about a Mile
and an half to the Weſt of the Houſe of Skeal, on the
top of high Rocks, there is ſomething like a ſtreet
near to a Quarter of a Mile in length, and between
20. and 30. foot in breadth, all laid with Stones of
different Figures and Magnitudes, of a Reddiſh colour:
ſome of which ſtones bear the Image and Repreſentation
of a Heart, others of a Crown, others of a
Shoe, a Leg , a Last, a Weavers Shuttle &c. And that
which renders it yet the more ſtrange is, when theſe
ones are raiſed many of them have the ſame figure and
ſhape below on the one ſide, that they have above on
the other; which ſtreet all beholders look on as very
wonderful. I ſaw a part of the Garden Wall of the
Houſe of Skeal, decored in the forepart thereof with
theſe ſtones, we intended to have ſent a parcel of them
South to our Friends as a rarity, if they had not been
forgot at our return from Zetland. Whether theſe
ſtones be ſo laid and figured by Art or by Nature will
be hard to determine. For there is no Houſe nigh to
his ſtreet, neither are the ruines of any which formerly
have been there, to be ſeen. So puzling are the
Works of God to the moſt ingenious and accurate obſervers
of Providence.
At the Loch of Stennis in the Mainland, in that
part thereof , where the Loch is Narroweſt, both on
the Weſt and Eaſt ſide of the Loch, there is a Ditch;
within which there is a Circle, of large and high ſtones
erected: The larger Round is on the Weſt ſide, above
100 paces Diameter: the Stones ſet about in form of
a Circle within a large Ditch, are not all of a like
quantity and Size, tho ſome of them, I think, are
upwards of 20. foot high above ground, 4. or 5. foot
broad, and a foot or two thick, ſome of which ſtones
are fallen, but many of them are yet ſtanding, between
which there is not an equal diſtance, but many
of them are about 10. or 12. foot diſtant from each
other. On the other ſide of the Loch over which we
paſs by a Bridge laid with ſtones after the manner of a
ſtreet, the Loch there being ſhallow, are two ſtones
ſtanding, of a like bigneſs with the reſt whereof one
hath a round hole in the midſt of it, at a little diſtance
from which ſtones, there is another Ditch, about half
a Mile from the former; but of a far leſs Circumference;
within which alſo there are ſome ſtones ſtanding,
ſomething bigger then the other ſtones on the Weſt
ſide of the Loch, in form of a Semicircle, I think rather
then of a Circle, opening to the Eaſt, for I ſee
no ſtones that have fallen there ſave one, which when
ſtanding, did complete but the Semicircle. Both at
the Eaſt and Weſt end of the bigger Round, are two
green Mounts, which appear to be Artificial: In one
of which Mounts were found, faith Mr. Wallace,
9 Fibulæ of ſilver, round, but opening in one place
like to a Horſe ſhoe.
It is moſt probably thought that, theſe were the HighPlaces
in times of Pagan Idolatry, whereon ſacrifices
were offered, and that the two Artificial Mounts of
Earth, ſerved for the ſame purpoſe, or were the places
where the Aſhes of the Sacrifices were caſt, as ſome
will have it. Boethius Life of Mainus King of
Scots obſerveth, That the People called theſe huge
ſtones drawn together in the form of a Circle, the
Ancient Temples of the Gods, Ut Populus as Religiouem,
moverentur priſeis ſacris novas quaſdam Et ſolennes
Ceremonias ſuperaddidit (Rex nimit um Mainus) Dus Immortaubus
peragendas, ut immenſis ſaxis varus in Regionum
locis (ut res expoſcebat) in coronidem admotis, eoromque
maximo ad Meridiem porrecto, cujus pro ara foret uſus:
Victimæ ibi Diis immortalibus ſacrsficium cremarentur. Extant
in rei fidem, vel hoc noſtro avo ingentia ea ſaxa aucta
in Circos, priſca Deorum Phana Vulgus appellat. Many of
the Countrey do ſay. That in the larger Round the
Sun, and in the leſſer the Moon was Worſhipped by
the old Pagan Inhabitants of theſe Iſles.
And indeed to build their Altars of earth or unpoliſhed
ſtones ſeems to have been the cuſtom of Ancient
rimes and even of the firſt Ages of the Rom: Empire,
as the Learned Spencer endeavours to prove from "Ter"tullian,
Etſi a Numa concepta eſt curioſitas ſuperſtitio"ſa,
nondum tamen aut Simulacris aut Templis res
"Divina apud Romanos conſtabat. Frugi Religio &
"pauperes ritus & nulla Capitolia certantia cœlo; ſed
"temeraria de ceſpite Altaria, & vaſa adhuc Samia, &
"nidor ex illis, & Deus ipſe nuſquam. And further
"confirming the ſame from Cluverius writing of the German
"Antiquities. And concludes with giving the Reaſon
why the Gentiles of old were ſo taken with rude,
digeſted, artleſs and unpoliſhed Altars and places of
worſhip, becauſe they Judged them more holy and
more acceptable to the Gods: "Gentes antiquæ, ſaith
"he, Natura vel Traditione doctæ, naturalia omnia
"rudia licet & impolita, ſanctiora & Diis ſuis gratiora
"crediderunt, And here in theſe Monuments nothing
like Art or Form: the Stones are not poliſhed nor all of
a like thickneſs, height or breadth, nor of an equal diſtance
from each other.
In the ſle of Sanda there is a Charpel called the Great
Chappel of Clet, wherein there is a Grave 19. foot long,
which when opened ſome years ago, there was nothing
found in it ſave the piece of a Back-bone of a Man,
greater then the Back-bone of any Horſe. This the
Miniſter of the place declared unto me, who ſaw the
Grave opened, and meaſured it from the Head to the
Foot ſtone thereof, who alſo for ſome time had the
Bone in his Cuſtody. The vulgar Tradition is that
there was a Giant there, who was of ſo tall a ſtature
that he could have ſtood upon the ground and put the
Copſtone upon the Chappel, which no Man now living
by far could do.
There are alſo Bones found in Weſtra between Tukey
and the West Church, as great as Horſe-bones, as the
Miniſter of Weſtra informed me. And ſome there have
been lately of a Gigantick ſtature in theſe Iſles: As
that Man who died not long ſince, whom for his
height they commonly called the Meikle Man of Waes.
Through this Countrey we find ſeveral Obeliſks
very high and great ſtones ſet up, as one in the Iſle
Eda, another on the Mainland within a Mile of Birſa
&c. they appear to be much worn, by the waſhing
Wind and Rain, which ſhewes they are of a long ſtanding,
and it is very ſtrange to think how in there places
and times they got ſuch large ſtones carried and erected
"Mirabile profecto quiſquis ea ſpectaverit, quâ arte
"quibus Corporis viribus lapides tantâ mole in unum
"locum fuerint congeſti. The Reaſon and End of them
ſetting up cannot be certainly known, however we may
conjecture, that probably it was in remembrance of ſome
famous Battle, or hath been the Ancient Funeral Monuments
of ſome renouned Perſons. who have fallen in
Battle or been buried there. Several of which ſtones
and Monuments are to be ſeen in many places through
Scotland; and in Norway they are very common,
our Travellers who have ſeen them, inform me. And
it is like theſe ſtones have been ſet up by the Norvegians,
when they poſſeſſed this Countrey.
In Scapha about a Mile from Kirkwal to SouthWeſt
it is ſaid there was kept a large and ancient Cup, which
they ſay, belonged to St Magnus King of Noway, who
firſt inſtructed them in the Principles of the Chriſtian Religion
and founded the Church of Kirkwal, with which full
of ſome ſtrong drink their Biſhops at their firſt Landing
were preſented; which if he drank out, they highly praiſed
him, and made themſelves to believe, that they
ſhould have many good and fruitful Years in his time
This Buchannan relates, and as Mr. Wallace obſerved
is ſtill believed there, and talks of as a truth. "Scyphum
"habent antiquum, ſaith Buchannan, quem Divi Magni
"qui primus ad eos Chriſti doctrinam attulit, fuiſſe prædi"cant;
Is cum ita ſuperet communium Poculorum ampli"tudinem,
ut e Lapitbarum Convivio reſervatus videri
"poſſit, eo ſuos Epiſcopos initio ad ſe adventantes ex"plorant:
Qui plenum uno hauſtu ebiberit (quod
"admodum raro evenit) miris eum laudibus proſe"quuntur,
atque hinc velut læto Augurio ſequentium
"Annorum proventum animis præcipiunt. The Countrey
"to this Day have the Tradition of this, but we did not
ſee the Cup; Nor could we learn where it was. And
indeed that which renders this the more credible, is
that the Norwegians at preſent as Merchants and Mariners
inform us, have a cuſton like unto this, that if any
come to pay them a viſite, eſpecially if they be ſtrangers,
They uſe to preſent them with a large Cup full of drink
which they take not well, if their gueſts drink not out.
They ſay, ſome of theſe Cups will contain three
Mutchkins, others a Pint, and ſome a Quart of our
The Wind, and Sea, in any ſtorm beats moſt tempeſtuouſly
and vehemently, here upon the Rocks: a
little to the Weſt of Kerſton in the Mainland, there is a
Rock called the Black Craig of Stromneſs, about 70 Fathoms
high; Upon which in a Storm the Sea from the
Deucaledonian Ocean doth beat with ſuch violence and
force, that the Waves breaking there upon, cauſe the Water
to riſe to the top of the Rock like Snow and flee like
a whit Sheet before the Wind. blaſting the Corns for 3
or 4 Miles behind the Rock, if it fall out ln, or alittle
before Harveſt; And this it doth likewiſe in ſeveral
other places of the Countrey, as ſome Gentlemen who
knew it to their experience, did declare. Yea ſo great
is the violence of theſe Tempeſtuous Seas, that thereby
ſome great Stones are caſt out, and others are worn, ſo that
large Caves in ſome places run from the Sea within the
Rock, beneath the Ground for ſome conſiderable way,
I ſaw one of theſe at the Eaſt-end of the Mainland in the
Pariſh of Holm, it is all covered above with the Rock
and Earth, ſave that within theſe few Years, ſome of the
Rock and Earth fell in, or was blown up (as they call
it) in one night, by a violent Storm blowing from South
Eaſt, hence now there is a hole in the Hill above, like
the Eye of a Coal pit, which is terrible to look down
into: There is another, ſomething like this in South
Ronalſha. In theſe Caves, Doves and Sea Fowls in great
numbers uſe to Neſtle.
Several ſtrange Fiſhes are here taken, or caſt aſhore
ſometimes which are, they ſay, very beautiful to look
upon, but we never had occaſion to ſee any of them
There are likewiſe a great number of little Whales, which
ſweem through theſe Iſles, which they call ſpout-Whale
or Pellacks, ſome of which I have ſeen; and they tell
us it is dangerous for Boats to fall in among them, Ieſt
they be overturned by them: The former Year Anno
1699. There were 13 of theſe Whales driven aſhore
upon Gairſay's Land, and 11 upon Egleſha's, about one
time, as the Gentlemen themſelves did inform me, of
which OyI is made, very benificial to the Maſters of the
Ground. The Ottars alſo, Seals or Selchs, and other
ſuch Sea-Creatures are very numerous, but now their
number is ſo much diminiſhed, that not one of
Twenty is to be ſeen, and they have found ſeveral
of them lying dead upon the Shore; ſome hence obſerving
that the Judgements of GOD as to ſcarcity
of ſuitable Proviſions to aide theſe Creatures, areupon
the Waters alſo.
