Boats at Walls on a warm summer afternoon
|Orkney and Shetland|
Walls, known locally as Waas, is a settlement on the south side of West Mainland, in Shetland. It stands at the head of Vaila Sound and sheltered even from southerly storms by the islands of Linga and Vaila.
Walls is within the parish of Walls and Sandness, and was a parish of itself, encompassing the south side of the westernmost extension of Mainland.
The name 'Walls' is form the Old Norse Vagar, meaning "Bays" (or 'voes' as they are known in Shetland).
One of the old names of the parish is "Vagaland", which provided the by-name of the local poet, Thomas Alexander Robertson (1909-1973).
A pier was built at Walls in the 18th century, and from 1838, it was a centre for fish curing. Walls itself is a quieter place than once it was. The large houses of Bayhall, now converted into flats, and Voe House are signs of past wealth, as are the three churches visible around the head of the sound. Two are still in use, while the third bears a sign showing its later conversion to a bakery. A pier was built in Walls in the 18th century, and from 1838 the village was a centre for fish curing.
Waas was the childhood home of two fine poets, Vagaland and Christine de Luca, and in 1884 was the birthplace of both Peter Fraser (1884-1966), musician and founder member of the Shetland Fiddlers' Society, and William Moffatt, the author.
A little to the east of the centre of the village is the marina, making this a popular base for leisure sailors. The fishing vessels that are still based in Walls tend to use the pier a few hundred yards along the west side of Vaila Sound. This is also the terminus for the ferry service to the island of Foula, some distance out into the Atlantic from Shetland's Mainland.
Today it is home to the dialect children's writer Iris Sandison, also secretary to the local history group.
Waas has long been famed for its annual Agricultural Show. A short film of 'da Waas Show' in the early 60s, by the late Dr. Albert Hunter, is available at the link below.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Walls, Shetland)
- Listen to recordings of a speaker of Walls Scots
- Waas Show - early 60s film by Dr. Albert Hunter