Shaint - Skirling

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

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'Shaint - Skirling', in A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, (London, 1846) pp. 461-467. British History Online [accessed 12 April 2024]

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SHAINT, isles, in the parish of Lochs, county of Ross and Cromarty. These are three small isles of the Hebrides, well known to mariners, lying in the channel between the islands of Lewis and Skye, and in the district of the former. One of them is called Ilaun Moair, or St. Mary's Island; and together they are sometimes designated the Holy Isles. On St. Mary's was anciently a chapel, dedicated to the Virgin. Black-cattle are pastured upon them all, and they are famous for fattening sheep; as are also some small rocks in their neighbourhood, which have fine grass upon their summits. A family usually resides on the largest, for the purpose of tending the cattle.


SHANDWICK, a village, in the parish of Nigg, county of Ross and Cromarty, 4½ miles (N. E.) from the village of Nigg; containing 192 inhabitants. It is a small place in the north-eastern part of the parish, and on the eastern shore of the county. Near the village is a large stone or obelisk, called Clach a Charridh in Gaelic, "the stone of the burial-ground;" in height it is eight feet, in breadth four, and in thickness one, and it is of great antiquity. According to tradition, it commemorates a shipwreck of Danes upon the coast, in which three sons of the king of Denmark perished, and were buried on this spot. For ages the ground around was used for sepulture, but it has not been so employed for the last sixty years.


SHAPINSHAY, an island and parish, in the county of Orkney, 3 miles (N. N. E.) from Kirkwall; containing 935 inhabitants. This island, which is bordered by the Frith of Stronsay, is said to have been visited by the Roman general Agricola, in his voyage round Britain; and a place still called Grucula, on the western coast, nearly opposite the Skerry of Vasa, where the tide is rapid and the sea shallow, is supposed to commemorate the loss of one of his ships, which, being driven by the violence of the waves, was stranded near the spot. In 1263, Haco, king of Norway, in his expedition against Alexander III. of Scotland, is said to have lain with the whole of his fleet for a considerable time in a harbour near Kirkwall, called Elidarwick, which is clearly identified with the harbour now designated Elwick, on the south-west coast of Shapinshay. The parish, which is of very irregular form, is about seven miles in length from south-west to north-east, and five miles in extreme breadth; and comprises about 6270 acres, of which not more than about 750 are arable, 2400 pasture, and the large remainder waste. The surface near the shore, and for a considerable distance inland, is low and comparatively level, but towards the centre rises gradually to a considerable elevation, terminating in a lofty hill commanding an extensive and richly diversified view over fifteen surrounding parishes, with the North Orkney isles and the various friths. The soil along the shore is rich and fertile, producing excellent crops of grain of different kinds, and the meadows and pastures are luxuriant; but the higher lands are sterile and unproductive, affording only scanty pasturage for sheep. The system of agriculture, with the exception of some farms in the hands of a proprietor, is in a very neglected state; and the general scenery is cheerless and dreary, from the want of wood and plantations. The substrata are chiefly sandstone and sandstone-flag, with clay and a little limestone.

Cliffdale, the residence of Captain William Balfour, a handsome modern mansion near the village of Elwick, is the only seat throughout the island. The small village of Elwick, built on the shore of the harbour by the late Colonel Balfour, is inhabited chiefly by fishermen, who for part of the year are engaged in the cod and herring fisheries, in which about fifty boats are employed. Eleven of these are during the season used in the cod-fishery, and the quantity taken generally averages about two and a half tons per boat, at £10 per ton; the average quantity of herrings is sixty cranes for each boat, which are sold at ten shillings per crane. The making of nets, of which about one hundred, valued at sixteen shillings each, are annually produced, also affords employment to a considerable number of persons; and nearly 200 of the female population of the parish are engaged in the manufacture of straw-plat. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of the North Isles and synod of Orkney; patron, the Earl of Zetland. The minister's stipend, including £8. 6. 8. for communion elements, is £158. 6. 8., of which half is paid from the exchequer; with a manse built in 1831, and a glebe valued at £21 per annum. The church is a neat and commodious structure erected in 1821. There is a place of worship for the United Associate Synod. The parochial school was established in 1804, and is well attended; the master has a salary of £25. 13. 3., with a small dwellinghouse, and the fees average about £10 per annum. A school is also supported by the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, the master of which has a salary of £15. Opposite to the mouth of the harbour is the small island of Elhardholm, where are some vestiges of an ancient chapel of which nothing is recorded: leadore has been found there, but it has never been wrought. There is a tolerably large upright stone in the parish, supposed to have been a Druidical altar; and on the north side, near the sea, is a large mass of black stone, prostrate, called the Stone of Odin. In Shapinshay are also several of those remains called Picts' houses, along the coast; and near Cliffdale, a subterranean building has been discovered, consisting of upright pillars of loose stones about four feet in height, supporting a roof of broad flag-stones that covered an area in which was found an ancient ring of gold.