The Tides here are ſo rapid that they will carry a
Ship alongs with them, tho the Wind be contrary, if
not very ſtrong, and in going among theſe Iſles, ſcarce
are they our ot one Tide, when they are engaged in another;
and in going from place to place they will find
ſonetimes the ſame Flood for them, and at other time
againſt them, and ſo with the Ebb. Eſpecially there are
ſome inpetuous Tides which they call Rousts, cauſed by
the ſtrong current of a Tide meeting with a narrow paſſage;
the quickneſs and rapidity, of the Tide, compenſing the
rowneſs of the paſſage, as it is in Lanes, which
ſtraitens the blowing Wind, and makes the Wind, to
blow ſo much the harder, in a proportion to the preſſure
it ſuffers by the ſtraits of the Lane; So may we
reaſon concerning the Rouſts which run among the Iſles.
I have ſeen ſome of theſe Rouſts boyl like unto a ſeething
Pot, with their high, white, and broken Waves and
that in a calm Summer Day, when there was no Wind
blowing. At one time Sailing by the ſide of Laſha Rouſt
between Sanda and the Calf of Eda, the Rouſt getting
ſome hold of us, turned about the head of our Boat
very quickly, and tho there were 4 able young Men
Rowing, beſide the help we had by the Sail, we could
not without great difficulty make our way through it:
They tell us, that it the greateſt Ship in Britain fell into
this Rouſt, where it is ſtrongeſt, it would turn her about
at its pleaſure, and detain her till the Tide fill weak,
even tho ſhe had a right favourable Gale. Theſe Rouſts
are more dangerous in an Ebb then in a Flood, the Ebb
being obſerved ſtill, tæteris paribus, to make the fouleſt
and moſt tempeſtuous Sea, and eſpecially they'le Foam and
Rage, if the Tide be running in the Winds eye: And when
there is any ſtorm, they will cauſe any Ship or Boat to ſtand
on end and be ready to ſink her in the fall. Several of which
Rouſts we had occaſion to meet with, but the Lord
brought us ſafe through.
Tho the General Current of the Tide be ſtill the
ſame, from Weſt to Eaſt in a Flood, and from Eaſt to
Weſt in an Ebb, vet running with violence upon the
Land, they cauſe a contrary motion in the Sea next to
it, which they call Easter or Wester Birth, according to
its Courſe. And there are ſome things which have been
obſerved as very ſtrange in the running of the Tides,
that it flows two hours ſooner on the Weſt ſide of
Sanda then it doth on the Eaſt: And at Hammoneſs in
the ſame Iſle, both Ebb and Flood runns one way except
the beginning of a quick ſtream, when for 2 or 3
houres the Flood runs South; in North Faira the Sea
Ebbs 9 hours, and Flows but 3. But the reaſons of theſe
Phenomena will not be ſo intricate or hard to reſolve,
if we conſider the ſituation of theſe Iſles, where the
Tide ſeems to alter his Courſe, for the Flood coming
from the Weſt to the Weſt ſide of Sanda, it takes
ſome time before it can get about the points of
the Iſle to the South ſide thereof, ſo in North Farra,
the Sea is more open whence the Flood cometh,
this Ebb rnneth through ſeveral Iſles, turning many
points of Land before it come to North Farra, which
cannot but retard its motion: So at Hammoneſs in
Sanda, the Situation of the place much determineth the
running of the Tide.
The rapid motion of theſe Tides among the Iſles
and their meeting with one another makes it very dangerous,
and ſometimes more eſpecially in a Calm, ſo
a Miniſter there told us, that he was never nearer
death in his Life, then in a dead Calm, when nigh to
Weſtra, for they ſaw the Sea coming, which they
thought ſhould ſwallow them up, and there being
Wind they could not get out the way, bur God ſo ordered
it in his wiſe Providence, that the Sea or ſwell
of the Sea which they feared, broke on the fore-part
of the Boat, and ſo they eſcaped.
There are frequently Ein-men ſeen here upon the
Coaſts, as one about a year ago on Stronſa, and another
within theſe few Months on Weſtra, a Gentleman
with many others in the Iſle looking on him nigh
to the ſhore, but when any endeavour to apprehend
them, they flee away moſt ſwiftly; Which is very
ſtrange, that one Man fitting in his little Boat, ſhould
come ſome hundred of Leagues, from their own
Coaſts, as they reckon Finland to he from Orkney;
may be thought wonderfull how they live all the
time, and are able to keep the Sea ſo long. His Boat
is made of Seal-skins, or ſome kind of Leather,
alſo hath a Coat of Leather upon him, and he ſitteth
in the middle of his Boat, with a little Oar in his
hand, Fiſhing with his Lines: And when in a ſtorm he
ſeeth the high ſurge of a wave approaching, he hath
a way of ſinking his Boat, till the wave paſs over, leaſt
thereby he ſhould be Overturned. The Fiſhers here
obſerve that theſe Finmen or Finland-Men, by their
coming drive away the Fiſhes from the Coaſts. One
of their Boats is kept as a Rarity in the Phyſicians
Hall at Edinburgh.
On the Weſt ſide of Papa Weſtra, between it and
Weſtra there is an Holm, wherein once there was a
little Chappel, whereof ſome of the ſide-walls are only
now ſtanding, in which they ſay, there were ſeven Siſters
buried, who were Nuns, and deſired to ly in this
Hol, about whoſe Graves this Chappel was built:
About a Year ago there were ſeen ſeveral times at midday,
about 20. Men walking on that Holm, among
whom there was one higher and greater then the
reſt, who ſometimes ſtood and looked unto the ChappeI,
this my Informer with a hundred People in the
Iſle of Papa ſaw, who could atteſt the ſame: After
which appearance there was a Boat caſt away on that
Holm with 4 Men in her, who were all loſt.
In the Links of Tranaby in Weſtra, and of Skeal in the
Mainland, waſhen from the Weſt by the Deucaledonian
Ocean, ſome places are diſcovered when the Sea waſheth
away the land, which ſhews that ſuch places have
been Cemetaries or burying places for their dead of
oId, of a ſquare figure, and the ſtones are joined together
by ſome cement, when opened Earth and ſometimes
Bones are found in them, The realon ſome do
give of this is becauſe the way of interring dead bodies
among many of the Ancients, (as among the Saxons
on the Ifle of Britain) was not in deep Graves, but under
Clods or Turfs of Earth made into Hillocks. But
none of theſe we had occaſion to ſee. Concerning
that Rock called Leſs, ſurrounded with the Sea, nigh
to the Noup-head in Weſtra, upon which ſome ſay, if
any Man go having Iron on him, the Sea will inſtantly
rage, ſo that no Boat can come nigh to take him off,
nor the ſea be ſetled till the piece of Iron be caſt in
to it; when in Weſtra we enquired about it, but
found no ground for the truth thereof.
Mr. Wallace narrates a remarkable Providence, which
the Miniſters here confirmed to us, as a truth; Concerning
four Men in Stronſa who uſed to fiſh together
in one Boat, among whom there was one John Smith
whoſe Wife being deſirous he ſhould intermit his
Fiſhing for a time, he having purchaſſed a great plenty
of Fiſh, which he not being ſo willing to do, on a day
ſhe riſing before him ſtopped the windows and other
places in the Houſe, whereby light was let in, and ſo
went to the fields; the other three Men after their
uſual manner went to Sea, whoſe Boat ſhe ſaw overturned
and themſelves periſh upon which ſhe returned
home to her Husband: and no doubt would have
given the ſad News of his Neighbours periſhing, not
without Joy congratulating, that he was not this day
in company with them: But upon her coming into
her houſe ſhe had yet a more melancholick ſight; her
Husband lying dead, choaked in that veſſel, wherein
they uſed to make Urine.
An honeſt man in Orkney told me, that ſome years
ago, when he was coming home with Timber and
fome other things in his Boat, from Innerneſs and was
almoſt the length of the Iſle of Eda, where he lived, the
Boat turned and lay upon her ſide, but the Sails being
ſpread in the water hindred the Maſt to go down, and
her altogether to overturn, much of what they had
in went to the Sea, and he with the other Seamen in
Company ſat upon the ſide of the Boat, and ſo were
for ſome hours toſſed up and down, whither the Tide
did drive them, they in the mean time comforting
and refreſhing one another with places ot Scripture and
notes of Sermons, which lately they had heard, and
ſometimes puting up earneſt Prayers to God whom the
Wind and Seas do obey; At length God not turning
away his Mercy from them, nor their Prayer from
Him , graciouſly gave ear unto their cry, and
bought them all ſafe aſhore together with the Boat on
the weſt of Sanda. much of the Timber and what
they had in being driven aſhore to that ſame very place
before them. A great Mercy when not only they, but
their Boat, and moſt of their Loadening, were ſaved.
Some of theſe Men whom I am acquainted with, and
do judge Godly, cannot ſpeak of this deliverance but
with great concernedneſs and affection, which makes
me to think this Mercy not to have been a caſt of
common Providence, but a gracious Return of their
The Effects of Thunder in this Country are very
ſurpriſing; 1670, The Steeple of Kirkwal was brunt
with Lightening: And An. 1680. there was a Gentleman
in Stromneſs in the weſt end of the Mainland
had a ſtall, wherein there were 12. Kine, the Thunder
killed every other one, killing one and paſſing
another, ſo that there were 6. killed, and 6. alive;
This the Miniſters confirmed as a certain truth to their
There was a Man that died not many years ago,
who when a Child being keft in the Field, (the Mother,
as ſome ſay, ſhearing at a little diſtance from
him) was taken up by an Eagle, and carried from
the Pariſh of Orphir in the Mainland, to the Iſle of Waes
over 3 or 4 Miles of Sea, but in God's good Providence,
the Eagle being quickly purſued to his Neſt
whither the Child was taken, he was recovered without
any hurt.
It was obſerved that in theſe Iſles before the late
dearth, there were ſeveral ſtrange Birds ſeen, ſuch as
they have not ſeen formerly nor ſince. One of the Miniſters
told me, that one Bird frequented his Houſe
about that time for a quarter of an Year, which was
of a black, white, red and green Colour: As alſo he
ſaw another, all ſtripped or ſprainged on the back
which Birds were beautiful to behold.
