"NESTING, a parish in the Shetland Islands, Scotland. It is in the mainland, and in the shire of Orkney and Shetland, with the ancient parishes of Lunnasting and Whalsay and the detached islands of the Skerries, annexed. It extends about 18 miles in length, with an extreme breadth of 4 miles. The inequalities of the surface are considerable, the principal elevations being Catfirth, Doure, and Vidlaw roes. The cultivated portion of the parish is but small, the surface being chiefly bare and mossy. There are neither roads nor bridges, and agriculture is in a very backward state. The inhabitants are chiefly engaged in the fisheries, and consider the cultivation of the land as only a secondary object. Limestone, granite, syenite, and mica slate are abundant, but gneiss is the prevailing rock."

From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

"NESTING, a parish of Shetland, whose church stands on the NW side of South Nesting Bay, 8 miles N of the post-town, Lerwick. It comprises the ancient parishes of Nesting, Lunnasting, and Whalsay; and includes a district of the eastern mainland, the inhabited islands of Whalsay and Bound, Brurie, Gruna, and Housie Skerries, and a number of uninhabited islets.

The mainland district, extending from Lunnaness to Gletness, is bounded N by Yell Sound, E and SE by the North Sea, and W by Tingwall and Delting. Its utmost length, in a direct line from NNE to SSW, is 15 miles; its breadth varies between 1 mile and 5½ miles; and the area of the whole parish is 485/8 square miles or 30, 982 acres. The islands form the two groups of Whalsay and Out-Skerries, and lie mostly at distances of from 2 to 8 miles E of the nearest points of the mainland. They constitute the quoad sacra parish of Whalsay and Skerries, and will be separately noticed. The coast of the mainland district projects the bold headlands of Lunna Ness, Lunning Head, Stava Ness, Eswick, and Railsbrough, and is deeply indented by the voes or bays of Swining, Vidlin, Dury, South Nesting, and Cat Firth. The interior in its physical features and agricultural character differs little or nothing from those of the other parts of the mainland. It contains a score of little fresh--water lakes, and attains a maximum altitude of 423 feet above sea-level at Laxowater Hill. Gneiss is the predominant rock; but granite, syenite, mica slate, and crystalline limestone also occur. About 000 acres are in tillage; and most of the rest of the land is either pastoral or waste. The inhabitants give but secondary attention to agriculture, being mainly employed in the fisheries. Nearly all the property is divided among six. Nesting is in the presbytery of Olnafirth and the synod of Shetland; the living is worth £157. The parish church, built in 1794, is amply commodious. An Established chapel of ease is at Lunna in Lunnasting; and the six schools of Lunnasting, North Nesting, South Nesting, Whalsay, Livister, and Skerries -all of them public but the last-with total accommodation for 428 children, had (1883) an average attendance of 203, and grants amounting to £191, 4s. 9d. Valuation (1860) £1565, (1884) £2695, 18s. 2d. Pop. (1801) 1941, (1831) 2103, (1861) 2583, (1871) 2679, (1881) 2626, of whom 1599 were in the ecclesiastical parish."

F.H. Groome Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, 1882-4


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Topographical Dictionary of Scotland, Samuel Lewis - 1851

LUNASTING. See Nesting, county of Shetland.

NESTING-LUNASTING-AND-WHALSAY, a parish (united), in the county of Shetland; containing 2294 inhabitants. This parish consists of the three districts or ancient parishes of Nesting, Lunasting, and Whalsay, with the small islands of the Skerries on the north-east. It is from eighteen to twenty miles in length, supposing the whole of the land to be continuous; and about four miles in average breadth. About 1000 acres are arable, and the remainder undivided waste or pasture, common to the tenants of the two principal proprietors. Lunasting and Nesting are situated on the Mainland, but are separated from each other by an arm of the sea; the latter has the island of Whalsay on the east, and Catfirth voe or harbour on the south. The inhabitants are principally engaged in fishing, agriculture being but a subordinate occupation, and followed by the people only so far as oats, potatoes, and other vegetables are urgently required as a part of their subsistence. The system of husbandry is therefore on the worst footing, and no improvements have been made in tillage during the last half century. The population, however, has advanced in numbers beyond the average ratio of other parishes in the Shetland Isles, in consequence of the two chief heritors making numerous new settlements, here called outsets, on lands formerly uncultivated. The annual value of real property in the parish is £862; and the average rent of land, about £1 per merk. Gneiss is the prevailing rock, but primitive limestone, mica-slate, sienite, and granite are also found; and peat, which constitutes the principal fuel, exists in great abundance. A large mansion has been erected in Whalsay, at an expense of £20,000, by Mr. Bruce of Simbister, the material being grey granite imported across the sound of Whalsay; it consists of three stories, and has a wing on each side with extensive and convenient offices.

SKERRIES, islands, in the parish of Nesting-Lunasting-and-Whalsay, in the county of Shetland; containing 12'2 inhabitants. These are three small isles, sometimes called the Out Skerries, in contradistinction to the Pentland Skerries, and they are 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 eastern coast of Shetland, and in war time would be particularly advantageous, as vessels are then almost constantly cruising between the Naze of Norway and the Isles of Shetland.

WHALSAY, an island, in the parish of Nesting-Lunasting-and-Whalsay, county of Shetland; containing 628 inhabitants. This island is situated eastward of the Mainland, on which are Nesting and Lunasting, the other portions of the parish; and is distant from it between two and three miles: the channel between is interspersed with several small isles. Whalsay is about six miles in length and three in breadth; is much indented; has a rocky shore; and the land is of the usual bleak and hilly nature of this part of Shetland, though considered on the whole as tolerably fertile. The culture of the ground is a subordinate occupation, the inhabitants, for the most part, being engaged in fishing, and drawing their chief subsistence from this pursuit. A large and very handsome mansion has been erected on the island, by Mr. Bruce, of Simbister, at the estimated cost of £20,000: it is built of fine freestone imported across the sound of Whalsay; but the edifice is considered as ill-placed, and of too expensive a description for an island so destitute of interest, and of inducements to reside upon it. One of three churches in the parish is situated here: it is a very plain structure, built in 1768, and since then new-roofed; and is visited by the minister of Nesting eleven times a year. The island is distant from Lerwick fourteen miles.



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