Oa - Oyne

A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Originally published by S Lewis, London, 1846.

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Samuel Lewis, 'Oa - Oyne', in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846) pp. 324-337. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp324-337 [accessed 27 May 2024].

Samuel Lewis. "Oa - Oyne", in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846) 324-337. British History Online, accessed May 27, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp324-337.

Lewis, Samuel. "Oa - Oyne", A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846). 324-337. British History Online. Web. 27 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-dict/scotland/pp324-337.

In this section



OA, lately a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Kildalton, district of Islay, county of Argyll, 9 miles (S. S. E.) from Bowmore; containing 1023 inhabitants. This place, which occupies the south-eastern portion of the peninsula of Islay, was separated for ecclesiastical purposes from Kildalton, and erected into a quoad sacra parish, by act of the General Assembly. The village is situated on the road from Port-Ellen to Bowmore; and the inhabitants are partly employed in agriculture, and in the rearing of black-cattle, of which considerable numbers are sold at the fairs held at Port-Ellen. There are no regular fisheries established; but cod and other white-fish are occasionally taken off the coast in great abundance. The church, erected by parliament in 1828, is a neat plain structure: the minister's stipend is £120, with a manse, and a small glebe; patron, the Crown. A school is partly supported by government, and there are others dependent solely on the fees, in which about 200 children in the aggregate receive instruction.


OAKFIELD, a village, in the parish of Beath, district of Dunfermline, county of Fife; containing 102 inhabitants. It is one of two small villages in the parish, the other, the more considerable, being Kelty; and is chiefly inhabited by colliers.


OATHLAW, Finhaven, or Finavon, a parish, in the county of Forfar, 5 miles (N. by E.) from Forfar; containing 420 inhabitants. The original name of this parish appears from ancient documents to have been Fyniven or Finavon; but no precise account can be given, of the time or cause of its change to Oathlaw. It is supposed, however, upon the authority of an old record, that a chapel formerly stood upon some property called Oathlaw, and that, when the ancient church of Finavon fell to decay, this chapel, being used as the church, gave the name of the estate on which it was situated to the whole parish. The appellation Finavon is compounded of two Gaelic words, Fin, signifying "white or clear," and Avon or Aven, signifying "a water or a river:" the origin of the word Oathlaw is uncertain. The parish seems in early times to have been the theatre of extensive and important military operations. Upon the beautiful hill of Finhaven, which rises to a height of 1500 feet above the level of the surrounding country, stands a celebrated vitrified fort, in the shape of a parallelogram, and extending about 476 feet from east to west. It is a very strong work, formed upon military principles, and is supposed to have been the head post of some warlike chief, with his several native tribes, and designed to command the passes in this part of the country. On the low grounds, about two and a half miles to the north-west, are the remains of an extensive Roman camp called Battledykes, thought to have been capable of containing between 30,000 and 40,000 men. It is situated at the entrance of the great valley of Strathmore, commanding the whole of the Lowlands beneath the base of the Grampians, and also the passes of the Highlands; and appears, among other important reasons, to have been constructed for the sake of watching and awing the fort on the hill of Finhaven. The ancient castle of Finhaven, the ruins of which are still to be seen on the north side of the hill, was for a long succession of years, in former times, the scene of great adventures. It was the residence of the well-known Earl of Crawfurd, who, from his ferocity, received the name of "the tiger earl," and whose prisoners were hanged on iron spikes which yet appear on the castle walls; he was chief of the Lindsays, who possessed a great part of the county, and his furious contests with the Ogilvys are among the most memorable conflicts of the kind recorded in history.

The parish is about five miles in length and about one and a half in breadth, and contains 3870 acres. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Tannadice; on the south by the parishes of Rescobie and Aberlemno; on the east by Aberlemno; and on the west by the parish of Kirriemuir. The surface is tolerably uniform, except in the southern quarter, in which the hill of Finhaven, cultivated to the very top, and partly covered with larch and beech, rises to the considerable height already mentioned. Tradition reports the parish to have been formerly part of a great forest called the forest of Claton. The chief properties now are the estates of Finhaven and Newbarns, the former of which comprehends four-fifths of the whole lands, and was purchased in 1815 by the Marquess of Huntly, for £65,000. The river Esk intersects the parish in several places; it is here 140 feet broad, and its banks being low, it frequently overflows to the great injury of the neighbouring grounds. The only other stream is the Lemno rivulet, which, after a winding course of twelve or thirteen miles round the hill of Finhaven, falls into the Esk, only about a mile north from its source. The soil is in general clayey, and its retentive nature has been found, especially through the scarcity of lime, a great impediment to agricultural improvement. About 2850 acres are occasionally cultivated or in tillage; 900 acres are in wood, and 120 waste. All kinds of green crops and grain are grown; of the latter, oats are most cultivated; and as the character of the husbandry is very good, the crops are heavy and of fine quality. The cattle are the black Angus: the few sheep that are kept are of the common black-faced breed, with some Cheviots, Leicesters, and South-Downs. This parish was behind most others at the commencement of the present century in its husbandry; but so rapid has been its advance since that period in the most approved usages, particularly in thorough-draining, that it stands now upon a very high footing. Much land has been reclaimed; thorn-hedge inclosures have been extensively formed, as well as plantations made; and the farm-buildings are also in very good condition. The chief obstacle to improvement lies in the scarcity of manure; Montrose, the nearest sea-port, being sixteen miles distant. The prevailing rock is sandstone, of which a quarry is moderately wrought for building and other purposes.

The population are mostly agricultural: till within the last few years a spinning-mill was in operation, which employed about sixty hands. Coal is the fuel generally used, being brought from Montrose and Arbroath: an attempt was made by Mr. Ford, a late proprietor, to procure coal in the parish, but though he bored down to the depth of 160 feet, his search for it was unsuccessful. A daily post from Forfar to Brechin passes through; and the Aberdeen and Perth turnpike-road runs along the south side of the parish: upon this road a good public coach travels every day. There is a bridge over the Esk, and five small bridges cross the Lemno, all in good condition. Near the church is a very small village. The rateable annual value of Oathlaw is £3056. Its ecclesiastical affairs are directed by the presbytery of Forfar and synod of Angus and Mearns; patron, J. Carnegy, Esq., of Finhaven. There is a manse, with a glebe of about ten acres of arable land; and the stipend is £158, communion elements included. The church is a neat building with a finely proportioned tower, situated about the centre of the parish, and surrounded by a number of old ashtrees; it was built in 1815, is in tolerable condition, and seats upwards of 200 persons. The ancient church stood on the bank of the Esk. There is a benefaction called "Hanton's bequest," left in 1833 for the poor, at the discretion of the minister and elders. A parochial school is supported, in which Latin and the usual branches of education are taught; the master receives a salary of £34. 4., with about £10 fees, and has the accommodation of house and garden. There is also a parochial library, consisting of several hundreds of volumes.


OBAN, a burgh of barony, a sea-port town, and lately a quoad sacra parish, in the parish of Kilmore and Kilbride, district of Lorn, county of Argyll, 32 miles (W. N. W.) from Inverary, and 136 (W. by N.) from Edinburgh; containing 1554 inhabitants, of whom 1398 are in the burgh. This place, which is situated on the western coast of Mid Lorn, at the head of a fine bay formed by the island of Kerrera, on the west, and having facilities of entrance on the north and south, owes its origin to the establishment of a storehouse in 1713, by a company of merchants from Renfrew, attracted by the convenience of its position for trade, and the safe and extensive accommodations of its bay. It was much increased in importance in 1778, by the Messrs. Stevenson, who, settling here, introduced several branches of traffic, which added greatly to the number of buildings; and during the same century, the place was constituted one of the custom-house ports. The town is beautifully seated on the banks of a small river which divides it into two parts; and, as approached either by sea or by land, has a strikingly picturesque and interesting aspect. It consists of various well-formed streets of neat and substantial houses: and in the main street is an extensive and commodious hotel, for the reception of the visiters and families who resort hither during the season for seabathing, and for whose accommodation there are also comfortable lodging-houses.

Burgh Seal.

The manufacture of silk and straw hats is carried on to a considerable extent; and there are two large distilleries in the town. The trade of the port consists chiefly in the exportation of wool, kelp, pig-iron, fish, whisky, and slates from the quarries of the surrounding district; and in the importation of merchandise from Glasgow and Liverpool. The number of vessels registered as belonging to the port is thirteen, of the aggregate burthen of 360 tons. The bay, which is sheltered from all winds by lofty mountains, has from twelve to twenty-four fathoms' depth, and is sufficiently capacious to contain more than 500 sail of trading vessels. There are two spacious quays, of which that on the north was enlarged and improved in 1836; and since the opening of the Caledonian canal, steamers from Greenock, Glasgow, Inverness, Mull, Iona, Staffa, and Skye, constantly touch at the port. The custom-house, erected in 1763, occupies a commanding site overlooking the bay. The post-office has a good delivery. A branch of the National Bank of Scotland, a savings' bank, four insurance agencies, and an excise-office, have been established. Markets are annually held in May and October for black-cattle, and in March and November for horses.

