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back toward the stone-built town across the Strait, one can fancy the stirring and picturesque scene on the waters of Breideyarsund during that memorable summer of 1263. For here it was that, after two days' sail from Bergen, King Hakon's great armada first dropped their anchors, and stayed a month ere they pushed on southward to the Orkneys. In the euphuistic diction of the Hakon Saga no scarer of dragons saw ever together more numerous hosts' than these of the puissant farrenowned monarch,' 'the wise and glorious prince,' who had brought with him in his 'sea-borne wooden coursers' priests, chamberlains, and fighting men 'breakers of tempered metals,' to settle once for all who should be permanent sovereign of the Western Isles. And three centuries later Kirkcaldy of Grange, who with Murray of Tullibardine after Carberry fight made sail for the Orkneys in hot pursuit of the fugitive Bothwell, was wrecked in the ship Unicorn on a reef outside Bressay Sound.† French and Spanish vessels, too, have been in these waters upon hostile errands against the Hollander, either fighting his warships or damaging his fishing craft.

From the eastern shore of Bressay one may have to signal for the ferry-boat to come over from the Noss side, sometimes— especially if it be a sea-fog as on the day I was there—by shouting a hail at the top of one's voice across the Sound of Noss, a narrow strait only a couple of hundred yards or more in width, but a veritable roost (röst) for the rapidity of its current. Having landed and passed the ruin of a little ancient chapel overlooking Nesti Voe, and the adjoining farm-stead, the best route, if we want thoroughly to explore the majestic cliffs, is to make their entire circuit or nearly so, a walk of perhaps four miles. Skirting the Voe of Mels and holding to the right along the cliff edge, we find ourselves mounting and mounting; the crags growing ever higher and higher, caverns and rock crannies gloomier and wilder, screams of sea-fowl shriller in chorus, boom

* In the pages of this Review [See Art. 'The Orkney Isles,' April 1896], I traced the further progress of this Norwegian expedition.

+ See Schiern's Life of James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell, translated by D. Berry. Edinburgh: Douglas, 1880.


of the breakers albeit in remoter depths below yet more thunderous in its rumbling echoes.

For, the island is a sort of down or sloping heathy plain tilted up towards the east or seaward side, where the cliffs attain their highest altitude, and drop abruptly and almost vertically into the sea. When the extreme southern point of the island, Fladda Ness, is reached, the line of precipices takes a sharp turn to the left, and we find ourselves on the verge of a sheer and profound chasm over against the Holm of Noss. This holm is a tiny rockislet, walled all round with a precipitous face, but flattened atop into a small area or plot of scant herbage, which in the breedingseason is a perfect aviary of sea-birds, chiefly gulls of sorts, swartbacks and kittiwakes, and puffin. Here they swarm, nest, and rear their broods, and across the narrow but tremendous abysm one sees them crowded together over the guano-bleached flat in serried rows, sitting or standing, and filling the air with their alarmed and discordant shrieks. Yet, notwithstanding one's presence in full view, with the instinct of wild creatures they seem to realise the assurance of safety for themselves, their eggs, or their young, afforded by the isolation of their nestingplace.

At one time a frail rope and cradle-bridge spanned the intervening chasm, by which the few sheep the islet could pasture were wont to be conveyed over to it season by season. This rude sling-bridge was first put in use about the middle of the 17th century, the cradle or conveyance-car being a box large enough to carry a man holding a sheep between his legs.

From the Holm, all the way up the ascent of Setter to the Noup or Head of Noss, is one succession of recessed gios, underscarped with caves and perpendicular cliffs, with vantage-points here and there whence to look ahead round the sweep of Rumble Wick (the rumbling bay) to the majestic culminating steep of the Noup, a plumb-drop of close on 600 feet. Then, if one has a good head, and will peer down over the edge of the great precipices, an extraordinary concourse of birds may be seen perched, rank below rank, along the ledges and projections far down in the dark gulfs below; those on the lowermost shelves, mostly cormorants, craning out their long scraggy necks over the

ceaseless surf and dashed with its spray, while the swartback gulls sit higher up motionless, brooding stolidly out over the water, some of them (the younger birds) so close under your nose that you could almost touch them with a long stick. Then drop a stone or two among the conclave, and out from the walls of the Rumbling amphitheatre the birds will flash and flurry in the wildest pell-mell confusion, with an indescribable din of screeches, and alight at length, a legion of minute black and white specks far out in the dark heaving cauldron of waters below. One more note I made was that, seen from the brink of the highest acclivities, the gulls, as they flew about near the cliff-base, looked so diminutive as to suggest the idea of white, fluttering butterflies.

Such, then, are the wild aspects of nature to be had in a day's walk round the rock-ramparts of outlying Noss.

