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Hoy

HOY (Norse Haey, " high island "), the second largest island of the Orkneys, county of Orkney, Scotland. Pop. (1901) 1216. It has an extreme length from N.W.to S.E.of 13^ m.,its greatest breadth from E. to W. is 8 m., and its area occupies 53 sq. m. It is situated 2 m. S.W. of Pomona, from which it. is separated by Hoy Sound. As seen from the west it rises abruptly from the sea, presenting in this respect a marked contrast to the rest of the isles of the Orcadian group, which as a whole are low-lying. Its eastern and southern shores are indented by numerous bays, one of which, Long Hope, forms a natural harbour 4 m. long, with a breadth varying from J m. to more than i m., affording to any number of vessels a haven of refuge from the roughest weather of the Pentland Firth. Off the eastern coast lie the islands of Graemsay, Cava, Risa, Fara, Flotta and Switha, while the peninsula of South Walls, forming the southern side of the harbour of Long Hope, is an island in all but name. Red and yellow sandstone cliffs, sometimes over 1000 ft. in height, stretch for 10 to 12 m. on the Atlantic front. The detached pillar or stack called the Old Man of Hoy (450 ft.) is a well-known landmark to sailors. The only break in this remarkable run of rocky coast is at Rackwick in the bight below the head of Rora. In the interior, Ward Hill (1564 ft.) is the loftiest summit in either the Orkneys or Shetlands. In the valley between Ward Hill and the ridge of the Hamars to the south-east is situated the famous Dwarfie Stone, an enormous block of sandstone measuring 28 ft. long, from n ft. to 145 ft. broad, and 65 ft. high at one end and 2 ft. high at the other, in which two rooms have been artificially hollowed out, traditionally believed to be the bed-chambers of Trolld, the dwarf of the sagas, and his wife. A boulder lying at the narrow end was supposed to be used to close the entrance. The generally accepted theory is that it was a pagan altar which some hermit afterwards converted into a cell. Other hills in the island are the Cuilags (1420 ft.) and the Knap of Trewieglen (1308 ft.), besides several peaks exceeding 1000 ft. in height. Hoy is commonly approached from Stromness, there being piers at Linksness, the nearest point to Graemsay, and at Hackness, South Ness and North Bay, the last three all on the harbour of Long Hope.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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