[From Isle of Man, Cumming 1848]


Strandhall.-Submerged forest.-Has the land gone down or the sea come up ?-The great fault.-Denudations.-Kentraugh.The Giants' Quoiting-stones.-The Runic Cross.-Port St. Mary. -Perwick Bay.-Coast scenery.-Spaloret and the Chasms.The Samphire-gatherers.-Spanish Head.-Rumpy cats.-The Calf Islet and Cow Harbour.-The city of the Conies.-Bushel's house.-Boss of gravel in the Calf of Man.-Icebergs again.Diluvium.-The legend of Kitter and the sword Maebuin.

WE are once more on the high road, and two miles to the astward along it would return us to Castletown, though our walk thence along the shore has been double that in distance, and, not including stoppages, the treble of it in point of time. But we are bound for Port Erin and Fleshwick Bay, Port St. Mary, the Chasms, and the Calf Islet. Our ungeological friends have promised to pick us up at this point as they pass by in their carriage, but we are decided on first of all making them alight awhile, and examie with us the ruins of a submerged forest.

At the mouth of the Strandhall brook, between high a ow water, may be observed a bed of turf about one foot thick, and the trunks of trees (chiefly ash and fir) standing upright, and their roots running down into an alluvial blue sandy marl; these roots maybe traced several feet, and it is perfectly plain that here on this very spot the trees lived and grew. The same thing (viz. the existence at one time of forest trees at a level now below high water) is also established for other localities around this great bay. Twenty-one years ago, according to the testimony which I have received from living witnesses, after a violent storm of three days, the sands opposite Mount Gawne were swept away and discovered a vast number of trunks of trees, some standing upright, others laid prostrate towards the north, as if overthrown by some violent incursion of the sea1. Nay, it has been further stated to me by those whom I am bound to believe, that the foundations of a primitive hut were laid bare, and that therein were some antique uncouth-looking instruments, once the property, it may be, of the primitive woodcutters2. Now we need not be told that the oak, ash and fir are not marine plants, and that turf and algm do not ordinarily occupy together the same soil; and yet the algae wave and float around and upon these venerable stumps, as if they were veritably the mere metamorpbosed mosses and lichens which in more ancient days fastened and luxuriated upon them. To what do these things tend? The land has either gone down, or the sea come up. The latter supposition no geologist will subscribe to, as it has now become an axiom that nothing is so stable as the sea, and nothing so unstable as the land. The land has gone down then, and carried the turf and the trees along with it. But I further believe that it has partly come up again. My reasons are the following.

I have already alluded in several instances to a raised sea-beach, of apparently a modern date, occurring very distinctly along the coasts of the southern part of the island, at a level of about eight feet above the present high water. In many instances the coast-road runs upon this beach, and the former beach (generally a bank of the boulder clay or drift-gravel) rises up on the landward side at distances varying, according to the fall of the ground, from twenty to fifty yards from the present high water mark. The road in fact runs between two coast lines, the present and a more ancient one. Perhaps the two most clear examples are, the road from Hango Hill to Castletown, and the road at the foot of Mount Gawne, between the mouth of the Colby river at Kentraugh and the streamlet which comes down from the meadows of Kirk Christ's Rushen. I have just alluded to the cementing of the materials of this newest beach by the calcareous spring hard by here at Strandhall. My own feeling then is, that this last-raised beach has been formed since the growth and perishing of the half-merged forest. First appearances perhaps go the other way, and it seems easier to suppose, that when the land was elevated so as to form this beach, the elevation was to such an extent as to leave dry a large portion, if not the whole, of Poolvash Bay, and that on the land thus gained from the sea the forest grew, and that there has been since that time a gradual sinking of the land, by which the sea has regained its territory nearly up to the ancient beach of the drift-gravel, and that thus the trees have been submerged.

But let us examine the matter a little more closely. We may first then observe, that the localities where the trees are found are at the mouths of low valleys opening out widely into the sea; and, as I have previously stated, they seem to have been formed by the denuding action of the sea during the elevation of the great drift-gravel platform, and are contemporary with the scooping-out of the great basin of the Curragh in the north of the island. Now that elevation being to such an extent as to connect the island with the surrounding countries, these excavated valleys would be far more extensive than now, and their termini would be removed many miles from the points where they now meet the salt water. These were the valleys and plains in which the great Elk (Megaceros Hibernicus) delighted, and in them, in the south of the island as well as in St. John's Vale and the Curragh of the north, his remains are found. And as in the present day these low alluvial and sheltered valleys are almost the only localities where timber seems readily to grow, so would it be then.

But a period of submergence came: the sea again overspread the valleys and converted them into estuaries, whilst the great drift-gravel platform was being quietly still further eaten away, and then the turf-beds and the forest-trees became the habitat of marine monsters

" Piscium et summa genus hæsit ulmo 3."