The town was first erected into a burgh of barony by charter granted to the Duke of Argyll in 1811, and subsequently by a new charter granted to the duke, and also to Mr. Campbell, in 1820. The government was once vested in a provost, two bailies, and four councillors annually chosen by the burgesses; but since the passing of the Municipal Reform act, six councillors have been elected by the £10 householders, of whom two are bailies; and the office of provost has been set aside. The jurisdiction of the magistrates is coextensive with the whole territory of the burgh, which exceeds that of the parliamentary limits; but, except in cases of petty delinquency, the magistrates exercise no criminal jurisdiction; and since the establishment of the sheriff's-court for small debts, which is held quarterly, few civil actions have been tried before them. The burgh is associated with those of Ayr, Campbelltown, Inverary, and Irvine, in returning a member to the imperial parliament; the number of qualified voters is sixty-four. The late parish, which for ecclesiastical purposes was separated from Kilmore and Kilbride by act of the General Assembly in 1834, included the town of Oban and adjacent district, comprising an area nearly six square miles in extent. The church, built as a chapel of ease in 1821, at an expense of £1142, is a neat structure containing 530 sittings: the minister has a stipend of £100, derived from the seat-rents and an annual donation of £20 by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, United Secession, and Independents; and a congregation of about forty Baptists assemble in a private room. Subscriptions to the amount of £310 have been collected for the erection of an additional parochial school-house, on a site purchased for the purpose; and a grant of £150 has been obtained from government.


OCHILTREE, a parish, in the district of Kyle, county of Ayr, 3½ miles (W. by N.) from Old Cumnock; containing 1601 inhabitants. This place, of which the name, in various ancient records written Uchletree, is of uncertain derivation, has some pretensions to antiquity; and it is recorded that in 1296, Symon de Spalding, then rector of the parish, swore fealty to Edward I. at Berwick. In the reign of Robert I. the church, with all its appurtenances, was granted by Eustace de Colville to the monks of Melrose Abbey, to whom it belonged at the time of the Reformation. The lands, which constituted a barony, were in 1530 exchanged by the proprietor, Sir James Colville, for the barony of East Wemyss, and became the property of Sir James Hamilton, of Finnart, who conveyed them to Andrew Stewart, Lord Evandale, who in 1543 was created Lord Stewart, of Ochiltree. After passing to various proprietors, the lands were at length vested in William, the first earl of Dundonald, who gave them to his second son, Sir John Cochrane, by whom they were forfeited to the crown in 1685; but they were afterwards re-granted to his son, William, and remained in the family till they were purchased, about 1730, by Governor Mc Rae, from whose representative they passed by marriage to the Earl of Glencairn. They now belong to different families. The parish is about eight miles in length and five miles in breadth, and is bounded on the north by the parish of Stair, on the east by the parishes of Old Cumnock and Auchinleck, on the south by New Cumnock and Dalmellington, and on the west by the parishes of Stair and Coylton. The surface, which has an elevation varying from 400 to 1000 feet above the level of the sea, is intersected with ridges, running in nearly parallel directions from east to west, with tracts of level ground intervening; and the scenery is in some parts enlivened with small patches of wood and young plantations. The lands abound with numerous springs of excellent quality, affording an ample supply of water; and there are two lochs, of which the larger covers about twenty-seven acres of ground. The rivers are, the Lugar, which separates the parish from that of Auchinleck, and in its course receives the Burnock water and some other streamlets; and the Coila, which divides the parish from Coylton. Both fall into the Ayr.

The soil is in general a clayey loam, resting on a subsoil of retentive clay, but in the upland parts of the parish, mossy, resting also upon clay. The whole number of acres is estimated at 15,387, of which 10,242 are under tillage and in good cultivation, and the remainder hill-pasture, plantations, and waste; the crops are, grain of all kinds, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry is improved, and the lands have been partially drained; but much still remains to be done in order to render the soil fully productive; the farm-buildings, also, are inferior to those of many other parishes; and a few of the houses only are slated, by far the greater number being thatched. The lands are inclosed partly by stone dykes, and partly by hedges of thorn. Considerable attention is paid to the rearing of live-stock. From 3000 to 4000 sheep are annually fed, for which the hills afford good pasture; they are of the black-faced breed, with a few of the Leicester, SouthDown, and Cheviot breeds; and on one farm are some of the black Egyptian breed, of which the wool is remarkably fine. About 1050 cows are kept for the dairy, and 150 head of cattle fattened annually; they are all of the Ayrshire breed, and thrive well on the soil; and a moderate number of horses are reared, chiefly for agricultural uses. The rateable annual value of the parish is £9521. Ochiltree House is the residence of the Dowager Lady Boswell. The village is situated on the site of what is said to have been an ancient camp, from which circumstance probably may have been derived the name of the parish; it is neatly built, and well inhabited. There is a manufactory for reapinghooks, which are in great repute, and of which great numbers are sent to distant places; and many of the female inhabitants are employed in working muslin for the manufacturers of Glasgow and Paisley. The nearest market-town is Ayr, with which, and with other towns in the vicinity, facility of intercourse is maintained by good roads kept in repair by statute labour, and by the turnpike-road from Dumfries and Cumnock to Ayr, which passes for nearly seven miles through the parish. Fairs for horses and cattle are held in the village on the second Wednesday in May, and the first Tuesday in November; and a savings' bank has been formed, which is well encouraged. A post-office is established under Cumnock. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Ayr and synod of Glasgow and Ayr. The stipend of the incumbent is £247: the manse, erected in 1800, and enlarged in 1833, is a comfortable residence; and the glebe comprises about nine acres of land, valued at £20 per annum. The church, which is in the centre of the village, is a neat substantial edifice erected in 1789, in good repair, and is adapted for a congregation of 900 persons. The parochial school, also situated in the village, affords a liberal education to about 100 children: the master has a salary of £34. 4., with a house and garden; he also receives £6. 3. 4. per annum, a bequest by Mr. Patrick Davidson, charged on the lands of Shield, in the parish of Stair; and the school fees average £30. There is a library connected with the school; likewise a school of which the master derives his income solely from the fees. At a place called the Moat, on the turnpike-road to Ayr, was found a few years since an urn containing calcined bones, and subsequently a crown-piece of the reign of James I. of Scotland, in excellent preservation. There are no other remains of the ancient castle of Ochiltree than the foundations, which may still be traced on the bank of the river Lugar; the walls have been levelled to furnish materials for buildings and other purposes. On the same river a detached portion of rock, which rises from its bed, sixty feet in height, forty feet long, and twenty feet broad, covered on the summit with shrubs and heath, presents a singularly romantic appearance, and from its resemblance to a fort has attained the appellation of Kemps Castle.

Ola, St.

OLA, ST., county of Orkney.—See Kirkwall.

Old Brocklehurst.

OLD BROCKLEHURST.—See Brocklehurst, Old.—And all places having a similar distinguishing prefix will be found under the proper name.


OLDCASTLE, a hamlet, in the parish of Slains and Forvie, district of Ellon, county of Aberdeen, 7 miles (E.) from Ellon; containing 51 inhabitants. This is a small fishing-hamlet, situated on the eastern coast: the fishing is carried on with success.


OLDENEY, an island, in the parish of Assynt, forming part of the late quoad sacra parish of Stoer, county of Sutherland; and containing 60 inhabitants. It lies on the western coast of the county; is about a mile in length, and a quarter of a mile where broadest; and has two small harbours. It is attached to the sheep-farm of the same name, and is valuable for its pasturage.


OLDHAMSTOCKS, a parish, partly in the county of Berwick, but chiefly in the county of Haddington; containing, with the villages of Birnieknows and Oldhamstocks in the latter county, 694 inhabitants, of whom 138 are in the village of Oldhamstocks, 7 miles (S. E. by S.) from Dunbar. This parish, the name of which, anciently Aldhamstocs, is derived from the village in which its church is situated, appears to have been formerly more populous than at present, a decrease having arisen from the abandonment of some collieries and salt-works that were carried on here in the last century. The parish is on the shore of the German Sea; is about six miles in length from north-east to south-west, and from two to three miles in breadth; and is bounded on the north by the parish of Innerwick, on the east by the sea, on the south by the parish of Cockburnspath, and on the west also by the parish of Innerwick. The surface ascends gradually from the shore, and is diversified with numerous hills of inconsiderable elevation, rising above each other in succession towards the higher portion of the parish; the grounds near the sea are level, and the coast is indented with small bays. A creek flows up to the village of Bilsdean; but there is no river. The scenery is rather deficient in wood and plantations, and has towards the Lammermoors a cold aspect; the natural wood has been suffered to decay, and the plantations, though thriving, are few.