There was a Monſter about 7. Years ago born of one
Helen Thomſon Spouſe to David Martin Weaver in
North Ronalſha, having its Neck between Head and
Shoulders a quarter and an half of an yard long, with
Face, Noſe, Eyes, Mouth &c, to the Back, as well
as before, ſo that it was two Faced, which Monſter
came living into the World: This the Miniſter declared
unto us, having taken the Atteſtation of the Women
preſent at the Birth, he not being on the place at the
time: And it is ſaid that a certain Woman ſhould
have wiſhed this unto the Mother, whom ſhe alledged
had lied upon her, in her wrath wiſhing, that if ſhe
ſpoke a lie ſhe might bring forth a Monſter, which
accordingly came to paſs in God's Holy and Wiſe
Some ſay there are ſeveral Mines of Silver, Tin,
Lead &c, Alſo ſome Veins of Marble, and Alabaſter
Buchanan commends this Country for white and black
Lead, of which there is to be had as good as in Britain.
Sek diverſis in locis hujus Inſula, Metalla ſunt
plumbi albi & nigri tam probi quam nſquam in Britannia
reperiatur. As alſo ſeveral kinds of fine Shells to be
found on the ſhore and Rocks, but we had occaſion to
ſee none of them, ſave ſome of theſe Nuts, whereof
they make Snuff-Boxes.
Some Heatheniſh and Popiſh Rites, Charms
&c. yet remaining in the Orkney-Iſles,
are glanced at.
BEfore that I bring to a cloſe my Diſcourſe concerning
Orkney I ſhall give an Account of ſome Cuſtoms
yet prevailing among them, which can be coned
to be nothing elſe, ſave the ſour dregs of Pagan
and Popiſh Superſtition and Idolatry, yea and many
of them ſuch as the Charms practiſed by them
to be the meer and woful effects of pure Devilry, and
not the product of Natures Operation.
But leaſt I ſhould be miſtaken l judge it not amiſs
to premiſe, That not all nay nor the generality of Orkney
are hereby impeached, as guilty of theſe evils, for I
know there are many judicious and wiſe Men, and I
hope ſome real Chriſtians among them, who abhor
and deteſt ſuch things as much as any, but hereby ſome
fooliſh and ſilly ones are intended, whom deceiving
and being deceived, Satan leadeth Captive at his will;
Nor yet that all the Iſles are alike lying under the
charge, for there are ſome of them, whoſe lnhabitants
are generally more Moral and Diſcreet: Neither is it
alledged, that ſuch ſinful and corrupt Cuſtoms prevail
as much now as formerly, for they are much away
by what they were, and that even of late: Nor is
it denied but that honeſt and faithful Miniſters will
labour to have them aboliſhed every where, ſeeing alas!
There is much horrid wickedneſs and manifeſt Devilry
too, with us in the South, as well as with them in
the North, ſo that no part of the Kingdom can plead,
not guilty.
But my principal Scope and Deſign, is to manifeſt
the Works of Darkneſs, and to ſhew how buſy the God
of this World is in deluding and blinding poor Souls, and
how ready we are to be his drudges and ſlaves; that ſo
theſe things being wiſely and ſeriouſly conſidered, all may
be induced to make a Chriſtian improvement thereof,
both with reſpect to themſelves and others, whom
they are called to pity and pray for, If peradventure
God will give them Repentance to the acknowledging of the
Truth, that they may be recovered out of the ſnare of the
Devil; And more eſpecially that the General Aſſemblies
and other Judicatories of this Church as they are
called, may be pleaſed to continue their Fatherly Care
over theſe Northern Iſles, that tho they be remote
from them as to Situation, yet thy may be near unto
them, as to a warm and kindly affection, which our
Church hath not been wanting in hitherto.
And 1ſt. we would take notice, that the old Maxime
Ignorance is the mother of Devotion, ſo much cryed
up by the Papiſts and their judicially blinded Clergy, is
ſo far from being the Mother of Devotion, that it is
both the Mother and Nurſe of the moſt damnable Errours.
Superſtitious and Deluſions, as theſe Iſles know
to their fad Experience; for Ignorance of the Principles
of our Holy Religion, doth greatly prevail among
the Commonalty, ſo that as one of their Miniſters not
without ſome concern and greif for the ſame, told me
Not one of a hundred in ſome of their Pariſhes can
read. How this comes to paſs, that the People
ſhould be ſo groſsly Ignorant I ſhall not undertake to
determine, it is commonly imputed to their want of
Schools, through the Country, which indeed I will
not ſay, but is one great cauſe thereof and therefore
that this ſo very dreadful an evil may he effectually remedied,
care ſhould be taken by all concerned, that
Schools be Erected in every Pariſh, and a competent
Salary provided for the Matters Maintainance and Encouragement;
and that alſo in every Iſle where there
is any number of inhabitants, ſome Perſon ſhould be
appointed for the inſtruction and Education of their
Children; and until that ſuch a courſe be taken, the
People generally will be Ignorant ſtill, and the Miniſters
as to the Preaching part, may complain in the
words of the Prophet, Whom ſhall we teach knowledge?
and whom ſhall we wake to underſtand doctrine? then
that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breaſts.
For it is much about one to Preach to Auditors beſoted
with Stupidity and Ignorance, as it is to give Exhortation
unto Babes, Therefore it is that our Church
in her Aſſemblies hath ſo frequently and ſeriouſly preſſed
the Learning of Children to Read, and the providing
of Schools for that end, Paſtours to be diligent in that
initiating and neceſſary Work of Examination and
Preaching Catechetick Doctrine, and the Concurrence
of Parents with both in laying out themſelves for the
Inſtrucion of their Children, as well by themſelves
as by others; Godly Miniſters well knowing that the
ſuccceſs of Ordinances and Edification of their People,
dependeth much thereupon, as the means which the
Lord uſeth to bleſs for the bringing in of his EIect;
Knowledge being ſo neceſſary to the Being of Faith, &c.
that the latter is ſometimes expreſſed by the Name of
the former.
And ſeeing they retain not God in their knowledge,
is no wonder they be given over to a Reprobate
Mind, to do things which are not convenient; No
wonder they frequent their old Chappels for Superſtitious
Ends, of which the corrupt and purblind Reaſon
of Man hath been always very fond: No wonder
that being in the dark without the Lanthorn of the
knowledge of Scripture-Revelation, they miſtake their
way, and by the uſing of Charms and conſulting of
Charmers, they run to Beelzebub in ſtead of having recourſe
to the God of Iſrael. Which Ignorance to be the
cauſe of theſe Evils, will appear the more evidently,
we conſider, that in theſe Iſles, where there is a
greater meaſure of the knowledge of God, there is not
ſuch a following of theſe horrid and helliſh Practices.
There are ſeveral old Chappels in theſe Iſles, which
the People reſort unto, but that which I heard of, as
moſt famous is St. Tredwels Chappel in Papa-Weſtra,
which they have ſuch a Veneration for, that they will
come from other Iſles in conſiderable numbers to it,
ſome of us having occaſſion to be on that Iſle, we ſaw
his Chappel, ſituated on a ſmall low Rock, within a Loch
commonly called St. Tredwels Loch, to which we
paſſed by ſtepping-ſtones, before this Chappel door there
was a heap of ſmall ſtones, into which the Superſtitious
People when they come, do caſt a ſmall ſtone or two
for their offering, and ſome will call in Money; the Chappel
hath been but little, and is now Ruinous, only ſome
of the Walls are ſtanding, which the People are ſo far
from ſuffering to he demoliſhed, that they labour to
keep them up, and tho the Proprietour of the ground
hath ſome way encloſed it, yet this proves not effectual
to prevent the frequenting thereof. At the North Eaſt
ſide of the Loch nigh to the Chappel there is a high
ſtone ſtanding, behind which there is another ſtone lying
hollowed in the form of a Manger, and nigh to this
there is another high ſtone ſtanding with a round hole
through it, for what uſe theſe ſtones ſerved, we
could not learn; whether for binding the Horſes of
ſuch to them as came to the Chappel, and giving the
meat in the hollow ſtone; or for tying the Sacrificed
to, as ſome ſay, in times of Pagan Idolatry is uncertain
This St Tredwel's Loch nigh to the Eaſt end of which
this Chappel is, is held by the People as Medicinal,
whereupon many diſeaſed and infirm Perſons reſort to it,
ſome ſaying that thereby they have got good; As a
certain Gentleman's Siſter upon the Iſle, who was not
able to go to this Loch without help, yet returned
without it, as likewiſe a Gentleman in the Countrey
who was much diſtreſſed, with ſore Eyes, went to this
Loch and Waſhing there became ſound and whole, tho
he had been at much pains and expence to cure the
formerly. With both which Perſons, he who was Miniſter
of the place for many Years, was well acquainted,and
told us that he ſaw them both before and after
the Cure: The preſent Miniſter of Weſtra told me, that
ſuch as are able to walk, uſe to go ſo many times about
the Loch, as they think will perfect the Cure, before
they make any uſe of the Water and that without ſpeaking
to any, for they beleive, that if they ſpeak, this
will marr the Cure: Alſo he told that on a certain
Morning not long ſince, he went to this Loch, and
found ſix ſo making their circuit, whom with ſome
difficulty he obliging to ſpeak, ſaid to him, they
came there for their Cure.
How it cometh to paſs, that this Loch ſhould accompliſh
the cure of any, I leave to my Reader to judge,
whether it be by any Medicinal or healing Vertue in
the Water, which I incline not to think, the Cure being
circumſtantiated; or if the force and ſtrength of the
imagination of the Perſons afflicted, may have any tendency
that way; which, ſome judge, hath its own influence,
in ſome ſuch like caſes: Or, rather, by the
Aid and aſſiſtance of Satan, whom God in his Holy and
wiſe Providence may permit ſo to do for the further
judicial blinding and hardning of theſe who follow
ſach unwarrantable and unlawful courſes: God ſo puniſhing
them, by giving them up to ſuch ſtrong deluſions.
Yet I hear, that when they have done all, that is uſual
for them to do; as going about the Loch, waſhing
their Bodies or any part thereof, leaving ſomething
at the Loch, as old Clouts and the like &c. It is but
in few, in whom the effect of healing is produced. As
for this Loch's appearing like Blood, before any diſaſture
befal the Royal Family, as ſome do report, we
could find no ground, to beleive any ſuch thing.
Theſe Chappels the People frequent, as for other
ends, ſo for Prayer, they placing a kind of Merit therea.
when performed in fah places, and this they obſerve
more than private Retirements; And if they be
under any Sickneſs, or in any danger, as at Sea, they
will vow ſo to do. And when they go to the Chappels
to pay the Vows taken on, they uſe to lay ſeveral
Stones, one above another, according to the number
of Vows which they made; ſome of which heaps we
ſaw in St. Tredwells Chappel. And none muſt go empty
handed, but leave behind them ſomething, either a peice
of Money, or of Bread, or a Stone, which they judge
will be ſufficient.
As at all times, when occaſion offers, they obſerve
theſe Superſtitious Practices, ſo eſpecially during Lent,
they will not neglect their Devotions in ſuch places; and
on Eaſter-Sunday ſeveral Boats will be ſeen going to
them from other Iſles. And tho' their Miniſters both
privately and publickly have ſpoken to them, yet they
cannot get them to forbear and abandon theſe Cuſtoms.