SHAWHEAD, a village, in the parish of Kirkpatrick-Irongray, stewartry of Kirkcudbright, 8 miles (W.) from Dumfries; containing 84 inhabitants. It is a very small place, in the southern quarter of the parish, and contains one of two parochial schools. The church is distant from it, north-eastward, about four miles.


SHEEP, an isle, in the parish of Southend, county of Argyll. This is a small island, lying southward of the peninsula of Cantyre, and close to the island of Sanda. It is well calculated for the pasturage of a small number of sheep, from which circumstance it derives its name.


SHERIFFHALL-ENGINE, a hamlet, in the parish of Newton, county of Edinburgh, 1 mile (S. E.) from the village of Newton; containing 47 inhabitants. This is a small colliery-hamlet, lying in the southern part of the parish, near Sheriffhall Mains.

Shetland, or Zetland, Islands

SHETLAND, or ZETLAND, ISLANDS, forming, with Orkney, a maritime county, in the northern extremity of Scotland, bounded on the north by the North Sea, on the east by the German Ocean, and on the west by the Atlantic. They lie between 59° 51' and 60° 52' (N. Lat.) and 52' and 1° 57' (W. Long.), and extend for about seventy miles from north to south, and fifty-four miles from east to west; comprising an area of about 855 square miles, or 547,200 acres; 5530 houses, of which 5388 are inhabited; and containing a population of 30,558, of whom 13,176 are males, and 17,382 females. These islands, like those of Orkney, with which in their history they are closely identified, appear to have been visited by the Romans, though they effected no permanent settlement in either. They were at a very early period inhabited by the Picts, of Scandinavian origin, who, long after their defeat by Kenneth II., and the consequent union of the two kingdoms, continued, under his successors, to maintain in these distant territories a kind of independent sovereignty. As closely connected with the Orkneys, the islands were governed by a succession of petty kings till they were subdued by Harold Harfager, who attached them as appendages to the crown of Norway, and placed them under the government of a succession of Norwegian earls. On the marriage of James III., however, with the Princess Margaret of Norway, they became, and they have ever since remained, part of the kingdom of Scotland. After various grants to different individuals by succeeding monarchs, and their subsequent reversion to the crown, as detailed under the head of Orkney, the Shetlands became partly the property of Sir Lawrence Dundas, ancestor of the present superior, the Earl of Zetland, to whom they give that title.

Previously to the Reformation, Shetland formed part of the diocese of Orkney; at present it constitutes the synod of Shetland, and comprises the presbyteries of Lerwick and Burravoe, and twelve parishes. For civil purposes the islands are united with those of Orkney, forming one county under the jurisdiction of a sheriff-depute, who appoints two sheriffs-substitute, one for each of the districts. By the provisions of the act of the 2nd of William IV., Shetland is also associated with Orkney in returning a member to the imperial parliament. The only town of any importance is Lerwick, besides which there are merely the small town of Scalloway, with some villages and small hamlets on the coasts.

Shetland comprises a cluster of ninety islands, of which twenty-five are inhabited, and the remainder small holms principally appropriated to pasture. They are nearly contiguous to each other, and separated only by narrow sounds or friths, with the exception of Foula and Fair isle, of which the former is about twenty-five miles to the west, and the latter twenty miles to the south, of Mainland. Of the inhabited islands the principal is Mainland, above fifty-five miles in length and twenty-five miles in breadth. To the north of Mainland, from which it is separated by Yell Sound, is the island of Yell, twenty miles long and seven miles in average breadth, to the north of which, again, is the island of Unst, about twelve miles in length and from three to four in breadth. These three are the most important of the group. Of the other islands the largest is Fetlar, to the east of Yell, about four and a half miles in length and three and a half miles in breadth; and to the south of this, and opposite to Lerwick, is the island of Bressay, about four miles long and two miles in breadth. Of the two distant islands, Foula, supposed to be the Ultima Thule of the ancients, is three miles in length and a mile and a half in breadth; while Fair isle is about the same in length and two miles broad. Among the remaining inhabited islands are, Whalsay, Trondray, and the Out Skerries; and in addition to these are numerous small isles, holms affording pasturage to cattle, skerries covered by the tide at high water, and rocky islets, which it would be tedious to enumerate.