The soil is generally dry; towards the sea-shore, very fertile; but towards the higher parts of the parish, inferior and heathy. The state of agriculture is advanced, and the crops favourable; the farm-buildings are substantial and commodious; and on most of the farms, threshing-mills have been erected. The high lands afford tolerable pasture for sheep, of which a considerable number are reared; and much attention is paid to the improvement of the breed. The substrata are, limestone, ironstone, coal, and freestone: the coal has been worked, though now discontinued; and as the upper seam only has been taken, it is supposed that there is still an abundant supply, should it be requisite to renew the workings. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5775, of which amount £4690 are returned for the Haddingtonshire portion. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dunbar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale; patrons, the Hunter family, of Thurston. The stipend of the incumbent is £297. 15. 6.; the manse is a comfortable residence, and the glebe comprises nine acres. The church, erected in 1701, is a neat and substantial edifice in good repair. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £25. 15., with a house and garden, and the fees average about £20 per annum. There are two other schools, of which the masters are supported by the fees.


OLDROME, a village, in the parish of Dundonald, district of Kyle, county of Ayr; containing 257 inhabitants. This is one of three considerable coalworks in the parish; the population is, consequently, for the most part colliers.


OLRICK, or Olrig, a parish, within the county of Caithness, 5 miles (E. by S.) from Thurso; containing, with the village of Castletown, 1584 inhabitants, of whom 1107 are in the rural districts. This place, which is of remote antiquity, seems to have derived its name, signifying the "son of Erick," from one of the Norwegian chieftains, who is supposed to have made himself master of it during the general invasion of Caithness by the King of Norway, about the commencement of the 9th century. There are not many events of historical importance. It appears, however, that an inconsiderable descent of the Danes took place here at a distant period, on which occasion the force landed at the bay of Murkle, but was totally defeated by the inhabitants in a sanguinary conflict on a height called, from the slain, Morthill, of which the present name of the bay is supposed to be a corruption. The parish is bounded on the north by the bays of Murkle, Dunnet, and Castlehill, and is about five miles in length and three miles in average breadth; comprising 10,000 acres, of which nearly 6000 are arable, and the remainder meadow and pasture, with the exception of about 500 of links and moss, and twenty acres of plantations. The surface is diversified with hills of moderate elevation, interspersed with pleasing and fertile valleys; and most of the hills and high grounds are clothed with verdure, affording pasturage for sheep and cattle. The hill of Olrick commands from its summit an extensive view of the coast and the adjacent country. The view embraces the bays of Sandside, Scrabster, Dunnet, Freswick, and Reiss, the heights of Canisbay and Nosshead, and several of the islands of Orkney, with the mountains of Sutherland, Moray, Banff, and Aberdeenshire; forming together one of the finest and most comprehensive prospects in the north of Scotland. The only lake in the parish, Loch Durran, from which issued a rivulet flowing by the village of Castletown into the bay of Dunnet, was formerly about three miles in circumference, but has within the last few years been drained for the sake of its marl, and laid down in pasture. The coast is not more than two miles in extent, from east to west, and is generally shelvy and rugged, but not precipitous. It is indented on the east by the bay of Castlehill, forming a commodious harbour at the village of Castletown; and on the west by Murkle bay, which, from its superior shelter and depth of water, might at a moderate cost be improved into one of the best harbours on this part of the coast. In both these bays are stations for the salmon-fishery; and formerly vast numbers of cod, ling, and other white-fish, were taken here; but this fishery has for some years been gradually decreasing, and is now almost discontinued.

The soil along the coast generally, and in some of the other low lands, is a deep rich clay alternated with sand and till; towards the interior, mostly of lighter quality, but fertile; and the higher grounds, and such other portions as are not arable, afford excellent pasture. The crops are oats, bear, potatoes, and turnips, with the usual grasses; and on the lands of Murkle, a species of black oats, which almost every where else degenerate by repeated sowing, thrive luxuriantly without any change of quality, and are consequently in great demand as seed in the surrounding country. The system of husbandry has for many years been gradually advancing, and is now in a highly improved state; furrow-draining, originally introduced by Mr. Traill on his estate of Ratter, in the adjoining parish of Dunnet, with great success, has been extensively practised; and large tracts of waste land have been brought into profitable cultivation. On most of the farms a due regard is paid to a regular rotation of crops; and on the larger farms the buildings are substantial and well arranged. The lands are well inclosed, partly with hedges of thorn and partly with stone dykes; and all the more recent improvements in the construction of agricultural implements have been adopted. Great attention is paid to live-stock; the cattle are generally of a cross breed between the Highland and the Teeswater. The dairyfarms, whereof the produce is sent to Wick or Thurso, are under good management; and the sheep, of which the number reared in the pastures is rapidly increasing, are of the Leicestershire breed, and appear to improve both in weight and in the quality of their wool. Considerable quantities of grain are sent to the Edinburgh market; and large numbers of cattle and sheep are shipped for London and the southern markets, for which steam navigation affords abundant opportunities. The plantations, chiefly on the lands of Castlehill and Olrick, consist of ash, for which the soil seems peculiarly favourable, plane, elm, oak, mountain-ash, and larch; all in a thriving condition. The rateable annual value of the parish is £4122.

The principal substrata are limestone and freestone; and slates and flags are every where found, and are in extensive operation. There are large quarries of what is called Caithness paving-stone, of very hard and durable texture, and varying from grey to blue in colour. In these quarries more than 100 persons are constantly employed; and at Castlehill is machinery for sawing, and polishing the surface of, the stone, which is used for paving streets, or formed into slabs, mantel-pieces, and other ornamental parts of buildings, of which great quantities are sent to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, and London. Olrick House, the seat of James Smith, Esq., a neat modern mansion near the base of Olrick hill, and Castlehill, one of the seats of Mr. Traill, of Ratter, an elegant mansion beautifully situated near the shore of the bay of Castlehill, in a tastefully-embellished and richly-planted demesne, are the only houses of any importance. The village of Castletown is described under its own head. Fairs are held on the second Tuesday in March, and the third Tuesdays in June and November; and facility of communication is maintained by the turnpike-road from Wick to Thurso, which passes through the parish, and by cross-roads kept in excellent repair. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Caithness and synod of Sutherland and Caithness. The minister's stipend is £191. 8. 8., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £10 per annum; patron, Sir James Colquhoun, Bart. The old church, erected in 1633, and containing 403 sittings, having become ruinous, and inadequate to the increased population, has been deserted, and a handsome structure erected at the eastern extremity of Castletown, affording ample accommodation for all the parishioners. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school, also situated in the village, affords instruction to about eighty children; the teacher has a salary of £34. 4. 4., with a house and garden, and the fees average £15 per annum. There are numerous Pictish houses; and on the lands of Murkle, it is said, was a nunnery, of which the site is supposed to be indicated by a small burn called Closters, thought to be a corruption of Cloisters. On the summit of the hill of Olrick are some remains of an ancient watch-tower; and near the eastern boundary of the parish, at a place called St. Coomb's Kirk, was a church dedicated to St. Columba, and supposed to have been the church of the united parishes of Olrick and Dunnet: this, with the adjoining manse, was overwhelmed during the night by a drift of sand.


OMOA, a village, in the parish of Bertram-Shotts, Middle ward of the county of Lanark, 5 miles (S. W.) from the village of Bertram-Shotts; containing 206 inhabitants. This place is situated in the south-western part of the parish, and owes its origin to the erection of considerable iron-works, in 1787, on the estate of Colonel Dalrymple; the ironstone in the neighbourhood is very abundant, and the ore is wrought to a great extent. The village lies on the road from Airdrie to Cambusnethan.


OPSAY, an isle, in the parish of Harris, county of Inverness. It is one of the small islands of the Hebrides, lying in the sound of Harris, between Hermitray and Bernera; and is distant northward about three miles from the main land of North Uist. The isle is very small, and uninhabited.