The inner coast line was then formed. But a gradual emergence again set on, and may still imperceptibly be going forward, which has brought up to our inspection out of the great brine-vat the preserved samples of a primitive vegetation, which have been in pickle for (it may be) thousands of generations.

In our onward journey by the high road we must again ask our friends to halt and alight for ten minutes, whilst we examine the fault which cuts off suddenly the limestone in the western area of this southern basin. It is rather better than half a mile westward of the Strandhall streamlet, and not more than 300 yards beyond the limekiln by the road-side, and about the same distance from the eastern lodge of Kentraugh. Here it is! clear enough on the sea-shore, where a short road, convenient for carting the wrecked sea-weed, leads down from the highway.

We are looking nearly westward4, in a line which passes through the limekilns at Port St. Mary, and grazes the bluff coast extending thence by Spanish Head and the southern side of the Calf of Man down to the Burrough and the Eye rock. On our left hand is the lower dark limestone, nearly horizontal; on our right the schist, dipping generally at a very low angle towards the south, but with gentle undulations as we proceed in a westerly direction. We stand on broken ground covered with boulders and shingle, but with some slight indications that along the line of fault the same mass of greenstone runs which is discernible at Port St. Mary. Where is the Old Red conglomerate ? I have little doubt that it underlies the limestone here up to the very edge of the fault, and of a respectable thickness too, for such is the case a few miles inland up the country, as seen by the cross-fault at Athol-bridge on the Peel-road from Castletown 5. But it is plain enough that after the elevation of the entire country on the northern 6 side of a line drawn from Athol-bridge through this spot to Port St. Mary, a great denuding force has clean shaved off the upper and lower limestone, the old red conglomerate and some portion of the schist beds; and so here, as well as at the fault at Coshnahawin (which was noticed before), the limestone and the schist are in such juxtaposition that the fact of the intervening old red conglomerate is not at all exhibited.

Let us take a note of the period within which this fault occurred, for it may be of use hereafter. The boulder clay lies directly and unbroken across the great fracture; it was therefore anterior to that deposit; and though the newer limestone beds do not reach up to this line of disturbance now, it is very clear that this is only in consequence of the denudation, which has swept away rocks on both sides of it; the fault was therefore posterior to the Carboniferous æra. We have thus, even geologically speaking, a vast interval wherein the different elements of elevation and destruction had their play.

The drive along the coast by Kentraugh from this point is particularly fine, and the country around in a high state of cultivation. There are unmistakeable evidences too of a desire on the part of the great landed proprietor of this neighbourhood to develope the agricultural resources of the country, and to advance the character and condition of the farm labourers. If a similar desire were more general, the complaint which has been sometimes made by English judges at agricultural meetings on the island, that it would be desirable to grow more wheat and fewer weeds, would soon be groundless.

Just beyond the Colby river where it meets the sea near Kentraugh, there are three roads which rise from the shore inland upon the terrace of the drift-gravel. The first leads up to Ballagawne and Fleshwick Bay, the second to Port Erin, and the third to Port St. Mary; this last may perhaps be considered rather as a continuation of the main road, and we may as well adopt it, as most fitting to our present object.

A gigantic slab of clay-schist stands erect in a field on our right,-the monument, it may be, of "Danish chief in battle slain." It once had its fellow, and tradition assigns their location to the energies of two giants, who in a trial of their respective skill in quoit-playing tossed them hither from the summit of the Mull Hills 7.

A few years ago there was another stone of some interest, as being the only Runic monument in this neighbourhood and the largest on the island, which stood at the meeting of the road to Port Erin with the road running from Port St. Mary to Rushen parish church. It must now be inquired after, and will be found after some search propping the wall of a tottering outhouse in the farm-yard close by.

Port St. Mary, or as it was anciently called in Manx, Purt-noo-Moirey,and thence corrupted into Port-le-Murray, is a thriving fishing hamlet carrying on a fair export trade of limestone, lime, and agricultural produce at all times, and in the herring season sheltering a large portion of the fleet whilst pursuing their fishing on the southern coasts. The harbour was formerly not considered safe, but recent survey has shown that with a not excessive outlay very superior accommodation might be obtained for even large vessels in almost every wind 8. The Calf of Man may be visited by boat either from Port Erin or Port St. Mary, or we may proceed on foot or horseback over the Mull Hills by the sequestered hamlet of Craig Neesh to the Sound of the Calf or Kitterland Strait and take boat there, should there chance to be one on the spot. The direction of the wind and the state of the weather will best determine the route, or whether the Calf Islet should be attempted at all. The coast scenery is so fine in this neighbourhood that the journey by water should be adopted if practicable by those who have heart for it, and can enjoy azure depths, dark frowning precipices, rocky pinnacles, water-worn caves, and the wild screaming of thousands of sea-fowl echoed responsively from one bluff headland to another.