The general surface is diversified with hills, of which the highest, named Rona, has an elevation of 1476 feet above the level of the sea, but of the others few attain a height of 500 feet. Between these hills are valleys of pleasing appearance, of which those near the coasts have a wildly romantic character; but the great scarcity of trees detracts much from the beauty of the scenery. There are numerous springs of good water, and some of them send forth streams of moderate extent, none of which, however, can claim the appellation of rivers. The surface is also enlivened with lakes, many of picturesque character, and some of considerable size; most of them abound with trout, and in several are small islands on which are the remains of Pictish castles. On an island in Loch Strom are the ruins of a castle once inhabited by a son of one of the earls of Orkney.

Of the large number of acres, not more than 25,000 are arable and in cultivation; more than 500,000 of the remainder are hilly moorland pasture, water, and waste; and there are several fertile meadows, and wide tracts of moss affording an abundant supply of fuel. The soil is generally a light sand intermixed with clay and gravel, but in some parts a clayey loam; the most fertile lands are those near the coasts. The chief crops are, oats, bear, potatoes, and turnips. The system of husbandry is in a comparatively low state; but from the institution of agricultural associations, which award premiums for the breaking up of waste lands and for other improvements, there is every prospect of its advancing. The principal manure is sea-weed, of which great abundance is found upon the coasts, with dung, ashes of peat, and mould mixed together. Spade husbandry is still much in vogue; little has been done in the draining and inclosure of lands; and the want of good roads is a great obstacle to improvement. The cattle and sheep are both of the native breed, strong and hardy, though small in stature; of the former about 45,000, and of the latter about 80,000, are generally fed on the different pastures. Poultry are largely kept on the several farms, and swine are fed in great numbers. The horses, of which about 20,000 are pastured on the hills, are of the native breed, small, hardy, and sure-footed; they are well known as Shetland ponies or shelties, and not a few are reared for the supply of the southern markets.

The principal substrata are limestone and sandstone. The former is used for mortar, for which purpose it is burnt with peat, but it is not employed for agricultural purposes; sandstone-slate is also found, and quarried for roofing. The prevailing rocks are of granite, gneiss, mica and clay slate, limestone, and serpentine; copper and iron ores are found, and also chromate of iron, of which great quantities have been quarried from the serpentine rocks in Unst. From the remains of ancient trees found in the mosses, there is every reason to conclude that the islands formerly abounded with wood, though at present, except in one or two gardens, in which are a few sycamores, there is scarcely a tree of any kind to be seen. The residences of the proprietors of land are, Gloup, Midbrake, Busta, Greenbank, Buness, Reawick, Belmont, Hammer, Lund, Uyeasound, Uyea, Brough Lodge, Smithfield, Reafirth, West Sandwick, Burravoe, Symbister, Gardie House, Ollaberry, and others.

The chief manufactures are, the knitting of wool into stockings, gloves, and shawls, and the weaving of coarse woollen-cloth; the fleece of the Shetland sheep is remarkably soft, and has been wrought into stockings of so fine a quality as to sell for forty shillings per pair. The manufacture of kelp, for which the coasts do not afford so ample a supply of material, is not carried on to so great an extent as in the Orkneys. The main dependence of the population is the cod, ling, and herring fisheries, for which convenient stations have been established on the coasts, at Unst, Delting, Yell, Fetlar, Bressay, Scalloway, Northmavine, Papa-Stour, and other places. Among the fish taken are, tusk, haddock, skate, halibut, flounders, and oysters of very large size; the shores also teem with saith, or coal-fish, which form part of the food of the inhabitants, and, according to their size, are called sillocks and piltocks. The trade embraces the exportation of dried fish, herrings, oil, butter, beef, cattle, sheep, Shetland ponies, hosiery, and shawls; and the importation of almost every requisite for the use of the fisheries, clothing, manufactured goods of all kinds, groceries, and numerous other articles for the supply of the inhabitants. The port is Lerwick, where is the custom-house; and exclusively of the sloops employed in the fisheries, the number of vessels registered as belonging to the place is seventy, of the aggregate burthen of above 2000 tons. Vessels on their voyage to the Greenland whale-fisheries, and to those of Davis' Straits, touch at this port, where they take in a considerable number of men, who are much esteemed for their skill and intrepidity. On Sumburgh Head, the southern extremity of Mainland, is a substantial and elegant lighthouse, erected at a cost of £40,000, displaying a fixed light visible at a distance of twenty-two nautical miles. The annual value of the Shetland Isles, as assessed to the income-tax, is £19,929. The remains of antiquity are, Pictish castles, which are found in profusion, in many instances on islands in the lakes; tumuli, which were found to contain human bones inclosed with square stones; the ruins of churches and religious houses, among which are those of St. Hilary's kirk; Druidical pillars; old forts, of which one consists of two concentric circular mounds of earth and stone; numerous barrows; and various other relics, which are noticed under the heads of the islands and parishes in which they occur.


