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Delting, Shetland

Historical Description

DELTING, a parish, in the county of Shetland, 25 miles (N. N. W.) from Lerwick; containing, with the islands of Muckle Roe and Little Roe, 2019 inhabitants. This parish, the name of which is said to be of Danish or Norwegian origin, is situated about the centre of the Mainland, and is separated on the west from the parish of Northmavine by a long narrow harbour called Sulom Voe, and from the island of Yell on the north by Yell Sound. It is so indented by fissures and intersected by narrow bays, no part of it being above two miles from the sea, that an estimate of its superficial extent cannot be given with accuracy. Its length is about fourteen miles, and its mean breadth from three and a half to four miles. The surface, in its general appearance, is hilly, bleak, and dreary, ornamented occasionally with a few small lochs, and the quantity of land under tillage is not more than 600 or 700 acres, attached to which is pasture of nearly the same extent; the remainder of the parish is hilly pasture ground abounding in peaty soil, which affords abundance of excellent fuel. The arable land has been lately much improved by draining, and a considerable number of Scotch ploughs have been introduced, as well as carts, which before were very scarce here. The annual value of real property in the parish is £1777. The principal rocks are gneiss and syenite, with which also are found limestone and hornblende. There are three mansion-houses, namely, Busta, Ullhouse, and Garth. The inhabitants are mostly employed in fishing; and in the month of May, the whole of the fishermen meet at the stations in Northmavine and Papa-Stour, to commence operations for the taking of ling and cod, upon which they chiefly depend: in a recent year 528 barrels of herrings and sixty tons of ling, cod, tusk, and saith were cured in Delting, and these were only a part of what had been taken. Piltocks and sillocks, called also coal-fish, are likewise caught to a considerable extent, and supply the inhabitants with a large portion of their food, and frequently with a quantity of oil.

Ecclesiastically the parish is in the presbytery of Olnafirth, synod of Shetland, and in the patronage of the Earl of Zetland. The stipend is £150, of which about a third is received from the exchequer; with a manse, built in 1751, and thoroughly repaired and enlarged about the year 1820, at an expense of £500; and also a glebe valued at £10 per annum. The minister is likewise entitled to the vicarage tithe of certain quantities of butter and oil, which is appropriated for the communion elements. There are two churches, that of the south district, which was erected in 1714, and is reckoned the principal, and the north-district church, built in 1811; the number of sittings in each is about 560. The parochial schoolmaster receives a salary of £25. 13. 3., and about £3 fees. There are two other schools, of which the masters are allowed, one £25, and the other £20, by the General Assembly. Near Yell Sound is a Pictish castle called Brough; at Burravoe are the remains of an ancient harbour, and at Busta a block of granite between ten and eleven feet in height, called the Standing Stone of Busta. There are also two caves, one at Culsterness, containing two apartments, and supposed to have been originally used as a hiding-place, and the other in the vicinity of the loch of Trondavoe, said to have been used in times past as a depository for stolen sheep.

Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, 1851 by Samuel Lewis