Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

Guide to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland
Section IX. The Orkney and Zetland Islands
Part 1 - The Orkney Islands

Population of Orkney, paragraph 1.—Climate, 2.—General Aspect. of the Orkney Islands, 3.—Storms, 4.—Agriculture; Single-stilted Plough, 5.—Inhabitants; Customs; Dress, 6.—Orkney houses; Food, 7.—Education; Disposition; Religion; Superstitions, 8.—Trade; Manufactures, 9.—Fisheries; Lobster Fishing, 10.Straw-Plaiting, 11.—Distilleries; Shipping; Sea Insurance, 12.—Exports, 13.—Table of Produce, 14.—history of Orkney, 15.—Itinerary: Pomona, or the Mainland, Kirkwall, 16.—St. Magnus' Cathedral; Earls' and Bishops' Palaces at Kirkwall; Pict's House on Wideford Hill, 17.—Road to Stromness; View from the Centre of Pomona, 18 —Stone Monuments, or Standing Stones of Stennis; Temples of the Sun and Moon at Stennis, 19.—Stromness; Bay, 20.—Miraculous Deliverance from Shipwreck, 21.—True History of George Stewart of Masseter, 22.—Excursion to Hoy; Echo at the Meadow of the Kame; Precipices and Old Man of Hoy; Wardhill of Hoy; Botany; The Dwarfie Stone, 23.—Rest Coast of Pomona; Vitrified Cairn in Sandwick Parish; Unique Stone Structure at Via, 24.—Birsa Palace; Plants rare in Orkney, 25.—Itinerant of the North Inlet: Westray an Papa Westray; Pict's house, 26.—North Ronaldshay; Sanday; Vitrified Cairns, 27.—Ferries and Freights, 28.—General Features of the North Isles, 29.—Papa Westray; Holm of Papa Westray; The Eider Duck, 30.—Sketch of the Natural History of Orkney, 31.

Edqar. Come on, Sir; here's the place;—stand still. How fearful
And dizzy 'tis, to cast one's eyes so low
The crows, and choughs, that wing the midway air,
Shew scarce so gross as beetles. half way down
Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!
Methinks he seems no bigger than his head.
The fishermen, that walk upon the beach,
Appear like mice; and yon tall anchoring bark,
Diminsihed to her cock; [a boat] her cock, a buoy
Almost too small for sight. The murmuring surge,
That on the unnumber'd idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot he heard so high:—I'll look no more,
Lest my brain turn, and the deficient sight
Topple down headlong.
Gloster.          Set me where you stand.
Edgar. Give me your hand. You are now within a foot
Of the extreme verge; for all beneath the moon
Would I not leap upright. SHAKESPEARE

1. The Orkney Islands lie off the north coast of Scotland, and are separated from the county of Caithness by the Pentland Firth, which is 51 miles broad at the narrowest part. [From Duncansbay Head to Brough Point, in South Ronaldshay, is 5 miles; from Dunnet Head to Brimsness in Roy, 6; from Huna to Burwick, 7; from Stroma to Swona, 3.] They extend between the parallels 590 23' 2", and 58 41' 24" N. latitude, and between 2 22' 2", and 3 25 10" W. longitude, so that their extreme length is 41' 38", and their breadth 1 3' 8", which is equal to 32.4 geographical miles. This includes an area of 1347.8 miles, but the islands only contain 244.8 geographical miles. The outline of the islands is equal to 573.7 miles. [We are indebted for this and some other calculations to the kindness of Lieut. F. W. L. Thomas, R. N., whose exact survey of Orkney enables us to give some important corrections and additions in this edition.] They were known to the Romans by the name of Orcades, or Ultima Thule, although the latter appellation is by many supposed to have been applied to Zetland. The natives generally call them Orkney, as forming part of the county of Orkney and Zetland; and strangers frequently speak of the Orkneys as they would of the Azores, or any distant cluster of islands. If these are considered islands that are insulated every high water, and have flowering plants growing upon them, there are seventy-three, but seventeen of these become peninsulas at low water, so that they are reduced to fifty-six at that state of the tide. Of these, twenty-nine are inhabited, and nineteen more are probably capable of supporting a single family each; but these smaller islands, or, as they are here called, holms, are at present the abodes of innumerable sea-fowl, that hatch upon them with little molestation, while on some a few sheep or cattle are pastured; however, these Peerie [Peerie is a word in common use in Orkney, and means little; and it is curious, that on the return of Captain Cook's discovery vessels from the South Seas, the officers mentioned that the same word is used in the same sense in some islands there.] islands used to be more valuable on account of the sea-weeds that grow on their rocky shores, than for the scanty herbage that clothes their soil. The number of the inhabited islands varies frequently, in consequence of single families taking up their abode in holes for a year or two, which they afterwards desert. The following are the names of the islands inhabited at present, with the population of each, according to the census of 1841:-

This total makes the population now about 2400 above the census of 1831.

2. The high latitude of these islands will prevent the well-informed traveller from expecting in them the warm climate or the luxuriant vegetation of more southern lands; but though there is enough to remind him of the contrast between Orcadian and Arcadian scenes, yet, owing to their insular situation, he will probably find them milder than he anticipated: for, as the ocean with which they are surrounded is little affected by summer heat or winter cold, the uniformity of its temperature produces such an equality in that of their shores, that excessive heat or long-continued frost or snow is alike unknown. t One

peculiarity in the Atlantic ocean which must have a powerful influence on their climate, and particularly in raising the temperature in winter, is the Gulf stream, which is well known to run to Orkney, and to carry many things from the West Indies along with it. Its temperature is also known to be higher than that of the ocean through which it flows, and thus it carries to us a portion of West India heat, and returns to them with a refreshing sea-breeze of our cold; establishing a free trade which is equally pleasant and profitable to both parties, by an arrangement of consummate wisdom. We believe that this furnishes the key to several meteorological difficulties. It explains why there is no frost with west wind, but an immediate thaw where there has been frost; indeed the thermometer at such times generally mounts up to 400 more. It shews the cause of our frequent showers of rain with west and south-west wind, as the evaporation from the warm stream is condensed on coming in contact with our cold hills: thus there is no continued drought, more than frost, with west wind. A series of observations on the temperature of the Atlantic and German oceans, and the points connected with it, at equal parallels, on the west and east coasts of Britain, might lead to important results, and we believe it will immediately be attended to. From their situation they may also have a greater share of light than would otherwise be their portion, the water reflecting it better than land: thus, during a month in summer, it is light enough, even at midnight, to enable a person to read, when the sky is clear, and to induce the lark and landrail to preserve a constant chorus of music; and, in fact, all nature seems awake in the summer night, which is but a softer day; and the admirer of the Almighty's works must frequently desist from his contemplation, and retire unsatiated to his pillow. It is almost superfluous to remind the reader, that this twilight is produced by the refraction of the sun's rays; and that, as he sinks below the horizon, in the latitude of Orkney, every night in summer, so he must rise above it every day in winter: indeed, he is kind enough to give the Orcadians about six hours of light in the shortest day, notwithstanding all that the credulous Brand and other old authors have said to the contrary. On the longest day the sun describes a segment of four-fifths of a circle above the horizon, and there is no proper night for 116 days. During the winter nights, when the moon withholds her light, her place is frequently supplied by the aurora borealis. The Orkney winter is generally a succession of storms and rain; and the summer, though short, is remarkable for rapid advance of vegetation.

3. On his first approach, the stranger will be struck with a range of lofty precipices, rising perpendicularly from the bosom of the ocean, or even overhanging, and appearing to say, " Hitherto shalt thou come, but no farther; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed ;" but a nearer inspection will shew how vain the boast, for they will then appear to be, as they probably are, the remains of a more extensive country, the softest and lowest parts of which have been washed away by the perpetual action of the waves, which have separated it from the north of Scotland, and divided it into numerous islands, leaving in some cases a solitary pillar as a monument of what formerly existed: and the tremendous force of the waves can leave no doubt that their slow but certain action is still making farther encroachments. This opinion, which we entertained before the first edition of this volume, seems to be corroborated by the difference between the number of islands at high and low water, and the following interesting results of the accurate soundings of Mr. Thomas. A depression of the sea level at low water, or an elevation of the land to 30 feet, would reduce the number of islands to 23; if to 60 feet, there would he 10; if to 90 feet, there would be but 5. Swona, Pentland Skerries, and Carline Skerry being three of them, if to 120 feet—which is about the height of the tower of the cathedral—the Orkneys would decrease one island. He thinks, however, that the ocean has not advanced 100 fathoms on the west side since the land had its present form.

Hoy is the only island of the group that can be called mountainous, and none of the rest have hills of any considerable height, except the Mainland, Rousay, and Westray.*

A geologist would at once perceive that these hills are not composed of primitive rocks ; for, owing to the softness of their materials, the action of the elements has so far levelled their inequalities, that they now present an outline gently undulating : their surface is generally covered with heather, which affords shelter to a considerable number of moor-fowl and other species of birds. Like Scotland, England, and Ireland, and many other islands and continents, these islands are highest at the west side, where there is a range of hills, terminating abruptly in an almost continuous chain of precipices, with very few bays where even boats can land ; but they slope gently towards the east, and soon end in fertile valleys, which are seldom 100 feet above the level of the sea, and, except in the central part of the Mainland, are within a mile of the shore, where the facility of procuring sea-weed, which is the favourite, and in some places the only manure used, has no doubt given great encouragement to cultivation. In the interior of the Mainland, marl is frequently found, and is used as manure; the hills are fleeced of their turf for the benefit of the cultivated ground, and the earth or its ashes, when burned, mixed up as a compost. In the eye of one accustomed to more southeren climes, these islands will no doubt appear bleak and barren, for there is not a tree or shrub to be seen, except a few that have been raised in gardens; and yet strangers have pronounced some of the valleys to be equal to those in fine counties of England, for richness and fertility. These, however, are not the qualities for which Orkney is most remarkable, and the traveller who can relish nothing else should not be found in so high a latitude ; but its antiquities, precipices, and natural productions, its former history and present state, are well worthy of the attention of all who make the tour of Scotland for pleasure or information.

4. If the tourist has the good fortune to be in Orkney during a storm, he will cease to regret the absence of some of the softer and more common beauties of landscape, in the contemplation of the most sublime spectacle which he ever witnessed. By repairing at such a time to the weather shore, particularly if it be on the west side of the country, he will behold waves, of the magnitude and force of which he could not have previously formed any adequate conception, tumbling across the Atlantic Iike monsters of the deep, their heads erect, their manes streaming in the wind, roaring and foaming as with rage, till each discharges such a Niagara flood against the opposing precipices as makes the rocks tremble to their foundations, while the sheets of water that immediately ascend, as if from artillery, hundreds of feet above their summits, deluge the surrounding country, and fall like showers on the opposite side of the island. All the springs within a mile of the weather coast are rendered brackish for some days after such a storm. Those Iiving half a mile from the precipice declare that the earthen floors of their cots are shaken by the concussion of the waves. Rocks that two or three men could not lift, are washed about, even on the tops of cliffs which are between 60 and 100 feet above the surface of the sea when smooth, and detached masses of rock of an enormous size are well known to have been carried a considerable distance between low and high water mark. Having visited the west crags some days after a recent storm, the writer found sea insects abundant on the hills near them, though about 100 feet high; and a solitary limpet, which is proverbial for its strong attachment to its native rock, but which also seemed on this occasion to have been thrown up, was discovered adhering to the top of the cliff, seventy feet above its usual position. We apprehend it is with limpets as with ourselves, that the highest, and particularly those who are thus suddenly elevated, are not the most happy. The agitation of the sea is not always in proportion to the force of the wind, for it is sometimes very great in a perfect calm. This great swell or sea, as it is here called, generally indicates a storm at a distant part of the ocean, which may reach Orkney a day or two afterwards; hence, on the west coast, this great swell is considered a prognostic of west wind. From this we infer, 1st, that the agitation caused by the wind on the surface of the ocean travels faster than the wind itself; and, 2d, that the breeze begins to windward, and takes some time to reach the point towards which it proceeds to leeward, which tends to overturn the usually received theory as to the cause of winds. Sometimes, however, the distant storm which causes this agitation does not reach these islands at all. In confirmation of this, we take the liberty of copying the following note from a register of the weather, which has for some years been kept by a clergyman on the west coast of the Mainland :"In August 1831, from the 9th to the 13th inclusive, the great swell of the sea is remarked, every day being also marked calm. The barometer remarkably steady at 29.9, and the thermometer ranging from 55 to 65." In a subsequent note he adds :—" On the 7th and 8th of August, there was a gale in latitude 57 21' N., longitude 13 15' W., at first W. by N., and afterwards S. W., as appears from a vessel damaged by it, and put back to Stromness to repair. This accounts for the great swell of the sea here from the 9th to the 13th, with calm weather. On the 11th, at one A.M., it began at Barbadoes, N. E. to N.W., and continued till seven A.M. with dreadful violence, when it had changed to S.W., E.S.F., and S. On the 11th, at four A.M., it visited St. Lucie."

