[from Jenkinson's Practical Guide, 1874]
RAMSEY contains a Population of 3861. It is a clean, homely town,a favourite with many of the best-educated classes who frequent the Isle of Man ; and we venture to predict for it a prosperous future, for the more it is known the better will it be appreciated. it is situated at the mouth of the largest river, the Sulby, on a sandy beach, in the centre of a magnificent bay, and at the foot of a mountain range, where are the most lovely of the glens of Mona.
Few places are more suitable for Paterfamilias seeking health and quiet. The air is remarkably pure and healthy, there are excellent sands for bathing, and for the gambols and castle-building of the little folks ; good fishing is to be had in the streams, and in the bay ; and there are nice walks and drives in the level country, and amongst the hills and glens.
The town is well supplied with hotels, the chief of which are the Albert, Royal, Mitre, Neptune, Union, Saddle, and Swan ; and there are many lodging-houses.
It contains the St. Pauls and St. Olaves churches, and places of worship for the Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. There is a Court House, the Deemsters Courts for the Northern Division of the island being held here. Coaches leave the town daily for Douglas and Peel ; and steamers sail regularly for Douglas, Liverpool, and Whitehaven. The shelter and accommodation for vessels, and the facility for embarkation and landing of passengers by the steamers, is being considerably increased by extending the South Pier 550 feet.
Ballure Glen is a small, but secluded and lovely nook, and is entered at the Ballure bridge, seated on the Douglas road, I mile out of Ramsey.
From the bridge a footpath leads direct up the glen close to the stream, or a cart-road conducts for mile up its western side to a reservoir, whence the town is supplied with water. The ravine is well clothed with trees, many of which are covered with ivy, and high banks rise direct from a rivulet flowing down an uneven bed, and in one place forming a waterfall.
The tourist ought to continue past the reservoir to one or two farmhouses, and then bend to the right, and descend by Elfin Glen, a romantic little gill containing a purling stream, and high wooded banksa fit companion to Ballure.
The ascent of the hill upon which stands Albert Tower may be made from Ballure bridge, by walking up the glen to the reservoir, or by following a cart-road which nuns from the bridge in a westerly direction past a small old chapel and round the foot of the hill, towards Claughbane. Another way is to take the Claughbane road direct from Ramsey, and ascend by the side of Elfin Glen.
The tower is 45 feet high, built of slate and granite, and it bears the following inscription: " Erected on the spot where HRH. Prince Albert stood to view Ramsey and its neighbourhood during the visit of Hen Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria to Ramsey Bay, the 20th of September, 1847."
The prospect is most enchanting. Ramsey is close at the spectators feet, looking like a fairy town, beautifully clean and neat, and the bay is spread to view from Maughold Head to Point Cranstal, with the Cumbrian and Scotch coasts away in the distance. A few low sand-hills hide the Point of Ayre lighthouse, but the whole of the country on the north is displayed as far as Jurby church, numerous cottages and mansions being dotted over every part. In the rear are Sky hill, North Barrule, and Slieu Lewaigue.
Maughold Head is a fine promontory on the north-east of the island, and can be reached after a pleasant walk of 3 miles from Ramsey.
It is well worth a visit, not only for its commanding position and picturesque cliffs, but owing to its ancient relics and historical associations, for it was here that St. Maughold is said to have lived and died. He is variously styled St. Machutus, Macfield, Machula, Machaldus, Magharde, and Maughold. The legend relative to him is that originally having been captain of a band of Irish freebooters, he was converted to the Christian faith by St. Patrick, the great Evangelist of Ireland. Desirous of withdrawing from the scenes of his former lawless career, he embarked in a frail boat made of wicker work, and covered with hides, and committing himself to the guidance of the Almighty, he was driven by the winds and tides, and at length cast ashore on the headland of the Isle of Man which now bears his name. A city is said once to have existed near the spot, but of this there are no visible remains. The severity of religious discipline which St. Maughold subsequently imposed on himself spread his fame for sanctity far and wide ; and Manx tradition records that St. Bridget, the famous nun, came hither to receive the veil of perpetual virginity from his hands ; and that he was by universal consent elected to the bishopric of the isle.
