or lingam

Sandstone linga, c. 900; in the British Museum.

In Hinduism, the symbol of the god Shiva and of generative power. Fashioned from wood, gems, metal, or stone, lingas are the main objects of worship in temples to Shiva and family shrines throughout India. Historically, the linga was a representation of the phallus, as sculptures from the 1st–2nd century AD, the earliest dates of linga worship, make clear, and most modern Hindus think of it in these terms. The stylization of the linga as a smooth cylindrical mass asserts an aniconic meaning. A sexual dimension remains in the most common form in which the linga appears today. The yoni, symbol of the female sex organ, often forms the base of the linga, a reminder that the male and female principles together represent the totality of existence. The linga is worshiped with offerings of flowers, water, fruit, leaves, and rice; the purity of the materials and the cleanliness of the worshiper are particularly stressed.

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Linga is a very small uninhabited island in the Bluemull Sound, Shetland, Scotland. (It should be noted that Linga is an extremely common name in Shetland.) It is 45 ha and 26m at its highest point.

Geography and geology

Linga is made up of "coarse mica-schist and gneiss".

It is situated off the east coast of Yell, near the village of Gutcher, and has an area of 111 acres. It is separated from Yell by Linga Sound, and Unst is to the north east. Sound Gruney, Urie Lingey are to the south east, and Hascosay to the south.

There is little freshwater on the island.


It is said that Jan Tait of Fetlar once kept a bear on the island, and this is commemorated in the placename - "Bear's Bait". It was said to be from Norway, where he had been taken for trial for murder, but he was pardoned for capturing this particular bear, which had been causing problems over there.

An abandoned chapel is located on the island. An unknown duke once planned to build a large house there after buying land on it. However this was cancelled as doctors and other services refused to provide a service to such a small remote island. The land is now owned by Charlie Henderson of Cullivoe.

There is also the remains of a sheep fold in the north.


Surprisingly for an island whose name derives from the Norse for "heather isle", very little grows here.

Otters, guillemots and seals breed on the island.


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