5. Each parish contains a number of cultivated portions or towns, as they are called, which are imperfectly defended from the sheep, that roam at large on the surrounding common, by turf walls, or hill dykes, and within which are generally found the possessions of several small proprietors mixed together in run-rig, which is a great impediment to their improvement ; and many of the smaller lairds are Udallers, who hold their land from no human superior whatever. The mode of cultivating these spots can scarcely be said to have reached perfection, but it has been much improved since the commencement of this century. At that time it was not uncommon to see three or even four ponies yoked a-breast, and, instead of being stimulated by the ploughman who followed, their heads were fastened to a bit of wood, by which a little urchin endeavoured to drag them forwards, as if the plough and all were drawn by his little arm ; and when his cattle appeared particularly lazy, he would front them, walking backwards, and lashing them on the face with his whip, to allure them on. The instrument, about the drawing of which there was such a fuss, was what is known by the name of the single-stilted plough, which baffles all description; but it was somewhat like the left side of the common plough, deprived of the right stilt and mould-board, and, in place of the latter, there were three or four pegs fastened in the side, which met the mould at right angles; and through these it was obliged to pass, as through a riddle, or to accumulate, till some clods, mounted on the heads of others, leaped over the barrier, or passed it in the best way they could—the ploughman using a staff or pattle-tree to steady the instrument in the ground, or to clear away the soil or roots, and sometimes to quicken the speed of his nags, by throwing it at their heels. This antique instrument has now so completely disappeared that it is a curiosity, even to an Orkney man, and is to be met with only in the museum of the antiquary. Most of the farms consist of about ten acres of arable ground, with about as much grass, for which they pay, on an average, about 10 of rent. The arable ground is never laid down with grass, but alternate crops of oats and bear are extorted from it without any rest; yet in most places, where it is well manured with sea-weed, the crops are excellent. Potatoes are universally cultivated, and form an important part of the farmer's diet, while they also serve to clean a small part of his land. At present, the great object is to raise grain ; but were turnips, for which the climate seems peculiarly adapted, more generally introduced, and a portion of arable ground sown annually with grass, it would probably be more profitable. Indeed, much of the country seems better calculated for pasture than for corn : and, even under the present system, the rents are generally paid by the sale of cattle, and not of grain. There are, however, some gentlemen farmers and proprietors who farm portions of their estates (from 200 to 300 acres), who have a regular rotation of crops, and farm in the most approved manner. [Dr. Barry estimates all the lands of Orkney at 160,000 acres, which he proportions thus:—Common or uncultivated ground, 90,000; in field, pasture, and meadow, $0,000; land in tillage, 21,000; occupied by houses and gardens, 2000; fresh waters, 4000. Since the Doctor published, considerable portions of the common have been improved, and converted into arable ground; but not so much as materially to interfere with his calculation; perhaps 2000 acres may thus have been reclaimed.]

Agriculture has indeed made more progress here during the last eight or ten years, than during a long period previously, and particularly in the way of drainage, fences, and rotation, where it was most required. The drainage will no doubt improve the climate generally when completed, as the fences shelter their own localities, and the rotation has greatly improved the crops. The five-shift is that which is generally approved of, and in some places as good crops of turnips are now grown as in the southern counties, and the quality of the grain is greatly improved. Several very neat and commodious farm-steadings have been erected, and in most cases thrashing mills, worked either by steam or water, so that the appearance of the country in these places is completely changed, as in Orphir, where these improvements are not only introduced on several properties, and between 3000 and 4000 laid out since 1847, but Mr. Fortescue of Swanbister, who lately purchased property there, has introduced a large flock of Cheviot sheep, which he kept in the hills all the winter, which was a very severe one, and they have thriven remarkably well. Various causes have contributed to promote this improvement—for instance, the failure of kelp, high price of agricultural produce, purchase of property, and renting of farms by several gentlemen of capital and enterprize from the south, and the first government grant for drainage, of which about 20,000 has been laid out in Orkney. Those who applied for the largest sums being David Balfour, Esq. of Trenaby, 6000; J. G. Heddle, Esq. of Melsetter, 3000; G. W. Traill, Esq. of Veira, 3000; the Earl of Zetland, 2000; A. Fortescue, Esq. of Swanbister, 1000. Free trade, however, and low prices, have given a heavy blow to agriculture, and we fear that it will now be stationary or retrograde, unless there be some change in its favour.

The most public roads through the Mainland have been much improved of late by means of the statute labour ; and carts are now so generally used, even by the smaller farmers, that, in a parish where there were only eleven at the end of last century, there are now about 200. This is a vast improvement on the old mode of transporting articles on the backs, or rather balanced on each side, of horses, by means of the clibber and mazy, to which were attached strange-looking heather baskets called creels, or straw ones called cubbies, and cazies. These, however, are still to be seen, and are worthy of a place in the antiquary's museum, beside the single-stilted plough and they should be accompanied by the pundler and bismar, two very imperfect instruments for weighing commodities on the principal of the lever.

6. The homespun stuffs for both sexes have almost disappeared; and the peasantry are now, in general, dressed in imported manufactures as decently as those of most counties in Scotland; the younger females having straw Leghorn bonnets, plaited by themselves, and the young men being attired as sailors. Not being of Celtic origin, the Highland dress and language were never used in Orkney; but the Norse tongue, which was a dialect of the Norwegian, was generally spoken some centuries ago, and understood last century by some people in the parish of IIarray, which is the only one that is not washed by the sea, and where old customs consequently remained longer than in any other. This language, however, is now completely forgotten, so that there is no one who can assist the etymologist with the meaning of many names which are evidently Norse. Of course the people speak English, with a peculiar accent, which the stranger will readily perceive: and, when talking familiarly among themselves, they use the singular of the second personal pronoun, saying thou and thee, like quakers, instead of you.

7. Their cottages are, in general, miserable-looking abodes, with peat-stacks in front, and the intervening space sadly cut up by the feet of the cattle: the door, which is in many cases common to the cot and the cow-house, is sometimes less than five feet high—the cows turning into one end of the building, and the people to the other; and often a favourite or delicate cow, or a few calves, are kept in the fore-house, or but, along with the family. A flock of fowls on the rafters, and a few geese, hatching in the proper season, are also admitted to the comfort of the fire, which is placed on the middle of the earthen floor, and composed of peats—there being a hole in the roof for egress to the smoke and entrance to the light. This opening is not placed directly above the fire, lest during rain there should be a "meeting of the waters" with that element, which would not terminate in their being "mingled in peace;" and the smoke, having thus no encouragement to pursue an upright course, adopts a more crooked policy, and forces its way into openings that were not intended for its reception, as the stranger's eyes sometimes testify, by the involuntary tribute of a tear. "Sic itur ad astra!" Besides the main apartment, there is generally an interior one, or ben, which is seldom fired or used, except on great occasions, and as a bed-room; and, sometimes, between the two there is a space for lumber. Around the central fire the family is generally collected during the long winter evenings, apparently more comfortable and contented with their lot than a southern slave to refinement would suppose it possible to be in their humble cot and hyperborean climate; the men engaged in making or mending some of their farming utensils, and the females in plaiting straw to deck the heads of the London ladies, in the shape of bonnets; but this employment has lately failed them, and no substitute has yet been introduced. Strangers are sometimes astonished at a round ancient-looking tower attached to each cottage: this is the kiln for drying grain; it is connected with the barn, and is very necessary on the smallest farm, there being none of a public description. The food of the peasantry is simple enough to satisfy the greatest advocates for the antiphlogistic regimen—pottage for breakfast, bread and milk for dinner, the same repeated for supper, is the summer fare; and, in winter, potatoes, with a little butter or fish, or very rarely meat may be added. For the general dinner and supper, each house has a well-stocked kail-yard, and cabbage forms a favourite, and often too common a meal.

8. The people have as much information on general and religious subjects as those of any part of the kingdom. All the present generation can read, most of them can write, and arithmetic is commonly taught. "Unfortunately, most of the parishes are united to others, and two, or even three of them, with a church in each, placed under the charge of one clergyman, who has to preach in each by turns; though common sense, it might be thought, would convince every one that each parish requires a clergyman, and at least one school for itself alone." Great exertions are sometimes made by the clergy so situated to remedy this defect by their own activity, or the employment of assistants or appointment of missionaries ; and we know that, in some instances, the coarsest weather has not prevented them from reaching their more distant parishes, even one day, for ten years, perhaps for a much longer period, though they had to travel fifteen miles, often through mud, rain, storm, and darkness. The Earl of Zetland is patron of all the Orkney livings, except those of the two ministers of Kirkwall, the patronage of which is in the hands of the town council; and the patronage of Walls is claimed by Mr. Heddle of Melsetter, as well as by the Earl. The synod of Orkney consisted of three presbyteries, each with six clergymen, till May 1833; and it is a singular coincidence, that, during that month, each had one added to its number, by the disjunction of Stromness from Sandwick, and the admission of the ministers of the government churches in Deerness and North Ronaldshay, as members of the church courts, so that there are now twenty-one who are entitled to sit as members ; but besides these, there are five missionaries who preach to separate congregations, making the total number of clergy in the Established Church twenty-six. Since the commencement of this century, however, there has been a considerable number of dissenters in Orkney, of the United Presbyterian Church, Original Seceders, Congregationalists, and Baptists, of whom the first sect seem best adapted to the Orcadian disposition, and have taken the firmest root in a poor soil. There are no statistics published giving the number of dissenters at present, but the number of ministers of this sect in Orkney is twelve; of Original Seceders, two; of Congregationalists, three; and of Baptists, three or four. The greatest secession which has taken place in Orkney, as in most of Scotland, is that of the Free Church, in 1843, when ten ministers and preachers left the Established Church, and joined that communion; and where they did so, a great part of their congregations followed them. There are now fourteen ministers in connection with the Free Church. Thus there are at least sixty ministers or preachers for about thirty thousand inhabitants, or about one for every five hundred, which would be a liberal allowance if they were located so as to give the utmost accommodation to all; yet still, there are remote places where the people are in want of the ordinances of religion. The traveller will be able to account for this, when he sees a cluster of churches in each of the towns, and even in the country, within 100 or 200 yards of each other.

As the day dawns, the shades of night vanish; and the light of knowledge is fast chasing away from Orkney the superstitious phantoms of former ignorance. There are still, however, some who have seen, and can tell wondrous stories of the fairies, before the guagers put them to flight by their odious tax upon the generous liquor which was required to warm and expand the heart ere those airy inhabitants condescended to reveal themselves to the eyes of man. There is still a superstition against turning a boat, at the commencement of a voyage, contrary to the sun, and against calling some things by their proper names at particular times: as, for instance, the fire used in the drying kiln is always propitiated by being styled the ingle; and the water employed for brewing ale, lest it should overflow in quantity, is called by the diminutive word burn, and so on.