For the purpose of visiting the far-famed chasm of Spanish Head, let us take a boat from Port St. Mary. A guide will conduct the more timid thither on foot by a somewhat tedious road which winds about on the eastern side of the mountain. We may, whilst the boat is being prepared, examine the limestone in the neighbourhood of the kilns and procure a series of the fossils of the lower beds. They are here rich in the larger corals, and good samples , of Favosites caetetes and Turbinolia may be picked up. The grooving and polishing of the limestone also just under the boulder clay near the limekilns may be well-studied, and turning round the point into Perwick Bay, a good section is exhibited of the boulder clay with the drift-gravel resting on it, and overlying the junction of the limestone with the schist caused by the fault which has just been noticed as continued hither from Athol Bridge through Strandhall. Perwick Bay itself has same very pretty scenery, and will be found well-worthy of a visit.

And now we're afloat and gliding down coastwise to the south-west on the ebb tide. A good mile brings us to Fistard Head, where, as Mr. Chaloner has noted in his book or rather map, is the rock called " Chering Cross where the rare grotto is." A huge bifurcated stack rises up amidst the breakers like twin gigantic sugar-loaves to a height of 150 feet9. From the almost perfect horizontality of the beds of grey-coloured schist of which it is composed, it might readily be taken, even within a short distance, for a pile of limestone10. Flocks of gulls and curlews are perpetually disputing its prominent points, and many a good shot may the marksman here get at "Mother Carey's chickens 11." The "rare grotto" will amply repay the peril of the visit. At full tide it may be sailed through, and on a calm day no voyage can be more delicious. Below is the deep blue pool swarming with fish of every character; crabs, lobsters, sea-urchins, star-fish and medusas (jelly-fish) with long floating and stinging arms present an ever moving picture: above, the heavy-browed arches whose rude groinings have been carved out of the solid rock by that never-ceasing tool with which Old Ocean fashions his wondrous palaces, where the flickering light dances to and fro as the splash of the oar stirs the ripple doubled and tripled and interlacing with its fellows returned from each jutting point of this winding cavity.

Emerging again to the clear and steady light of day, we find ourselves at the foot of a stupendous precipice, frowning down -upon us full 300 feet, rent into awful chasms, and presenting detached masses which imagination at once converts into the gathering strength of rocky avalanches, just about to rush down and overwhelm us in their stupendous ruin. And such events are not the mere pictures of the imagination, but a reality. Even within the last winter a pile of several tons weight precipitated itself from the summit of Spanish Head into the raging waves below, mingling its awful crash with the deep roar of the wintry billow. And the geologist will easily see that the nearly half-moon bay lying between Fistard Head and Spanish Head has been formed by a series of such catastrophes.

The dip of the beds is nearly magnetic south, at an angle, however, not exceeding 15°. An examination of the neighbourhood seems to indicate that they form part of a large dome, of which the Mull Hills are the summit. In the elevation of that dome cracks were most likely formed perpendicular to the surface and at right angles to each other, converging therefore towards the central nucleus. Whether the great fault which we have noticed already two or three times as extending in this direction happened at the same time with that elevation, or was subsequent to it, is not a point of great importance in the question, or readily determined. The result in either case would be the same, viz. that of a steep precipice towards the south or nearly south, of which the upper part would be always impending, and the lower part would present to the beat of the waves great facilities for destruction, in consequence of the cracks and chasms running inland at right angles to the coast line. There is in fact a constant tendency to land-slips, and the erosive action of the sea upon the cliff is ever accelerating such events. Any convulsion of nature, and more especially a violent earthquake, would also produce similar catastrophes. There are dark allusions in some of the ancient chronicles to remarkable earthquakes felt on the island, and it is not altogether improbable that the fissures which now attract particular attention may have been thus enlarged from mere cracks to their present size within the historic period. Dr. M`Culloch has noticed the position of the ruins of a hermit's residence in reference to this point; and the situation of a cromlech on the very edge of the precipice, and intersected with fissures, indicates that the locality has experienced some disturbance at a date not very far back.

To get a good view of the phænomenon we must ascend to the summit of the precipice. By proceeding towards the western recess of the bay, where the shore slightly recedes, we may, after some toil, accomplish this. I have ascended by the cracks and crannies in the perpendicular face, but I should not be disposed to venture a second time. Having once upon a time proceeded half-way, the incoming tide and the oncoming night forbad a return, and forced me to adopt the system of climbing-boys, with elbows and knees against the opposite walls of one of the narrower fissures. Right thankfully I placed my hands upon the topmost ledge of rock, and drew myself on to its secure platform. A story is current in the neighbourhood, which may well make us shudder in looking down from this fearful precipice upon the broken crags below us.

Two samphire-gatherers, husband and wife, had discovered a fine bed of that herb12 on a rocky ledge several fathoms below the great platform. In no place with which I am acquainted does it luxuriate more richly than in the clefts and crannies about Spanish Head. They determined to be possessed of this prized discovery; and for this purpose procured a rope, which the wife permitted to be passed under her arms, and in this manner, with an ample bag suspended from her neck, she was let down by the husband to the identical spot. When she had gathered as much as she could, she signaled to be drawn up.

It would appear that, in consequence of the additional weight, some of the strands of the rope were sprung, or, more probably, they had been chafed and severed against the keen edges of the rock. When within a few feet of the top the rope altogether gave way. Can we picture the agony of the husband in that moment, when he beheld his wife dashing headlong from pinnacle to pinnacle, till at length her mangled corpse was received in the rolling surge ?

On examining the rocky platform we shall observe, about eighty yards inland from the brink of the precipice, a line of subsidence running magnetic east and west, and between this line and the cliff a series of parallel deep cracks or crevasses, some of them a good yard wide. At right ('rt . angles to these crevasses, that is, in directions running magnetic north and south, we fiUd the rock rent into several grand chasms penetrating to an unknown depth, though evidently narrowing as they proceed downward.

The area of the most seriously disturbed mass, which seems ready to detach itself from the mountain-side and rush headlong on the slightest provocation into the sea, is by actual measurement about 12,000 square yards.

After betaking ourselves again to the boat, a little steady pulling will bring us in front of Spanish Head itself, the most southerly point of the island. 'T were hard to say whether the upward or the downward look is the most sickening. We are floating betwixt as it seems twin abysses, the ocean and the sky, the blue above and the blue below. A stupendous wall of grey schist rears itself on high, directly out of the sea, to an elevation of 300 feet ; its reflection in the azure mirror before us doubles that height, and in truth the plumb-line will sink many fathoms even close in shore ere it strikes the bottom. Tradition is very strong which connects the name of the headland with the wreck of a portion of the Spanish Armada upon this iron-bound coast. Full many a noble vessel might founder here and leave no trace behind. I have however heard it hinted, that the island owes its singular breed of tailless cats13 to that event, and that the ancient cradle of this apparently mutilated species of the feline family must be looked for in one of the provinces of the south-western peninsula of Europe.

In turning the point of Spanish Head we find ourselves suddenly in the rake of the tide, which sets, when near the full, with great rapidity through the narrow channel separating the Calf Islet from the main island. In boisterous weather the passage from the one to the other is not without great risk, and though the width of the channel is not more than 500 yards, there have been occasions when for many days no communication could be made across. There are several sunken rocks, and the strait is often full of breakers. In mid-channel, though rather to the northern side of it, is a small islet called Kitterland, of about an acre and a half, on which the tide breaks in full fury and becomes divided into two powerful river-torrents, running from eight to ten miles per hour when the wind blows strong at high water from south-east or north-west. .

The landing at the Calf Islet is usually made at a small creek on the northern shore, whence parties proceed by a winding road which rises over the hill on the western side to visit the ruins of Bushel's House and the adjacent lighthouses. It will be as easy for us to run down on the southeastern side of the islet, passing the fine headland Goughyarn and a series of wild creeks, till we reach the Cow Harbour, an extremely convenient place of access near the Burrough at the south of the Calf of Man. Here then we may ship our oars, and draw up the frail craft "in littore sicco."

At the southern extremity of the Calf Islet is a fine patch of the drift-gravel platform. It is here about twenty-five eet above high water, resting upon the tilted edge of the clay sebist, which dips at a high angle S. 30° W. magnetic 14. That feeble folk the conies have becaverned it in every direction, and as their mining operations have been parried on now, according to most ancient records15, for many centuries, their subterranean city spreads out with its labyrinth of streets to an unknown extent. The tenant of this island farm, in remuneration for the damage which they occasion to his growing crops, demands from them about 2000 heads annually, the amount of which he remits to the " Lord of the Isle," in part payment of the rent.

Hard by, standing out somewhat prominently into the southern sea, are two remarkable rocks, the Burrough and the Eye, of which the last is perfectly insulated, and both rise to a height of more than a hundred feet above high water, and are pierced by natural archways wrought out by the action of the sea when at a higher relative level upon the strike of the schist of which they are composed. The Eye is accessible only with much risk and toil, and on its summit is a singular excavation called the Grave of Bushel16, in reality a place of refuge, concealment and defence, perhaps at the time when, as Camden tells us, the islet was beld by " a pretty good garrison" We ascend by an easy road, for which we are indebted to the Edinbro' Board, as the guardians of the northern lighthouses, who opened it and keep it in good repair, to facilitate the transport of stores to the two important lighthouses, which are so placed on elevated ground in the western part of the Calf Islet as that their two lights being brought into one, shall bear upon a dangerous reef, the Hen and Chickens, running out a few hundred yards into the sea, of which the extreme point is dry at low water. How deeply interesting is it to ascend the spiral stairs of one of the towers, and to follow out the details of these beacons set upon a hill, upon the accuracy of which depends the safety of so many richly freighted vessels and the preservation of thousands of our hardy tars in the dark nights when "the stormy winds do blow!" And that solitary watcher, how deep the responsibility which devolves upon him to keep from sunset to sunrise the lights burning, the wicks welltrimmed, the mirrors bright and burnished, and the machinery clean and regular, and wound up at stated seasons