And the Miniſter of South-Ronalſha told us, that many
of the People in that Iſle, eſpecially ſuch as live at the
ſouth end thereof nigh to the Kirk. called our Lady's
Kirk whereof, tho now the Walls only be ſtanding
without a Roof; yet the very Stones thereof they reverence,
and are not far from adoring; And ſo tenacious
are they, that when in rough weather, he hath
procured the conveniency of a Barn to Preach in, yet
the People obliged him to come to this ruinous Fabrick
elſe many of them would not have heard: They are
now about the putting of a Roof on this Church, which
the Gentlemen of the Iſle are not inclined to, judging
other places more commodious for it to be built in, but
Propoſals of this nature do not reliſh with the People
they being ſo ſuperſtitiouſly wedded to the place of its
preſent Situation: Whereupon the Heads of Families
will rather by themſelves contribute to the repairing of
this Old Church than ſuffer a new one to be built in
any other place of the Iſle, tho Ieſs to their coſt.
In this old Fabrick of our Lady's Church, there is a
Stone lying about 4. foot long, and 2 foot broad, but
narrower and round at the two ends, upon the ſurface
of which Stone, there is the print of two feet, concerning
which the Superſtitious People have a Traditon,
that St. Magnus, when he could not get a Boat on
a time to carry him over Pightland Firth, took this
stone, and ſetting his Feet thereupon, paſſed the Firth
ſafely, and left the Stone in this Church, which hath
continued here ever ſince. But as I think, and ſome
more judicious People do likewiſe ſuggeſt, it hath
been a Stone, upon which under Popery, the Delinquents
ſtood bare footed ſuffering Penance. It is like
when thus St. Magnus came over the Firth, it hath been
at that time, when he was ſeen riding through Aberdeen,
giving the firſt account of the defeat of the Engliſh
at Bannockburn and afterward was ſeen going over Pightland
Firth. And indeed both are alike deſtitute of any
ſhadow of Truth, credible only by theſe ſuperſtitious
and ſilly ones, whom the GOD of this World hath
Several of the Iſles have their Saints Days, which
ſome do ſuperſtitiouſly obſerve. There is one day in
Harveſt, on which, the more ignorant, eſpecially in
Rouſa, ſay, if any work the Ridges will blood. The
Lark ſome call our Lady's Hen. And ſome ſuch Popiſh
Dregs are to be found: The Lord preſerve this
Land from Poperys Inundation; for as it is credible
from what hath been ſaid, and ſome better acquainted
with this Country did inform us, That if Popery get
footing again, (from the tears of which in the good
providence of GOD, we were lately delivered,) many
of the Inhabitants of theſe Iſles, would readily embrace
it, and by retaining ſome of theſe old Popiſh Rites and
Cuſtoms, ſeem to be in a manner prepared for it.
Next to glance at t heir Charms, which ſhall breifly
do, and not give any Account, how they perform
them, leſt thereby I ſhould ſeem to point out to any, how
to try the experiment of this Helliſh Art and tremendous
Devilry, which is I think I do ſufficiently guard
againſt, not only by barely reciting there are ſuch, but
alſo by proper Precautions adduced in this Chapter.
They have a Charm, whereby they ſtop exceſſive
blooding in any, whatever way they come by it, whether
by or without External Violence. The name of
the Patient being ſent to the Charmer, he ſaith over
ſome words, (which I heard) upon which the Blood
inſtantly ſtoppeth, .tho the blooding Patient were at the
greateſt diſtance from the Charmer. Yea upon the ſaying
of theſe words, the Blood will ſtop in the blooding
Throats of Oxen or Sheep, to the aſtonisſhment of Spectators.
Which account we had from the Miniſters of
the Country
There is a Charm likewiſe they make uſe of for the
Toothach, whereof I had the following inſtance from
an Honeſt Man worthy of Credit. Some years ago,
there was one who uſed this Charm, for the abating
the pain of one living in Eda, tormented there with,
and tho the Action then was at a diſtance, the Charmer
not being preſent with the Patient, yet according to
the moſt exact calculation of the time, when the Charm
was performed by the Charmer, there fell a living
Worm out of the Patients Mouth, when he was at Supper.
This my informer knew to be a Truth, and
the Man from whoſe Mouth it fell is yet alive in the
lſle of Sanda. Whether this Worm was generated in
the corrupted part, and ſo fell out by the Devils means,
at the uſing of the Charm; or the worm was brought
by an evil Spirit aliunde, to the mouth, and thence falling
down, I ſhall not determine.
Alſo when the Beaſts as Oxen, Sheep, Horſes, &c.
are Sick, they ſprinkle them with a Water made up
by them, which they call Fore-ſpoken Water; wherewith
likeways they ſprinkle their Boats, when they ſucceed
and proſper not in their Fiſhing. And eſpecially on
Hallow-Even, they uſe to ſein or ſign their Boats and
put a Croſs of Tar upon them, which my Informer hath
often ſeen. Their Houſes alſſo ſome uſe then to ſein.
They have a Charm alſo whereby they try if perſons
be in a decay or not, and if they will die thereof; which
they call Caſting of the Heart. Of this the Miniſter of
Stronza and Eda told us, he had a very remarkable
Paſſage, in a Proceſs, yet ſtanding in his Seſſion Records.

Several other Charms alſo they have, about their
Marriage, when Women in Travel, when their Cow
is calfing, when Churning their Milk, or when Brewing,
Or when their Children are ſick, by taking them
to a Smith (without premoniſhing him) who hath had
a Smith to his Father, and a Smith to his Grand-Father.
And of ſevcral ſuch like Charms, we had an account
From the Miniſters, as likeways, how theſe Charms
were performed; but of theſe enough.
Although theſe Charms ſometimes, yet not always
do they produce the deſired Effects: As in the inſtance
of ſtaying of Blood, one of the Charmers Wives fell
once a Blooding, which he by all his Art was nor able
to ſtop; Whereupon he is ſaid thus to have expreſſed
himſelf, "I have ſtopped the Blooding of 100, and
"yet I cannot do it to my Wife.
That ſuch admirable Effects upon the uſing of the
Charms are produced by the Agency of Demons;
I think few, if any, will doubt, God ſo permitting it
to be in his Holy and Wiſe Providence, for the further
punishment and judicial blinding of thoſe, who
follow ſuch unlawful courſes, and the Devil thereby
engaging his Slaves more in his Service: Yet not alwayes
the effects deſired and exſpected do follow,
that all may know the Devil is a chained one, and can
do nothing without the permiſſion of a Soveraign God,
who is Lord over all. Our Aſſemblies ſenſible of the
great Sin and Evil that is in uſing theſe Charms, and
conſulting of Charmers, have made ſeveral Acts both
againſt the one and the other, ſtrictly inhibiting and diſcharging
all ſuch Helliſh Practices, and requiring all
Miniſters diligently to ſee to the obſervance and Execution
Evil Spirits alſo called Fairies are frequently ſeen in
ſeveral of the Iſles dancing and making merry, and
ſometimes ſeen in Armour; Alſo I had the account of
the wild Sentiments of ſome of the people concerning
them; but with ſuch I ſhall not detain my Reader, We
haſtning our Voyage to Zetland.
Deſcription of Zetland.
The Country in General Deſcribed; The
Soil, Product, Manners of the People &c.
hinted at.
ZETLAND lyes to the N. Eaſt from Orkney, betwixt
the 60. and 61 Degree of Latitude, there
being about 20 or 21. Leagues betwixt the StartHead
of Sanda, the Northernmoſt point thereof, and Swinburgh-Head
the Southernmoſt point of Land in Zetland,
over a very rolling and ſwelling Sea, wherein there
conſtantly runs the ſtrong current of a Tide. which
cauſing the Sea to riſe with its ſwelling waves, the
whole paſſage betwixt Orkney and Zetland, is but as
one continued Rouſt, or ſtrong and impetuous Tide,
eſpecially about the Fair Iſle, ſtill ſuch a great Sea goeth,
even in the greareſt Calm, that the Boats are like to
ſling the maſts out of them; and our Boat-maſter
told us, that frequently when he had been paſſing the
Fair Iſle in a dead CaIm, the Boat hath been ſo toſſed
by the ſwelling Sea, that it wou'd have taken in water
on every ſide. And l have heard Mariners often
declare, that there is more hazard in theſe Seas, then
in going to the Eaſtern or Weſtern Indies. The Fair
Iſle (of which more afterward) is reckoned to be
but 8. Leagues from Zetland, whereas it is about
12. or 13. Leagues from Orkney, ſo that we ſhall
conſider it, together with the Iſles belonging to Zetland.

Zetland conſiſteth of moe Iſles than Orkney,
whereof ſome are more, others leſs conſiderable,
many Holms ſerving for Paſturage. The largeſt of
them is that which they call the Mainland, 60. Miles
long from South or South and by Weſt, to North or
North and by Eaſt; as to breadth not all alike, for
tho in ſome places it be 16. miles, yet in other it
is ſcarce one Mile broad, it being ſo interſected with
Voes, Sounds or Lochs, that it may be ſaid to conſiſt
of a great number of Promontories or Branches of
Land ſtretching themſelves into the Sea.
All this Country conſiſting of ſo many Iſles, goeth
under one common Name, called by ſome Hethland,
by others Zetland, and alſo Schetland. The Etymology
of which Names is very uncertain, as was that
of Orkney; ſome aſſigning one Reaſon of the Name,
and others another at their pleaſure. That which
ſeemeth moſt probable is, that this Country is called
Hethland, becauſe it is very Mountainous and riſeth
high above the waters, ſo a high land in Norſe is called
Hoghland: It is called Zeland or Zetland, becauſe of
the great Sea wherewith on all hands it is encompaſſed,
Zee being Sea in that Language. And called Schetland,
becauſe of a kind of Cuſtom or Tribute called Scat,
which they payed to their Norvegian Maſters, when
they were in Poſſeſſion of this Country, and the Tribute
or Cuſtom impoſed upon the Inhabitants of Norway,
to this day is called Scat, and tho Zetland be now
annexed to the Crown of Scotland, yet there is a cerain
Rent or due, which the Gentlemen and ſome
ohers here do pay Yearly to the King or his Steward,
which is ſtill called Scat. I ſay altho we cannot
be poſitive in determining she reaſons of the Name, yet
it ſeems to be of a Norvegian or Daniſh Original.
Seeing I have already had under conſideration, by
whom Orkney was firſt Planted and Inhabited, and
how it hath been diſpoſed of hitherto, I judge it not
very needful for me to add any more to that purpoſe
concerning Zetland, for it is more then probable, that
about the ſame time, by the ſame Perſons, hath Zetland
alſo been Inhabited, ſeing there are many mo Picts
Houſes remaining there, and ſome of them as to
outward appearance in better caſe, then are to be
found in Orkney. and always our Hiſtorians in their
Deſcriptions of theſe Northern Iſles of Orkney and Zetland
have reckoned them as under the Government of
the ſame Maſters, Therefore without further premiſeing
Preliminaries of this nature, I come to conſider the preſent
ſtate of the Country.