9. A table is subjoined, showing the sums collected in Orkney from various kinds of industry in 1833, from which the reader will be able to form some idea of the trade and manufactures of the country. [In the first edition of this Guide, we ventured to suggest that "the number of cattle exported could be increased with much advantage, particularly if a steam-boat were employed to carry them at once to the south of Scotland." We have now much pleasure in noticing that this suggestion has been freely acted on. The fare for a cabin passage in the steamers to Orkney is, from Granton, Ely, Anstruther, Crail, and Arbroath, 16s.; Aberdeen, 12s.; Wick, 4s.; Lerwick, 7s. General Goods, 1s. 6d, per barrel; small lean cattle, 8s.] In 1826, 3500 tons of kelp were manufactured, and sold at about 7 per ton, leaving 24,500 in the country. This was the greatest quantity ever made in one season; but, alas for the staple of Orkney! there is little prospect of its rising so high again, for the market was glutted, and the chemists with their drugs, and the free-trade doctors with their prescriptions, have since brought it to a state from which it can scarcely be expected to recover. All the principal proprietors in Orkney have felt the depreciation in the price of kelp severely, and some of them it has completely ruined, their estates on islands being so small, in proportion to the coast that bounds them, that the weeds on the surrounding rocks were much more valuable to them than all the produce of their lands. During the last war, kelp sold so high as 20 per ton; and now, even at 4 : 10s., it is heavy, as the merchants call it. Thus, Dr. Neill's remark, made in the year 1806, has been almost literally verified. "Agriculture," said he, "is quite a secondary consideration; and, such being the case, the reader will not, we believe, conclude that we are prophesying, if we say that kelp will he the ruin of Orkney."

10. The herring fishery has greatly increased of late. At the beginning of this century, the entire neglect of it was much deplored by Dr. Barry, and by Dr. Neill, in his Tour through Orkney. Dr. Traill mentions, in his article on Orkney in the Edinburgh Encyclopoodia, that in 1820 no fewer than 17,989 barrels were exported; but after that the trade declined. During 1837 and the two following years, the average number of sloops engaged in the cod fishery was eighteen, and the quantity of cod cured each year 381 tons; while the average number of herring-boats belonging to Orkney was 724, and of herrings cured on shore and afloat 42,073 barrels. These are sold by the fishers to the curers at about 10s. per cran or barrel, and the cod bring as much per cwt., yielding 24,852 per annum. Lobsters are generally caught in small nets about two feet in diameter, which are kept extended and sunk at the bottom by means of iron hoops, and baited with fish or flesh. Great numbers of these are let down along the shore near to low-water mark, with ropes having buoys attached to the ends of them, and visited several times during the night by the fishermen, one of whom pulls the boat gently along the line of nets, while the other lays hold of each buoy as he comes up to it, and by the rope pulls up the net so rapidly, that, if there is a lobster at the bait, it is in the boat before it has time to escape. Its claws are then secured by twine, to prevent mischief from its pugnacity, and the whole thus caught during the night are immediately transferred to a large chest with many perforations, which is anchored in some sheltered bay, till one of the London welled smacks calls, which they do at certain places every week, for the purpose of transferring the contents of all the chests in Orkney to the London market: 100,000 lobsters, on an average, are thus annually exported; but, from their recent decrease in size and number, together with the limited extent of the fishing-ground, it is probable that this fishery has reached its maximum. Sixty whalers have called in one year, and taken 1400 men, leaving about 18,000 in the country; but the men who do not now get out to Davis Straits find employment in the other fisheries, which benefit themselves and the country more; for the habits which they acquired there led them often to spend in dissipation, during winter, all the hard-earned gains of the preceding summer. The voyage, also, is more unpleasant and dangerous than it once was; for, since the northern discovery vessels pointed out the fishing-ground on the west side of Baffin's Bay, that is the great resort of the whalers. They are consequently longer detained ; the men are exposed to increased danger, and are absent during the harvest months, when their presence is most wanted at home. The fisheries, particularly those of herring and cod, shew the great resources of Orkney. Surrounded with an inexhaustible ocean of food, its inhabitants require only industry to supply themselves with plenty in a land of peace, and to attain the luxuries of other climates by an exchange of their superabundance. There seem to be no limits to these branches of industry but what are imposed by its capital and population, and these will be rapidly increased by a successful perseverance in the fisheries. Anglers will find the best sport at the following places:—Stenness Loch, Orphir Loch, Loch of Air at Holme, Wasdale in Firth, Birsay Loch.

11. Straw-plaiting for ladies' bonnets and gentlemen's hats is, or rather was, the only manufacture carried on to any great extent in these islands. About thirty or forty years ago, 6000 or 7000 females were more or less employed in it, and about 20,000 per annum were derived from this source. At that time, however, the plaiting was of wheat-straw, which had been allowed to ripen, but which was afterwards split; consequently, the bonnet was colourless, brittle, and flimsy. A superior sort of bonnet, however, has since been introduced from Leghorn, which is firmer than the other, from its being plaited of unsplit straw: it is also of a richer colour, and of a tougher and more durable texture, in consequence of the straw being cut while green. In imitation of this article, the Orkney straw-plaiting is now carried on, and it hence is called Leghorn or Tuscan. The straw of rye is used here, but that of wheat and other kinds of grass will answer the same purpose. The seeds are sown thick, that the straw may be long and fine: the stems are cut down before the grain ripens—tied near the lower end into -very small bundles, steeped in boiling water for an hour, spread on the ground to bleach, and carted to the manufacturer's house, where the upper part, between the highest joint and the grain, which in general is the only part used, is pulled out, cut to a proper length, sifted or sorted to so many different degrees of fineness, and made up into small bundles, which are distributed to the girls, who take them to their own houses to be plaited. They are paid according to the fineness of the straw and excellence of the work; but, for the most part, the plaiters can earn no more than threepence per day: the plaits are next washed, smoked, milled, and, lastly, put into the hands of other girls, who sew or knit them together into bonnets. The second class of girls and the sorters can make fivepence a-day. One half of the straw manufactured here is for the Messrs. Muir of Greenock, who have about fifteen or sixteen acres in cultivation, and employ about 1000 constant plaiters, and many others, who work occasionally; and it is computed that several others, who carry on this manufacture on a small scale, do as much business among them. 140 yards of the finest plait are required to make a bonnet, which brings 4 at market. The Orkney straw is considered tougher than the foreign, but not of so rich a hue. At one time this manufacture was conducted in a very objectionable manner, by collecting numbers of young people in confined apartments, where, as "evil communications corrupt good manners," and "one sinner destroyeth much good," it is to be feared the contaminated atmosphere was not only destructive to their bodily health, but to their moral purity. The same objections, however, do not apply to it as conducted at present in their own homes, where it has a tendency to introduce neatness and cleanliness; but it is a serious objection that the whim of a London lady may render it unfashionable to appear under a thatch of straw, and thus at once throw destitute 3000 Orcadian damsels. Indeed, this had in a great measure been effected, before last edition, by the reduction of duty on foreign straw-plait from 17s. to 5s. per pound; and the free importation of foreign straw now has almost annihilated this manufacture, which was the only employment for most of the Orkney girls.

12. There are two licensed distilleries at Kirkwall, and one at Stromness. In 1833, there were seventy-eight registered vessels belonging to the country, carrying 4049 tons and 319 seamen. Notwithstanding the distress among the ship-owners of Britain, the shipping of Orkney had been doubled within the preceding twenty years : the favourite rig is that of a schooner, and the trade that between England and Ireland. In general, they are well found, navigated by able and sober seamen, and not insured; consequently there are few lost : and it is the general opinion in Orkney, that a great many of the numerous wrecks on its shores are those of vessels which are intentionally thrown away, for the purpose of profiting by the insurance, and that it would be a great saving to Britain if there were no sea insurance at all. In this way only can we account for several wrecks which we have witnessed. In other cases, where there was danger or loss of life, the scene was exciting and awful in the extreme.

At present, the shipping interest is in a very languishing state, in consequence of the repeal of the navigation laws.

13. Our table may be advantageously compared with Dr. Barry's account of exports and shipping, in p. 386 of his work, from which it appears that they were as follows:—

Of the imports, it would be difficult to ascertain the exact amount or quantity, so as to reduce them to a table like that of the exports ; but we believe that, in general, they may be stated to be annually a few thousand pounds less. They consist of a great variety of articles, which would be best understood by an inspection of an Orkney shop, which is a sort of bazaar, the keeper of which is grocer, clothier, haberdasher, hosier, hatter, silk mercer, ironmonger, tobacconist, &c. &c. A considerable annual quantity of wood from various places, and coal from Newcastle, are also imported.

15. HISTORY.—Orkney and Zetland have long formed one county or stewartry ; but, till the passing of the Reform Bill, the representative to Parliament was returned by Orkney alone, while Zetland had no voice in the election—an oversight certainly very inconsistent with the theory of the British constitution: and this inconsistency is scarcely diminished by the new act, which, in bestowing the elective franchise on Zetland, only gives it the privilege of voting for the member along with Orkney. Arthur Anderson, Esq., is the present representative.

The early history of Orkney is probably as accurately and minutely known as that of any part of Britain; for which we are indebted to the Orkneyinga Saga, and to the Orcades of Torfacus; but to these large and rare works it cannot be supposed the traveller will refer for information. He will, however, find a translated and sufficiently minute epitome in Dr. Barry's history.

Cape Oreas, from which these islands probably derive their name, is noticed as an extremity of Britain by Diodorus Siculus, A. C. 57, and the Orcades are mentioned by Pomponius Mela, 100 years after. Solinus reckons only three islands, A. D. 210; or if Pinkerton is right in his correction, 33. The first permanent inhabitants probably came from the nearest coast, and consisted of the Picts, or Picks, who spread over Scotland and the Hebrides before the birth of Christ, and from these to Orkney. Little kings or princes then reigned in these islands ; and King Belus, Gaius and Gunnas are mentioned. When the Roman empire was divided among Constantine's sons, Orkney was considered of such importance, that it is particularly mentioned as falling to the share of young Constantine. St. Columba met an Orkney king at the court of Budi II., and recommended Cormac, one of his disciples, to instruct the people, A.D. 570. Budi IV. quelled an insurrection in Orkney; after which it remained so quiet, that it is not mentioned again for more than 200 years.  The Orkney Picts seemed to have enjoyed the sweets of society in peace, till their harmony was interrupted by another swarm of Scandinavians, A. D. 876. This was occasioned by the ambition of Harold Harfager, or the Fair-haired, who, dissatisfied with the territories which he possessed, introduced discord and the horrors of war into the little states around him, till he raised himself to be the sole King of Norway.

Many of the princes and people who were thus disgusted at home, or forced to flee, left their native land, and took possession of the Faroes, Iceland, the Hebrides, several parts of Britian, Zetland, and the Orkney Isles, and from these they gratified their revenge by intercepting the trade and ravaging the coasts of their common enemy. Harold equipped a fleet to subdue them, and, arriving in Orkney, A. D. 876, which is described as being inhabited by the Peti or Papa, (who are supposed to be the Picts and their priests), he added these, as well as the Western Islands, to his dominions ; and, on his return to Norway, invested Ronald, Count of Merca, with the government of Orkney. This wise and illustrious nobleman retired from the situation in 920, in favour of his brother Sigurd, who added to his earldom by subduing Caithness, Sutherland, East Ross, and Moray, where he was slain in battle. Ronald next allowed Gottorm his nephew, and Hailed his son, to enjoy the earldom; but they were stupid and unfit; and two of his other sons vied with each other for the appointment. Einar was the successful candidate, who is said to have taught the people to use turf for fire, hence called Torfeinar ; and Rolf, or Rollo, who was the disappointed competitor for the earldom of Orkney, and the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror, was obliged to try his fortune in France, which he invaded, and became Duke of Normandy. We cannot detain the reader with the exploits of all the descendants of this distinguished family, who held the earldom of Orkney from A. D. 920 till after 1320, when Magnus V. was alive, in whose person the male line failed, and the earldom passed to Mallis, Earl of Strathearn, who was married to Magnus's only daughter, and afterwards to "the lordly line of high St. Clair" in 1379. These Scandinavian earls, jarls, or sea-kings, were considered high in rank, wise in peace, and formidable in war. They intermarried not only with the nobility of the neighbouring nations, but with the regal families of Scotland and Norway and they were known and feared as far as their fleets and arms could reach. But though their exploits, according to the ideas of that warlike period, were those of high and honourable nien, they would now very properly be classed with those of plunderers and pirates.