ORDIQUHILL, a parish, in the county of Banff, 11 miles (E. N. E.) from Keith; containing, with the village of Corncairn, 637 inhabitants. This place, which is situated within seven miles of the North Sea, derives its name, signifying in the Gaelic language "a hollow near an eminence," from the nature of its surface, and its position with respect to the mountainous elevation of Knockhill, which rises on its western border to the height of more than 1600 feet above the level of the sea. It is not connected with any event of historical importance; and the only document of antiquity in which notice of it occurs, is a charter of Alexander II. in 1242, setting forth the boundaries of the estate called Park, now the property of Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon, sole proprietor of the parish. The parish is about three and a half miles in length and two and a half in breadth, and comprises 5500 acres, of which 2200 are under tillage, about the same number in pasture, and 1000 woodland. The system of agriculture is improved; the chief crop is oats, and great attention is paid to the rearing of cattle. The Highland Society and the Banffshire Farmers' Club have contributed somewhat to the advance of husbandry; many acres of unprofitable land have in different parts been brought into cultivation; and draining has been extensively carried on under the encouragement, and by the assistance, of Col. Gordon, who generally divides the expense with the tenant. Cattle-fairs take place in the village, where shows of cattle have also been held for several years; and ten markets are held annually near the village of Corncairn, but in an adjoining parish, for the sale of grain. The surface is intersected by numerous rivulets, over which are four good bridges. The plantations consist of larch, Scotch fir, ash, beech, elm, and birch, and are mostly in a flourishing state. The substratum varies in different parts, but is usually a coarse mica-slate passing into gneiss, and resting on a bed of granite: in the eastern portion is an extensive bed of thick moss, under which is coarse clay. Masses of whin and trap-rock, and blocks of granite, are scattered in various places; and garnets and tourmaline, some of large dimensions, are frequently found imbedded in them. Across the eastern base of Knockhill passes the serpentine rock of Portsoy, which may be distinctly traced; and specimens occur of asbestos, plumbago, and other minerals. The summit of Knockhill is a bed of moss from fifteen to twenty feet in depth, in some parts continued down the declivity to the mosses around the base. The farm-buildings are comfortable and substantial; but the inclosures are few in number, and in very indifferent condition. Considerable facilities of communication with the neighbouring markets are afforded by good turnpike-roads, which intersect the parish in various directions. The mansionhouse of Park, the seat of Colonel Gordon, is a handsome building, enlarged in 1829, and is pleasantly situated in the midst of thriving and ornamental plantations. The rateable annual value of Ordiquhill is £2246. It is in the presbytery of Fordyce and synod of Aberdeen, and patronage of the Earl of Seafield: the minister's stipend is £185. 6. 7., with a manse, and a glebe valued at £6. 10. per annum. The church, erected in 1805, at the extremity of the parish, affords accommodation to a congregation of 500. The parochial school is well attended; the master has a salary of £21. 9. 6., with £10 fees, and a portion of the proceeds of the Dick bequest. A parochial library has been for some few years established; it has a collection of about 300 volumes, and has been productive of much benefit. There is also a Sunday-school library, and a parochial association has been formed for the promotion of religious objects at home and abroad. Mr. Walter Goodall, author of a defence of Mary, Queen of Scots, was a native of this place.


ORINSAY, an island, in the late quoad sacra parish of Trumisgarry, island and parish of North Uist, county of Inverness; containing 102 inhabitants. This is an isle of the Hebrides, lying between Boreray and North Uist, and separated from the latter by a narrow sound, which is dry at low water. The isle is half a mile in length; the soil for the most part is sandy, and tolerably fertile in favourable seasons.

Orkney Islands

ORKNEY ISLANDS, a group forming, with that of Shetland, a maritime county, in the northern extremity of Scotland; and bounded on the north by the waters which divide Orkney from Shetland; on the east by the North Sea; on the south by the Pentland Frith, which separates the isles from Caithness; and on the west by the Atlantic Ocean. They lie between 58° 44' and 59° 24' (N. Lat.) and 2° 25' and 3° 20' (W. Long.), and extend for about fifty miles in length and nearly thirty miles in breadth; comprising an area of 235 square miles, or 150,000 acres; 6325 houses, of which 6181 are inhabited; and containing a population of 30,507, of whom 13,831 are males, and 16,676 females. These islands, anciently the Orcades, most probably derived that name from Cape Orcas, opposite to which they are situated, and which is noticed by Ptolemy as a remarkable promontory on the coast of Caithness, by the inhabitants of which district it is supposed the isles were originally peopled. The Orkney and the Shetland Islands appear to have been both explored by the Romans, who, however, retained no permanent possession of either; and they were both subsequently occupied by the Picts, a Scandinavian tribe who, settling at first in the Western Isles, soon spread themselves over the greater portion of Scotland. Under the Picts, the islands of Orkney seem to have been governed by a succession of petty kings, who exercised a kind of independent sovereignty till the year 876. At that period Harold Harfager, King of Norway, landing here with a powerful force, reduced them to his dominion; and on his return to Norway, he appointed Ronald, a Norwegian earl, to be their governor, whom he invested with the title of Earl of Orkney, and under whose successors they remained for many generations, as an appendage of the crown of Norway, till the reign of James III., since which time they have formed part of the kingdom of Scotland.

The first earls of Orkney under the kings of Scotland were the St. Clairs, from whom the earldom reverted to the crown; and the lands, for nearly a century, were leased to various tenants. Mary, Queen of Scots, in 1564, granted a charter of the crown territory to Lord Robert Stewart, but, on her marriage with the Earl of Bothwell, revoked this gift in favour of the earl, whom she had engaged to create Duke of Orkney. He never, however, obtained possession; and the dukedom becoming forfeited, the lands again reverted to the crown. After various other grants of the property to different earls, and their ultimate reversion to the crown, they were in 1707 mortgaged to the Earl of Morton; and the mortage being subsequently declared irredeemable, the lands were in 1766 sold by his successor to Sir Laurence Dundas, ancestor of the Earl of Zetland, the present chief proprietor. For many ages, lands in these islands were held by what was called Udal tenure. They were exempt from all taxes to the crown, and the proprietor acknowledged no superior lord; at the death of the father, the property was equally divided among all the children; and no fines were levied on entrance. Under the later earls, however, this system of tenure, which was supposed to be adverse to their interest, was gradually discouraged; and on the final annexation to the crown, it was wholly discontinued.

Previously to the Reformation, the islands were included in the diocese of Orkney, the precise date of the foundation of which is not accurately known. Christianity is, however, supposed to have been first introduced here by St. Columba, about the year 570, and again by Olaus, King of Norway, in the year 1000; and the cathedral church of St. Magnus, in Kirkwall, is thought to have been founded about 1138. The see continued to flourish under a succession of more than twenty-seven prelates, including seven Protestantbishops, till the Revolution, since which it has constituted the synods of Orkney and Shetland, whereof the former contains the presbyteries of Kirkwall, Cairston, and North Isles, and eighteen parishes. For civil purposes, Orkney, which was previously a county of itself, has, since the passing of the act for amending the representation, been united with Shetland, under the jurisdiction of one sheriff, by whom two sheriffs-substitute are appointed, one of whom holds his courts weekly at Kirkwall. Here, also, the justice-of-peace courts are held on the first Wednesday, and at Stromness on the last Tuesday, in every month; and courts for the recovery of small debts occur several times in the year, at Stromness, St. Margaret's Hope, and Sanda; but no particular days are fixed. The two principal towns are, Kirkwall, which is a royal burgh, and the county town, and Stromness, which is a burgh of barony; there are also several villages, and fishing-stations on the coast. Under the provisions of the act of the 2nd of William IV., Shetland has been joined in returning a member to the imperial parliament with Orkney, which previously returned a member of itself.

The Orkneys comprise a cluster of sixty-seven islands, of which twenty-nine are inhabited, and the remainder chiefly small holms affording pasturage for cattle. Of the inhabited islands the principal are, Pomona, or the Mainland, Rousay, Westray, Papa-Westray, Eday, Sanda, North Ronaldshay, Stronsay, Shapinshay, Hoy, Flotta, South Ronaldshay, Eagleshay, Burray, and the smaller islands of Faray, Gairsay, and Græmsay. The surface towards the east is level, and of very moderate elevation above the sea; but the ground rises gradually towards the west, where the coasts are bounded by hills of considerable height. The lands are intersected by numerous streams, but none of them entitled to the appellation of rivers; and diversified with numerous lakes, most of which are also of small extent, varying from a mile to four miles in circumference. That of Stennis, however, in the parish of Firth, in Pomona, is more than fourteen miles in circumference; and is divided into two nearly equal parts by a peninsular projection, on which are some highly interesting Druidical remains. Of the lands, about 30,000 acres are arable, nearly an equal quantity in meadow and pasture, 4000 in fresh-water lakes, and the remainder chiefly heath, peat-moss, and undivided common. The scenery, though destitute of fine timber, is pleasing from the alternation of hill and dale; many of the hills are covered with verdure to the summit, and others, for some distance above their bases, are under profitable cultivation. The soil in the plains is sandy; in other parts, a clayey loam alternated with gravelly soil: there are several tracts of grass land of luxuriant growth, and the mosses afford abundance of peat for fuel.