Altho the Country be large, yet it is in many places but
thinly Inhabited, and that for the moſt part upon the
Coaſts, and indeed otherwiſe it cannot well be, for
there are few if any places in Zetland, but they are with
in two Miles of the Sea, which they incline to dwell
nigh unto, being more convenient for their Fiſhing,
and for the gooding, of their Land, which is ordinarly
by Sea-ware, hence it would be incommodious for
them upon theſe accounts to be at any diſtance from it.
Beſides, the Country is generally Moſſey and Mountainous,
all covered over with Heath, yea the far greateſt
part thereof is as one great Moſs or Quagmire made
up of Water and Earth blended togither, which kind
of ground would require much Labour and Expence
to bring in either to be Grazing, or Corn-Land, if at
all in Many places they could get it done, for from
Scalloway on the Weſt ſide of the to Mainland to Lerwick
on the Eaſt ſide thereof, four Miles over land, it is but
a continued tract of Moſs and Moor, ſo that there is
not one Houſe all that way, till we come near unto
Lwerwick, whereas we would think that this peice of
ground ſhould be better Inhabited then many other
conſidering the great reſort of Strangers in the Summer
time thereunto, if Nature had nor laid ſuch incoveniences
in the way, which would prove ſo difficult
to overcome.
The People are generally Diſcreet and Civil, not
Ruſtick and Clouniſh as would be expectded in ſuch
place of the World, which may be much owing to
their Converſe and Commerce with Strangers, who
repair to theſe Iſles in the Summer Seaton, with whom
the Inhabitants do keep a conſtant Bartering Or Trade;
which Trading as it makes them the better to live, ſo
it may tend not a little to the Cultivating of their Maners.
They are alſo very Faſhionable to their Clothes,
and the Gentry want not their fine ſtuffs, ſuch as Holland,
Hamburgh &c. do afford, ſo that they are to be ſeen
in as good an Order and Dreſs, as with us in the South:
The Bowrs, Fiſhers and other Country People alſo do
go honeſit-like and decent in their Apparl, as becometh
their ſtation.
They alſo have always been in repute for Hoſpitality,
and indeed we have ſeen no other to contradict that
which is ſpoken, ſo much to their Commendation and
Praiſe, for at any time, when we had occaſion to viſite
Gentlemen, Merchants or others, we were always by
trem kindly Entertained. And ſo much they are ſaid
to be given to this commendable peice of Humanity,
that it they do purchaſe any thing from Foreign Merchants,
which they put any value upon, ſuch as Wheat--
Bread, ſome ſtrong Liquor &c. Even the Country
People will not uſe it themſelves, but reſerve it for the
Entertainment of Strangers; As for thoſe old Inhabitants
of the Daniſh Blood, of whom it was ſaid, That
they were ſeeming Fair, but really Falſe, and ſuperlatively
Proud, they are much worn out of this Country; and
if at any time Ships be driven aſhore upon their Coaſts,
the Inhabitants uſe very kindly and Humanely to treat
the diſtreſſed Company, of which Humane Treatment
a Ship belonging to the Firth had a late experience,
being broke on the Coaſt: there in December laſt, as
ſome at the Ships Company informed me. Such a kind
and generous Reception, Merchants and Mariners meet
not with in many places, upon which they are unhappily
caſt, from whom better things would be expected.
In the matters of God and Religion, the Body of
the People are ſaid to be very Ignorant, by these who
know them better then we can be ſuppoſed to have had
acceſs to do, conſidering the ſhort time of our ſtay and
abode among them; Which may be imputed to their
want of convenient Schools for the Inſtruction of
their Youth in many places of the Country; Which
alſo was aſſigned as the reaſon why Ignorance doth ſo
much prevail in the Orkney Iſles. which great Evil,
the Mother and Leader of many others, all ſhoud labour
to redreſs as they are ſeverally called and concerned,
Authority alſo interpoſeing their Command, and
not denying their Countenance and.Encouragement
Yet we muſt ſay, that the People do frequent the
diſpenſing of Goſpel-Ordinances, and ſeem to hear with
ſome meaſure of Attention and Reverence; and as appeared
to us, not without ſome ſeriouſneſs, and concern
upon their Spirits, which after hearing continued
with ſome, as we found by our Converſee with them
which encouraged us to ſet and keep up two Weekdays
Sermons at Lerwick, during our ſtay in the bounds,
which the People thronged unto, thereby ſhewing
great reſpect to the Ordinances diſpenſed by us: So
that matters looked far otherwiſe, then what was expected
by our ſelves and many others before we came
to this Country. And indeed after conference upon
this 'head, alll of us judged, that if things were got put
into a better order, and ſome evil. removed, which
forbear to mention, knowing that they will come under
the cognizance and conſideration of others, who
are in a capacity to redreſs them, there might be
Harveſt through Grace.
Altho there be a Latine School at Kirkwal in Orkney,
yet there is none in all this Country, which cannot but
be very prejudicial to the Inhabitants, the Advancement
of the Education of their Youth being thereby
hindered, many promiſing and pregnant Ingenys loſt,
and Letters diſcouraged; For Gentlemen are either
obliged to keep their Children at home, and ſo the
muſt want that peice of Learning, which tends ſo
much to Form and Poliſh their Mindes, and to compleat
them as Gentlemen, or elſe ſend them to other
Countries, where Education is to be had, which many
are averſe to do, not only becauſe ot the Charge and
Expence they will be at, but alſo of the fear they will
be in, in ſending their Children over Sea, and keeping
them so long at ſuch a diſtance from them. As for
Chaplains, tho they could be had. which would be with
difficultyl in this corner, yet all Gentlemen who have
Children to Educate, cannot well bear the Charges of
bringing them over from Scotland and keeping them
with them for ſo long a time. Whereupon the Miniſters
there are very deſirous, that the Government
may be Addreſſed for Encouragment to School-Maſters
through the Country, and particularly that a Latine
School be ſet up either at Lerwirk or Scalloway.
Engliſh is the Common Language among them yet
many of the People ſpeak Norſe or corrupt Daniſh,
eſpecially ſuch as live in the more Northern Iſles, yea
ſo ordinary it is in ſome places, that it is the firſt Language
their Children ſpeak. Several here alſo ſpeak
good Dutch, even Servants though they never have been
out of the Country, becauſe of the many Dutch Ships
which do frequent their Ports. And there are ſome
who have ſomething of all theſe three Languages,
Engliſh, Dutch, and Norſe. The Norſe hath continued
ever ſince the Norwegians had theſe Iſles in Poſſeſſion,
and in Orkney (as hath been ſaid) it is not quite extinct,
tho there be by far more at in Zetland, which many
do commonly uſe.
It is obſervable that the Names at the Deſcendants
of the old Inhabitants, differ from the Names uof others
now numerous among them, for theſe only have a Name
without a Sirname, ſave what is taken from their Fathers
Name, and by adding Son or Daughter thereunto,
Exemp. Gra. Agnes Magnus Daughter, her own
Name is Agnes, her Fathers is Magnus, to which Daughter
is added, which is the whole Denomination or Deſignation
under which ſuch a Woman goes; So Marion
Peters Daughter, Laurence Johns Son &c. Which
they ſay is yet the Daniſh way of Expreſſing and Diſtinguiſhing
Names. And for further clearing, if there
be two Men or Women of the ſame Name. they uſe
alſo to deſign them by the places where they ordinarily
reſide, as Agnes Magnus Daughter in Trebaſter,
that ſo ſhe may be diſcriminated from another Woman
of the ſame Name living, in another place. It is probable
that hence flowed theſe Sirnames, ſuch as Williamſon,
Robertſon, Jamseſon, Davidſon, &c. which do
abound with us in Scotland. In ſome words alſo their
Pronunciation doth differ from that of ours, as for Inſtance,
they often uſe to leave out the Letter H in the
Pronunciation, as it it did not belong to the Word, for
Three they pronounce as Tree, Thou, as Tou or Tu. &c.
They have alſo ſome Noriſh words which they commonly
uſe, which we underſtood not, till they were
explained, ſuch as Air which ſignifes a Sand Bank.
Oyſe an Inlet of the Sea, Voe a Creek or Bay &c. At
theſe words are much uſed both in Zetland and Orkney.

It would appear that the Country is now much better
Inhabited, than formerly ſome ages agoe it hath
been, for we hear but of few who leave this Country
having once fixed their abode therein, tho there be many
who have lately come to it from Orkney, Cithneſs,
Sutherland, Buchan and other places eſpecially in the
North of Scotland. So that in all Lerwick, the moſt
conſiderable Town in the Country, there are but very
few whoſe Grand-fathers have lived in thoſe Iſles. A
in Lerwick it ſelf about 30 years agoe there were only
4 Houſes, and ſome years before there were none at
tho now there are between two and three hundred Families
in it.
Tho the ground he generally bad, and the Climate
cold, yet it is not unwholeſome living here, as appears
from the many vigorous old People, that abound in the
Iſles, whoſe health I think is rather more firm and
ſound then with us, neither are they lyable to ſuch frequent
ſickneſs, whither this is to be imputed to the
freeneſs and purity ot the Air, or to the quality of their
Diet, or the Sobriety of their living, or to all theſe
and the like I ſhall not judge. Yet they tell us they uſed
to Iive much longer in former Ages then now they do,
as of one Tairvile, who lived 180 years, and all his time
never drank Beer or Ale; His Son alſo and GrandChildren
lived to a good old Age. Who ſeldom or never
drank any other thing ſave Milk, Water and their
Country-Bland. It is ſaid alſo that this Tairvils Father
lived longer then himſelf: There was alſo one Laurentius
in the Pariſh of Waes, whoſe Heir Oyes do yet
live there, who arrived at a great Age, whom Buchanan
mentioneth; that he lived in his time, marrying
a Wiſe after the 100. year of his Age, and in the 140.
went a Fiſhing with his little Boat when the Sea was
Tempeſtuous. Salubritatis firmitudo in Laurentio quodam
noſtra atate apparuit, qui poſt Centiſimum annnm uxorum
duxit: centeſimum quadrageſimum annum agenis, ſaviſſimo
mars in ſua naviculâ piſcatum prodibat: Ac nuper nulla
vi gravioris morbi labefactatus, ſed ſenio ſolutus deceſſit.
For ſurely, as all Skilful Phyſicians do grant, there is
nothing more Conducive to the maintaining of a Sound
and Healthful Conſtitution, then a ſober and regular
Diet, whereas they who live otherwiſe, to ſpeak with
reſpect to 2d. Cauſes do impair their Health, and cuts
themſelves off, often in the midſt of their days; eſpecially
ſuch as feed high, and indulge themſelves in drinking
ſtrong Liquors, which tends to the exhauſting of
that Natural and Innate Heat, the Fountain of our Animal-Life;
whereas it is obſerved of all theſe, who arrived
at ſuch a great Age that they ſeldom it ever drank
any ſtrong Liquor.