Barry's description of Swein of Gairsay is probably also applicable to most, if not all, of the other earls. "In spring he employed them (his people) in cultivating the ground and sowing the seed. The summer was for the most part spent in predatory expeditions, particularly to Ireland and the Western Isles. Harvest called them home to reap and gather in the crop; and the gloomy months of winter were devoted to festivity." This gentleman took the city of Dublin on one occasion, as a little private speculation: and the fall of the latter Sigurd, in the battle of Clentarf, close to Dublin, is commemorated in Gray's well-known Ode of the "Fatal Sisters." In short, the Scandinavians of those days seem to have undertaken predatory excursions against their fellow men, much in the same manner as their descendants of the present day join in expeditions against the fish of the neighbouring seas, or the leviathans of Greenland. These were the men,

"Who for itself could woo the approaching fight,
And turn what some deem danger to delight."

We have already noticed the original introduction of Christianity into these islands. After the Scandinavian or pagan conquest, it was introduced a second time, about A. n. 1000, by Olaus Friguesson, King of Norway, and, in the spirit of those days, at the point of the sword. But it was more easy thus to make it the acknowledged religion of the land than to infuse its mild spirit into the hearts of men ; and long after that period we find the Oreadians acting rather like the worshippers of Odin, than the imitators of Him who "is good to all, and whose tender mercies are over all his works." While William St. Clair, the third of that name, held the earldom of Orkney, Christian I. king of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, demanded payment of the "annual of Norway," the arrears of which amounted to a considerable sum; and, the affair having been submitted to the arbitration of Charles, King of France, he prudently recommended a marriage between the young Prince of Scotland and the Princess of Denmark. In 1468, James III. accordingly obtained with the Princess Margaret a portion of 60,000 florins, 2000 of which were paid. Orkney was given in pledge for 50,000, and Zetland for the remaining 8000, and since that time these islands have always been politically attached to Scotland, from which they should never have been disjoined. King James purchased the earl's haill richt to them in 1470, annexing them to the crown by acts of parliament, not to be alienated again, except in favour of a lawful son of the king. This wise resolution was, however, speedily departed from ; and they were granted to James, Earl of Murray, in 1530, and afterwards to the Earl of Huntly, who enjoyed them till Mary bestowed the earldom on her natural brother, Lord Robert Stuart, and subsequently on the Earl of Bothwell, with the title of Duke of Orkney. Sir John Maitland of Thirlstane, and Sir Ludovick Ballantine, held them for short time; and Earl Patrick Stuart, son of Lord Robert, obtained a grant in 1600. This man inherited his father's vices as well as his honours. He was proud, avaricious, cruel, and dissipated; but the complaints of the oppressed people at length reached the ear of royalty; when he was thrown into prison, convicted of high treason, and suffered condign punishment. Probably the poor Orcadians never endured so great oppression as during the rule, or rather the misrule, of the Stuarts. They destroyed most of the Udal tenures, and introduced feudal ones in their stead ; justice was perverted, heavy fines were imposed, and the property of others was unjustly seized ; the weights and measures were altered, so as to increase the rent paid in kind; the discontented districts were overawed by soldiery; and the castles of Scalloway and Kirkwall, built by Earl Patrick, while they remain as monuments of his pride and oppression, serve well to illustrate, not only the ruin which is effected by the footsteps of time, but that which always tracks the footsteps of vice, and which overtook their execrable builder. So great was the fear of having another such oppressor appointed to the earldom, that, to quiet the minds of the people, the king ordered a proclamation to be made " that the lands and earldom of Orkney and Zetland were annexed to the crown, to remain in time coming," and that the inhabitants should be under no apprehension of reverting "to their former condition of misrule, trouble, and oppression."

The rents of the earldom were then let to Sir James Stewart of Kilsyth, as farmer-general, and afterwards to Sir George Hay of Kinfauns, who .resigned them in three; years. The people petitioned "that no man be interposed between his Majesty and them, to molest them." The prayer of this petition was for a time listened to, and another act of annexation passed in 1633. But in 1643, King Charles I. again granted the islands, with all the regalities belonging to them, to William, Earl of Morton, in mortgage, redeemable by the crown for 30,000. He was, however, stripped of the earldom by Cromwell. Another of the same family regained it, at the Restoration, in 1662; but the deed was declared null, and it was annexed to the crown again in 1669, and leased out to different persons for thirty years. In 1707, James, Earl of Morton, obtained it, for the last time, in the old form of a mortgage, redeemable by the crown for 30,000, subject to an annual feu-duty of 500. This grant was rendered irredeemable in 1742, and he afterwards received 7200 for heritable jurisdictions. But, harassed with complaints, quarrels, and lawsuits, he sold the estate, in 1766, for 60,000, to Sir Lawrence Dundas, the great-grandfather of the present Earl of Zetland, in whose family it remains, and who have erected too many honourable monuments for themselves in the hearts of the people, to require that we should sound their praise.

Our limits forbid us to enter on the history of the church in Orkney. Suffice it to say, that the first resident Romish bishop seems to have been appointed about the beginning of the twelfth century, and the first reformed bishop in 1562. By the act of the General Assembly in 1638, Episcopacy was abolished, but it afterwards revived for a little; and it was not till about A. D. 1700 that Presbyterianism was finally established in these islands in place of Episcopacy. Since that time, the revenues of the see of Orkney have been either held by the crown, and managed by a factor, or leased out to the holder of the earldom or others. At present they are placed under the control of the commissioners of her Majesty's woods, forests, and land revenues.


16. As the traveller will probably arrive at Kirkwall either by the steam-boat or other conveyance, or take an early opportunity of visiting it, we shall commence our Itinerary by a brief description of Pomona, or the Mainland. This island is divided into two unequal parts by the Bays of Kirkwall and Scapa, and connected by an isthmus nearly two miles broad, upon which the town of Kirkwall is built. Here is a comfortable inn and several respectable lodging houses. The oldest part of the town lies along the shore of the former bay, which is much exposed to the north, and hence not greatly frequented by shipping ; though its position, so central for the MainIand, and allowing easy access from the north and south isles, points it out as the proper site for the capital of the country. From whatever quarter it is approached, the ancient and venerable cathedral of St. Magnus is the first object that arrests the eye, raising its stately form above the town, that seems to crouch beneath it; while the ruins of the Earl's and Bishop's Palaces, which were companions of its youth, increase our veneration for its sacred walls, by appearing as the attendants of its age, while they are bent with the weight of years. The town consists chiefly of one street, which is about a mile long, and very narrow and unpleasant to passengers, from the roughness of the causeway and want of a side pavement in some places, though it is much improved in this respect since our last edition. Many of the houses have their gables toward the street, which gives it a foreign appearance; and some of them seem, from their inscriptions, to be verging on antiquity. Kirkwall, we are told, was erected into a royal burgh in the time of the Danes; and James III., on obtaining Orkney, conferred a similar honour on it. Its first charter was granted in 1468. This was confirmed by James V. in 1536, who visited Orkney in person, and lodged in the Bishop's Palace; and his grants were ratified in 1661 by King Charles II., and by the parliament, at Edinburgh, in 1670. It has since been governed by a provost, four bailies, a dean of guild, a treasurer, and fifteen councillors, and had the privilege of returning a member to parliament along with the other northern burghs. The late Burgh Reform Act has made a few changes in the constitution of Kirkwall. Isere most of the principal proprietors of the county reside, at least during the winter, besides many well-educated men; and the society is esteemed at least as good as that of any other provincial town of the same size. In 1841, the population of the burgh was 3034, and that of the parish of St. Ola, which is attached to it, 540. There was formerly a fresh-water lake at the west side of the town; but, by an attempt to drain it, the sea was admitted which now ebbs and flows there regularly, and is known by the name of the Peerie Sea.

17. The architectural beauties of the town claim the stranger's particular attention :— First, St. Magnus' Cathedral. Magnus, in honour of whom this stately pile was erected, was one of the Scandinavian Earls of Orkney, and was assassinated in Egilshay, about the year 1110, by his cousin Ilaco, who thus obtained possession of his property. The murdered earl, who seems to have been a good man, was sainted, and his body buried, first in Christ Church in Birsay, but afterwards removed to this cathedral. Kolius, or Ronald, a nephew of St. Magnus, who was entitled to a share of the earldom, but was repulsed by Paul, who then held it, retired to Norway; and before attempting again to obtain possession, he raised the zeal of his followers by vowing to St. Magnus, that, if successful, he would erect and dedicate a church to him in Kirkwall, far exceeding in magnificence all former buildings in these islands. By the zeal thus inspired, and the wisdom of his plans, he was successful. He arrived unperceived, though Paul had ordered fires to be kindled in different islands, to give warning of his approach; and, after his settlement, he amply fulfilled his promise, by building, about the year 1138, the central cross and steeple of the cathedral, which are the most ancient parts of the edifice. Ronald, the founder, was also slain while hunting iii Sutherland; canonized, and buried in the cathedral. Dr. Stewart, who succeeded to the bishoprick of Orkney in 1511, enlarged the building, by adding the three first pointed piers and arches at the east end, and the fine east window, which is early middle pointed, of four unfoliated lights, in two divisions, its head filled with a rose of twelve leaves. Bishop Maxwell, who succeeded in 1525, ornamented it, and furnished it with a chime of four very large and well-toned bells ; and Bishop Reid, who succeeded in 1540, added three Romanesque pillars to the west end, the interior arches above which seem never to have been finished. It is built of red freestone, of first pointed and early middle pointed architecture, and is still quite entire —as much so as St. Mungo's Cathedral in Glasgow, which it resembles; but its enormous apparent size strikes one, on entering, as much as that of the larger English cathedrals which is partly accounted for by the extreme narrowness of the nave and choir, only 16 feet—compared with the total internal length, which is 217 feet 6 inches. In the choir are entombed the remains of Scandinavian royalty and nobility, of saints and warriors. The present spire [From the most recent and correct observations, we understand that the true position of the spire of St. Magnus' Cathedral is 58 deg. 59 min. 31 sec. north latitude, and the length of the pendulum vibrating seconds here is 39.1683 inches.] is a paltry substitute for an elegant one which was destroyed by lightning in 1670, and is 133 feet high. The interior arched roof, erhich is 71 feet high, is •supported by 28 pillars, each 15 feet in circumference; and 4 others, 24 feet in circumference, of great strength, and beautifully ornamented, support the spire. The extreme length of the cathedral, from east to west, outside, is 226 feet, and of the transepts 90 feet, and its breadth about 56; but the dimensions of the different parts will be found in other works on Orkney, to which we refer. [See particularly "Ecclesiological Notes on the Isle of ,Man and the Orkneys."] There are two perfect triforia round chancel transepts, nave and tower, a staircase at each angle of the tower, and two others from the transepts.

Since the Reformation, the Protestant clergy have, like their Catholic predecessors, shewn much regard for this cathedral; but the poverty of the Presbyterians enabled them only to retard its decay, till the late Gilbert L. Meason, Esq., left a liberal legacy of 1000, the interest of which was appointed to be annually expended in ornamenting and keeping it in repair; and which, under judicious management, effected much in preserving and renovating the building, and increasing the comfort of the place of worship, in the choir, which was immemorially used for a parish church, till within these few years, when government swept away the seats, and began their renovation, on which they have already expended 2000 or 3000; and we understand they intend to lay out a considerable sum yet, to complete the work. During its progress some discoveries have been made. [We gladly avail ourselves of the notices of these discoveries, and of the Picts' Houses, published by Mr. G. Petrie, who has lately raked up some valuable articles from the dust of former ages.] On removing the end of a beam from the large pier on the north side of the choir, at the junction of the addition to the original structure, a space was found containing a human skeleton, which is thought to be that of St. Magnus, with the skull indented on the tip, as if by the stroke of an instrument. The tomb of Bishop T. Tulloch was discovered under the seat on the south side of the choir, between two of the pillars which had been built by him; it contained a chalice and paten, both of wax, at one hand of the skeleton, and a bishop's staff of oak at the other.

