- YELL, an island, in the county of Shetland; containing 3450 inhabitants. This island, one of the most northern of the Shetland group, lies to the north-east of Northmavine on the Mainland, to the south-west of Unst, and to the west of Fetlar. It is about twenty miles in length and six in breadth, having, generally, a bold and rocky coast, indented with numerous bays and voes, several of which form safe and convenient harbours, and serve as excellent fishing-stations. Two ranges of hills, varying from 200 to 400 feet in height, extend almost the whole length of the island, in a nearly parallel direction from north to south, and are in some parts intersected by other hills running east to west; but the surface otherwise is moderately low, particularly along the whole of the eastern coast. The soil for the most part is of a mossy quality, mixed with particles of decayed rock; and in several places are extensive peatmosses, in which are found large trees, though scarcely a shrub is now to be seen. The arable land is chiefly near the shore; but it is very inconsiderable in proportion to the undivided common, which is estimated at about 45,000 acres, producing an abundance of a rough sort of grass, here called lubbo, that grows naturally, and affords a tolerable pasture for sheep, horses, and black-cattle. In the northern part of the island the principal bays are, Basta voe, Gloup voe, the sand of Brecon, Papal-ness, and Cullivoe; on the south the chief harbours are Hamna voe and Burra voe, about a mile distant from each other. In all these, numerous boats equip for the ling and herring fisheries, which are carried on to a great extent, though to less advantage now than in former years, and in which, during the respective seasons, nearly the whole of the male population are engaged. The nearest market-town is Lerwick, the capital of Shetland, distant, due south from Hamna voe, about twenty-six miles. The island is divided into the two parishes of Fetlar and North Yell, and Mid and South Yell, which see.
A Topographical dictionary of Scotland. Samuel Lewis. 1856.