There is no Sickneſs or Diſeaſe this Country is
more ſubject unto then the Scurvey, as is Orkney likewiſe.
which is occaſioned doubtleſs by their Salt-meat
Fiſhes upon which many for the moſt part do live, SeaAir
&c, And ſometimes this Scurvey degenerates into
a kind of Leproſy, which they call a Baſtard ſcwvey,
and is diſcerned by hairs falling from the Eye-brees,
the Noſe falling in &c. Which when the People come
to know, they ſeparate and ſet them apart for fear
Infection, building Huts or little Houſes for them in
the feild, I ſaw the Ruines of one of theſe Houſes about
half a mile from Lerwick, where a Woman was for
ſome Years kept for this Reaſon. This Baſtard Leprſy,
they judge, is cauſed by the many grey Fiſhes
ſuch as Sillucks, Piltocks, &c. which they eat; for
Bread failing many of the People in the Summer time
that often for 4 or 5 Months, they will not taſte
thereof, theſe Fiſhes are almoſt their only meat, and
eſpecially the Livers of theſe Fiſhes, which are thought
to be more unhealthful then the Fiſhes themſelves
and they much incline to eat, do occaſion this: The
drinking alſo of hot Bland (which is a kind of a Serum
of Milk, of which more afterwards) together with
theſe Fiſhes, do beget ſuch corrupt humours to the diſtempering
of the Body. Theſe Scorbutick Perſons are
more ordinarily in Dunroſsneß and Delton, and more
rare in other places; And that becauſe they havemo
Grey Fiſhes in theſe two Pariſhes, then in others.
And it hath been obſerved often by the lnhabitants
that when in Holy Providence any Sickneſs cometh
upon, or breaketh up in the Country, it uſeth to
through them like a Plague, ſo that ſince we came of
the ſmall Pox hath ſeiſed upon many both old and
young and was ſo univerſal, that upon one Lord's
Day there were 90, Prayed for in the Church of Lerwick
all ſick of the ſame Diſeaſe, whereas when
were there a few weeks before, there was not one
that we knew ſick thereof. They lay a Gentleman
Son in the Countrey who had lately gone from the
South, and was under it when he came home, brought
it with him, which very quickly ſpread among the
People, the old as well as the young; and ſo ſad have
been the deſolating effects thereof, that one told me
who arrived here lately from the place, that he verily
ujdgeth the third part of the People in many of the
Iſles are dead thereof.
Altho many of the Inhabitants have each their particular
Trades and Employments wherein more eſpecially
they lay out themſelves, and are taken up about,
yet are they all generally ſome way acquainted with
the Sea, and can with ſome dexteritie and skill attained
by Experience manage their Boars, not only becauſe of
their frequent paſſing from Iſle to Iſle, and going over the
Voes or Lochs which ly in upon, and cut the Mainland,
but by Reaſon of their great Fiſhing, not only for their
oun uſe, but for the uſe of Merchants, who buy their
Fiſhes, or give them the Value in foreign Commodities:
Hence moſt of the Inhabitants, not only have ſome
Paſturage for their Cattel, and ſome Corn Land about
their Houſes which they manure, but alſo their parts
of Boats for the end forſaid. Yet there are many who
follow no Trade but their Fiſhing.
Beſide their Fiſh-Trade with foreign Merchants, they
likwiſe drive a great Trade with Orkney, from which
every Year ſeveral Boats do paſs to Zetland Loaden with
Corns, Meal, Malt, &c. upon the coming whereof they
often wait for Barley ſeed, tho the laſt Year they had
a Conſiderable Crop, In that the Barley Seed was ſown
before the Boats came over. The Orkney Men alſo bring
ſometimes Stockins, Ale, and the like which they know
to be vendible here, Hence every Year conſiderable
Sums of Money go from Zetland to Orkney, And ſome
have told me that moſt of the Money they have in
Orkney, is from Zetland. So great is the Advantage that
theſe Iſles do reap by their Neighbourly Commerce
with one another, for as Zetland could not well live
without Orkne'ys Corns, ſo neither could Orkney be
well without Zetlands Money.
As Orkney have much of their Money from Zetland,
ſo Zetland have all theirs from foreign Nations and
Countreys whoſe Merchants traffick with them, as from
Holland, Hamburgh, Breme &c. The Dutch Money
doth Ordinarily paſs among them, as Stivers, half Stivers,
and ſince the Rates of the Money were raiſed in
Scotland, many here have been conſiderable gainers
the Ducket-douns, which is the ſpecies of Money that
the Hollanders bring more ordinarily with them.
The Kings Rents are but the 3d. part of what they
are in Orkney, For tho this Countrey be by far grater
and more ſpacious then Orkney, yet it is not ſo well inhabited,
neither is the ground ſo good: Theſe Rents are
payed to the Taxmen in Butter, Oyl, and Money, The
Oyl is made of the livers of Fiſhes, and is ſent South
for the making of Soap, or is otherwiſe diſpoſed of,
may be moſt Advantageous. The Biſhops had no Rent
from this Countrey, And tho it belong to the Dioces
of Orkney, and is a conſiderable part of that Charge,
we did not hear that ever any of theſe ſole Paſtours of
their Dioceſſes, as ſome are pleaſed to call them, viſited
theſe bounds.
There being ſo little Corn-Land here, is the cauſe
why none of the Revenues of the Croun are payed in
Meal or Corns, whereas in Orkney it is far otherwiſe
as hath been ſaid; for any Corn-Land they have is ordinarily
but a few Ridges nigh to the Coaſts, for not
any diſtance from the Sea, and in many places alſo
nigh unto it, there is nothing but a Moſſy and Mountainous
Deſert covered with Heather, and only ſome
places pleniſhed with a few Kine, Sheep, or Sheltier,
tho in other places ye will go ſome Miles and ſee none.
This Moſs and Moor which ſo much aboundeth, renders
Travelling very dangerous, even to the Natives
themſelves, and ſo deep is it in many places and that
in the Summer and droughty ſeaſon, that Horſes can
not paſs it, and Men on foot not without difficulty and
hazard: As in the Iſle of Yell the Miniſter in going to the
Church, from his Houſe is obliged to go on foot 8.
Miles almoſt wading up to the knees. And indeed the
eaſieſt and ſafeſt way of Travelling is by Sea in Boats
about the skirts of the Iſles, which alſo is not without
And tho the greateſt part of this Countrey be thus
Moſsy and Mooriſh, yet there are ſome pleaſant Spots
in it well furniſhed with Graſs and Corn, as nigh to
Scalloway, Uftneſs &c in the Mainland, ſome places in
the Pariſhes of Dunroſneſs alſo on the Main, in the Iſle
of Unst &c. Hence ſome Years they tvill have 20. Fold
of Increaſe, but this is more rare, for at other times in
ſeveral places they will ſcarce have the double of their
ſeed. They make much uſe of Barly Bread, which
appears to be fairer then their Oat-Bread, for their
Barly they take to be the beſt Grain, it agreeing better
with the ground then Oats. And as it is in Orkney,
ſo is it here, if any white Corn be brought unto
the Countrey for ſeed, it will ſoon degenerate and become
like their oun.
I think tho Kine and Sheep are of a greater Size,
then they are in Orkney, tho their Horſes be of a leſs;
as for the Sheep I take them to be little leſs then they
are in many places of Scotland, they Lamb not ſo ſoon
as with us, for at the end of May, their Lambs are
not come in Seaſon, their Harveſt alſo is much latter,
for they Judge it very early if they get their Corns in
againſt the Middle of October, They obſerve that our
Seaſons will be two months before theirs, but I do
not think they differ ſo much.
If their Sheep were well kept, it would be very
pleaſant to behold them in Flocks, they being of divers
colours; ſome of a pyed, others of a broun, others
of a broun and white, others of a black colour, ſome
alſo have black ſpraings on their backs, others on their
foreheads; and ſome ſay they have as great a number of
black Sheep, as they have of white; which diverſity of
colours would render them very beautiful, if they were
taken a due Care of; for they never waſh nor clip
their Sheep, nor have they any ſhears for that end; but
pulls the wool off them with their hands, which as it
is painful to the beaſts, ſo it makes than look not ſo
well favoured, but like theſe Is tth us, whoſe wool
is ſcratched with briars or thorns.
Their ordinary drink is Milk or Water, or Milk and
Water together, or a drink which they call Bland, moſt
common in the Countrey, tho not thought to he very,
wholeſome; which ſo they make up, having taken
away the Butter from their churned Milk, as likewiſe
the thicker parts of this Milk which remains atter the
Butter is taken out, they then pour in ſome hot Water
upon the Serum, Whey or the thinner part of the
Milk in a proportion to the Milk. Which being done
they make uſe of it for their drink, keeping ſome for
their Winter proviſion: And this drink is ſo ordinary
with them, that there are many People in the Countrey
who never ſaw Ale or Beer all their Lifetime;
The Ale is rare among them, they making bread of
much at their Barley grain, but the Hamburgh Beer
both ſmall and ſtrong is to be had in plenty tho at a
good rate 6 ſh. or 8 ſh. our pint, which Beer and other
Liquors, as alſo wheat Bread the Hamburghers bring with
them in the Month of May for Sale, hence ſometimes
Liquors as Beer, Ale &c. cannot be had for money, till
the Hamburghers bring it.
The great confluence of ſtrangers makes Kine, Sheep;
Hens and almoſt all Victuals to ſell at a greater rate,
then in Orkney, for often when the Buſhes are here,
they will give Double or Triple for a Sheep, or a Hen,
then it is to be bought in Orkney for, for the Hollanders
with their Buſhess being Numerous on theſe Coaſts,
they ſend ſometimes a ſhore to buy freſh meats, which
if to be had, they will not want for the price.
They have Fowls eſpecially Sea-Fowls in great plenty
which do frequent the Rocks, Holms, &c. which
they take as they do in Orkney, and are very beneficial
to the Proprietours. There are alſo many Eagles which
do great prejudice and hurt to the Countrey; for the
Lambs they will lift up in their Claws, and take whole
to their Neſts, and falling doun upon the Sheep, they fix
one foot on the ground and the other on the Sheep's
back, which they having ſo apprehended, they 1ſt. pick
out their eyes, and then uſe the Carcaſes as they pleaſe.
All ſorts of Duck and Drake, Dunter-Geeſe, Cleck--
Geeſe, Ember-Geeſe &c. they have as in Orkney.
They have many Crows but neither here nor in Orkney
are they of that Colour which they are of with us,
for their Head, Wings, and Tail, only are black, but
their Back and Breaſt from the Neck to the Tail are of
Grey Colour, and the Countrey People look upon
it as a bad Omen, when black Crows come to theſe
Iſles, they portending that a Famine will ſhortly enſue.

There are many Conies in ſome places, but no Hares,
neither are there any Moorfowls which are numerous
in Orkney; ſome fay that a few from Orkney have been
brought over for triall, but they could not live here:
No Poddocks or Froggs are to be ſeen, tho many in
Orkney. Neither are there any Rats to be found, except
in ſome Iſles, and theſe are greater then ordinary,
and thought to come out of Ships, when riding at Anchor
nigh to the ſhore, but they have Mice in aboundance.