Between the two pillars, on the north side of the church, directly opposite to Bishop Tulloch's tomb, one was found, formed of common paving-stone, about 2- feet in length, by 1' in breadth and depth, containing a skeleton doubled up, and an instrument resembling a hammer, with an iron handle, and bone head. At the head of the skeleton was stuck a piece of lead, with these words rudely cut on it "requiescit Williamus senex felicis memoriae," and on the other side "P'mus Epis."

The word after William has not yet been made out. This appears to have been a re-interment, when the old altar was removed, and may be the skeleton of one of the early Bishops; several of whom were named William, or of the first resident bishop of Orkney.

In an unsuccessful attempt to find the tomb of Earl Robert Stewart, that of his brother, Lord Adam Stewart, son of James V., by Elizabeth, daughter of the Earl of Lennox, was discovered. Our limits will not permit us to notice particularly the many fine ancient sculptured tombstones with which St. Magnus is enriched.

About 100 yards south of the cathedral are the remains of the two ancient buildings to which we formerly alluded, now complete ruins. The more easterly of the two is the Earl's Palace, built by Patrick Stewart, who obtained the earldom in 1600. It is a beautiful example of the castellated mansion; and its hanging turrets, spacious projecting windows and balconies, have still a very fine effect, while the principal hall, and its arched chimney, are worthy of particular attention. The more westerly edifice is the bishop's palace, which accommodated King Haco and his suite in one of its upper storeys, during the winter of 1263. The north part of it consists of a handsome circular tower (which is square within) built by Bishop Reid, of whom there is a freestone statue, in alto relievo, in the north side of the wall. Earl Patrick is understood to have joined his palace to this tower, thereby forming the whole into a hollow square of buildings, open to the north, measuring 240 by 200 feet, which certainly composed a very magnificent and princely residence.

The sadly dilapidated ruins of Kirkwall Castle, built by the first earl, Henry St. Clair, are still to be seen on the west side of the Broad Street, with a flower-pot in front ; and near the middle of this street is the Town House, an insulated building, containing various public apartments.

On the east side of the bay are the mounds and ditches of Cromwell's Fort, which was constructed by his soldiers, to protect it from attacks by sea. About two miles north-west of the town, at Quanterness, is the famous Picts' House, described by Dr. Barry, but which, unfortunately, has been filled up, so that there is nothing now to be seen of it but a mound of earth.

In its immediate vicinity, and about half way up the western declivity of Wideford Hill, another Picts' House was opened in 1849, constructed, in the ordinary style of these buildings, of large stones, converging towards the top, where it was only about a foot wide. The whole structure was brought to a conical shape with stones and clay, and over all is a thick layer of turf. The apartments discovered are four, all communicating with each other by passages about 18 inches high, and from 15 inches to 2 feet broad, with all the floors on the same level. The largest apartment from which the others branch off is 10 feet long, 5 broad, and 9 feet 3 inches high. The longest, highest, and narrowest of the small apartments is 6 feet 3 inches long, 3 feet 7 inches broad, and 6 feet 6 inches high. The circumference of the tumulus at its base is about 140 feet, and its height from the floors to the top 12 feet. Intermingled with the rubbish which filled three-fourths of the principal apartment, and on the floors of the cells and passages, were found considerable quantities of bones and teeth of various domestic animals, but no human bones.

The "Orkney Library" was instituted at Kirkwall in 1815, and now contains a considerable collection of books. Since that time, other libraries, of a more juvenile description, have been opened to the public here; and religious ones in most of the country parishes.

There are four Dissenting meeting-houses in the town.

18. Having seen all that is worthy of notice in the capital, the traveller may with ease ride round all the East Mainland, or eastern portion of Pomona, in the course of a forenoon; but we have nothing to hold out as an inducement for undertaking such a journey. It consists of three parishes: viz. St. Andrew's, where Mr. Baikie of Tankerness, the principal proprietor, of it, besides; Deerness, which forms a peninsula; and the fertile parish of Ilolm, or, as it is pronounced, Ham.

We shall, therefore, now endeavour to conduct the traveller through the West Mainland and the Island of Hoy, by far the most interesting excursion which he can take. A post-gig runs between Kirkwall and Stromness every day, and a phaeton, when required by passengers. The fare along with the mail is 2s., and without it, or in the phaeton, it is 2s. 6d. The hire of a horse for one day is 5s., of a gig 8s., of a phaeton 15s.

Having taken a seat in one of these, or provided ourselves otherwise, let us start for Stromness, which lies nearly twelve miles west of Kirkwall, although the winding road is about fifteen miles long. This road, which is completed the whole way, leads from Kirkwall, along the side of Wideford Hill, whence a view may he had of the South Isles, and the Orkney ,Mediterranean, and, in a clear day, even of the higher hills of Caithness. From this point the road descends the western slope of the hill, sweeping more northwardly along the Bay of Firth, which opens on the sight, sheltered on all sides but the east by its heathy hills, with the little isle of Damsay, and the lolm in its peaceful bosom. The residence of Mrs. Stewart of Burness, at a distance on the north side, and on the south the manse and glebe, attract the eye; around which the road winds towards the church, and a little farther on through a small village, called Phin's Town, at the west side of the bay. Passing within 300 or 400 yards of the Established Church, first the Free Church, with its neat manse, and then the United Presbyterian Church manse. The dykes by the road are covered with our most superb indigenous flower, the digitalis purpurea; the Trientalis Europaa grows in a valley over the hills west of the road; the valeriana ofcinalis grows in a burn west of the road and south of the church, as well as in some other places; and various species of rose, willow, &c., are so abundant as to tempt a botanist to make a pedestrian excursion through those steep banks, which are inaccessible in any vehicle. From this village the road turns gradually west, ascending the north side of the Hill of Hedal, for the purpose, we presume, of giving the traveller a view; and he should, therefore, shew his gratitude by enjoying it. In the vale, at the foot, lies the farm of Scarth, much improved by the proprietor, Mr. Scarth of that Ilk, with its tasteful farm-steading. To the north lies the inland parish of Harray, with its church, on a central rising ground, and within a few hundred yards of it, the Free Church, with its manse and school, and at a greater distance the hills of Birsay. Along the road to the west is the parish of Stennis, or Stein-house, bounded by the shore of the Loch of Stennis, which communicates with the sea at the Bridge of Waith, and is so extensive that it could not be circumambulated in less than fourteen miles; and at the farther side of this lake lie the hills of Stromness and Sandwick. Toward the south-west the hills of Hoy stretch their huge backs in the distance, or hide their heads in the clouds. Between that point and the south rises a range of hills which, together with those on the other sides, form one vast amphitheatre of the centre of the Mainland. At the sunny side of this latter range lies the parish of Orphir; but, the ancient palace of Earl Paul having almost disappeared, it contains nothing to tempt the traveller from his route; and even the famous field of battle at Bigswell, or Summerdale, in this direction, contains nothing but tumuli to mark the spot. About a furlong north of the road is the house of Turmiston, from which, in "The Pirate," the hero is supposed to have seen the fight which terminated in the blowing up of his vessel near Stromness; which, by the way, he could not possibly do; but this is not the only case in which the wonderful writer of that work has availed himself of his privilege as a novelist, and conquered impossibilities.

19. Near the Church of Stennis, the well-known "Standing Stones," from which the parish gets its name, may be distinctly seen several miles off, suggesting the idea of a conclave of giants. They are well worthy of a visit, being one of the most remarkable antiquities of Orkney, and lying near the public road. They consist, or rather, we regret to say, once consisted, of two distinct clusters of huge stones, without cutting or inscription of any kind on any of them, and placed singly and perpendicularly in the earth, in the form of a circle and semicircle. The latter is nearest to the road on the south side of the loch; but there are now only two upright and one prostrate stone remaining, of a much larger size, however, than the stones of the circle. The prostrate one is eighteen feet four inches, long, five feet four inches broad, and one foot nine inches thick, and only from one to two feet of it were inserted in the earth. This semicircle is fenced round with a mound of earth, which, when more distinct than it now is, was ninety-six feet in diameter, and consisted of three or four stones in

addition to those still existing, besides one, a little east of the others, with a hole through it, to which the victims are supposed to have been tied before they were offered in sacrifice on a large horizontal stone in the centre of the structure. About a mile north-west of this lies the circle, on a point of land which extends from Sandwick on the opposite side of the lake, almost dividing it in two, which it probably did entirely at one time; but this is now effected by means of the Bridge of Broigar. At the south end of this bridge stands one stone sixteen feet high, five feet three inches broad, and one foot four inches thick. The stones of the circle are smaller, and have their angles more rounded and worn than those of the former group, which gives them an air of greater antiquity; but they may have been originally smaller, or taken from a softer quarry. At first they probably consisted of about thirty-seven, but some are either entirely prostrate, or have nothing but mere stumps remaining where they formerly stood; so that there are now only sixteen erect that are from three feet to fourteen and a half feet high. They are surrounded by a ditch from thirty-one to thirty-three feet wide, in some places much filled up, and not now above six feet deep. Between the ditch and the stones is a space of very irregular width, varying from fourteen to twenty-four feet. The circumference of the whole is ten hundred and seventy-one feet. All the stones are of the common schist of the country, and covered over with long lichens, which, like "hoary locks, proclaim their lengthened years;" and their distance from one another indicates that they were never intended for pillars to support other horizontal stones, like the trilithons of Stonehenge. Similar pillars or standing stones are to be found in various parts of the country, and in the immediate neighbourhood are some tumuli of a remarkable size, and several other remains of antiquity. Dr. Hibbert has described the larger circle as a Scandinavian temple dedicated to the sun, and the semicircle as one dedicated to the moon; and he mentions that it was the practice for parties to get betrothed, or to pledge their troth to become man and wife, by shaking hands through the hole in one of the upright stones. It was also usual when a couple, whom the promise of Odin had made husband and wife, without their being married according to the rites of the Christian church, became wearied of each other, to come within the pale of the neighbouring church, in order that the marriage might be rendered null. "They both came to the kirk of Steinhouse," says Dr. Henry of Orkney, "and, after entering the kirk, the one went out at the south, and the other at the north door, by which they were holden to be legally divorced, and free to make another choice. "

20. The parish of Stennis, with Firth, forms one ministerial charge. The traveller may pursue his way through the remainder of it, either by the public road, passing the Free Church, with its manse and school, or by the banks of the lake through the town of Cloustoun, if he prefer it. About two miles west of the semicircle he will find the bridge of Wraith, "That, with its wearisome but needful length bestrides the wintry flood." This connects the parishes of Stennis and Stromness, arid, after passing it, the road turns more southerly towards the town of Stromness, which is two miles farther on. The view of this town, which here bursts on the sight, is at once the most splendid, varied, and interesting in Orkney. The houses are ranged along the bay, where we have seen nearly 100 sail of vessels at once, sheltered from the west by its granitic, hills, and on the east by its little holms, while the mountains of by form as beautiful a back-grouna for the picture as can be conceived. The property east of the road retains the name of Cairston, which the town and bay also formerly had, and belongs to Mr. Pollexfen of Cairston, who has a country house on it, and has improved it much. The stranger having seated himself comfortably in Flett's or Pater-son's inn, we shall, "with as much brevity as is consistent with perspicuity," describe the lions of the burgh. Stromness is quite a modern town. Dr. Wallace, in his preface to his father's work, in 1693, calls Kirkwall "the only town in these isles;" and in 1700 he speaks of it as "the only town:" but in the following page, when noticing the principal harbours, he says, the fourth is at Cairston, a small village at the west end of the Mainland." In 1775, according to Dr. Fea, it contained about 600 inhabitants ; and, according to the statistical account of its late venerable minister, who was born in it in 1747, in the beginning of the last century it was "very inconsiderable, consisting only of half a dozen houses with slate roofs, and a few scattered huts." By the same account we learn that it was formerly assessed by the burgh of Kirkwall in the payment of cess or stent; but in 1758 it struck off its degrading fetters, and established not only its own freedom, but that of all its enslaved brethren in Scotland. In 1817 it was erected into a burgh of barony, and the government committed to two bailies and nine councillors, elected by the burgesses. Though it has now little trade, its harbour or bay is so excellent, that many vessels call here for men, provisions, or shelter. A considerable number of whalers, the Hudson Bay vessels, and a Labrador missionary brig, are annually among the number. The population of the burgh is 2057, and that of the country part of the parish attached, 728. There is one street, nearly a mile long, very narrow in some places, but tolerably macadamised. The houses between the street and the water are frequently built below high-water mark; and piers or quays jut out from them into the harbour, at which small vessels unload, and the poor fish for sillocks, which are so abundant here and in other sheltered bays, that, with potatoes, they form the principal food of the people, an anker of them being to be had for 4d. We must remind the naturalist that Stromness is the most interesting geological locality in Orkney—rendered particularly celebrated of late by the publication of "the Asterolepis of Stromness" by that eminent geologist, Mr. Miller ; and that the botanist may gather plenty of the Primula &otica on the hills west of the town, and of the Scilla verna on the sea-banks, although they are common also in most parts of these islands. The view of Hoy from the fertile district a mile west is thought, "parva componere magnis," to resemble the sublime scenery of Messina in Greece. At this distance, on the sea-shore, are the ruins of the former church, which we regret to learn has of late been partly pulled down. It is surrounded with the burying-ground, and the remains of an old monastery. A mile farther, on the sea-shore, stands the House of Breckness, erected by Bishop Graham in 1633; and from a point half way to it is the best view of the colossal likeness of Sir 'Walter Scott in the precipice called the Kame of Hoy. From this spot, after rain, may be seen a cataract, falling over the same precipice, of enormous height; but the quantity of water is seldom great.

