Offering shelter to the port of Lerwick, the island of Bressay (pronounced 'bressa') lies to the east of the Shetland Mainland. Extending over an area of 2805 ha (6,931 acres), the island is largely comprised of Old Red Sandstone which has provided the flagstone slates and building stone for many of Shetland's dwellings. Most of the settlement is on the sheltered west coast, including the principal settlement of Mail (Mel), where the island's school and other facilities lie, Glebe (a quarter-mile / 0.5 km) to the south) and Heogan, the locus of a fish-processing plant. The highest point on the island is the Ward of Bressay which rises to 226m (741 feet). Early antiquities include the Bressay Stone, a Pictish cross-slab with Ogam inscriptions. A frequent short ferry crossing links Lerwick with Maryfield on Bressay to the north of which is Gardie House which was built in 1724. Shetland Golf Club moved their course from Bressay to Dale on the Mainland in the 1990s. The island's population has fallen from 904 in 1841 to 269 in 1961, but then steadily risen to 352 (1991) and 384 (2001), falling back slightly to 368 (2011).

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