SHETTLESTON, lately an ecclesiastical district, in the parish of Barony, and within the jurisdiction of the city of Glasgow, county of Lanark; containing, with the villages of Westmuir and Tollcross, 7220 inhabitants, of whom 1543 are in the village of Shettleston, 3 miles (E. by S.) from Glasgow. This district, which for ecclesiastical purposes was separated by act of the General Assembly, in 1835, from the Barony parish, an arrangement now set aside, is about four miles in length and three miles in average breadth, and comprises nearly 3800 acres. The surface is varied, the soil generally fertile, and the lands in profitable cultivation. The substratum is principally coal, of which there are numerous mines in active operation; there are also quarries of good sandstone: fossils of fish, and of trees and vegetable substances, are frequently found in the coal beds. The Monkland canal passes through the northern part of the district, affording facility for conveying the produce of the collieries to Glasgow and other places. The chief village is situated on the road to Edinburgh; and there are several other villages in the district, including Tollcross, Sandyhills, Westmuir, Parkhead, and Lightburn, inhabited by persons mostly employed in agriculture, in the mines, and in hand-loom weaving. The village of Tollcross owes its origin to the Clyde iron-works, in its immediate vicinity. Tollcross House, an ancient mansion, was built about the middle of the 17th century; and there are several other mansions, of which the chief are Gartcraig, Easterhill, Dolbeth, and Sandyhills. The late quoad sacra parish was in the presbytery of Glasgow and synod of Glasgow and Ayr: the minister's stipend was £100, without either manse or glebe, paid from the seat-rents by the managers and subscribers, who were the patrons. The church, built by subscription of the several landholders, in 1752, is a neat structure containing 911 sittings. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship; and in the village of Tollcross is one for members of the Relief. There are two parochial schools, in one of which are 135 children, and in the other fifty. The late Captain Robert Tennent bequeathed £460, of which the interest is distributed among the poor.


SHEWALTON, a village, in the parish of Dundonald, district of Kyle, county of Ayr, 5 miles (W. by S.) from Kilmarnock; containing 219 inhabitants. This is a colliery village seated on the bank of the Irvine, in the northern quarter of the parish. The colliery has been a considerable time in operation, and the produce is largely exported: the depth of the shaft is thirty-five fathoms, and there are two seams of coal, the one thirty-four, and the other forty-three inches thick, the distance between the two being about sixteen feet. In the village is a school.


SHIELDAG, lately a quoad sacra parish, partly in the parish of Gairloch, but chiefly in the parish of Applecross, county of Ross and Cromarty, 10 miles (N. W.) from Lochcarron; containing 1899 inhabitants, of whom 188 are in the village. This place includes the north-eastern portion of the parish of Applecross, which, together with the south-western part of the parish of Gairloch, was separated from those parishes for ecclesiastical purposes, and erected into a quoad sacra parish, by act of the General Assembly, in 1833. The district is about eighteen miles in extreme length, and nearly fifteen miles in breadth, comprising a large extent of surface, of which, with the exception of some narrow strips of land near the coast, the whole is one continued tract of barren rocky hills, affording only scanty pasturage for a few flocks of sheep and herds of cattle. The soil of the very small proportion under cultivation is tolerably fertile, producing favourable crops of barley, oats, and potatoes; but there is nothing either in the system of husbandry, or in the management of the lands, requiring any particular notice. The population, except two or three families in the interior who are employed in the feeding of sheep and cattle, are resident on the coast, and place their chief dependence on the fisheries, which are carried on to a considerable extent. The agricultural produce, beyond what is requisite for the supply of the inhabitants, is sent to Glasgow; and the few sheep and cattle reared in the pastures are sold to small dealers in the adjacent districts, who purchase for the more distant markets. The coast is indented on the east by Loch Shieldag, which forms an inlet from the centre of Loch Torridon towards the south, and is about two miles and a half in length and one mile in mean breadth, and an excellent station for vessels employed in the herring-fisheries.

The village is situated on the west of Loch Shieldag, and consists chiefly of irregularly-built cottages extending along the shore, and inhabited by fishermen who, at their intervals of leisure, are employed in the cultivation of the lands. The fish taken here are, salmon, which are found in considerable numbers, yielding a tolerable rent to the proprietors, cod, ling, sythe, cuddy, flounders, and various other kinds of white-fish, with shell-fish of different sorts, among which the cockle and muscle are found in large quantities. Several boats are also engaged in the herring-fishery, which is carried on to a good extent, affording the principal means of subsistence for the inhabitants. Within a small distance from the village is a natural wood of fir, producing excellent timber for boat-building and other purposes. Facility of inland communication is maintained by the turnpike-road from Shieldag to Lochcarron, the nearest post-town, from which letters are brought by a carrier at the public expense; and several foot-roads intersect the parish in various directions, all of which are kept in decent repair. Loch Shieldag affords safe anchorage to the vessels employed in the fisheries, and at Loch Torridon are ample opportunities of conveyance to distant ports. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery of Lochcarron and synod of Glenelg. The church was built in 1827, by parliamentary grant, at a cost, including the manse, of £1480; and is a neat substantial structure containing 300 sittings. The minister's stipend is £120, paid from the exchequer; with a manse and garden: patron, the Crown. A place of worship in connexion with the Established Church, and in which the minister of Shieldag preaches once a month, was erected at Kishorn by the proprietor of Applecross and a few of the inhabitants; it is a commodious structure containing 200 sittings. A school is supported from the funds of the General Assembly; and there is a Free church.


SHIRGARTON, a hamlet, in the parish of Kippen, county of Perth; containing 80 inhabitants. It is a small place, situated in a detached portion of Perthshire surrounded by Stirlingshire, and a short distance westward of the village of Kippen.


SHONA, an island, in that part of the parish of Ardnamurchan which formed part of the late quoad sacra parish of Aharacle, county of Inverness; containing 110 inhabitants. This island is situated in Loch Moidart, on the western coast, and is between three and four miles long and one mile and a half broad, and composed for the most part of masses of rock, rather scantily covered with heath and wood, but exhibiting here and there spots of great verdure and fertility. The dwelling-house of the principal resident, and the scenery around it, are very beautiful. In the island are numerous creeks for fishing-boats, which are resorted to in the cod-fishing season by crews from the Southern Highlands: there is also excellent and secure anchorage for shipping.


SHONAVEG, an island, in that part of the parish of Ardnamurchan which formed part of the late quoad sacra parish of Aharacle, county of Inverness; containing 26 inhabitants. This is a small isle, on the east side of Shona island, in Loch Moidart.


SHOTTS, Lanarkshire.—See Bertram-Shotts.


SHUNA, an island of the Hebrides, in the parish of Kilbrandon, district of Lorn, county of Argyll; containing 69 inhabitants. It is a small isle on the coast of the county, separated from the island of Luing by a sound of its own name. The isle is noted for its slate and limestone quarries; and there is a quay for the accommodation of vessels engaged in the export of these articles.


SIBBALDBIE, Dumfries.—See Applegarth and Sibbaldbie.


SILVERBANKS, a village, in the parish of Cambuslang, Middle ward of the county of Lanark; containing 150 inhabitants. It is one of thirteen small villages and hamlets in the parish, the inhabitants of which are principally miners, or weavers who work for the manufacturers of Glasgow.


SIMPRIN, county of Berwick.—See Swinton.


SINCLAIRTON, Fife.—See Clairtown, St., and Pathhead.


SKATERAW, a hamlet, in the parish of Innerwick, county of Haddington, 1 mile (N. E.) from the village of Innerwick; containing 72 inhabitants. It lies in the northern extremity of the parish, on the road from Berwick to Dunbar, and has a small harbour opening into the Frith of Forth, erected some years since by Messrs. Brodie, of Thorntonloch, and Lee, of Skateraw; it is used for the export of lime, and import of coal.