21. From the great resort of shipping to Stromness, wrecks have frequently happened on this shore ; but one wreck will serve to illustrate all. In the storm which arose on Wednesday, the 5th of March 1834, the Star of Dundee, a schooner of seventy-eight tons, was seen, along with other vessels, standing-in on the lee-shore, which it was evident she could not weather; and as she came directly towards the Black Craig, three miles west of Stromness, the spectators ran to the precipice with ropes to render assistance. The violence of the storm, and the shortness of the time, prevented the crew from benefiting by the good intentions of the people on land ; for the first wave that bore properly upon her, dashed her so powerfully on the rocks, that she was instantly converted into countless fragments, which the water washed up into a cave at the bottom of the over-hanging cliff, or strewed along the beach; and the spectators retired from the awful scene without the gratification of having saved even one fellow-creature. During the remainder of the week, nothing of consequence was saved, and no vestige of any of the crew was seen. On the morning of the following Sunday, however, to the ineffable astonishment of all, and the terror of the first beholders, one of the crew, who could scarcely be believed to be a human being, presented himself at the top of the precipice, saved by a miracle. It appeared that he was washed up into the cave which we have mentioned, along with a considerable_ portion of the wreck, which afterwards remained at the mouth, checking the violence of the waves, so that they did not again penetrate so far as to carry away some red herrings which had been washed in along with the seaman, and which served him for food. By means of a tin can, which had been used for oil, he collected fresh water in drops, as it trickled down from the rock. Two pillows were also washed in for his comfort, one of which he made his bed, and the feathers of the other he stuffed into his boots for warmth. He did not complain of cold; for the waves, which at high tide nearly immolated him by throwing in huge stones and blocking him up in his den, gave him sufficient employment at low tide to restore things to order before the next attack. The principal inconvenience which he suffered, was from a sense of suffocation, when the waves darkened his abode by filling up its mouth, and condensed the air within, so as to give the sensation of extreme heat when the wave was in, and of cold when it retired.

22. A public subscription library was instituted in the town in the year 1821, which has already been an example for the establishment of several others in the country. The stranger has access to it gratis. There is here also a museum, which every naturalist and antiquary should visit, as it contains many interesting specimens, though it is yet in its infancy,—the Orkney Natural History Society, to which it belongs, having been instituted in 1837. There is an established church, beside two dissenting ones in the town. Although Stromness is of such modern origin, it is singular that the first novelist, and the first poet of the age, have obtained each a hero from its natives, or, at least, from those who are so connected with it as to be considered such. As to Gow or Smith, the hero of "The Pirate," we do not wish to save him from the same ill-gotten fame as is attached to the memory of the jarls, or sea-kings, who preceded him; but we may remark, that some interesting details regarding his history will be found in Mr. Peterkin's "Notes on Orkney;" and the remains of his father's garden may still be seen on the cast side of the harbour of Stromness. But on "Torquil, the nursling of the northern seas," we must, in justice, offer a few observations. The traveller will perhaps recollect the poet's description of him, in Canto II. of Lord Byron's "Island:"—

And who is he? the blue-eyed northern child,
Of isles more known to man, but scarce less wild,
The fair-lian'd offspring of the Hebrides,
Where roars the Pentland with his whirling seas;
Rock'd in his cradle by the roaring wind,
The tempest-born in body and in mind;
His young eyes, opening on the ocean foam,
Had from that moment deem'd the deep his home," &c.

As Byron has not condescended to enlighten the reader as to his real history, we shall endeavour very briefly to do so. The hero, George Stewart, was a son of Mr. Stewart of 1Lasseter. who resided on a property on which was one of the first houses built with lime in Stromness; hence it is still called the White House, and here his sisters lately lived highly respected. He went to sea about the year 1780, and was a midshipman in the Bounty with Bligh, when he went to transplant the bread-fruit tree of Otaheite to our West India Islands, and he remained on board after the mutiny, contrary to his own wish. Stewart took no part in that transaction; and he is vindicated, in a late publication on the subject, by one who had access to the best information. He was one of those who perished on the sinking of the Pandora in the following August. We have been favoured with a perusal of two interesting letters, exculpating this handsome and promising youth, which were written to his father in 1792.

Lieutenant Joseph Miller was also a native of Stromness, on whom the command of the Cyane devolved, when, in 1809, she engaged, in the Bay of Naples, and under the guns of the enemy's batteries, a large French frigate, a sloop of war, and a number of gun-boats ; and who continued the action for two hours and twenty minutes, till the frigate went down, when he conducted the Cyane safe home. We believe the particulars are mentioned in James's Naval History.

23. While at Stromness, the first fine clear day should be chosen for an excursion to Hoy, all the beauties of which may be seen by a good pedestrian in one day, by making the circuit properly: for that which we propose does not exceed twenty-two or twenty-three miles by sea and land ; and seven of these are occupied in the passage to and from the island. The remainder he will find, to his sad experience, to consist of "moss, mount, and wilderness, quhairin ar divers great wateris." A pilot-boat may be had for 10s. or another boat for Gs., to go, and wait the return of the party. The part of Hoy to which the boat goes must depend on the tide and wind ; but we recommend that, if the party do not partake of the hospitality of the manse, they should land either at Salwick Little or Whanness, when the boat should be sent to the other place to wait their return: but let them not forget to carry provisions with them. We suppose the party to land at the former place, which we prefer, when practicable. From this, west to the meadow of the Kame is about three miles. Here is the finest echo which we ever had the good fortune to hear; for, if it does not equal the famous one at Killarney for politeness in replying to a query, it certainly excels it in the impudence with which it repeats the question, and mimics the human voice. If you try to defy its powers, or to crack its voice, by firing a fowling-piece for its imitation, it soon shows how vain the attempt; for the salute is courteously returned by something more resembling a whole train of artillery, or the thunders of heaven:-

"The circling hills, all black and wild,
Are o'er its slumbers darkly piled,
Save on one side, where far below.
The everlasting waters flow,
And, round the precipices vast,
Dance to the music of the blast."

The Old Man of Hoy is about four miles from this, and to reach him you must climb the west side 'o the "circling hills," when you seem somewhat like Mahomet's tomb, while the eagle that builds in the neighbouring precipices often mocks your efforts by soaring and screaming above. Having attained the summit, you bend your course southwards along a most stupendous line of precipices 1000 feet perpendicular above the sea, which washes their base. They are rather a succession of precipices, piled one upon the other, in such a manner as to appear like the remains of some vast building: but what would the proudest monuments of human skill appear if placed in the ocean near them 1 or how long would they withstand its fury? One of the highest parts is Braeburgh, which is almost insulated, and in crossing to it we discovered a fine vein of manganese. The Old Man is a huge pillar, quite insulated, with arches beneath, which stands so far from the other rocks, that it is a conspicuous object even in Caithness, and it has obtained its name because "it seems to a fanciful view " like the human form. The Burn of Berridale lies about three miles east of this, and is only remarkable for a few stunted shrubs and bushes, which are generally supposed to be indigenous, but which we suspect to have been planted. The botanist will rejoice more to find, on the descent to the burn, abundance of the ti accinietmfyrtillus; in several places quantities of the Empetrum. nigrum, the Juniperus communis and liarthecium ossifragum, and the Hypericum elodes, growing down in the valley. The top of the WardhilI is about two miles farther east, with a very easy ascent on the side next Berridale; but the botanist should take a little excursion up the Green of Gair, and the fissure on the north side of the hill above it, caused apparently by a whin dyke; or along the rocks which encircle the rnountain from that eastward, called the Hammers, where he will find the Dryas octopetala, Rhodiola rosea, Saxifraga oppositifolia, S. Hypnoides, Silene acaulis, Solidago virgaurea; and there, or in his way to the "Dwarfie Stone," he may gather the .Lycopodium annotinum, L. alpinism, L. clavatum, L. selaginoides, L. selago, and, as Dr. Neill says, whole acres of scirpus pauciflorus. Between this rocky precipitous belt, which is about half way up, and the top, the hill has a more gentle slope, which is covered with Arbutus alpina, A. Uva-ursi, Azalea procumbens, and at the very top, Lichen frigidus is plentiful. In 1529 Jo. Ben says of Hoy,—"Ingentissimus mons hie est, distat enim a terra in pari altitudine tribus milliaribus, ubi ascensus non est:" and in the Statistical Account, about forty years ago, it is stated that "some strangers, with their mathematical instruments, have computed the height of it from the water's edge to the top an English mile." More recent and accurate observations, however, have deprived Orkney of the honour of possessing the highest mountain in Britain, and the luxury of perpetual snow; and Captain Veitch, who pitched his tent here on the trigonometrical survey, with the finest instruments, reduced it to 1555 feet above the Ievel of the sea. It commands a most extensive and interesting view, not only of all the other islands which lie scattered beneath, but of the bold outlines of the mountains of Caithness and Sutherland, which stretch out towards Cape Wrath, and of the boundless ocean beyond. There is a fine spring near the summit, on the west side.

From the top to the famous Dwarfie Stone, which lies about south-east, is two miles, and it may he distinctly seen in descending that side, being the farther east of two immense masses of sandstone, which have probably fallen from the cliffs of the opposite hill, and lodged in the valley, not far from their base. It is not very wonderful as a work of art, but exceedingly so for its antiquity, there being no record or probable tradition of the time of its excavation, or the purpose for which it was intended ; but we think the opinion of a celebrated antiquary, with whom we lately visited it, as interesting as it is new. According to him, it was probably, at one time, a heathen altar, and afterwards converted into the residence of a Christian hermit; and this opinion is corroborated by the offerings that used to be left in it by visitors, and such we have deposited in boyhood, with superstitious exactness. The external dimensions of the mass, the upper surface of which inclines to the north-east about 5 deg., are as follows:—Length, from 28 to 281 feet; breadth, from 13 to 14 feet 8 inches; height above ground, from 6 to 2 feet. In this huge mass is excavated by art a central apartment, with a bed on each side of it, to the former of which there is access by a door on the west side, and a hole in the top.

The tired traveller who follows the party "haud passibus aequis," will be glad to learn that the nearest sea-shore to which we recommended the boat to go for his reception is only a mile and a half north-east of the Dwarfie Stone; and the botanist may amuse himself on the way by gathering specimens of Saxifraga aizoides, and a few specimens of the Drosera longifolia and D. rotundifolia, in the wettest spots. The passage back to Stromness is four miles, and perhaps will require to be made at the east side of the little island of Graemsay. The population of Hoy, exclusive of Walls, is only 320.

