West Linga

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West Linga
Norse namelyng-øy
Meaning of name(west) heather island
West Linga is located in Shetland
West Linga
West Linga
West Linga shown within Shetland
OS grid referenceHU533651
Coordinates60°21′36″N 1°02′05″W / 60.36°N 1.0346°W / 60.36; -1.0346
Physical geography
Island groupShetland
Area125 hectares (0.48 sq mi)
Area rank133= [1]
Highest elevation52 metres (171 ft)
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Council areaShetland Islands

West Linga is an uninhabited island located between Mainland and Whalsay in Shetland, Scotland.

Looking SSW across the Bight of Cudda, West Linga, towards the Head of Berg.

Geography and geology[edit]

West Linga is a long narrow island covered in rough heath. It is separated from Whalsay by Linga Sound, and Lunning on Mainland, Shetland to the west. Little Linga, Swarta Skerry, Lona Skerry and Ketill Holm lie to the west. The Calf of Linga to the south is a drying islet. Wether Holm is separated by a 3 metres (10 ft) deep channel at the north end.[4]

There are two lochs, and a natural arch in the north west. The two main hills are at either end - North and South Ward. There is a cairn in the south.[5]

The rock is coarse micaceous, and hornblendic gneiss with granite veins. There is a raised beach above Croo Wick at the southern extremity.[4]

Croo Wick, West Linga


West Linga appears to have been inhabited intermittently until the late 18th century. The lack of an anchorage and somewhat brackish water have hindered settlement.[4]

Some acreage on "Liungøuo í Hwalsøyo" is recorded in 1485 for sale for 10 marks, as part of an illegal land sale, at Holy Cross Church near Bergen in Norway.[6]

Hugh MacDiarmid who lived on nearby Whalsay, said in The Uncanny Scot that he had spent three days on the island, living in a cave, with lots of matches and two books. In fact it transpired that he'd been there only for a few hours.[4] One of MacDiarmid's best known poems was On a Raised Beach.


  1. ^ Area and population ranks: there are c. 300 islands over 20 ha in extent and 93 permanently inhabited islands were listed in the 2011 census.
  2. ^ 2001 UK Census per List of islands of Scotland
  3. ^ Ordnance Survey
  4. ^ a b c d e Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 978-1-84195-454-7.
  5. ^ "Overview of West Linga". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 2007-12-14.
  6. ^ Schei, Liv - The Shetland Story

Coordinates: 60°22′05″N 1°02′04″W / 60.36806°N 1.03444°W / 60.36806; -1.03444