Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for Duirinish or Durinish

Duirinish or Durinish, a parish in the W of Skye, Inverness-shire, containing the village of Dunvegan, on Loch Follart, 23½ miles W by N of Portree, under which it has a post office, with money order, savings' bank, and telegraph departments. Extending from the Grishinish branch of Loch Snizort on the N to Loch Bracadale on the S, it is bounded on its E or landward side by the parishes of Snizort and Bracadale; its length is 19, and its breadth 16, miles; whilst its coastline, measured along the bays and headlands, is about 80 miles; and its area must be fully 100 square miles. Sea-lochs run far up into the interior, cutting it into an assemblage of peninsulas; and are flanked with grounds rising in some places rapidly, in other places gently, from their shores. The headlands are mostly huge lofty masses of rocks, which rest on bases descending sheer into deep water; and the coast of the northern district is a continuous alternation of vertical cliffs and low shores, striking enough when first beheld, but wearying the eye by its monotony. The shores and islets of Loch Follart or Dunvegan Loch, with Dunvegan Castle for centre-piece, form a grandly picturesque landscape; and the coast, from Dunvegan Head to Loch Bracadale, consists for the most part of cliffs, very various in height and slope, many of them lofty and almost perpendicular, and nearly all of such geological composition as to present a singular striped appearance. Some isolated pyramidal masses of rock, similar to the ` stacks ' of Caithness and Shetland, stand off the coast, and figure wildly in the surrounding waters, the most striking and romantic of these being known as Macleod's Maidens. The northern district consists of Vaternish peninsula, and constitutes the quoad sacra parish of Halen; the other districts may be comprised in three- Glendale, extending westward from a line near the head of Dunvegan Loch; Kilmuir, extending southward from Dunvegan Loch to Loch Bay, and containing the parish church; and Arnisort, extending eastward from Kilmuir to the boundaries with Snizort and Bracadale. The only mountains are the Greater and Lesser Helvel or Halivail, in the western peninsula, which, rising to an altitude of 1700 feet above sea-level, and ascending in regular gradient, with verdant surface, are truncated at the top into level summits, and to seamen are familiar as Macleod's Tables. Hills occur in two series, but are neither very high nor in any other way conspicuous. Numerous caverns, natural arches, and deep crevices are in the cliffs of the coast. Issay Island is nearly 2 miles long, and has a fertile soil and a considerable population; but all the other islands are small and uninhabited. The rocks are chiefly trap; but they include beds of fossiliferous limestone, thin strata of very soft sandstone, and thin seams of hard brittle coal. Zeolites of every variety are very plentiful; steatite abounds, especially about Dunvegan; and augite and olivine are found. The soil in a few tracts is clayey; and in still fewer is gravelly, in most parts being either peat moss or a mixture of peat moss and disintegrated trap. Dunvegan Castle is at once the chief mansion and antiquity. Other mansions are Vaternish, Orvost, and Grieshernish; and other antiquities are fifteen Danish forts, several tumuli, and a number of subterranean hiding-places. Macleod of Macleod is owner of half the parish, 3 other proprietors holding each an annual value of £500 and upwards, and 3 of between £100 and £500. In the presbytery of Skye and synod of Glenelg, this parish is divided ecclesiastically into Halen and Duirinish, the latter being a living worth £208. Its church, built in 1832, contains nearly 600 sittings; and there is also a Free church of Duirinish. The eight public schools of Borreraig, Borrodale, Colbost, Dunvegan, Edinbain, Knockbreck, Lochbeag, and Valtin Bridge, and the Free Church school of Arnisort, with total accommodation for 923 children, had (1880) an average attendance of 477, and grants amounting to £413,0s. 5d. Valuation (1881) £7683,12s. Pop. (1801) 3327, (1831) 4765, (1861) 4775, (1871) 4422, (1881) 4317.

(F.H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland (1882-4); © 2004 Gazetteer for Scotland)

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a parish"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 4th order divisions")
Administrative units: Duirinish ScoP       Inverness Shire ScoCnty
Place: Duirinish

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