24. We now prosecute our journey through the West Mainland to Birsay, the palace of which lies about twelve miles north of Stromness; and if the traveller be not satiated with the rocky scenery of Hoy, he may travel part of the way along the precipices overhanging the sea, where it is impossible to drive, and not very convenient to ride. The principal objects in this line are a fine insulated pillar ; the famous figured stones near Skaill, which old writers seem to consider an artificial pavement or Street, but which are nothing more than the weathered strata, the softer parts of which have been washed away, while the harder remain in prominent and often curious relief; and the Hole of Row, which is a lofty natural arch through the precipice, forming the south side of the Bay of Skaill, occasioned by two whin dykes occurring so near each other that the strata between have been pulverised and washed out by the sea as high up as it had power to do so. Immediately south of the arch the stones on the top of the precipice are arranged like those on a beach by the force of the waves, and on the top of one of these crags we once picked up a lump of India-rubber covered with barnacles. Not far from Row, on the nearest part of the coast, is an immense rock, which is well known to have been carried a considerable distance by the sea; it is sixteen feet long, six broad, and three thick, and weighs, we calculate, about twenty-four tons. The public road to Birsay, which is more direct, and generally about two or three miles inland from the west precipices, skirts along the east side of the hills that form the bold west coast, and occasionally affords fine views of the central Mainland. The unruffled surface of the lochs, with the numerous low points of land jutting into them, give these scenes an air of serenity that forms a striking contrast with the continual sear that is waged between the raging ocean and frowning crags at a little distance.

About four miles from Strornness the traveller enters the fertile parish of Sandwick at the mill-dam of Voy, the road still holding a northerly course; but if he take any interest in vitrified forts, or rather vitrified cairns, he may take a look at one on the top of Langafiold, about a mile north-east of this mill. About a hundred yards south of this cairn is a large group of tumuli, several of which have been opened by the Natural History Society. They are the sepulchral monuments of a people who burned their dead. In all of them have been found human bones burnt and broken into fragments, and enclosed in graves, lined with flags. In one tumulus six of these graves were found, and in another an urn, which, with other specimens, is now in the museum in Stromuess.. About 500 yards N. N. W. of this, and 270 yards S. S. E. of the road, at the Loch of Clumly, are the stones of Via, which till now, have entirely escaped observation, but are worthy of the notice of the antiquary, from their resemblance to a famous cromlech in Anglesea : indeed, the figure of that with the head-stone, in the 150th plate of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1797, might pass for a representation of this monument, before the displacing of its pillars. It is placed nearly in the centre of an old circular enclosure 275 yards in circumference, with a small tumulus, which has lately been opened, on the south side of it. The traveller, if in a vehicle, should proceed by the new road now being formed in a northerly direction from this point, or he may rejoin the old road a little west of the manse, which is conspicuous a mile N. by W. from this, and a mile and a half farther on is the residence of Mr. Watt of Breckness, who farms a considerable portion of his own property in an improved manner. The public road now dwindles into a track which it requires some nicety to keep ; but it preserves its northerly course two miles farther on, lying about 200 or 300 yards west of a meeting-house, with a large dwelling-house on each side of it. The population of Sand-wick, in which there are two dissenting meeting-houses, is, according to the last census, 1033. It was disjoined from Stromness in 1832, and it would be well if other united parishes would speedily follow such an example. This parish, as well as some others, is so covered over with tumuli, that it would be impossible to point out all their localities ; but just after passing its north hill dyke, on the south side of the hill called Vestrafiold, we would in particular direct the stranger to extensive remains of antiquity, 400 yards or so west of the road, which have never been noticed before, but which are worthy of a visit. Among them are some loose slabs or stones, not far removed from their original bed, of nearly the same form and dimensions as the Standing Stones of Stennis; and it is on this account probable that the rocks here formed the original bed or quarry from which the whole were obtained. The road hence to the palace of Birsay, through the town of Marwick, is about four miles.

25. The earldom of Birsay contains the greatest extent of rich corn land in this county, and it will bear a comparison with many fields in a more southern and favoured climate. Birsay palace, which is situated on the sea shore, and within a hundred yards of the church and manse, was greatly improved, if not altogether remodelled, by Earl Robert Stewart, probably in imitation of Holyrood House, as it is a hollow quadrangle, measuring 158 by 100 feet, with a well in the centre. The buildings were two storeys high, and they have still a magnificent appearance, though quite in ruins, to which condition, we fear, they have been reduced as much by the hands of man as by the effects of time. In the Latin inscription which Earl Robert placed over the gate, but which is now gone, he assumed the title of King of Scotland. It ran thus:—"Dominus Robertus Stuartus, filius Jacobi Quinti Rex Scotorum." Probably it was owing rather to want of grammar than of loyalty, but it is said to have operated against his son, when tried for treason. The stone with the name of King Bellus engraven on it, and which is now built in the wall of the church, should be inspected by the traveller; but the Brough, which is insulated at flood tide, and in which is a small part of the ruins, of Christ Church, in which St. Magnus was first buried, contains nothing to detain him. Birsay is the most populous country parish in Orkney, having a population of 1634; yet it is united with the parish of Harray into one charge. Hence the traveller may find his way back through Harray to Kirkwall, which is distant about twenty miles, or, if he prefer a longer route, or a view of more crags and "ghoes," with hill and dale, he may return by the united parishes of Evict and Rendall; but the road through the latter is the most melancholy one that we wot of; while Evict contains nothing but the Brough of Burgar, and some Picts' houses, to excite the interest of the antiquary. Before parting, however, we may mention a few more rare plants which a botanist might wish to collect in this part of the country. The Anagallis tenella grows in tufts in wet meadows; Cakile maritima on sea shores, particularly in Sanday. Centaurea nigra, though common eleswhere, is rare here, growing only in Westray, so far as we know. Cochlearia danica, and C. grcenlandica common, especially in Stromness. F,pilobium angustifolium, Trumbland in Rousay. Primula elatior, along with P. veris, Aikerness in Evie. Senecio viscosus in Firth, Harray, &c. Thlaspi arvense, Scapay. Veronica Anagallis, ditches at Scar, Sanday.

26. Our limits forbid us to go over the north isles, which may be considered the greater tour of Orkney, in the same minute manner as. we have described the southern portion, and we presume that it is unnecessary, as travellers seldom have leisure to make it, and those particularly interested in the country will have access to local directions ; but such as are determined to see them all, may either return to Kirkwall, and commence the circuit with Shapinshay, going round against the sun, and taking Dr. Neill's Tour for their guide ; or, without returning to the capital, they may make the circuit in the opposite direction, and begin with Rousay, which is two miles distant from Evie. There is a tolerable inn on it, and the burn of Trumbland is deserving of a visit from the botanist; but the camp of Jupiter Fring will disappoint the antiquary. From this to Egilshay is two miles. Here the ancient Scandinavian church should be visited. This Island belongs to Mr. Baikie of Tankerness. From it or Rousay to Tuquoy, or to the manse in Westray, is about eight miles. Here the Westray "gentlemen's cave," Fitty Hill, and the fine ruins of the castle of Noltland, may be visited. The vulgar error that this castle, was erected for the Earl of Bothwell, Queen Mary's paramour, is now exploded. It probably arose from confounding the Earl with Bishop Bothwell. For particulars we must refer to "Billings' Baronial and Ecclesiastical Antiquities," where there is not only a good plate of it, but also an excellent account by Mr. Balfour of Trenaby, on whose estate it stands. It is in the neighbourhood of the harbour and village of Picrowall, where there is an inn. This island belongs principally to Mr. Stewart of Brough (who resides on it), Mr. Balfour of Trenaby, Mr. Traill of Holland, and Dr. Traill of Tirlot, professor of medical jurisprudence in the University of Edinburgh. From Tuquoy to Pierowall the walk is about four miles ; and from this to Papa Westray the sail is about the same length. On this island another Picts' house, on a much larger scale than that at Wideford Hill, has been opened lately. It has a very long apartment in the centre, communicating witha smaller one at each end, and ranged around these are twelve cells, two of which are double, all communicating with the centre apartment by passages similar in height to those at Wideford Hill. The whole length from the one extremity of the centre apartments to the other is seventy-seven feet, and their breadth and height are the same as those of the principal apartment of that before described. Here are also the ruins of two ancient churches, three vitrified cairns near the north end of the island, and the muckle and peerie ha's (halls;) but the principal curiosity of Papa is its holm, which, during the hatching season, is covered with the nests of innumerable sea-birds. Papa also belongs to Mr. Trail of Holland, who resides on it, and from whose family all the Traills of Orkney are descended. In his house is a very curious and hospitable invitation to strangers, which was placed above the chimney-piece of the great hall by one of his ancestors above 200 years ago. From Pierowall to Rapness is a walk of seven or eight miles, and not far from the direct line is another "gentlemen's cave;" so called, because some who were thought to be engaged in the rebellion of 1745, were concealed here for a short time. We have been in both caves; but recollecting that half our party would not venture into the former, we would recommend this as having a much easier access.

27. From Rapness to Cuthesvoe in Eday is three miles, and the walk thence to Calfsound, where there is a comfortable public-house, is about two miles. This island is the property of Mr. Laing of Papdale, who is brother to the historian of Scotland, whom he succeeded. It is covered with a great quantity of peat-moss, and furnishes firing to most of the north isles. From Calfsound to Pool, or Hecklabor in Sanday, is three miles; and from thence to Scar, or Savil, is a walk of eight miles, which passes near the manse of Cross parish. Adjoining Savil is a mass of gneiss, weighing about fourteen tons, though the nearest primitive district is at Stromness. About four miles from this spot is a comfortable inn called Castle Hill. From Scar, or Savil, to north Ronaldshay, the breadth of sea is seven miles, and the walk from the landing-place to the remains of a lighthouse about three miles. North Ronaldshay, the most northern of the Orkneys, belongs to Mr. Trail of Wood-wick, whose tenants, the natives, are considered more primitive in their manners than those of any other part of Orkney. From the lighthouse back to Bridesness is three miles; from that to the Start, or Taftsness in Sanday, is seven miles. The walk from the Start lighthouse through the extensive plain of Fidge to Kettletoft is seven miles. Here the antiquary should visit the vitrified cairns of Elsness, of which there are above twenty, and which Dr. Hibbert has lately brought into notice with so much effect, as bearing on the question of vitrified forts. The adjoining Yard hill should also be examined, if time permit. Sanday is a low, sandy, fertile, and extensive island, the principal proprietor of which is Mr. Traill of Hobister, M. P., who has a residence on it. From Kettletoft to Papa Sound in Stronsay is seven miles. This is the great station for herring curing in the north isles, and it has already given rise to a village, and a considerable pier, to facilitate the operations of loading and unloading. The neighbouring property, the value of which is thus greatly enhanced, belongs to Mr. Laing. From Whitehall to Lambhead is a walk of five or six miles. Here is a Pict's house, the interior of which may yet be seen ; and directly below it are the remains of a very ancient and extensive pier, the existence of which has only of late become known. From Rothiesholme or the neighbouring parts of Stronsay, to the Ghoe of Shapinshay, is about seven miles ; and from thence to Elwick is a walk of six miles. Here Balfour is situated, the splendid mansion lately erected by Mr. Balfour of Trenaby, which is a conspicuous object from Kirkwall, and all the neighbourhood. It is in the old style, and resembles Abbotsford at a little distance—like that, it contains many copies from the beauties of ancient architecture. We believe there is nothing equal to it north of Dunrobin; and had not that been lately enlarged, there would have been no such building in the north of Scotland. [Mr. Matheson's fine castle of Stornoway must be also excepted, and it is somewhat remarkable, that the distant isles of the Orkneys and Lewis should be thus distinguished.] The whole island belongs to Mr. Balfour, it is naturally bad, but has lately been much improved by draining. From Elwick to Carness, the nearest part of the Mainland, the distance is nearly two miles.

