Nearly all the place names are of Norse origin. Islands and rocks are denoted by uy, holm, baa, skerry, drong, stack; openings along the coast by voe, wick, firth, ham, hoob, min, gio, gloop, helyer; capes by noss, noop or neep, bard, mool, ness, taing, hevda or hevdi; rocks or cliffs by clett, hellya, berry, bakka, berg, ord; inland heights by wart or ward, vord, virdick, fell or fil, hool, sneug, kame, coll or kool, roni, bjőrg; valleys by wall or vel, dal, grave or gref, gil, boiten, koppa, sloag, quarf, wham; fresh water by vain, fors, kelda, o, ljőag, brun; crofts and townships by seter or ster, bister, skolla, taft; enclosures by garth, gard, gord, girt, gairdie, krü, bü, toon, pund, hoga, hag, quhey. An isthmus is called aid; a Pictish broch is burg or burra. Peti means Picts; Finni, Finns, Papa or Papil an Irish missionary settlement.
The Shetlands lack the strange, romantic charisma of the Orkneys, and are chiefly notable for weird designs in woolen goods--most of the "Fair Isle" monstrosities actually come from the northerly island of Unst--and for the breed of sheep that produces the very soft wool, as well as that hardy, miniature breed of horse known as the Shetland Pony....the Shetland names are made for the word-posturing of a latter-day Milton. There is the Moul of Eswick and Yell and Tresta. Sumburgh Roose is below Fitful Head and there are Noss Island and Scalloway, Gruting Voe, Muckle Roe, Papa Stour, Ronas Voe and of course that isolated isle of Foula with its sole place of habitation called Ham. —-SCOTLAND: THE LAND AND THE PEOPLE, ©Donald Cowie, 1973 by A.S. Barnes and Company, Cranbury, NJ and London: Thomas Yoseloff Ltd., London ISBN 0-498-01169-0
THE TOWN OF LERWICK
Mr Collector Ross tells me, that from the King's books it appears that the quantity of spirits, tea, coffee, tobacco, snuff, and sugar, imported annually into Lerwick for the consumption of Zetland, averages at sale price, £20,000 yearly at the least. Now the inhabitants of Zetland, men, women, and children, do not exceed 20,000 in all, and the proportion of foreign luxuries seems monstrous, unless we allow for the habits contracted by the seamen in their foreign trips. Tea, in particular, is used by all ranks, and porridge quite exploded. —-Sir Walter Scott, Diary, 5 August 1814, in Lockhart, 'Life of Scott,' © 1838
What struck me in these islands was their bleakness, the number of ridiculous little churches, the fact that bogs do not require a level surface for their existence but can also run uphill, and that ponies sometimes have a black stripe like the wild ass; the local fashion off eating mutton chops and tea in the afternoons, and! pronouncing words such as 'whatever' like 'quatever.' —-Norman Douglas of the year 1891 in Looking Back,© 1933
The small island of Fetlar in the NE of the Shetland group, is a microcosm of landlord tyranny. The clearances of 1822 and 1870 by the Nicholsons of Brough emptied the whole of its west side. 'The principle used was to erect a stone wall closing off a particular part of the island. Then when the wall was complete, the people were given forty days to remove themselves...' —-quoted reference from Shetland Life, November 1981, article "The Deserted Homestead of Fetlar" by Robert L. Johnston.).....HIGHLAND CLEARANCES TRAIL: A Guide Compiled by Rob Gibson. Highland Heritage Books, ©1996.