The crops are, barley, oats, rye, flax, and a moderate portion of wheat, with potatoes and turnips, of which very fine crops are raised. The general system of agriculture, however, though gradually improving, is comparatively in a backward state. The farms, also, are mostly of very small extent, some not exceeding ten acres; but there are several exceptions, and an example of skill and a spirit of enterprise have been set forth by some of the proprietors of lands, which may soon produce important alterations. Though limestone is plentiful, the principal manure is the sea-weed obtained on the coasts. The sheep and cattle are both of the native breeds, and the cows, though small, afford great quantities of milk; the horses are of the Shetland breed. From the roots and trunks of trees found in the tracts of peat-moss, there is every reason to conclude that there were anciently extensive woods; yet very few trees are now seen, except such as are of modern plantation, and these only thrive in sheltered situations. They are chiefly the plane, common and mountain ash, elm, and willow. The substrata are mainly sandstone of various colours, schistose-clay, limestone, and in some parts breccia, and specimens of basaltic formation. Attempts have been made in search of iron-ore, and hæmatites of iron were discovered in tolerable plenty, and of rich quality; but similar attempts to discover lead-ore have not been attended with equal success. The gentlemen's seats are, Burness, Brugh, Burgar, Carrick, Cliffdale, Cairston, Woodwick, Holland, and Tankerness.

The manufactures carried on here are, those of stockings, blankets, and coarse woollen-cloth, for home use; the spinning of yarn and the weaving of linen, which are increasing; that of thread for the manufacturers of Montrose; the platting of straw for bonnets, in which more than 2000 females are employed; and the manufacture of kelp, formerly much more extensive than at present, though still far from being inconsiderable. A profitable trade is also carried on at the several ports on the coast, in the exportation of beef, pork, salt fish, butter, tallow, hides, oil, feathers, linen yarn and cloth, and kelp; and in the importation of timber, iron, flax, coal, tobacco and snuff, wines, spirits, soap, leather, broad cloth, printed linens and cottons, groceries, and hardware. The building of boats, too, and the making of sails, nets, and cordage, are pursued in connexion with the shipping, of which, in a late year, there were registered, as belonging to Orkney, seventy-eight vessels of the aggregate burthen of 4050 tons. The cod and herring fisheries are extensive. In the former about twenty vessels are employed, and in the latter about 750 boats; and 500 tons of cod, and 50,000 barrels of herrings, upon the average, are annually shipped off from the several ports. The principal fishing-stations are, Papa-Stronsay, Deer Sound, Holm, Burray, and St. Margaret's Hope in South Ronaldshay. Lobsters of very superior quality are found in great abundance, and sent in smacks to London: crabs, mackerel, grayling, trout, salmon, turbot, halibut, haddock, common and conger eels, and skate, are also found.

The coasts are indented with numerous havens, in which the largest ships may anchor in safety. The shores in some parts are low and sandy; in others, rocky and precipitous, especially those on the west of Hoy island, which rise perpendicularly to the height of more than 1000 feet above the level of the sea, and are frequented by sea-fowl of every kind, that build their nests in the cliffs. Facility of communication throughout the Mainland and the larger islands is maintained by good roads; and intercourse with the smaller islands, on some of which, during the season, temporary huts are erected for the manufacture of kelp, is afforded by the tides in the several friths, which, though rapid and dangerous, are to those who know them an expeditious mode of communication. Between Kirkwall and Caithness is a ferry for the mail, and for passengers, across the Pentland Frith, here about twelve miles in breadth. A steam-packet sails weekly during the summer between Shetland and Leith, touching at all the intermediate ports; and also sailing-packets monthly from Kirkwall and Stromness to the port of Leith. There are numerous monuments of antiquity in the various islands; the principal are the ancient Picts' houses, which are found in many places. In the island of Westray are a large number of graves, probably covered originally by tumuli or barrows, but now exposed to view by the drifting of the sand. Some are formed of numerous small stones, and others of four larger stones; in all have been found warlike instruments and other ancient relics. There are various remains of Druidical circles; the most interesting are those of Stennis, once consisting of thirty-five stones, whereof thirteen are remaining, which vary from ten to sixteen feet in height. In Orkney are also the ancient cathedral, dedicated to St. Magnus, nearly entire, and now used as the parish church; the bishop's palace, near the cathedral, but a ruin; the remains of the palace erected in 1660 by Patrick Stewart, Earl of Orkney, which are considerable; and the ruins of King's Castle, erected in the 14th century by Earl St. Clair, of which little more than the site is remaining.


ORMISTON, a parish, in the county of Haddington; containing 826 inhabitants, of whom 335 are in the village, 7 miles (W. S. W.) from Haddington. This place, which is situated on the western borders of the county, derives its name from the family of Orme, the earliest proprietors concerning whom any authentic notice occurs, and whose descendants continued in possession till the end of the 13th century. From the Ormes the lands passed to the Lindsay family, of whom Sir Alexander Lindsay was also proprietor of Paiston and Templehall, which, together with the estates of Ormiston and Muirhouse, he gave with his only daughter in marriage to John, second son of Sir Alexander Cockburn, constable of Haddington. This grant was confirmed by a charter of David Bruce, King of Scotland, in 1368, by which, also, that office was made hereditary in the family. Patrick Cockburn, a descendant, defended the castle of Dalkeith in 1542, from the assaults of James, ninth earl of Douglas, who had rebelled against his sovereign, and whom, having put himself at the head of the king's forces, he compelled to retire. In 1545, the celebrated reformer, George Wishart, having preached at Haddington, returned to Ormiston with Sir Alexander Cockburn and two of his friends; but in the night, the house was surrounded by the Earl of Bothwell and his followers, who demanded that Wishart should be delivered into their custody. This was ultimately complied with, on a solemn promise of his safety, which Bothwell observed so far as to refuse to give him up to Cardinal Beaton; but he afterwards surrendered him to the Earl of Arran, governor of Scotland, by whom he was delivered into the hands of the cardinal, who carried him to St. Andrew's, where he was executed. In 1747, John, second earl of Hopetoun, having acquired possession of part, purchased the remainder of the estate of Ormiston from the last representative of the Cockburn family, and became sole proprietor of the parish, which is now the property of his descendant, the present earl.

The parish is about five miles in length, and of extremely irregular form, varying from a mile and a half to little more than half a mile in breadth, and comprising an area of about five square miles. It is bounded on the north by the parish of Tranent, on the east by that of Pencaitland, on the south by the parish of Humbie, and on the west by Cranston. The surface is generally flat, admitting of scarcely any variety; but the scenery is much enriched with woods and plantations, which are scattered over several parts; and the inclosures of hedges of white-thorn, interspersed with sweet-briar and honeysuckle, and the trees on each side of the roads that intersect the parish, forming pleasing avenues, give it an interesting and beautiful appearance. The river Tyne, also, flows through the lands to the north-east; but except after continued rains or floods, it is a narrow and shallow stream. The parish is amply supplied with water from numerous copious springs, of which some are strongly impregnated with iron, more especially one in the village, whence the inhabitants derive their chief supply. The soil is greatly diversified. To a small extent on each side of the river is found a light loam, resting upon a gravelly bottom; in other parts, clay, more or less tenacious; and in some, bordering almost on sterility, but rendered profitable by diligent cultivation. The system of agriculture is in a highly improved state. There is a considerable tract of good meadowland, which yields early and abundant crops of grass; a large portion of the ground is laid out in gardens producing all the usual fruits, of good quality; and in the village are two gardens for the supply of vegetables and fruits, from which during the season not less than 300 pints of strawberries are sold daily. The whole number of acres is estimated at 3270; of these about 3000 are arable and in a profitable state of cultivation, 130 meadow and pasture, and about 140 in woods and plantations. The chief crops are, grain of all kinds, peas, beans, potatoes, and turnips. From the encouragement given to the tenants by the grant of long leases of their farms, the lands have been improved nearly to the utmost; the buildings are substantial and commodious; some of the farm-houses are even handsome, and the lands are well inclosed, and the fences well kept. On almost every farm threshing-mills have been erected, some of which are driven by steam; rape and bonedust manures, also, have been introduced with success. The rateable annual value of the parish is £5524.