28. It is proper to state that these ferries are under no regulation that we know of. We have therefore stated below what will be a liberal allowance for a lobster-boat with two men, which is generally sufficient in summer; but if a large boat or more hands are required', the freight must be increased. If the traveller prefer crossing to Caithness in the course of the post, the distances and freights are as follows:—From Kirkwall to Holm the road is seven miles long; from Holm to Bur-ray is three miles, freight 2s., or with the mail only 4d. The walk across Burray is two miles: from this to south Ronald-shay is one mile, freight 6d., or, with the mail, 2d. From the landing-place to Burwick, on the south end of the island, the distance is eight miles ; and from the latter place, Iiouna, on the south side of the Pentland Firth, is about six miles distant, freight 10s., or, in company with the mail, 1s. The post-boat crosses to and from Orkney every day when the weather will admit of it; and though this passage across the Pentland Firth may appear dangerous to strangers, and has deprived some timid travellers of a view of the Ultima Thule, we can assure them, for their comfort, that only one post-boat has been lost in the firth during the last 100 years, and that one was run down. There is an inn at each of the ferries just mentioned; but we believe the best is Allan's at St. Margaret's Hope. South Ronaldshay is the great station for herring-curing in the south isles. From it to Walls is about five miles; to which a passage may be had for 5s., or, with the mail, 1s. Here is the fine bay of Long Hope, which is greatly resorted to by shipping. It has two martello towers to defend it, and the adjoining property is divided between the crown and Mr. Heddle of Melsetter, who has a country house in Walls.

We may finally add, that the ferry hire, or cost of a boat, among these islands, though under no public regulation, should be:-

29. To the foregoing minute and interesting details, which the authors of this work have no doubt will prove extremely useful to the tourist—and which are the more valuable as they proceed from the pen of a clergyman, the Reverend Charles Clouston, minister of Sandwick, a native of Orkney—the compilers take the liberty of adding a few extracts from their own notes of the sail from Kirkwall to Papa Westray, as they conceive them more descriptive of the general characters of the north isles, or at least of such as are likely to strike the eye of strangers:-

Immediately after leaving Kirkwall, whose shipping and spires continue long in view, we find ourselves bewildered among an archipelago of land-locked islands. It is almost impossible to conceive with what feelings of security you plough this stormy sea, for you are all the time as completcl3• surrounded with land as if you were sailing on the unruffled bosom of Loch Lomond. First appear the beautiful long green fields of Shapinshay, which are cultivated upon the best and newest system by an enlightened proprietor; soon thereafter you see the termination of the hills of Pomona, and far behind the towering ones of by; while at your side a number of green holms start up from the watery waste, affording summer's pasture to a few bleating sheep, and throwing the running tide in curling eddies from their banks. To the north and west you behold the high and broken bills of Rousay and Westray, the latter of which approach nearer the peaked or conical shape than any others in Orkney; and to the east you have these contrasted by the low sweeping rocks of Faray and F4ay.

After passing the Firth of Westray, through which a most powerful and rapid tide runs, which is generally accompanied by a heavy swell and breakers, you steer in between the Ilolm of Faray and the Butt of Rapness. In this channel, in consequence of the tendency of all the waters towards the great body in Westray Firth, the current is said to flow only for three hours, and to ebb for nine. Before this the scenery is beautifully variegated, and we are surrounded by hills or projecting rocks; but, on turning the point just named, and looking directly north, you immediately perceive the boundless expanse of the German Ocean. If the day be particularly fine and clear, you can descry Sanday and North Ronald-shay, both of which, as the name of the former expresses, are low, and therefore very dangerous to shipping. In a thick day they are chiefly known by the darkness of the atmosphere over them; and, indeed, always appear as long black clouds on the horizon. Near Rapness we were shewn a cave, in which twelve gentlemen, who were persecuted in the forty-fire by the Hanoverian partisans for their attachment to Prince Charles, concealed themselves for a whole -winter, without even lighting a fire, or attempting to fish, or even to take any exercise. By the care of an old man, who furnished them with food, they survived the immediate search of the bloodthirsty executors of a cruel law, but none of them ever completely recovered the colds and rheumatism caught in those damp pestilential prison-houses, where they were often awakened by the noise and wetting of the spray.

30. Papa Westray.—The coasts of this little isle of the ocean are bold and rocky, and of course extremely rugged, from the unequal dash of the surrounding waves, which drive in immense quantities of sea-weed, for kelp and manure, on the shore. Its upper surface is, however, smooth and undulating; and, where not turned up by the plough, is covered with a rich carpeting of short green turf. On this meadow-ground numbers of small black cattle and more diminutive sheep are seen browsing in calm and undisturbed security, and which must be hailed by the mariner approaching from distant lands as the first cheering signs of life and joy. The lower flats, and many of the rising sunny braes, are finely cultivated; and, besides the more regular fields of the intelligent proprietor, they exhibit the usual variegated and fantastical appearance of lands laid out in common or run-rig.

It is a singular circumstance that this, one of the most northerly, and, to previous expectation, they most cold and barren of they Orkney Isles, should be one of the mildest and most fertile, and that the same characters apply to the opposite ones of North Ronaldshay and Sanday. The most interesting appearance about Papa, to a stranger, is that of the sun either rising over the dark outline of this latter island, or setting in the waves of the Western Ocean. In either of these aspects, he is grand and beautiful, causing the eye to hail him as if awakening into life in the morning from the land of past and dim romance; or, on being received at night into the bosom of the Atlantic, he seems to leave us lone and desolate, exposed to the whistling wind and surge's roar, or startled at the wild foreboding cry and gleaming forms of the revolving sea-birds.

Let the stranger now pass some time in examining the Holm, a small island some hundred yards off the eastern coast, inhabited only by a few poor sheep, but still retaining the subterranean remains of several Pictish houses, and the graves of some shipwrecked seamen. To the naturalist it is one of the most interesting spots in the Orkneys, as it exhibits the last expiring efforts of vegetation, and more particularly as its retired and unfrequented position makes it the welcome haunt of innumerable flocks of sea-fowl. Whenever they notice the approach of your boat, they begin to fly in circling eddies round your head, and raise such a deafening noise, that, till such time as one gets accustomed to it, you can scarcely hear your next neighbour speak, or attend to any other thing but their cries. The side of the Holm next Papa is low and grassy, and is consequently left to the dominion of the sheep; but the opposite side, which sustains the fall surge of the Northern Ocean, is bare, and strewed with masses of rock and loose stones and slate, raised up by the winter's tide. Among these, as thick as they can lie, and exposed to all the changes of the weather, and even to the careless foot of the passing stranger, are deposited the eggs of the sea-birds, protected only by a few reeds and feathers, or by the projecting edge of a piece of slate or stone. These birds are principally of the gull, guillemot, kittiwake, and auk tribes; but lower down, in the more inaccessible and secure parts of the rocks, are seen rows of cormorants, divers, and puffins. They are so tame, especially the cormorants or skarfs, that they will allow you to knock them down with stones, or (it is said) even suffer themselves to be caught by strings with moveable loops thrown over their necks. The most interesting sight, however, and the only one of the kind to be met with in any of the Orkney Islands, is that of a flock of Eider Ducks (Anas molrssima) of about thirty in number, which make this holm their annual breeding-place. They always keep together, are larger than the common duck, of a brown colour, and they lay their eggs in nests formed of their own soft down. These you may rob twice; but if molested a third time (when the drake pulls off his own breast feathers to add to those of the female), they will forsake the place, and perhaps never return to it again. The proprietor is, in consequence, very careful of his flock, and seldom allows anybody to go near them. Of the young gulls, which are here called skorays, however, he takes away great quantities (perhaps forty or fifty dozen in a season), and, when properly dressed, they taste almost as good as brandered chickens. At a later period of the year, the young kittiwakes are sent for; and these, with their eggs, form a constant supply of food to the laird's farm-servants.


31. There is no portion of the British empire where the natural products have been longer or are better known than in Orkney. The Rev. George Low of Birsay, at the instigation of Sir Joseph Banks and Mr. Pennant, early laid the foundation, in his "Fauna Orcadensis," on which the superstructure has been completed by the labours of Dr. Wallace, Dr. P. Neill, Dr. Traill, and, latterly, of our friend the Rev. Charles Clouston, and his associates, the members of the Orkney Natural History Society. Mr. Hugh Miller's Foot-Prints of the Creator, or the Asterolepis of Strom- ness, may also be added to this interesting list of local authorities. We have already enumerated the most rare phmnogamous plants occurring in Hoy and some of the other islands, and we may add that the whole Flora amounts now to 610 species, of which 133 are sea-weeds—a most beautiful tribe of plants, and which here occur of the largest sizes and most varied colours. The only Orkney plant new to Britain, is Chore Aspera, and the most beautiful and peculiar species are, Primula Scotica Scilla Verna, Dryas Octopetala, and Rhodiola Rosea, exclusive, however, of the true alpine plants of the Wardhill in Hoy. The professed botanist will find very ample details in the last statistical account of the parish of Sandwick, and in the general observations in that work on the county of Orkney; and to the first edition of this Guide we beg also to refer for a full enumeration of the Alga, and of the process of manufacture of kelp from the coarser kinds of sea-weed. The land and water birds of Orkney are likewise exceedingly numerous and interesting, and Mr. Forbes, schoolmaster in South Ronaldshay, is the person of all others to whom the practical ornithologist should apply for information as to their habits and localities.

With regard to the geology of these islands, we stated in the first edition of this work that a high central nucleus or ridge of primary gneiss rocks, occasionally passing into mica schist, occurs in the Mainland, stretching for about six miles north-west from the neighbourhood of Stromness, in the direction of Skaill. These rocks are sometimes granitic and traversed by felspar and quartz veins. (2.) They are succeeded chiefly on their southern flank, in Stromness Bay and the island of Graemsay, by a small deposit, from 50 to 100 yards broad, of coarse conglomerate, embedded in old red sandstone, on which (3.) repose immense sheets of silicious, and calcareo-silicious, and argiilaceous flagstones, having bituminous matter interspersed, (and which were sometimes described as Graywacke slates,) which compose the base or fundamental rocks of almost all the other islands. (4.) Above these, again, are found, as on the Caithness coast, high, bluff headlands, and in Hoy the lofty masses of the WardbilI, (1600 feet in altitude), of a soft, generally grey or red, sandstone, which a few years ago was regarded, by both British and continental geologists, as a deposit of the upper or new red sandstone formation ; but which, from the recent discovery throughout it of precisely the same organic remains of fishes and plants as occur in Caithness, and on both sides of the Moray Firth, has been proved to be only a member, and that the uppermost, of the old red sandstone formation. The organisms referred to, link the whole together as the product of the same geological era, and therefore it would be improper any longer to retain the names by which the superior and under portions of the same formation were formerly distinguished. For details, we be to refer to Mr. Miller's works on the Old Red Sandstone, and the Asterolepas of Stromness. Chert, flint, slate or Lydian stone, Galena or leadglance, iron and copper pyrites, Haematite, with heavy spar, and the curious compound of sulphate of barytes, with carbonate of strontia, called Stromnesite, or Barrystrontianite, occur in these rocks, but not in such abundance as to make any of them valuable to the miner. (5.). All the secondary, deposits now enumerated are traversed by numerous dykes, veins, and beds of trap rocks, which have greatly disturbed and altered the originally horizontal strata, and from their superior hardness those trap dykes too frequently present themselves in the form of dangerous reefs and promontories jutting far out into the sea, or shooting up in detached knolls and pinnacles. The base of the "Old Man of Hoy" consists of an irruptive porphyry rock, supporting an isolated crown of sandstone on its top; the cleft of the Green of Gair, near the summit of the Ward hill, has been long supposed by Mr. Clous- ton to have been caused by a trap dyke now crumbled away; in the south-east side of the same island, at Walls, a mass of amygdaloidal trap extends nearly 600 yards along the coast; and the trap appears also to have been penetrated through the primitive granitic gneiss at its northern extremity. (6.) The alluvial formations of Orkney are not varied or interesting, as the gravel banks are seldom deep, and the soil for the most part is a clayish loam, resulting from the decomposition of the slaty rocks. Beds of marl and bog iron ore are frequent, and the peat mosses exhibit the roots and stumps of large trees where none will now grow; and in two or three spots portions of a submerged forest have been found, where the stems of pines adhering to their parent soil are seen laid prostrate by the waves, and covered over with sand, after the fall of the rocks on which they grew. A bank of indurated shells, clay, and sand, occurs round many of the islands, which effectually resists in numerous places the encroachments of the sea, and of which considerable quantities have been used in fertilising the soil, and which is also sometimes conveyed away as ballast by vessels, and sold for manure.

Return to our Online Books Page  |  Return to our Travel Section


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus