Evie and Rendall


"Evie, a parish in the NE of Mainland in Orkney, containing Dale hamlet, 16 miles NW of Kirkwall, and a post office (Kyle), with money order and savings bank departments, and having a company of artillery volunteers.

The present parish has, since the Reformation era, comprised the ancient parishes of Evie and Rendall: Evie on the N, Rendall on the S; and it lies near Enhallow island, within a mile of Rousay, Wire, and Gairsay islands, and 2½ miles W of Shapinshay. Bounded N and E by the sea, S by Firth, and W by Harray and Birsay, it has an utmost length from NW to SE of 10½, miles, an utmost breadth of 4½ miles, and an area of 14,720 acres. Costa Head terminates the north. western extremity of Evie, and is a hill of considerable size and elevation, presenting to the ocean a front of precipitous rock. No other headland of any importance is on the coast, nor are there any of those deep indentations elsewhere so frequent in Orkney. The beach, excepting at Woodwick Bay, is rocky, and forms, in some parts, a mural bulwark acrainst the billows, but in others is low and flat. Woodwick Bay, on the mutual boundary of Evie and Rendall, penetrates 1⅓ mile inland, and has a beach of beautiful white shell sand. Gairsay island, which belongs to Rendall, is nearly circular, and measures 4 miles in, circumference. From Costa Head a range of monotonous hills, 200 to 734 feet in height, and moorish mostly or mossy, extends along all the Birsay and Harray border, and sends out spurs, less lofty than itself, into the interior of Rendall. Swaney Loch (11 x 1¼ mile) interrupts that hill-range at a distance of 1½ mile from Costa head, and discharges itself, by a streamlet through Birsay, to the ocean. The hills were formerly all in a state of commonage, but began about 1841 to be divided. The arable land is all a gentle slope from time skirts of the hills to the shore, varying in breadth from ½ to 1½ mile. The rocks range from blue slate to white sandstone, and some are as hard as flint and as dark as lava, while others are soft and of a brownish-grey hue. Naturally a fine agricultural district (the best land facing northward), the arabic soil is mostly a rich black loam, and has generally a lighter and sharper character in Rendall than in Evie. Agriculture is further advanced in the latter than in the former division, the estate of Swammey having been much improved by the proprietor. A peat moss occupies an entire large vale in Rendall; and other peat mosses, which might easily be drained, occupy hollows in other low tracts. Turbary moss, affording an inexhaustible supply of excellent peat fuel, abounds in the vales or hollows among the hills. Aikerness, Isbister, Swaney, Rendall Hall, and Burgar are chief residences; and the first was the birthplace of the judge, Sir William Honyman, Bart. (1756-1825). Numerous tumuli are in Evie; no fewer than nine Picts' houses stand along the shores of Evie and Rendall; and a small old farmhouse at Cottascarth in Rendall, on being taken down in 1832, was found to have concealed in its walls 150 silver coins, a few of them Scottish, and most of the others of Elizabeth, James VI., and Charles I. Evie and Rendall is in the presbytery of Kirkwall and synod of Orkney; the living is worth £245. Evie church, built towards the close of the eighteenth century, contains 498 sittings; in 1891 a gallery was erected seated for 56 persons. Other places of worship are Rendall chapel of ease and a Free church; and the four schools of Costa, Evie, Rendall, and Gairsay, with respective accommodation for 65, 89, 86, and 20 children, had (1891) an average attendance of 36, 63, 55, and 6, and grants of £57, 3s., £64, 15s., £78, 13s. 6d., and £20, 14s. 6d. Valuation (1881) £2163, l0s. Gd., (1891) £3485, 14s. l1d. Pop. (1801) 1415, (1831) 1450, (1851) 1408, (1871) 1340, (1881) 1351, (1891) 1233."

From Francis Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1896



Rendall Congregational Church: by Rev. Alexander Goodfellow. Published 1913 in The Orcadian. Part 1; page 3, 29 March 1913: Part 2; page 3,5 April 1913.


Church Records

Until 1802 the two parishes were separate. The registers of Rendall were all destroyed when the house in which they were kept burned. All records before 1802 are from Evie parish.

  • Baptisms, 1725-1854. Incomplete 1756-57. Irregular and incomplete 1801-19. Before 1760 only the mother was not named.
  • Marriages, 1725-1854. No entries 1756-59 and Mar 1802-Dec 1813.
  • Burials, 1816-1836 only.

Other church records (held at Orkney Archives in Kirkwall).

  • Ref:OCR/KC/10: Baptisms (for Evie only from 1896) 1855-1931, Baptisms scroll 1855-1872, Proclamations of marriage banns 1855-1931, Communion Roll 1830-1847, 1850-1867, 1904-1930.
  • Ref: OCR/FC/8: Evie & Rendall Free Kirk Baptisms 1875-1926, Marriages 1875-1926, Communion Roll 1890-1926 and 1928-1931.
  • Ref: OCR/KC/17: Rendall Kirk Parish register 1895-1936.

Civil Registration

The Registrar of births, deaths, and marriages for the parishes of Evie and Rendall.
The Registrar's records extend back only as far as 1st January 1855 when registration became compulsory in Scotland.


Description & Travel

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