To the northward of the lighthouses, on the highest point of the Calf Islet, full 470 feet above the sea, is a pile of stones, erected for the Trigonometrical Survey. A would-be hermit of the name of Bushel erected about two centuries ago a lonely but within a few feet of this point, where the precipice descends with fearful rapidity into the sea17. The following record which he has left of himself, whilst it contradicts the story of his death and burial on the islet, is a painful testimony to the reality of his seclusion and the motives to it 18 :

The embrions of my mines proving abortive by the sudden fall and death of my late friend the Chancellor Bacon, in King James's reign, were the motives which persuaded my pensive retirement to a three years' unsociable solitude in the desolate island called the Calf of Man, where, in obedience to my dead Lord's philosophical advice, I resolved to make a perfect experiment upon myself, for the obtaining a long and healthy life (most necessary for such a repentance as my former debauchedness required), as by a parsimonious diet of herbs, oil, mustard and honey, with water sufficient, most like to that of our long-lived forefathers before the flood (as was conceived by that Lord), which I most strictly observed, as if obliged by a religious vow, till Divine Providence called me to more active life 19."

The attention of the geologist will, however, on this spot be arrested by a still more singular and far more ancient record of events which this islet has witnessed.

Scattered here and there round about the ruins of this but are rounded lumps of granite and other hard rock (stfiangers to this islet) about the size of a medium cannonball. They were certainly not brought hither for Mr. Bushel's special amusement, nor is it very likely that he followed so closely in the steps of his master as to speculate on the fact of their occurrence in this singular locality; and yet their occurrence is well-worth the study of even the most profound philosopher. Whence did they come hither ? How did they come ? These are questions which involve in their answer some of the most interesting theories of geologists.

Let us see what further facts of a similar character may be picked up on the islet. Strung together they may form a band capacious enough to encircle the truth, and bring it before us bound down within the limits of a reasonable probability.

We pass to the eastward over hill and dale, rugged and barren, and at every ten or dozen yards of our progress these rounded and scratched foreigners catch the eye. Sometimes they increase largely in their dimensions, and become, though not gigantic, yet full-sized boulders. Near the eastern Pile of Stones which has been erected on an eminence of 400 feet above the level of the sea is a very remarkable deposit of boulders, gravel and sand. It is about a hundred yards north of the pile, and at twentyeight feet lower elevation, but still resting on and covering, in the shape of an oblong spheroidal boss, a somewhat raised portion of the clay schist which forms the substratum of the islet.

A good section has been made into the very heart of this mass (which is about thirteen feet deep and fifty feet across in the longer, i. e. the north and south axis) for the purpose of procuring gravel for the neighbouring road, and exhibits a somewhat irregular yet distinct stratification, which consists in the lowest part of a deposit of fine sand; above that, patches of gravel in sand ; then still higher up, of gravel and scratched fragments of rock and good-sized boulders. And the rocks are not any of them such as we could swear to as belonging to this immediate locality. There are red and grey syenites, porphyries, granites, grits and sandstone, either from Cumberland or the south of Scotland, but not a fragment, as far as I have hitherto seen, of Poolvash or Ronaldsway limestone, though there can be little doubt that the materials of the hillock have been transported hither across the limestone area of the Isle of Man.

Did some great wave, caused by the sudden upheaval of a mighty mountain-cbain from the bosom of the ocean, sweep across the area of the Irish Channel, and bearing onwards in its resistless course a rocky storm of the tornup debris of the strata over which it had passed, break upon the eminence of this islet, which stood up an unlucky reef in its mid-progress ? On such an hypothesis it seems hard to account for the regularity of the deposit and the apparently quiet manner in which the different materials have assumed their present position, together with the absence o£ the limestone rocks of the immediate neighbourhood.

On the other hand, can we look upon this stratified boss of boulders, gravel and sand, simply as a relic of the ancient sea-bottom, a kind of upper terrace of drift-gravel, and aggregated under circumstances similar to those under which was spread out the platform of which a fragment has just been noted near the Burrough, and of which another fragment may be noted down there by the sea-shore of the north of this islet ? Then it seems very strange that such a mass should have remained on the subsequent elevation o£ the island, just upon this one prominent spot, and not in the hollows which surround it on almost all sides. There is for instance, about eighty yards to the eastward, a deep depression, in which is a turf-bog, whence a little stream takes its rise. We may stand in that hollow, and singular as it may appear, though we are closely surrounded by sea on all sides, and the extent of the islet of the Calf is only 800 superficial acres, not a glimpse of the salt water can we catch, look which way we will, and yet in this hollow we can detect no such bed of gravel and sand, no tokens whatever of an ancient sea-bottom.