The substrata are chiefly limestone and coal, both of which are wrought to a considerable extent, and the latter from a very remote period. The principal vein of coal lies in the grounds of Ormiston Hall, in various parts of which the surface, being undermined, has fallen considerably; and the Hall itself appears to have been much endangered, and rendered secure only by under-building to a very great extent. Upon the south side of the river are three seams of good coal, the uppermost thirty inches in thickness; the second, of equal quality, thirty-three inches; and the lowest, from thirty-three to forty-three inches thick. On the north side of the river the seams are all, with some trifling cross workings, entire. The limestone in the southern part of the parish is wrought, and there are kilns for burning it into lime: freestone of various quality is also abundant. A quarry of freestone which was opened to the north of the Hall, produced stone only of a coarse and easily friable quality; but on the western confines of the parish, another was opened in 1808, of which the stone was more compact and durable, well adapted for building, and used in making additions to the house of Ormiston. Ironstone is likewise plentiful, as is manifest from the quality of many of the springs; but no attempt has been hitherto made to explore it. Ormiston Hall, the residence of the Dowager Countess of Hopetoun, is a handsome mansion, erected by Mr. Cockburn in 1745, near the site of the ancient baronial castle, which has been converted into offices and servants' apartments. It is situated in an extensive and richly-wooded demesne; the gardens contain every variety of fruits, flowers, and shrubs, and the pleasure-grounds are laid out with great taste and judgment. In the flower-garden are some fig-trees, planted by the then proprietor in the beginning of the last century, and which produce the finest specimens of that fruit in this part of Britain; also a remarkable yew of more than 200 years' growth, which is still in full vigour, and measures seventeen feet in girth at a height of five feet from the ground. The village is pleasantly situated on the north bank of the Tyne, and consists of one broad street of well-built houses, shaded with rows of trees, and having good gardens attached to the principal. In the centre of the village is an ancient cross, that appears to have been connected with some religious establishment near the spot, of which the chapel was for a time used as a schoolroom, but of which scarcely any thing authentic is known: this cross, whereof the lower part was becoming dilapidated, has been secured, and forms an interesting feature in the landscape of the village, which is peculiarly pleasing. A post-office has been established here; and facility of intercourse with the market-towns in the neighbourhood is afforded by good roads, of which the turnpike-road to Tranent passes for five miles through the parish, and by three bridges erected by subscription, under the patronage of the Earl of Hopetoun, who himself contributed largely.

The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Dalkeith and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. The stipend of the incumbent is £230: the manse, situated near the village, is a comfortable residence, enlarged in 1779; and the glebe comprises seven and a half acres of profitable land, valued at £15 per annum. The church, about a mile and a half from the village, is a very plain edifice with a small belfry, erected in 1696, and adapted for a congregation of 345 persons; the seats are all free. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £29. 18. 9., with a house and garden, and £1. 1. 9. from a funded bequest; and the fees average about £20 per annum. There is a school at Paiston, three miles distant, of which the master has a house and garden rent-free, with the interest of a bequest, amounting to £1. 5., and a small sum paid annually by the proprietor, in addition to the school fees, which average £20. A similar school is maintained in the hamlet of House of Muir, chiefly inhabited by colliers; the mistress has a house, and a small salary from the Dowager Countess of Hopetoun, besides the fees. Branches of the East Lothian Itinerating Library have been established in the village of Ormiston and at Paiston; and there is a library of about 100 volumes, belonging to an association for the protection of property, kept in the parochial schoolhouse, under the care of the master. At the southern extremity of the parish are the remains of a circular camp, surrounded by a double intrenchment, but rapidly disappearing under the extension of agricultural improvements. Between East and West Paiston, half a mile distant, the interval appears to have been occupied by houses of which scarcely any of the foundations are now to be traced. There was also a cemetery, supposed to have belonged to a religious establishment called Templehall; but the site is now planted. John Cockburn, of Ormiston, to whom the district is eminently indebted for the present prosperous state of its agriculture, was born at Ormiston Hall in 1685, and during the lifetime of his father sat as a member of the Scottish parliament, and distinguished himself by the active part he took in the Union. Having, during his subsequent residence in England, made himself acquainted with the improvements in English agriculture, he resolved to introduce them into this part of his native country; and in order to induce his tenantry to the requisite exertions for their full reception, he granted them leases of their farms for thirty-eight years, renewable for nineteen years at the end of that time, and at the expiration of every nineteen years afterwards. He died in 1747, after having devoted his whole life to the benefit of the district.


ORONSAY, county of Argyll.—See Colonsay.


ORPHIR, a parish, in the county of Orkney, 8 miles (S. W.) from Kirkwall; containing, with the island of Cava, 1064 inhabitants. This place derives its name, in the Norwegian language Orfer, from the mossy nature of its soil: towards the close of the 11th century it appears to have been distinguished as the residence of Paul, second earl of Orkney, of whose palace there are still some remains. The parish is bounded on the south and east by the bay of Scalpa, and extends for almost fourteen miles along the coast, which is deeply indented by numerous smaller bays; the average length is more than six and a half miles, and the average breadth two and a half miles comprising an area of 12,000 acres, of which about 1570 are arable, 2500 in pasture, and nearly 8000 peat-moss and waste. The surface is boldly diversified, rising from Houton Head, a promontory at the south-western extremity 300 feet above the level of the sea, in a continuation of hills, intersected with valleys, and gradually increasing in height throughout the whole parish, towards the north-east, to the hill of Wart, which has an elevation of 700 feet. From the summit of this hill is obtained an extensive and interesting view over the greater part of the Orkney Isles, the western coast of Caithness from Duncansbay Head to Cape Wrath, the Pentland Frith, and the loftier hills in the interior of Caithness and Sutherland. The coast from Houton Head westward is nearly level; and towards the east the banks are scarcely more than ten or twelve feet high, except the headlands of some of the bays, which have an elevation of thirty or forty feet. In the bay of Houton is a small island called the Holm, about 400 yards in length and nearly of equal breadth: the channel which separates it from the Mainland becomes dry for nearly two hours at low water. The island was cultivated for one season; but the crop not proving favourable, it has not since been tilled, and now produces only rough pasture. To the east is an inlet, which even at low water is navigable for sloops; and it has been for some time in contemplation to make it a medium for conveying the mail from Thurso to the bay of Houton, whence letters might be speedily forwarded to Kirkwall and Stromness by land. About a mile and a half to the south-east of Houton is the island of Cava, of which about twenty-five acres are in cultivation, the soil, a rich black loam, producing excellent crops of oats, and the remainder covered with peat-moss; the island is nearly three and a quarter miles in circumference, and contains about 20 inhabitants. The bay of Swanbister, the most extensive of those which indent the coast, is nearly two miles broad; the shore is sandy, and at stream tides cockles are found in abundance.

The rocks along the shore of the parish are generally sandstone, alternated with slate and ridges of the schistose formation. Freestone is also found, on the shores of Swanbister; and on the hill of Midland, near Houton, is a quarry of grey slate at an elevation of 400 feet, the property of Hector Moncrieff, Esq., and from which, in 1841, about 12,000 slates were sent to Kirkwall and South Ronaldshay. The soil in the valleys between the ranges of hills is a black loam, producing good crops of grain of various kinds; in other parts, of inferior quality; and in some, a cold clay. Crops of clover and rye-grass are also obtained, with potatoes, turnips, and other green crops; considerable improvement has been made in agriculture, and the rotation system of husbandry is every day growing more into use. There is little timber; and the trees, which are found only in the gardens, become stunted in their growth after they have risen above the height of the walls. The cattle are principally of the black breed, and are small, though hardy; a few of the Dunrobin breed have been introduced, and thrive well upon the pastures. The breed of horses is also small, with the exception of some upon the larger farms; and the sheep, except a few of the Cheviot breed, also on the larger farms, are of very diminutive size.

There is no village. The manufacture of kelp, formerly a lucrative employment, has greatly diminished; not more than twenty tons have been for some years annually produced, and the price has been reduced from £12 to £5 per ton. The fisheries, however, are still carried on with success. Eight boats are employed in the herring-fishery, each of which has four men; they pursue their occupation for about a fortnight at the island of Stronsay towards the end of July, and afterwards at South Ronaldshay for about a month, or till the herrings leave this part of the coast. The fish, as soon as they are barrelled, are sent to Rothesay and Ireland, in vessels which attend here for their conveyance. The lobster-fishery is also carried on, upon a limited scale, employing one boat and two men; the lobsters are kept in a floating chest in the bay of Houton, and are sent weekly to Stromness to be forwarded for the London market. Cod, haddock, skate, and ling are taken at no great distance from the shore; dog-fish are also taken, for their oil; and the coal-fish, when one or two years old, form wholesome and nutritious food. About forty-three boats are employed in the white-fishery, and in conveying agricultural produce to Stromness. The only manufacture pursued here is that of straw-plat, in which 100 of the population, principally females, are engaged. The nearest post-office is at Huna, in Caithness, whence the mail crosses the Pentland Frith to South Ronaldshay, where a branch is established from which letters are conveyed by a carrier to Kirkwall and Stromness. In the bay of Houton is a small harbour accessible to sloops and larger vessels, which are sheltered from the south and south-east gales by the island of Holm.

The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Cairston and synod of Orkney: the minister's stipend is £158. 6. 7., of which £34. 3. 6. are paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe worth £12 per annum: patron, the Earl of Zetland. The church is beautifully situated on rising ground on the eastern shore; it was erected in 1829, and contains 574 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted; the master has a salary of £26, with a house and garden, and the fees average about £6 per annum. A school was founded by Magnus Twatt, who bequeathed to the heritors and Kirk Session £700 for that object; and a similar school is supported by a bequest of £100 by James Tait, who also left £100 to the parish of Stromness for a similar purpose. The poor receive the proceeds of £50 accumulation of funds, and of a donation of £10 by Lieut. James Robertson, a native of the place. The late Sir William Honyman, Lord Armadale, an eminent judge in the court of session, was also a native, and the principal landed proprietor, of the parish.


