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Out Skerries

Bay on Housay
Location: 60°25’26"N, 0°45’50"W
Grid reference: HU680717
Area: 403 acres
Highest point: 174 feet
Population: 50

Housay, also known as West Isle,[1] is one of the two inhabited islands of the Out Skerries group of Shetland. It has a population of approximately 45 people. Its name is from Norse and means “House Island”.

Geography and geology

The North Mouth between Housay and Bruray

Housay has the most complex geology of the Out Skerries, with granite in Mio Ness in the far south west, limestone on the south coast, and large concentrations of gneiss and schist.[1]

The island of Housay consists of several thin headlands, with the biggest pointing to the south west, and over a mile long. To the north, another headland extends, and then turns towards the south west, running parallel to the biggest one, and separated by West Voe.

The island is surrounded by a number of stacks including the Hevda Stacks in the north and the Stack a Mooth and Stack a Pillar in the south. There are also some sea caves in the south, and Da Steig, which connects the island to Mio Ness is a collapsed cave.

Housay is separated from Bruray by North Mouth and South Mouth.

The island occasionally suffers from water shortages. There is little peat on the Out Skerries, so the residents have been granted rights to cut it on Whalsay.[1]


The large number of Norse place-names suggest that Housay has been inhabited since the Norse period, if not earlier.

The island's population peaked in 1891 with nearly ninety people, now it is now half of that. In 1991, 45 people were recorded[1] although the population increased to 50 by 2001.

At the autumn 2010, the islands of Housay and Bruray (600 acres) were on sale for £250,000. "The main islands are held under crofting tenure. The Crofting community have been offered the opportunity to register their interest in acquiring the property but have formally declined from doing so."[2]


The post office, one of Skerries two shops, the church and the public hall are located here.

The Skerries Bridge was built in 1957 to provide a fixed link from Bruray to the neighbouring and larger island of Housay.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Haswell-Smith, Hamish (2004). The Scottish Islands. Edinburgh: Canongate. ISBN 1841954543. 
  2. Out Skerries, Shetland
The Out Skerries

Bound SkerryBrurayGrunayHousay