The only hypothesis which to my mind seems capable of being applied with any show of plausibility to the solution of the problem, is that which I have suggested in my memoir of the " Geology of the Calf of Man," published in the Proceedings of the Geological Society of London in 1847 20. It is that of a grounded iceberg, or stranded mass of packed ice, melting and depositing quietly its load, gathered on far-distant shores, whilst subjected to the gentle action of a drifting current coming from the E.N.E., or nearly magnetic east. And the inference which I have further drawn from the phænomenon is, that the sea-level of that period was relatively with the Isle of Man 400 feet at least higher than now, i.e. that there has been an elevation of the whole sea-bottom of this neighbourhood since the time of this deposit, amounting to at least 400 feet in perpendicular height.

I would not urge this hypothesis to the exclusion of that of a diluvial action as having at some former period passed over the island; indeed there are other phænomena elsewhere which to me seem capable of being explained only on this latter supposition; perhaps the scattered boulders which we trace even to the highest point on the islet at Bushel's House are also attributable to such action; but what I would simply urge is, that the sweeping of great waves of translation seems inconsistent with the accumulation of so quietly stratified a deposit as this gravel boss, on so exposed a point, and that therefore the diluvial action must have taken place prior to this accumulation, which we must rather attribute to the deliquescence of loaded ice in a not very much troubled sea 21. The question of the diluvium itself will come before our notice when we ascend South Barrule and Irey-na-Lhaa, and track the granite boulders from their summits to the origin of them.

The panorama from the summit of the gravel boss on the Calf Islet is of the finest possible character. Looking northward, the whole of the southern portion of the Isle of Man appears spread out as a map for our study. To the eastward lie the deep indentures of Poolvash Bay and Castletown Bay; the rich corn-lands rising from the water's edge and spreading far up into the interior of the country, and the different objects which we have noted in our peregrinations now become familiar to us, dotted here and there over the fair landscape. To the westward again the scenery presents a contrast the most complete. Stupendous rocks pile upon pile stretch far away northwards, black, frowning and precipitous. Immediately in front rise the Mull Hills, and beyond, uplifted as it were each one on the shoulders of the nearer to us, the eye rests successively on Brada Head, Ennyn Mooar, Slieau-y-Carnaane, Irey-na-Lhaa, and the majestic South Barrule. The first four of these descend at once without a rest or break right down from a height of between 600 and 1200 feet into the western sea, and yet they cradle at their base the lovely quiet bays of Port Erin and Fleshwiek. And look! there we catch a far- off glimpse of the Niarbyl and the opening out of Glen Rushen where the turbid waters from the Beckwith Mine come pouring over the pretty waterfall of Glenmeay22. Beyond is Contrary Head, where the great tides coming into the Irish Channel from the north and south twice each day struggle for the mastery and twice each day retire with doubtful victory. -'The whole scene closes in that direction with the hills above Peel and Corrin's Folly mounted upon the saddle of the round-backed Horse23.

On a clear day from the same point we may pick out the more prominent points of the north-eastern coast of the Emerald Isle, the Arklow and the Mourne Mountains, and the high land about Carlingford Bay and Lough Strangford. Anglesey and the Cambrian and Cumbrian Mountains present a dim blue outline in the southern and eastern horizon; and dotted over the bosom of the great deep are countless sails, the fair wings of commerce speeding their flight to the farthest-off regions of earth. Whilst enjoying such scenes from this spot on a clear sunny day, when all appears pleasure, peace, and security,-the little cloud no bigger than a man's hand rising up in the far south-western horizon, distinct harbinger of the storm and darkness soon about to cover the ocean and the air, will femind us of the truthfulness of the metaphor which Gray's bard scratched out when he sang,

"Fair laughs the morn and soft the zephyr blows,
While proudly riding o'er the azure realm,
In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes,
Youth on the prow and Pleasure at the helm,
Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway
That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening prey."