Facing inland from the Noup, one sees nought but a sloping plain of rough pasturage descending to the point we started from. Traversing this plain, my companion and I came across mushrooms in great abundance and fine condition, but, curiously, these do not appear to be prized in Shetland, for the tenant of the island-farmhouse by the chapel told us he had never heard or thought of making any use of them. When we told him the price these mushrooms would fetch per lb. in an English market, he and his wife seemed utterly astonished.

Bressay Island deserves a day's exploration to itself. The gios, stacks, caverns, and cliff-arches along the rifted stretch of shore, which converges wedge-like to the promontory of Bard, are something to be remembered. Then, besides Kirkabister, already mentioned, there are the ruins of two other ancient churches-St. Olaf's, at the north end of the island, overlooking Aith Voe, and St. Mary's on the shores of the Voe of Culbinsburgh. It was near the Culbinsburgh church that a memorialslab was found bearing rude Christian emblems, plait-work patterns of the so-called Runic style, and an inscription in Ogham characters. To these we may add some archaic tumuli, and the indications of the Brough or Picts' Tower which has fastened its cachet upon a neighbouring loch and farmstead. And there are many lakes in the island, one of them named from

a solitary monolith or menhir near by, 'Loch of the Standing Stone.' Here, too, as throughout Hjaltland, a glance at the maps of the National Survey suffices to locate us at once in old Norseland, for the Icelandic topographical nomenclature abounds; such place-names as Grimsetter, Wadbister, Sweyn Ness, Gunnista, along with the garths, holms, ayres, taings, and gios, repeated from our Orkney experiences, but with the foreign smack in yet greater measure. Nor must I forget the diminutive, shaggy Shetland ponies, herds of which, mares and foals, run wild on Bressay, and are a ruling feature of the landscape. 'Long-backed and short-legged,' says Sir Walter Scott, more resembling wild bears than anything of the horse tribe. The stallions are, I believe, or were, segregated on Noss Island. The object is to reduce to the utmost the size of this breed of ponies in order to fit them for draught service in the mines. It is almost sad to think of the fate of these poor little shelties, for the most part destined to be transported from the free, fresh air of their native moors and buried underground away from the daylight, never to re-ascend the dismal shaft for a glint of sunshine or a sniff of pure atmosphere.

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Lerwick, the chief town of the County of Zetland, has in great measure the primitive aspects of Orcadian Kirkwall and Stromness, especially of the latter; yet it has withal certain distinct characteristics of its own. Its main street has the same narrow and tortuous peculiarities we noted in the Orkney towns, and is paved like them with large flagstones, but without the central carriage track. A feature of the shops of Lerwick is the exquisite knitting in shawls, neckerchiefs, etc., almost rivalling lace work in fineness, and as soft as the Indian muslins of our younger days. The best specimens fetch high prices. Then, there are the comely and picturesquely clad Hjaltland women to be admired, ruddy and weather-tanned, brisk and bright-eyed. Of Sunday evenings, one notices the curious separation of the sexes. The male-folk would be seen either marching about in groups or seated in rows by themselves on suburban walls and palings; while the girls and women in knots of three or four together would be strolling up and down the

streets with linked arms, very much as is the wont of the paysannes in Brittany.

Naturally, all peasant-women in Shetland can row; and wherever one meets them along the country roads or on the moorlands, it is generally with an enormous peat creel on their backs, and incessantly knit-knitting as they walk. I was much struck with this: so also with the delightfully frank sympathetic manners and kindly aspect of the Zetland women-folk everywhere. Their comeliness, too, as I have said, is quite noticeable. Frames shapely and well-grown, and this notwithstanding their prevailing poverty and necessarily spare diet: light-brown hair, dark blue or violet eyes with well-marked lashes. An Iberian brunette strain is to be traced here and there among them, revealing itself in dark hazel eyes, black tresses, and slightly swarthy or olive complexion; but these are the exception. Their manner of salutation, too, accent, and colloquial phrases, have something of foreign flavour; different from the Orkney speech, different from the accost and intonation of the mainland Scots. In converse with them, a common expression of assent with your views of things in general will be 'that's true,' or 'Ay indeed and that's exactly true,' or 'Weel and that's right too.' Another quaint way of expressing surprise at something said, was 'I hear you.' These and such like characteristics give a dash of genuine salt to one's intercourse with these Hjaltland folk: a spice of piquancy refreshing indeed at this fag-end of our siècle, when the smart and the superfine and the 'up-to-date' have well-nigh played out every possible sensation of humanity.

Lerwick is still a great centre of the Shetland herring fishery ; but its halcyon days, when the Dutch Mynheers used to swarm over with an immense fleet of smacks, and almost crowd out the Zetlanders from their own chief town, are long gone by. Yet even in these days some hundreds of the Hollanders' boats find their way across the North Sea to Bressay Sound during the annual fishing season: and doubtless still achieve in miniature a little of the smuggling of Schnapps and Schiedam, tobacco, and other miscellanea, which once gave a flourishing contraband trade to the great Netherlands fleet fishing year by year in Zetland waters.

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