|Meaning of name||Old Norse for 'broad island' or 'Brusi's island'|
Bressay Lighthouse at Kirkabister Ness overlooking Bressay Sound
Bressay shown within the Shetland Islands
|OS grid reference|
|Area||2,805 hectares (10.8 sq mi)|
|Area rank||30 |
|Highest elevation||Ward of Bressay 226 metres (741 ft)|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Council area||Shetland Islands|
|Population rank||25 |
|Population density||13 people/km2|
Bressay lies due south of Whalsay, west of the Isle of Noss, and north of Mousa. At 11 square miles (28 km2), it is the fifth largest island in Shetland. The population is around 360 people, concentrated in the middle of the west coast, around Glebe and Fullaburn.
The island is made up of Old Red Sandstone with some basaltic intrusions. Bressay was quarried extensively for building materials, used all over Shetland, especially in nearby Lerwick. There are a number of sea caves and arches. The largest of eleven lochs on the island are the Loch of Grimsetter in the east, and the Loch of Brough.
The name of the island may have been recorded in 1263 as 'Breiðoy' (Old Norse "broad island"). In a 1490 document the island is referred to as "Brwsøy" - "Brusi's island" which name may indicate it was the 11th century base for Earl of Orkney Brusi Sigurdsson. This possibility is supported by a later reference to his son Rögnvald as "Lord of the Shetlanders" and Thompson (2008) is in "no doubt " that Shetland specifically was in Brusi's possession during his joint earldom with his brothers.
The slender sides are engraved with ogham, and the two faces with various examples of knotwork, and imagery. The top of each face has a cross. On one side, there is an engraving of two men with crosiers, as well as various animals including horses, pigs, and what appears to be someone in the process of being swallowed by two sea monsters. It has been suggested that this is Jonah.
Attractions on the island include Bressay Lighthouse. At Maryfield there is a heritage centre, a hotel and the old laird's mansion, Gardie House, built in 1724. The Northern Lights Spa Hotel at Uphouse is Britain's most northerly spa.
Full-rigged ship Maella, of Oslo, in Bressay Sound circa 1922
Cross-bedding in Middle Old Red Sandstone on Bressay
View of Lerwick from Bressay