A far different scene was once witnessed from this spot (so says the legendary history of this isle) by a grim Norwegian hunter, which, as it has to do with the name of the little islet lying down there in the Race or Sound of the Calf, we may as well relate as the conclusion of this chapter, pretty nearly as Waldron has given it in his strange record24:

" In the days of Olave Godredson there resided in Man a great Norman baron named Kitter, who was so fond of the chase that he extirpated all the bisons and elks with which the island abounded at the time of his arrival, to the utter dismay of the people, who dreading that he might likewise deprive them of their cattle and even of their purrst in the mountains, had recourse to witchcraft to prevent such a disaster. When this Nimrod of the north had destroyed all the wild animals of the chase in Man, he one day extended his havoc to the red deer of the Calf, leaving at his castle on the brow of Barrule only the cook, whose name was Eaoch, (which signifies a person who can cry loud,) to dress the provisions intended for his dinner. Eaoch happened to fall asleep at his work in the kitchen; the famous witch-wife Ada caused tte fat accumulated at the lee-side of the boiling pot to bubble over into the fire, which set the house in a blaze. The astonished cook immediately exerted his characteristic powers to such an extent that he alarmed the hunters in the Calf, a distance of nearly ten miles. Kitter hearing the cries of his cook and seeing his castle in flames made to the beach with all possible speed, and embarked in a small currach 26 for Man, accompanied by nearly all his attendants. When about half-way the frail bark struck on a rock (which from that circumstance has since been called Kitterland) and all on board perished.

" The fate of the great baron and the destruction of his followers caused the surviving Norwegians to believe that Eaoch the cook was in league with the witches of the island to extirpate the Norwegians then in Man, and on this charge he was brought to trial and sentenced to suffer death. The unfortunate cook heard his doom pronounced with great composure, but claimed the privilege, at that time allowed to criminals in Norway, of choosing the place and manner of passing from time into eternity. This was readily granted by the king. `Then,' said the cook with a loud voice, ' I wish my head to be laid across one of your majesty's legs and there cut off by your majesty's sword Macabuin, which was made by Loan Maclibhuin, the dark smith of Drontheim.'

" It being generally known that the king's scimitar could sever even a mountain of granite, if brought into immediate contact with its edge, it was the wish of every one present that he would not comply with the subtle artifice of such a, low varlet as Eaoch the cook; but his majesty would not retract the permission so recently given, and therefore gave orders that the execution should take place in the manner desired.

"Although the unflinching integrity of Olave was admired by his subjects, they sympathized deeply for the personal injury to which he exposed himself rather than deviate from the path of rectitude. But Ada, the witch, was at hand; she ordered toads' skins, twigs of the rowan-tree, pieces of wood and covered with hides. They were sometimes so small as not to consume more than three hides in their manufacture. It was in such a boat that St. Maughold was cast ashore at the head which bears his name. and adders' eggs, each to the number of nine times nine, to be placed between the king's leg and the cook's head, to which he assented.

"All these things being properly adjusted, the great sword Macabuin, made by Maclibhuin, the dark smith of Drontheim, was lifted with the greatest caution by one of the king's most trusty servants and laid gently on the neck of the cook; but ere its downward course could be stayed, it severed the head from the body of Eaoch, and cut all the preventives asunder except the last, thereby saving the king's leg from harm. When the dark smith of Drontheim heard of the stratagem submitted to by Olave to thwart the efficacy of the sword Macabuin, he was so highly offended that he despatched his hammerman, Hiallus-nanurd, who had only one leg, having lost the other when assisting in making that great sword, to the Castle of Peel to challenge king Olave or any of his people to walk with him to Drontheim. It was accounted very dishonourable in those days to refuse a challenge, particularly if connected with a point of honour. Olave, in mere compliance with this rule, accepted the challenge, and set out to walk against the one-legged traveller from the Isle of Man to the smithy of Loan Maclibhuin in Drontheim. I They walked o'er the land and sailed o'er the sea,' and so equal was the match that when within sight of the smithy, Hiallus-nanurd, who was first, called to Loan Maclibhuin to open the door, and Olave called out to shut it. At that instant, pushing past him of the one leg,the king entered the smithy first, to the evident discomfiture of the swarthy smith and his assistant. To show that he was not in the least fatigued, Olave lifted a large forge-hainmer, and under pretence of assisting the smith, struck the anvil with such force that he clave it not only from top to bottom, but also the block upon which it rested. Emergaid, the daughter of Loan, seeing Olave perforin such manly prowess, fell so deeply in love with him, that during the time her father was replacing the block and the anvil, she found an opportunity of informing him that her father was only replacing the studdy to finish a sword he was making, and that he had decoyed him to that place for the purpose of destruction, as it had been prophesied that the sword would. be tempered in royal blood, and in revenge for the affront of the cook's death by the sword Macabuin. `Is not your father the seventh son of old Windy Cap, King of Norway?' said Olave. 'He is,' replied Emergaid, as her father entered the smithy. `Then,' cried the king of Man, as he drew the red steel from the fire, `the prophecy must be fulfilled.' Emergaid was unable to stay his uplifted hand till he quenched the sword in the blood of her father and afterwards pierced the heart of the one-legged hammerman, whom he knew was in the plot of taking his life."

The sequel of the legend is that Olave married the fair Emergaid, and from that marriage descended a long line of kings of Man down to Magnus, the last of the race of Goddard Crovan.