ORWELL, a parish, in the county of Kinross, 2 miles (N. N. E.) from Kinross; containing, with the villages of Middleton and Milnathort, 2715 inhabitants. This place derives its name, of Gaelic origin, from an estate so called on the banks of Loch Leven; and the term is supposed to be descriptive of the parish as situated in a green or fertile retreat. The parish is about seven miles and a half in length, and three miles and a half in breadth; it is bounded on the south by the loch, and comprises 13,500 acres, of which 8000 are arable, about 700 woodland and plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface is finely undulated, rising in some places into gentle eminences, and on the north having a gradual ascent to the Braes of Orwell, and thence to the Ochil hills, which are partly within the parish, and vary from 1000 to 1100 feet in height above the level of the sea. The principal river is the North Queich; it rises in the higher land, and falls after a course of five or six miles into Loch Leven, which also receives various smaller streams that intersect the parish. This river abounds in trout, with which it supplies the lake; perch, pike, and eels, also, are found occasionally. The lands abound with springs of excellent water, and wells may be easily formed at a small depth below the surface. The scenery is finely varied, and enriched with thriving plantations; and there are some few trees of majestic growth still remaining; but the river is not distinguished by any striking features, though in its progress through the hilly part of the parish it displays some pleasing falls diversifying the landscape. The soil in the more level lands is mostly of a clayey nature, intermixed sometimes with sand or gravel, but in the higher districts is of lighter quality, and well adapted for potatoes and turnips; a small portion of rich loam is also found in some parts. The crops are, oats of every variety, barley, of which the quality has been much improved within the last few years, and a small quantity of wheat on some of the richest lands, with potatoes and turnips. The system of husbandry is in a very advanced state; the lands have been well drained, and inclosed partly with stone dykes and partly with hedges of thorn. The farm houses and offices have been also greatly improved; those of more recent erection are substantially built; and threshing-mills have been erected upon most of the farms, several of which are propelled by water-power. The hills afford good pasturage for cattle, which are generally of the Fifeshire breed. The woods consist principally of oak and ash; and the plantations, of larch, and spruce and Scotch firs, intermixed with various kinds of forest-trees. The chief substrata are, the old red sandstone, whinstone, varying in colour, and claystone-porphyry; the sandstone is quarried in several parts, as is likewise the whinstone, which is used for the construction of stone dykes. A post-office has been established at Milnathort (which see), as a branch of the principal office, and facility of communication with the neighbouring towns is maintained by roads kept in good order by statute labour, and by turnpike-roads which pass for fourteen miles through the parish. A weekly grain-market is held on Wednesday, and several fairs for cattle take place during the year. The rateable annual value of Orwell, according to the returns made under the incometax, is £12,533.

The parish is within the presbytery of Dunfermline and synod of Fife, and in the patronage of Sir Graham Montgomery, Bart., of Stanhope: the stipend is £156, with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum. The church, erected in 1729, is an exceedingly plain cruciform edifice, but conveniently situated, standing on a knoll above the village of Milnathort; it is adapted for a congregation of 646 persons. There is a place of worship for the United Associate Synod: a chapel, which formerly belonged to the Original Burghers, is now a chapel of ease to the Established Church. The parochial school, situated at Milnathort, affords a liberal course of instruction; the master has a salary of £34. 4., with £40 fees, and a house and garden. A branch of the Kinross Savings' Bank has been established here, which tends in some degree to diminish the number of applications for parochial aid. On the shore of Loch Leven are the remains of the old parish church, once an appendage of the monastery of Dunfermline; and near the village of Milnathort are the remains of Burleigh Castle, anciently a place of considerable importance and of great strength. Little more, however, than a portion of the inclosing rampart is remaining; all the timber has disappeared, and among it an ash of large dimensions, in the hollow trunk of which one of the lords Burleigh concealed himself from the pursuit of justice, but was at length apprehended and sentenced to be beheaded for murder. Upon a branch of the Ochil hills is Cairn-a-Vain, formerly an immense heap of stones raised over the grave of some warrior chief, but now much reduced by removing the stones for building dykes to inclose the lands: in the centre of it was found a rude stone coffin, containing an urn filled with burnt bones and charcoal. Urns of clay, containing burnt bones and ashes, have been discovered in various other places along the ridge of these hills. On the lands of Orwell farm are two upright stones about eight feet in height, supposed to be part of a Druidical circle; and near the same spot, stone coffins have been occasionally found, and great quantities of calcined bones and ashes are frequently turned up by the plough, at a depth of a foot and a half below the surface, and covered by a layer of loose small stones. Dr. Young, in whose arms the gallant General Sir Ralph Abercromby expired, was a native of this parish; and Dr. Coventry, late professor of agriculture in the university of Edinburgh, was proprietor of the estate of Shanwell.


OSNABURGH, a village, in the parish of Dairsie, district of Cupar, county of Fife, 2½ miles (N. E. by E.) from Cupar; containing 205 inhabitants. This is a neat village, situated in the eastern part of the parish, and on the high road from Cupar to St. Andrew's; it is built upon both sides of the road, in scattered groups of houses, and the common appellation given it is Dairsie-Muir. About a mile southward stands the church. Several public coaches pass through the place daily, and it is considered a thriving village.


OVERTOWN, a village, in the parish of Cambusnethan, Middle ward of the county of Lanark, 1 mile (S. by W.) from the village of Cambusnethan; containing 109 inhabitants. It lies in the south-western part of the parish, on the road from Stewarton to Dalserf.


OXNA, an isle, forming part of the parish of Tingwall, Whiteness, and Weesdale, county of Shetland; and containing 19 inhabitants. This is a small island in the bay of Scalloway, about four miles southwest of the village of Scalloway, and close to the isle of Papa. It has a rocky shore, and is nearly surrounded by rocks, among which are those known as the Stags.


OXNAM, a parish, in the district of Jedburgh, county of Roxburgh, 4 miles (E. S. E.) from Jedburgh; containing 653 inhabitants. This place, of which the name, anciently Oxenham, is supposed to be derived from the number of oxen in the immediate vicinity, formed part of the possessions of Gaufred de Percy, who granted a portion of the lands to the abbey of Jedburgh, then recently founded, which grant was confirmed by Malcolm IV. and William the Lion, Kings of Scotland. The parish is bounded on the south by the county of Northumberland; it is about ten miles in length and five miles in extreme breadth, and comprises 21,120 acres, of which 3480 are arable, 650 woodland and plantations, and 16,990 hilly moorland, pasture, and waste. The surface is strikingly diversified with hills and dales: on the south is a small part of the Cheviot range, to the north of which are various hills of conical form and verdant aspect. The valley of the Oxnam, traversing the whole length of the parish, is pleasingly undulated, and enlivened with the meanderings of its beautiful stream, of which the banks are in many places richly crowned with wood. The scenery of the entire parish, indeed, is varied, comprehending much natural beauty, and many highly picturesque and romantic features. Among the principal rivers is the Oxnam, which has its source about two miles from the English border, and, winding through the valley and passing the village, receives numerous tributary streams from the higher lands in its course of nearly twelve miles, and falls into the Teviot near Crailing. The Coquet water, issuing from the mountains on the border, skirts the parish on the south for nearly a mile, and, flowing through part of Northumberland, falls into the sea between Alnwick and Coquet isle. The Kale, whose source is in the same heights, runs through the upper portion of the parish, and, after a circuitous course of about seventeen miles, joins the Teviot at Eckford; the Jed flows through a rocky channel, and forms the western boundary of the parish for nearly two miles. There are numerous springs of excellent water, and one supposed to be chalybeate, but which, on being analyzed, was found to possess no medicinal properties whatever. The streams all abound with trout, and salmon are sometimes taken in the Oxnam.

