From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
View of Easter Quarff and Quarff church, with Scrae Field in the distance (March 2010)
Quarff is located in Shetland
Quarff shown within Shetland
OS grid referenceHU424356
Civil parish
Council area
Lieutenancy area
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Postcode districtZE
Dialling code01950
EU ParliamentScotland
UK Parliament
Scottish Parliament
List of places
60°06′14″N 1°14′13″W / 60.104°N 1.237°W / 60.104; -1.237Coordinates: 60°06′14″N 1°14′13″W / 60.104°N 1.237°W / 60.104; -1.237

Quarff is a small village in the Shetland Islands in Scotland. It is located on the main A970 road, 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Shetland's only town, Lerwick. The village is spread along a classic glacial valley[1] that runs east-west across the island between high hills to north and south,[2] with centres of population at Easter Quarff which is near the main road and the east coast, and Wester Quarff which is 1½ miles west and faces the Atlantic Ocean.[3] A narrow road runs along the valley between the two.


In Old Norse, the word Quarff means "the portage". The village has long been a site where goods and boats could be transported between the east and west coast, avoiding what would otherwise be a sea journey of about 40 miles (64 km) round Sumburgh Head. Sir John Sinclair reported in 1794 that "The people of Quarff are frequently employed in transporting goods from one side of the country to the other, which brings them in considerable sums."[4]

In 1830, when the church was built, the villagers were reported to be mostly sea fishermen, catching cod, ling and herring. They also cultivated small patches of land, growing potatoes and corn.[5]

There is evidence of Stone Age occupation in the area. In 1900 a local crofter excavated a mound on his croft and found a stone slab covering a stone-lined chamber containing a skull and a bowl. Similar chambers were found in the locality.[6]


In recent years the population of Quarff has increased. Twenty-five years ago, Easter Quarff had 12 crofts and 28 houses; by 2004 there were over 70 dwellings. Wester Quarff, however, has remained fairly constant with thirteen dwellings in small clusters.[7]


The Quarff water supply is from the Sandy Loch reservoir at Lerwick. There is currently no mains drainage in Quarff; each property has its own septic tank.[7] The village has mains electricity.

Regular buses between Sumburgh Airport and Lerwick pass through Easter Quarff.[7]

Quarff has a community hall used for youth clubs, play groups, as a venue during the folk festival and for other events.

Quarff church[edit]

Quarff church

Quarff Government church and manse in Easter Quarff were completed in 1830,[8] to a design by Thomas Telford.[9] It is located on a rising bank about 500 yards (460 m) from the sea-shore,[5] and its first minister, Mr James Gardner, was inducted in September 1830.[2] In 1843 his allegiance was called into question however,[10] and in June 1843 his name appears in a list of ministers who had given their adhesion to the Free Presbyterian Church in Scotland[11] in the so-called Disruption of 1843. The "parish living" in Quarff became vacant[12] and the Rev. Alexander Webster was appointed on 31 July 1843.[13]

The church was described in 1845 as "a beautiful and commodious building built to contain 320."[2] The area experienced a Christian revival in 1863; a contemporaneous report reads: "Formerly Quarff was noted for its coldness and apathy in matters of religion ... Now, however, the people are in the deepest concern about the interests of their souls".[14]

The church is no longer in use;[9] services are held in the Old Manse on the Lerwick Road each Sunday at 11:30 am.[15] The churchyard is well maintained, however, and is still used for burials.[9]


The Quarff Primary School catered for local children in the 5 to 12 age range, and was open from 1879[16] until it was closed by the council in 2003. In 2001 the school won an award from the National Association for Gallery Education for a long-term art project involving the whole school (12 pupils with teacher Anne Halford-MacLeod), Bonhoga Gallery and artist Ruth Brownlee.[17]

School roll – Quarff Primary School[18]
Year 1971 1976 1981 1986 1991 1996 2001 2004
Population 17 19 23 21 15 10 12 n/a

The number of pupils decreased from a peak of 25 in 1987 to only 12 in 2001, thought to be a result of parents working in Lerwick taking their children to Lerwick schools.[7] When the teacher moved to Cunningsburgh School in 2003 the school was closed and the pupils were transferred to the school in Cunningsburgh 4 miles (6.4 km) to the south. School transport is available.[19]

The nearest secondary schooling is at Sandwick or Lerwick.[19]



  1. ^ "Catpund & Ponies". Shetland Amenity Trust. 2000–2008. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  2. ^ a b c The New Statistical Account of Scotland: Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, Shetland. 15. William Blackwood and Sons. 1845.
  3. ^ "Quarff". Shetlopedia – the Shetland Encyclopaedia. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  4. ^ Sir John Sinclair, ed. (1794). The statistical account of Scotland: Drawn up from the communications of the ministers of the different parishes. 10. William Creech. p. 202. ISBN 0-7306-2717-9.
  5. ^ a b HOUSE OF LORDS THE SESSIONAL PAPERS 1801–1833. 291. 1831. p. 21.
  6. ^ "The Stone Age in Shetland". The Yorkshire Herald. 27 January 1900. p. 12. Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "Gulberwick, Quarff and Cunningsburgh Community Council Area Statement" (PDF). Shetland Islands Council. 2004. Retrieved 11 June 2010.
  8. ^ HOUSE OF LORDS THE SESSIONAL PAPERS 1801–1833. 291. 1831. p. 35.
  9. ^ a b c Lerwick, Trevor (9 January 2007). "Quarff Chapel – Thomas Telford". BBC. Retrieved 13 June 2010.
  10. ^ "Non-Intrusion in the Far North". The Morning Chronicle. 13 April 1843. Issue 22900.
  11. ^ "List of Ministers who have given their adhesion to the Free Presbyterian Church, Scotland". The Newcastle Courant etc. 2 June 1843. Issue 8791.
  12. ^ "Scotland". Lloyd's Weekly London Newspaper. 11 June 1843. Issue 29.
  13. ^ "The London Gazette of Tuesday, Aug. 1". The Morning Chronicle (22996). 2 August 1843.
  14. ^ "The Revival: a weekly summary of events connected with the present Revival of Religion". VIII (188). Morgan and Chase. 26 February 1863: 101.
  15. ^ "Contact – Find your local church and parish minister: Presbytery of Shetland". The Church of Scotland. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  16. ^ "Teachers, Governesses, &c". Glasgow Herald. January 23, 1879. page 1, column H (Issue 12196). Retrieved 1 June 2011.
  17. ^ "Artworks – Gallery of Winners – Quarff Primary School, Shetland". engage, the National Association for Gallery Education. 2001. Retrieved 12 June 2010.
  18. ^ Shetland in Statistics (PDF). Shetland Islands Council Economic Development Unit. 2005. ISBN 0-904562-80-8.
  19. ^ a b "The Punds, Quarff, ZE2 9EZ". Dowle, Smith & Rutherford. 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2010.

External links[edit]