SKEILAY, an isle, in the parish of Harris, county of Inverness. This is a small isle of the Hebrides, of somewhat triangular shape, lying at the western entrance of the sound of Harris, and about a mile and a half distant northward from the island of Pabbay. On the west side is the islet, of very minute size, called Little Skeilay.


SKENE, a parish, in the district and county of Aberdeen, 9 miles (W. by. N.) from the city of Aberdeen; containing 1846 inhabitants. This place, which is of some antiquity, was originally part of the royal forests of the kings of Scotland, and was granted to the ancestor of the ancient family of Skene by Malcolm Canmore, as an acknowledgment of his having saved the life of that monarch by killing with his dirk a wild boar by which the king was attacked while hunting in the forest. In commemoration of that event, the intrepid defender of his sovereign assumed for his family name the Gaelic term Skian, signifying "a dagger or dirk," which eventually extended to the estate, and from which the present name of the parish is obviously derived. The lands continued to descend from the ancestor of the family, by direct succession, to his heirs, till the year 1827, when the family became extinct; they are now the property of the Earl of Fife, as heir of entail. The parish is bounded on the west and on the south by the Leuchar, separating it from the parishes of Echt and Peterculter respectively; and is about six miles in length and four miles in extreme breadth, comprising 9400 acres, of which 6350 are arable, 1300 woodland and plantations, and the remainder moorland, moss, and waste. The surface is diversified with numerous small hills of moderate height, of which the summits are mostly planted with fir, adding much to the pleasing character of the scenery; and there are also interspersed fertile valleys in a high state of cultivation, contrasting with several large tracts of moor and moss. On the south-west boundary is Loch Skene, a fine sheet of water of elliptic form, about three miles in circumference, and twelve feet in its greatest depth; it abounds with pike and eels, and, receiving numerous small rivulets, forms a natural reservoir for supplying water-power to several mills and other works. The only stream resembling a river is the Leuchar burn, which issues from Loch Skene, and, after passing southward along the western boundary of the parish, takes an eastern course along its southern limit, and flows through the parish of Peterculter into the Dee, on the borders of Kincardineshire.

The soil is generally light and gravelly, of different degrees of fertility in different parts, but on the old infield lands most productive; the chief crops raised in the parish are oats and barley, together with potatoes and turnips, and the usual grasses. The system of husbandry is greatly improved; the lands have been mostly drained; and where the common mode has not been found sufficiently effectual, furrow-draining has been adopted. Considerable tracts of waste have been reclaimed and brought under profitable cultivation. The lands have been inclosed, chiefly with fences of stone, for the erection of which materials are found in abundance; and the farm-buildings, recently much improved, are generally substantial and well arranged. The hills and moorlands afford good pasture for sheep and cattle, and much attention is paid to live-stock; but few sheep are reared, many of the sheep-walks having within the last few years been converted into plantations. The cattle, of which nearly 2500 are kept, are usually of the native breed, and considerable numbers are sent from Aberdeen to the London markets. A few horses for agricultural purposes are also bred on the several farms, and these are generally hardy and robust. The plantations, with the exception of some timber on the lands of Skene, are generally of recent formation: they consist of ash, pine, plane, willow, the various kinds of fir, and larix, for which the soil seems to be congenial; they are well managed, and regularly thinned. There is nothing peculiar in the geology; the rocks afford stone of good quality for the construction of fences, and the principal substrata are sand, gravel, and clay. The rateable annual value of the parish is £7397. Skene House, one of the seats of the Earl of Fife, is situated in the western portion of the parish, and has been recently enlarged: the more ancient portion, for many generations the residence of the family of the Skenes, is in good preservation. The walls of the mansion are of great thickness; and the interior, which has been lately fitted up anew, contains many stately apartments, a fine collection of pictures, and a library of more than 6000 volumes. The demesne is embellished with timber of venerable growth, among which are a stately chesnut-tree on the lawn, and some beautiful silver firs in the avenue; the plantations of more recent date are also extensive, and improve the scenery. Easter-Skene, a mansion in the Elizabethan style, erected by the present proprietor, and situated in a well-planted demesne commanding a view of Loch Skene and the lower range of the Grampians; and Kirkville House, a handsome residence in the cottage style, are the other principal seats.

