In 1882-4, Frances Groome's Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland described Nesting like this:
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.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Nesting has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Shetland Islands. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Nesting and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Nesting in Shetland Islands | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 03rd September 2015
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