1 One gentleman (the father of my informant), hoping to turn the strange occurrence to some account, carted away several loads of the rotten turf which was laid bare and spread it upon his lands. The effect was just the opposite to his intention: the fields were barren for two or three years.

2 The marks of a hatchet are discernible on one of the stumps which I have removed.

3 Horace, Od. i. 2.

4 Magnetic S. 80° W.

5 See Plate H.

6 Magnetic meridian.

7 Hence the name, "the Giants' Quoiting-stones."

8 The Mariner's Guide notes the Carrick as a dangerous rock in the centre of Poolvash Bay. The material of which it is composed would pay for its removal. It is a fine boss of the lower limestone. Conchologists will find it a favourite habitat of Saxicava rugosa. With a hammer we may detach masses of rock thick with pear-shaped cavities and containing the living mollusk.

9 See view of Spanish Head from the chasms

10The light blue schist of Spanish Head breaks up into long slabs, which are used very largely on the island as lintels for doors and windows. It is slightly elastic and very tough in texture.

11Tlaalassidroma pelagica, or Stormy Petrel.

12 Erithmum maritimum.

13 The Rumpy Cat (as it is here called) appears to he a monstrosity of the common domestic cat. In its wild state (which is not unfrequent) it is somewhat larger than an ordinary-sized cat; the hind legs also are proportionally larger than the fore. In mixed breeds, of which I have had frequent sight, of the same birth, some have been without tails, others with full-length tails, and others again with mere rudiments of tails, consisting of only..a few joints.

14 I discovered here a small vein of sulphuret of copper in 1846. It runs S. 60° E. magnetic, and dips S. W. hy S. at an angle of 70°.

15 Chaloner, writing in 1653 of the Calf Islet, says, " Here are some Ayries of mettled Faulcons, that build in the Rocks; great store of Conies, and Red-Deer; and in the summertime, there arrive out of Ireland and the Western parts of Scotland many of those small Hawks called Merlyns. There is also a sort of Sea-Fowl, called Puffines, of a very unctuous Constitution, which breed in the Coney holes. The flesh of these birds is nothing pleasant, fresh, because of their rank and Fish-like taste, but pickled or salted they may he ranked with Anchovies, Caviare, or the like. But profitable they are in their feathers and Oyl."-Description of the Isle of Man, p. 2.

16 Mr. Wood described it in 1811 in the following terms:- It is in the form of a cross, each of the two longitudinal cavities being about six feet long, three wide and two deep. Immediately at the edge of the cavities is a wall of stone and mortar, two feet high, except at the southern, western and eastern ends, which were left open, perhaps for ingress, egress, observation, and the admission of light. The whole is covered with slate and mortar. Saltwater is found at the bottom, the consequence of the sea hreaking over the rock in stormy weather."

17 Quoted in a MS. history now in the possession of the Clerk of the Rolls, written about 1655, the author of which says he found it set down in Mr. Thomas Bushel's Mineral Overture to the Parliament.

18. Looking down the precipice, within a few yards of the ruined but into the sea, the eye rests on the two triangular or pyramidal rocks of the Stack, fifteen yards from the bottom of the cliff, with the sea intervening, and rising from a base of about fifty feet to a height of rather more than one hundred. They form a very picturesque object as approached from the north-west.

19 Mr. Wood relates a tradition of a person who in the reign of Queen Elizabeth had murdered a most beautiful lady in a fit of jealousy, and took refuge in the desolateness and seclusion of this islet.-Wood's Account, p. 144.

20 See Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, May 1 st, 1847, p. 179.

21 It might perhaps be argued, that the elevation of the Calf Islet and the great mountain-chain of the island, of which it is evidently a continuation, took place after the accumulation of the drift-gravel; but it was in anticipation of such an argument that I have directed attention to the circumstance of this drift deposit lying undisturbed across the great line of fault passing hence through Port St. Mary and Strandhall to Athol Bridge. When the Isle of Man was elevated out of the Pleistocene sea, the whole area of the Irish seabottom seems to have been raised with it.

22 The Waterfall of Glenmeay (the rich valley, Mea or Meay being Manx for luxuriant or fertile) is a favourite resort of tourists easily accessible from Peel; or it may be taken in the way from Castletown to Peel by those who adopt the higher mountain road thither over South Barrule. The geologist will he interested in the patches of drift-gravel by the side of the road between Dalby and Glenmeay, and the pleistocene series may also well he studied at the mouth of the glen half a mile below the waterfall.

23 The Horse is the name given to the rounded hill rising southward of Peel Castle.

24 Waldron, page 185. See also Train's History of the Isle of Man, vol. ii. p. 177.

25A wild species of swine at one time common in the mountain districts.

26 The Currach or Coracle was a kind of light boat of the Ancient Britons formed of a slender framework of timber connected by short

  Back index next  

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley, 2011