There is no village properly so called. A factory for the spinning of woollen yarn, of which the machinery is driven by the water of Loch Skene, and, on the failure of that power, by steam, has been established at Garlogie by Messrs. Hadden and Sons, of Aberdeen; and about 120 persons are constantly employed here, in connexion with their carpet-manufactory in that city. This factory is conducted with the most scrupulous regard to the comfort of the work-people, for whose accommodation there are neat cottages, and a schoolroom for the instruction of their children under a master and assistants maintained by the company. Several of the inhabitants of Skene follow the handicraft trades requisite for the wants of the neighbourhood; there are shops in various parts for the sale of different wares, and some inns. Facility of communication is afforded by the turnpike-roads from Aberdeen to Alford and Strathdon, and to Tarland and Kincardine, which branch from one road near its eastern boundary, and on the former of which is an office under the post-office of Aberdeen, whence letters are regularly delivered; there are also several good roads kept in repair by statute labour. The ecclesiastical affairs are under the superintendence of the presbytery and synod of Aberdeen. The minister's stipend is £158. 6. 8., of which one-third is paid from the exchequer; with a manse, and a glebe valued at £20 per annum: patron, the Earl of Fife. The church, which is situated nearly in the centre of the parish, was built in 1801, and has been recently repaired; it is a neat substantial structure, and contains 700 sittings. There are places of worship for members of the Free Church, and Independents. The parochial school is attended by more than sixty children, and the master has a salary of £30, with a house, an allowance of £2 in lieu of garden, and the fees, averaging about £18; he also participates in the Dick bequest, and receives £20 from a bequest by Dr. Milne, of Bombay, for the gratuitous instruction of twenty-five poor children. There are several Sabbath schools, numerously attended; and a parochial library, in which is a collection of upwards of 600 volumes, is supported by subscription. The principal relics of antiquity are some remains of Druidical circles, and vestiges of a Roman road leading from the river Dee to the Don, which may still be traced in its progress through the parish, and near which were lately found two Roman urns, a sword, and some spear heads, at present in the possession of the former proprietor of Kirkville. In Skene House are preserved some manuscripts of a date prior to the invention of printing, and a charter of Robert Bruce confirming the original grant of the lands by Malcolm Canmore. The identical "skian" with which the wild boar was killed, is said to be in the possession of a distant relative of the family.


SKEOTISWAY, an isle, in the parish of Harris, county of Inverness. It is one of a large group of isles lying in East Loch Tarbert, and is about a mile in length, and of very irregular form.


SKERRIES, islands, forming part of the parish of Nesting, Lunnasting, and Whalsay, in the county of Shetland; and containing 122 inhabitants. These are three small isles, sometimes called the Out Skerries, in contradistinction to the Pentland Skerries, and named respectively Bruray, Grunay, and Housay. They lie about fifteen miles north-east from Whalsay, and twenty miles distant from the Mainland: on the western side are several detached rocks, and ten miles north-west of the group is the islet of Muckle Skerry. Each of the three islands is about a mile in extent, and in all are beds of primitive limestone associated with gneiss. The population consists of fishermen and their families. A lighthouse on the low rocks here would materially contribute to the security of the whole of the eastern coast, and in war time would be particularly advantageous, as naval vessels are then almost constantly cruising between the Naze of Norway and the Isles of Shetland.


SKETRAW, a village, in the parish of Fetteresso, county of Kincardine, 6 miles (N. E. by N.) from Stonehaven; containing 183 inhabitants. This village, which is situated on the eastern coast, to the north of Stranathro, is chiefly inhabited by persons employed in the white-fishery, which is carried on to a considerable extent, and in which seven boats, having each a crew of five persons, are regularly engaged. Great quantities of haddocks are taken here, of which, after supplying the markets in the immediate neighbourhood, considerable numbers are cured, and sent by the Edinburgh steamers to the London market. During the season, the inhabitants are also engaged in the herring-fisheries at Peterhead and Fraserburgh.


SKIANID, a village, in the parish of Tongue, county of Sutherland, 3½ miles (N. by W.) from Tongue church; containing 243 inhabitants. This place is situated on the western shore of the Kyle of Tongue, where the indentations form a kind of harbour, protected by a small island called Rabbit island. Southward of the village is a ferry to the opposite side of the Kyle, leading to the village of Tongue.


SKILTIEMUIR, a hamlet, in the parish of Cockpen, county of Edinburgh; containing 45 inhabitants.