The soil is various, combining almost every kind of loam, clay, and gravel, with considerable portions of heath and peat-moss: the crops are, oats, barley, wheat, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is in an improved state; the five-shift course of husbandry is prevalent, and the lands have been well drained and inclosed. Lime and bone-dust are the chief manures; and the crops are generally favourable and abundant, the farm houses and offices substantial and well arranged, and many of them handsome. Much care is bestowed upon the management of live-stock: the sheep are the Cheviots, with a few of the Leicestershire breed on the richer pastures; the cattle are all of the short-horned breed, and great attention is paid to their improvement. The woods consist of oak, ash, elm, and other trees, some of which are of stately growth; the plantations are chiefly larch and Scotch fir, intermixed with various kinds of forest-trees, and are in a very thriving condition. The principal substrata are, limestone, sandstone, and greywacke, with whinstone and seams of clay-slate: the limestone, from its great depth and the distance from coal, cannot be worked to advantage; but the sandstone, of durable quality and of a white colour, is quarried for building. The hills are mainly of trap-rock, and clay-porphyry is abundant, affording an ample supply of material for the roads; it is interspersed with veins of quartz, and the cavities abound with beautiful crystallized incrustations. Greenstone is also found in some places, intersected with veins of jasper. The manufacture of tiles, for which there is clay of good quality, has been recently commenced, and about twelve persons are at present employed. The parish has facility of communication with Jedburgh, Kelso, Hawick, and other places, by means of good roads, of which the turnpike-road from Edinburgh to Newcastle passes not far from Oxnam. A fair is held at Pennymuir in August for sheep and lambs, of which about 1400 are on the average sold; and on the 25th of March a statute fair is held for hiring shepherds and farm-servants. The rateable annual value of Oxnam is £7654.

The parish is in the presbytery of Jedburgh and synod of Merse and Teviotdale, and patronage of the Crown: the minister's stipend is £227. 1. 7., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £16 per annum. The church, erected in 1738, is a neat and substantial edifice in good repair, and is adapted for a congregation of 260 persons; the sittings are all free. The parochial school affords a liberal education to about forty children; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 4., with £12 fees, a house and garden, and £4. 3. 4., the interest arising from a bequest of Lady Yester for gratuitously teaching poor children. Lady Yester also bequeathed some cottages, and £1000 Scotch, for the relief of the poor not on the parish list; one cottage is still remaining, and the interest of the money, £4. 3. 4., is annually distributed among the most needy. There are some remains of the ancient chapel of Plenderleath, but the cemetery has long ceased to be used as a burial-place. Circular camps are found in various parts, the most conspicuous of which is situated on a height near Bloodylaws; and on a hill at Cunzierton is a British camp, with a double rampart surrounding the level summit of the hill. On the eminence called Pennymuir are the vestiges of a Roman camp of quadrilateral form, rounded at the angles, and comprising an area of about thirty acres; and the Roman road called Watling-street, leading to the northern parts of Britain, may be distinctly traced, for about six miles through the parish, to the camp at Pennymuir. There are numerous Druidical circles, of which two are tolerably entire, especially the smaller, sixteen yards in diameter; also numerous remains of ancient strongholds and towers, most probably erected during the times of the border warfare, as places of security, and for the concealment of cattle. To the west of one of these, called Henwood, is a rising ground named Galla-Know, formerly the place of execution for criminals; it is now inclosed and planted. In the heart of a natural amphitheatre, near the Crag Tower, is an artificial tumulus supposed to have been a place for dispensing justice. Various relics of antiquity have been found at different times, and some coins, among which was a shilling of Robert Bruce.


OYNE, a parish, in the district of Garioch, county of Aberdeen, 2 miles (S. S. E.) from Old Rain; containing 796 inhabitants. The word Oyne is thought to be derived from a Celtic term signifying a locality similar to an island or peninsula, and to have been applied to this place on account of its rivers apparently almost encompassing it. The boundary on the south is formed by the river Don, which separates it from Monymusk; and the Shevock and Ury respectively separate it, on the north-west from Insch, and on the north from Rayne. The latter river is joined on the east, at Chapel of Garioch, by the small stream Gady. The parish is of irregular figure, and measures in extreme length six miles, and three and a half in breadth; comprising 11,000 acres, of which 3200 are under tillage, 450 in natural grass, furze, and hill pasture, 2000 in wood and coppice, and the remainder in heath, moss, and outlying rock. The surface is chiefly distinguished by the lofty mountain of Benochee, extending from east to west about five miles, and from north to south about three and a half, and rising nearly 1400 feet from its base, and 1677 above the level of the sea. This eminence takes its name from a Gaelic word meaning the "hill of paps," in reference to its round protuberances on the summit, which are six in number, the highest being called the "mother top;" it is a royal forest or commonty, with certain rights granted by charters to estates in the vicinity, but is surrounded for three-fourths of its extent by inhabited houses and cultivated grounds belonging to this parish. The scenery, embracing so much diversity of surface, and so large a proportion of wood, is picturesque and beautiful, and derives additional interest from its varied and winding streams, of which the Don, rising in the mountains above Strathdon, and in its course along the boundary of Oyne affording excellent salmon and trout-fishing, is joined by the Ury about six miles eastward, and loses itself in the sea a little to the north of Old Aberdeen. The Ury, which, as well as its tributary water, the Gady, is well stocked with trout, eels, and pike, contributes materially to the ornamental and lively appearance of the northern portion of the parish.

The soil in general is a rich fertile earth, especially near the church and along the course of the Gady, where early crops are usually produced: on the sides of the mountain, and towards the south, it is inferior, being much mixed with rocky or sandy deposits; but is still for the most part of good average quality. The principal grain raised is oats and bear, the amount being nearly 6000 quarters annually; and black-cattle, chiefly of the native breed, also produce a profitable return, about 1200 being usually in stock, and 200 annually sold at the age of three years. Few sheep comparatively are kept; those on the hills are the black-faced, and some few are fed on the lower grounds of a larger and mixed breed, principally for the profit of the lambs and wool. The swine formerly reared, remarkable for their high back-bones, long snouts, and strong wiry bristles, have given place to a very improved short-legged cross from the continental breeds. The husbandry of the place participates in all the best usages of the surrounding districts, and is altogether on a highly respectable footing; the old system of in-field and out-field is entirely exploded, and the rotation of crops has been introduced. The necessary implements of agriculture are constructed on the most approved principles; large tracts of waste land have been reclaimed and cultivated within the present century, and most of the farms have the appendage of a good threshing-mill, driven either by horses or by water. The prevailing rock is red granite, of which the craggy tops of the mountain of Benochee consist; it also lies over the sides of the hill in large blocks, and beneath in masses, capable of being cut out to almost any size, and supplying an excellent material for various purposes. The stone used in the docks at Sheerness was quarried from the south side of Benochee, about twenty years ago. The mountain produces also Scotch topaz, felspar, and jasper, imbedded in the granite; but the rocks entirely change towards the northern base, and whinstone alone is found, of a dark blue colour, and very compact texture, well adapted for dykes and common walls. Large beds of peat-moss cover the rocky tops of the mountain, and the inhabitants of this and some neighbouring parishes obtain thence a plentiful supply of good peat fuel; but coal is also used occasionally, being brought from Newcastle to Aberdeen, and thence by canal to Port-Elphinstone, about eight miles distant. The rateable annual value of the parish is £3113.

The house of Westhall, in the northern part of Oyne, is ornamented with beautifully laid-out gardens and grounds; and the plantations, made in the 17th century, contain ash, elm, beech, plane, lime, and holly, some of them of considerable dimensions. The mansion of Pittodrie, which, like the ancient mansion of Westhall, has lately been enlarged and modernised, is situated on high ground on the east side of the mountain, bordering on Chapel of Garioch, and is surrounded with plantations of larch and other trees, among which are Scotch firs of the finest kind. The mansion of Tillyfour, on the south side of Benochee, and once belonging to the earls of Mar, is an old structure with a slated roof; it is situated in the vicinity of some extensive coppices of oak and birch, producing a valuable revenue from their bark, and in the same part are good plantations of fir. There are considerable facilities of communication. Two branches of the turnpike-road from Inverury pass through the parish, the one by Pitmachie towards Huntly, and the other by Insch to the same place; and besides other coaches, the mail to and from Inverness takes this route. The inhabitants send their produce, comprising grain, meal, and large quantities of butter, cheese, and eggs, to Port-Elphinstone, to be conveyed by canal to Aberdeen. A statute or market is held at Pitmachie for hiring servants, just before Whitsuntide and Martinmas. The parish is in the presbytery of Garioch and synod of Aberdeen, and in the patronage of Captain H. Knight Erskine, of Pittodrie: the minister's stipend is £161, with a manse, and a glebe of eight acres, valued at £15. 15. per annum. The church, situated on a gentle eminence at the north-east end of the parish, is a small plain edifice with a belfry, built in 1806. The population in the southern quarter, being at an inconvenient distance from their own church, and prevented by the nature of the ground from attending in bad weather, subscribed in aid of the erection of a church recently opened at Blairdaff, in the parish of Chapel of Garioch, to which they generally repair. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school affords instruction in Latin and mathematics as well as in all the usual branches; the master has a salary of £30, with a house and garden, a portion of the Dick bequest, and £12. 10. fees. On the north side of Benochee are the ruins of the castle of Harthill, once an important stronghold, and the last occupier of which was a notorious freebooter who, according to tradition, on a confederacy being raised to attack him, set fire to the building and fled to London, where he died in the King's Bench.