Neither are there any venomous Creatures in
theſe Iſles. They have many Ottars, one of which was
ſo tamed that it frequently uſed to bring Fiſhes out of
the Sea to a Gentleman's Houſe in Haskaſhie, as one
told me who knew the Truth thereof.
They have a ſort of little Horſes called Shelties, then
which no other are to be had, if not brought hither:
from other places, they are of a leſs Size then the Orkney
Horſes, for ſome will he but 9 others 10. Nives or
Hand-breadths high, and they will be thought big Horſes
there if eleven, and although ſo ſmall yet are they
full of vigour and life, and ſome not ſo high as others
often prove to be the ſtrongeſt, yea there are ſome,
whom, an able man can lift up in his arms, yet will
they carry him and a Woman behind him 8 Miles forward
and as many back: Summer or Winter they never
come into an House, but run upon the Mountains into
ſome places in flocks, and if at any time in Winter the
ſtorm be ſo great, that they are ſtraitned, for food, they
will come doun from the Hills, when the Ebb is in
the sea and eat the Sea-ware (as likewiſe do the Sheep)
which Winter ſtorme and ſcarcity of fodder puts them
out of Caſe, and bringeth them ſo very low, that they
recover not their ſtrength till about St. Joh'ns Maſs-Day,
the 24th. of June when they are at their beſt: They
will live till a Conſiderable Age as 26, 28, or 30 Years,
and they will be good riding Horſes in 24. eſpecially
they'le be the more vigorous and live the longer, if they
be 4. Years old before they be put to Work. Theſe
of a black Colour are Judged to be the moſt durable
and the pyeds often prove not ſo good; they have he
more numerous then now they are the beſt of them
are to be had in Sanſton and Eſton, alſo they are good
Waes and Yell, theſe of the leaſt Size are in the Northern
Iſles of Yell and Unſt.
The Colditels of the Air, the liarrennels of t'
144,untains tin %which they feed, and their hard till
sway oecation them to keep to little, for it bigger Heks
be lortme,lit into the Countrey, their kind witliii
little time will degenerate; And indeed in the pixie
cafe, we may ice the' Wildomc of Providence, for (II,
•av beiar deep and Mollie in Many places, tilde ligtcr
Holten come throul h, when the r,reater and hem.'
would fink doun: and they leap over ditches ve
yea up and doun logr,e411 Molly Macs or h
lucks whh heavy rideis upon them. which I could
look upon but with Admiration, yea i have teen the
chmia up braes upon their knees, when enhcrwile
could not get the height overcome, ſo that our Horſes
would be but little if at all ſervicable there.
The great Fiſhing which they have upon the Coaſts,
makes the place deſirable to the Natives, and to be frequented
by ſtrangers; it excelling any other place of
the King of Brittan's Dominions for Herring, White. and
Grey Fiſhing: the White Fiſhing they call the Killin and
Ling &c. their Grey, the Silluks and ſeths; their are
alſo ſometimes very ſtrange Fiſhes to be found, As
about 24. Years ago, there came a great number of
ſmall thick Fiſhes into a Voc on the South ſide of Neſton,
they were of a Golden Colour, very pleaſant to
behold, they were about the bigneſs of an ordinary
Trout, and all of an equal Size; they being very numerous,
the Countrey made much uſe of them, who Judged
them very ſavoury, taſting Like a Turbot: And never
before or ſince that time were theſe Fiſhes ſeen, in theſe
ſeas: As my Informer an old Gentleman could remember.
Their Tusk is a rare Fiſh but more ordinary
with them, of which more when we come to ſpeak of
their Fiſhing. AIſo many rare Shells are to be found
on the Coaſts, but we had not time to enquire and look
after them.
Through the Iſles for fewel they have good Pites
in aboundance; tho, in ſome places they are at a diſtance
from them, as these who live in the Skerries are obliged
to bring them from other Iſles, its from WhaIſey, and
the paſſage being dangerous many boats are caſt away
with them; ſome alſo living in Dunroſsneſs are at a loſs
this way, they not having the Moſs at hand, as generally
they have in other places on the Main. Much
broken Timber alſo is driven aſhore upon theſe Iſles,
ſo that the Inhabitants of the Skerries truſt the one half
of their proviſion to this driven timber: and broken
Ships in great quantity often caſt aſhore; partly through
the many Ships that ſplect on theſe Iſles, and partly as
the wrack of Ships caſt away at ſome diſtance, which is
brought here by the Ebb from Norway, or other places
lying to the Eaſt of Zetland.
There are no trees in this Countrey more then in
Orkney, we ſaw ſome old white and weather beaten
Stocks ſtandnig in Scalloway, for whatever Reaſons may
be alledged for trees not growing in Orkney, far more do
I Judge they will hold in Zetland both with Reſpect to
the Air and to the Soil: There are alſo at Scalloway ſome
Gooſe and Rizzer-berrie buſhes which uſe every Year
to be laden with fruit, which are a great rarity in this
place of the World.
Many excellent Herbs are found growing here, tho
little known or made uſe of: A Certain Engliſh Phyſician
and skilled Botaniſt who was at Lerwick ſome Years
ago told our Hoſt, that there were many choice and
rare Herbs here not to be found in England, They have
much ſcurvey-Graſs; God ſo ordering it in his wiſe
Providence that Juxta venenum, naſcitur Antidotum, that
ſeeing the ſcurvy is the common Diſeaſe of the Countrey,
they ſhould have the Remedy at hand.
There is here much Lime-ſtone (thu for ought I
heard not to he found in Orkney) which in ſome places
they have but lately come to the knowledge of as in
Unſt but about 4. Years ſince; and in other places they
know not yet how to uſe it, The Pariſh of Imgwal
(they ſay) conſiſts almoſt of Lime-ſtone, they having
few it any other ſtones then ſuch.
The tones wherewith they build are generally
broad, and like Flag-ſtones; by reaſon of which figure
and ſhape the ſtones lying the more eaſily, the builders
are at leſs trouble in fitting them for the wall; and I
have obſerved that in ſome Houſes there is little Lime,
clay or any ſuch thing for cementing of the building,
which renders their dwelling ſo much the colder, the
peircing Air paſſing through between the Chinks of the
Stones, which they have no need of under this cold and
airiſh Climate. But ſome of theſe Houſes they may
deſignedly ſo build, that the Wind may have free paſſage
through them, for drying of their Fiſhes, which
Houſes ſome call Skeos.
There are ſeveral ſuperſtitious Cuſtoms and Practices,
which the more Ignorant People follow, ſome of
which we will have occasion to note in the ſequel of
this Diſcourſe, but not ſo many did we hear of, as there
are in Orkney. But I hope the vigilance and Diligence
of our Church in Inſpecting theſe lſles, and putting all
to their Duty, will prove a bleſſed Mean in the hand
of God, for the eradicating and utter aboliſhing of theſe
Relicts of Paganiſm and Idolatry.
Sailing about theſe Coaſts is often very dangerous,
whence the Waters prove Graves to many of the Inhabitants.
While we were there in the Month of May a
Boat was caſt away going by the ſhore to Dunroſsneſs,
and a Man and his Siſter therein periſhed, and another
Man in her was ſaved by getting upon the keel of the
Boat, and ſometimes Boats are caſt away when not one
ſaved: About the Iſles are many blind Rocks, which the
Natives ſometimes unhappily fall and break upon, eitheir
through a Miſtake, or the Tide and wind driving
them upon them: At other times the Wind riſing,
cauſeth the Sea ſo to ſwell that the Waves breaking upon
their ſmall Boats are ready to overſet them, and ſometimes
do: Alſo tho the Wind be not ſo ſtrong, there will
come Flanns and Blaſts off the Land as to their ſwiftneſs
and ſurpriſal ſomeething like to Hurricanes, which
beating with a great Impetus or force upon their Sails,
overturns the Boat, and in a moment hurries them into
Eternity: By ſuch a flan the Laird of Munas a Gentleman
in this Countrey is ſaid to have periſhed the former
Year 1699. when within ſight of his oun Houſe,
and all that were in the Boat with him ſaid to be 9.
or 10, Perſons, ſave one ſervant, who eſcaped upon the
keel. I remember, that night we came to the Land of
Zetland, our Seamen thought fit in their prudence not
to Sail too nigh the Land for fear of fuch flans. O
to be as Watchmen on our Towers looking out and
waiting for the Lord's coming.
For this cauſe it is, that during the Winter Seaſon
they have ordinarily Converſe or Commerce with
none, except that ships be driven in by ſtreſs of Weather;
for the open Boats dare not come, and the cloſe--
decked not without danger, the Sea commonly at that
time being ſo tempeſtuous, the Tides and Rouſts ſo
rapid, that they threaten all who come near them, with
being ſwallowed up; Therefore it is as they tell us
that from October till April or May, they Ordinarily
ſee no ſtrangers, not know any News, which makes the
Winter ſo much the longer and weariſome unto them.
An Inſtance whereof we had, that the late Revolutiom
when his Highneſs the Prince of Orange our preſent King
was pleaſed to come over to Aſſert our Liberties, and
deliver us from our fears, falling out in the Winter;
it was May thereafter before they heard any thing of it
And that 1 ſt. they ſay from a Fiſher-Man, whom ſome
would have had arraigned before them, and impeached
of high Treaſon becauſe of his News, as ſome did inform
Their Countrey lying very open, and in many places
but thinly Inhabited, expoſeth them to the Hoſtile
incurſions of Pirates in a time of War, as of late the
Frenches did much infeſt their Coaſts, ſome of their Men
Landing did by ſhot Kill their Kine and Sheep, and
take than away with them; yea ſometimes they ſpared
not the Churches, but ſacrilegiouſly robbed them, pulling
down the Timber thereof as Seats &c. and taking
them for burnwood; ſo they did to a Church in North
Mevan. But thy never came into Braſsa Sound, leſt
they had been locked up within Land, Winds turning
In the Month of June they have a clear light all the
Night over, for at the darkeſt hour thereof, you will
ſee clearly to read a Letter, the Sun ſetteth between
10. and 11. at Night, and riſeth between 1. and 2. in
the Morning, but for this they have ſo much the ſhorer
Day and longer Night in the Winter.
A particular Vien is given of the ſeveral Pariſhes,
and moſt conſiderable Iſles in Zetland.

THus far having Conſidered the ſtate of the Countrey
in General, we come next to take ſome particular
view of the Iſles, which that I may the better and
more methodically do, I ſhall lay before my Reader
the ſeveral Pariſhes with ſome brief deſcription of the
principal Iſles thereunto belonging. For as to the Number
of the Iſles, I never heard an Exact account given
thereof, there being many of them ſmall, wherein is
only a Family or two, and ſo but little noticed.