SKIPNESS, county of Argyll.—See Saddell.


SKIRLING, a parish, in the county of Peebles, 2 miles (E. N. E.) from Biggar; containing 345 inhabitants, of whom 75 are in the village, and the remainder in the rural districts. This place, of which the name, in some ancient documents written Scrawline, is of uncertain derivation, is undistinguished by any historical event prior to the reign of Robert the Bruce, by whom the barony, together with the advowson of the church, was granted to John Monfode, to whose successors the gift was confirmed by charter of David II. From this family the barony passed to the Cockburns, and subsequently to various other families till the time of the Revolution, when it was in the possession of General Douglas, a member of the Queensberry family, after whose death at the battle of the Boyne it was purchased by John, first Earl of Hyndford, and given to his second son, the honourable William Carmichael, whose descendant Sir Thomas Gibson Carmichael, Bart., is the present proprietor. The parish is two miles and a half in length and nearly the same in breadth, and comprises about 3330 acres, of which 2610 are arable, 40 woodland plantations, and the remainder rough pasture and waste. The surface is pleasingly undulated, in some parts rising into hills of inconsiderable height. The Biggar water, which skirts the parish for some distance on the south, and is the principal stream, has been recently deepened, so as to receive the numerous drains that have been laid down for the improvement of the lands, by which means, and by embankments, a considerable portion of unproductive ground has been reclaimed and brought into profitable cultivation. The scenery is varied; but the want of wood and plantations renders it destitute of beauty, and the imperfect state of the inclosures gives it rather a bleak appearance. The soil, however, is generally fertile, and the pastures rich, with the exception of a few patches: the crops are, oats, barley, potatoes, and turnips. The system of agriculture is advanced, and the rotation plan of husbandry usually practised; the lands are well drained, and the more recent improvements in implements have been introduced. Lime, brought from a great distance, is plentifully used as manure; and the farm-buildings, though inferior to some others in the adjoining districts, are substantial and commodious. The dairy forms a principal object of attention; the cows are mostly of the Ayrshire breed, and so much care has been bestowed on their improvement that many of the premiums awarded at the annual exhibition of Biggar have been adjudged to the farmers of this place. Few sheep are reared, and these are all of the black-faced breed. The woods are chiefly ash, elm, beech, and plane; and plantations, Scotch and spruce firs, intermixed with various kinds of forest-trees. The rateable annual value of the parish is £2258.

The village is pleasantly situated, and has facility of communication with Biggar, the nearest market-town, and with other places in the district, by good statute roads kept in excellent repair, and by turnpike-roads which pass for three miles within the parish. Fairs are held here on the third Tuesday after the 11th of May, the first Wednesday after the 11th of June, and the 15th of September, for cattle and horses, and are well attended. There is a small prison in the village for the temporary confinement of offenders, under the jurisdiction of a baron-bailie appointed by the lord of the barony. The parish is in the presbytery of Biggar and synod of Lothian and Tweeddale, and patronage of Sir Thomas G. Carmichael: the minister's stipend is £216. 4. 10., with a manse, and the glebe is valued at £60 per annum. The church, which is conveniently situated, is an ancient edifice; it was thoroughly repaired in 1720, is still in good condition, and adapted for a congregation of 200 persons. The members of the Free Church have a place of worship. The parochial school is well conducted, and affords a liberal education to the children of the parish; the master has a salary of £34. 4. 4½ with £25 fees, and a house and garden. Attached to the school is a library supported by subscription, which has a collection of about 300 volumes of well-selected works. A friendly society, also, has been established for more than forty years, which has tended greatly to diminish the number of applications for parochial aid. There are no vestiges of the ancient castle of Skirling, the very site of which has been obliterated by the plough. It was long the residence of the Cockburn family, of whom Sir James Cockburn in the 16th century held the castle of Edinburgh for Mary, Queen of Scots, and was appointed one of her commissioners at the conference held at York. From the fidelity with which he adhered to the fortunes of that queen, he became obnoxious to the regent Murray, by whose order his castle of Skirling was utterly demolished in 1568. Several coins of Adrian and Antoninus have been found at Greatlaws, in the parish, within the last thirty years; and near the same place were discovered some very ancient sepulchres, formed of upright flags of whinstone covered with a slab of the same material. At Kirklaw Hill are slight remains of some religious establishment of which the history is altogether unknown. Howe, the celebrated painter of cattle, was a native of Skirling.