The 1ſt. is the Pariſh of Dunroſsneſs on the Mainland
to the South, and is the Pariſh which lyes next to Orkney,
and Scotland, wherein are 3. Churches, in which
their Miniſter performeth divine ſervice, Croſs-Kirk,
Sanwich, and Fair Iſle; In this Pariſh are ſeveral very
good Voes or Harbours commodious fur Ships to ride
in. In this there is alſo much Corn-Land, ther ground
bearing, the Richeſt Grain, in many places not ſo Moſſy
and covered over with Heath, as other Pariſhes arc,
which makes them to have leſs fewel, tho more corn.
Much of the Land here is ſanded, and the Sea almoſt
Yearly gaineth ſomething on the lower parts thereof;
the Land lying ſo low and ſandy in many places, is
convenient for Conies, which abound here about the
Neſs or ſouthern moſt point of Land. In this Pariſh,
there is a great Fiſhing, This ſouthermoſt point hath
two Heads, Swinburgh Head, and Fitwalls Head, two high
rocks ſeen by Mariners coming from the South at a
great diſtance, which when diſcovered, they direct their
Courſe towards them.
To the North-Weſt of the Neſs lyes St. Ninians Iſle
very pleaſant; wherin there is a Chappel and ane Altar
in it, where on ſome ſuperſtitious People do burn Candles
to this Day. Some take this Iſle rather to be a kind
of Peninſula, joyned to the Main by a Bank of Sand
by which in an Ebb People may go into the Iſle, tho
ſometimes not without danger.
The Fair Iſle belongeth to this Pariſh, lying 3.
Leagues or 24. Miles to the South or South and by Eaſt
of Swinburgh Head, by Buchannan it is called Inſula bella
the pleaſant or pretty Iſle, Tho I do Judge FAIR may
be as well taken Properly as Appellatively, for the Iſle
Faira or Fara, there being another Iſle lying to the
North of this which they call North Faira which relates
to another Faira by South; now there is no Iſle lying to
the South of this North Faira, which hath any name
that can be interpreted Faira, but this Fair Ifle. Moreover
I neither did ſee, nor was I informed of any thing
that afford us any Reaſon, why this Iſle ſhould be ſo
appellatively taken and denominated beila or Fair.
This Fair Iſle riſeth high above the Waters, and is ſeen
by Mariners at a great diſtance; it is about an Mile and
a half long from ſouth to north, and nigh to a Mile
in breadth, the ſide thereof towards the Well is a conttinued
ragged rock from one end to another, always
beat upon by the Impetuous currents of a ſwelling Sea
above this Weſt-ſide is the Craig which they call the
Sheep-Craig, whereon there are no Houſes nor Corn--
Land, but Sheep uſe to feed: The ſide, lying to the
Eaſt is lower, declining towards the Sea; There are in
it two Harbours, one upon the Northern-End,
to Zetland, and another towards the Southern point,
but Ships or Boats do not ordinarily reſort thereunto,
if not put to it, and better cannot do, for ſo it hath
been a ſafe shelter and refuge to many.
There uſe to be about 10. or 12. Families in it, but
now they ſay Death hath almoſt depopulate the Iſle
the ſmall Pox having lately raged there, and ſwept
away two thirds of the Inhabitants, ſo that there is not
ſufficient number ſpared to Manage their Fiſh-Boats;
that Gentlemans Son abovementioned, having touched
here in his way to Zetland: They have good Paſturage
for Sheep and Kine, and ſome Corn-Land, and
are very hoſpital and kind. Their Miniſter uſeth to
Vitite them once in the Year, in the Summer time, and
ſtaying with them about a Month, Preaching, Baptizing
their Children and doing other parts of his Paſtoral
Work; after which he returning to Zetland, they
are without publick Ordinances till the next Years
The Hawks, they ſay, which are to be had in the Fair
Iſle, are the beſt in Britain, which uſe to flee to Zetland,
or Orkney for their prey, theſe being the neareſt
Lands, and ſometimes they'le find Moor Fowls in
their Neſts, which they behoved to bring from Orkney,
ſeeing there are none in Zetland, and the neareſt
Iſle they could have them in, was Stronza or Weſtra,
which is between 40. and 50. Miles of Sea. over which
at one flight they muſt carry theſe Fowls to their
Many Ships uſe to cruiſe about this Fair Iſle in the
Summer time, and by it the Holland's Fleet going to
or coming from the Eaſt-Indies, uſe to paſs, tho ſometimes
as in the late Wars they Sailed by the North of
Zetland, that they might be more free of danger. Ships
alſo going to or coming from Norway or the Eaſt Sea
frequently paſs this way, when Wind ſerveth them
ſo to do; and this Fair lſle being ſeen by them at 14.
or 16. leagues diſtance, in a clear Day it is as a Myth
or Mark for directing their courſes.
The 2d, is the Pariſh of Tingwall lying on the Eaſt
of the Main to the North of Dunroſsneſs, wherein are
4. Churches, Tingwall, Whitneſs, Wiſedale and Lerwick,
but the Miniſter uſeth not to Preach by turns at
Lerwick, as he doth at his other 3. Churches, he not
finding himſelf obliged ſo to do, it being but built
lately at the expence of the Inhabitants, however ſometimes
he hath Sermon there, and Baptizeth their
Children. Lerwick in this Pariſh is now become the
Principal Toun in the Countrey, lying on the Eaſt of
the main at Braſsa Sound, over againſt the Iſle of
Lerwick is more then half a Mile in length, lying
South and North upon the ſide of the Sound, and will
conſiſt of between 2. and 300. Families, it is but within
theſe few Years, that it hath arrived to ſuch a number
of Houſes and Inhabitants. It is become ſo conſiderable,
becauſe of the many Ships which do Yearly frequent
the Sound. whereby Merchants and Tradeſ-Men
are encouraged to come and dwell in this place, and
not for the pleaſantneſs of its Situation, or the fertility
of the Countrey about, for it is built upon a Rocky
peice of Ground, wherein they can have no ſtreet, but
a kind of a narrow paſſage before their doors, betwixt
them and the Sound, which in ſome places will not admit
of two Mens going in a breaſt, and at the back of
the Toun there is a Hill of black Moſs, wherein they
caſt their Pites, which in ſome places cometh to their
very doors, and no Corn-Land is there about it, ſave
a little within the Caſtle, for near a Mile of way.
Many of their Houſes, are very Commodious to
dwell in, moſt of them being two ſtories high, and well
furniſhed within, their Inhabitants conſiſt of Merchants
Tradeſ-Men, and Fiſhers, who keep up a good Trade
with Foreigners, from whom they buy much of their
domeſtick proviſion, ſome of them are Perſons of
Conſiderable Stock, which they have many ways to
improve for their advantage. They are very Civil
and kind, of an obliging temper, which we had the
Experience of, during our abode among them; there
are but few begging poor to be ſeen here, or in any
place of the Countrey, where we had occaſion to be;
there being a great ſtore of ſmall Fiſhes, for the supply
of their neceſſity.
They have upon their own Charges Built a convenient
Church, at the back of the middle of the Town.
and furnihed it with good Seats high and low, they
are at preſent a part of the Pariſh of Tingwal, but very
deſireous to be disjoined, and erected into a Pariſh by
themſelves, that to they may enjoy a Miniſter of their
own: For the promoting of which good Work, they
are moſt willing according to their Ability to Contribute
for the ſettling of a Fond for a Stipend to a Miniſter,
but not being in a Capacity to give all, they
reſolved to make Application to the Government, for
to have ſome Allowance out of the Revenues of the
Biſhoprick of Orkney, or otherwiſe as the Wiſdom of
the Government ſhould ſee meet, that ſo there may be
a Competency made up.
Upon their appliction to us, we judgeing it moſt
convenient, yea neceſſary, that this Town with Town
ſome of the adjacent Countrey, ſhould be Erected into
a Paroch, cheriſhed this their pious deſign; Telling
them, that we intended, to recommend it, to the
Commiſſion of the General Aſſembly: That they
may interpoſe, with the Lords, and other Honourable
Members of the reſpective Judicatories, before
whom this affair ſhall come, for the better effectuating
the ſame. For the Town it ſelf is conſiderable,
and the principal one in the Countrey, much frequented
by the Gentry; As alſo, by Strangers, in the
Summer time. And their Miniſter Preaching ſeldom
here, they are ordinarly deſtitute of Goſpel-Ordinances;
The People ſcarce being able, in the Summer
ſeaſon, and all moſt impoſſible for them in the
Winter, to travel to the next Church, where their
Winter Preacheth: It being about 4 Miles diſtance
from them, of exceeding bad way. As we knew,
when we did perambulate the bounds. Which want
of Ordinances, maketh their Caſe very ſad and deplorable;
It nurſeth ignorance; Occaſioneth much Sin,
eſpecially horrid prophanation of the Lords Day, by
ſtrangers, as well as by inhabitants; And doth effectually
obſtruct the converſion of Souls; Preaching of the
Word being a ſpecial mean of convincing and converting
Sinners and building them up in Holineſs
and comfort throurh Faith, unto Salvation.
At the North end of the Town, is the Caſtle or Citadel,
of Larwick, begun to be built in the time, of the
Dutch War Anno 1665. By Work-men ſent by Authority
from Scotland, for that end, but the Work was never
perfected, the Work men, returning home, Anno, 1667. At
that time alſo 300 Souldiers were ſent over for the
Defence of the Courtrey, againſt the hoſtile Incurſions
of the Hollanders, and were quartered in places
nigh to the Fort, who likewiſe returned home about
the ſame time, with the Workmen: The Garriſon
could do much to command the Sound (for then
there was no Town here) ſo that none durſt Land
nigh unto them; The walls are yet in a good condition,
high in ſome places without, but filled up with
Earth within, whereon they raiſed their Cannon; in
the weakeſt part of the Wall towards the North, there
hath been a Sally-port, dangerous to Attack, by reaſon
of a deep Ditch before it, fed by a Spring, into which
the Gariſon by cunning Artifices might endeavour to
draw the Enemy, who by the Stratagems of War thus
being brought on, and enſnared, did incontinently
ſink down into the Sound below them at the foot of
the Hill, whereupon the Caſtle is ſituated: Within
the Walls is a Houſe of Guard, which hath been tvvo
Stories high, burnt by the Dutch, after that out
Souldiers had left the Fort. Upon the Walls toward
the Sound, are ſtandiing 3 Iron Cannons one a 6. another
a 7. and a 3d. a 10 Pounder, not left by did
who kept Garriluit, but ſince that time within theſe
30 Years taken out the Sea nigh to Whalſey, a Ship
of Force there being caſt away, about 80. Years before:
Which Guns the Inhabitants of Lerwick lately
mounted upon the Walls of the Caſtle, whereby the


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A Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland-Firth & Caithness

Document Information

Document ID 22
Title A Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland-Firth & Caithness
Year group 1700-1750
Genre Expository prose
Year of publication 1701
Wordcount 31917

Author information: Brand, Reverend John

Author ID 101
Title Reverend
Forenames John
Surname Brand
Gender Male
Year of birth 1668
Occupation Clergyman