It is to St. Maughold that we owe the division of the island into parishes. His predecessor, St. German, had caused a chapel to be erected for each three quarterlands, but these being found too numerous, the island was divided into parishes and a church erected in each.
St. Maughold died AD. 553, and is believed to have been buried in the church at Maughold Head, where his shrine was held in great repute till the period of the Reformation ; and here a sanctuary was established in very remote times.
To reach Maughold Head from Ramsey, the tourist must enter the Laxey road. After passing the hill on the right surmounted by the Albert Tower, and crossing the Ballure bridge, under which flows the stream from the well-wooded glen of that name, a gradual ascent is made and a good view obtained of Ramsey, with the bay as far as the sandy cliffs of Point Cranstal. Presently the north-west part of Maughold Head appears, and the pretty creeks of Port Lewaigue and Port-y-Vullin. The road divides, the branch to right leading round Shea Lewaigue and North Barrule to Laxey. Following the left-hand branch the tourist quickly reaches Port Lewaigue, the south-eastern extremity of Ramsey bay, which may be gained at low water by walking on the sands from the town. It is an attractive creek, commanding a charming view of the bay and town of Ramsey. Crossing the low projecting strip called Gob-na~Runnah, Port-y-Vullin is reached, where is the telegraph communication between the island and St. Bees, in Cumberland. The buildings connected with the Port-y-Vullin lead mine are seen perched on the cliffs directly above the shore. The mine was opened some years ago, but has never been extensively worked, and has been closed since the spring of 1873. A short way beyond the lead mine are the iodine works of Mr. E. Sonstadt, hardly accessible to the mere tourist, but deserving of a visit from the man of science.
During the ascent from Port-y-Vullin to Maughold Head the peaked summit of North Barrule appears, and gradually the sea comes in sight to the south, in the direction of Port Mooar.
On the earthen fence on the left-hand side of the road is fixed a large stone cross, in height 5 feet and breadth 2 feet 8 inches. In the head are five raised hemispherical pellets, supposed to represent " the five wounds " of our Blessed Lord. They resemble small cannon-balls, having become quite black, in all probability owing to the rubbing of cattle, as the stone is said to have formerly stood in the middle of a field. We are told that it was erected in its present position only within the last few years ; but it must have stood here prior to the publication of Trains History of the Isle of Man, which appeared in 1845, for in that work we read
" Crosses were likewise placed on the highways, usually leading to the parish church, where religious processions of funerals had to pass. One of this description was lately to be seen at Port-y-Vullin, on the wayside leading from Ramsey to St. Maughold, and another near Port Erin, in the parish of Rushen. The corpse, in conveyance to the church-yard, was usually set down at these stones, that all the People attending might have an opportunity of praying for the soul of the deceased. Mendicants stationed themselves there to beg alms for Christs sake, whence the ancient proverb, He begs like a cripple at the cross."
On arriving at Kirk Maughold, a small sundial is observed on the village green. Upon it is engraved
" Edwrd Christianfecit 1666."
This Christian was, probably, son of Edward Christian who was buried in Maughold church in 1660, and is said, in the parish register, to have been " some time Governor of the Isle," and who was cousin of the William Christian that was shot for treason on Hango Hill, near Castletown, on the 2nd of January, 1662. Mr. Christian, who resides on the neighbouring estate of Lewaigue, has a similar dial-plate in his possession.
On the green, close to the sundial, is a large monumental slab of whinstone. It is carved on both faces, and on the edges, with some remarkable interlaced work, human figures, and grotesque animals, including a man on horseback. A large Latin cross with a glory occupies the whole of one face, a similar cross filling a position on the upper half of the opposite side. A resident informed the writer that this stone was lying on the ground until about twenty years ago, and that a piece was broken off the top, which had formerly been fastened to the large slab with iron.
A stone trough on the green was taken out of the church-yard some years ago. The Rev. Mr. Cumming says it is an ancient sarcophagus, and was removed from a grave. Some appear to think that it was used for infant baptism. It is four feet long.
Another pillar-cross, of a character differing from any other on the island, stands on the green, a few yards from the entrance to the churchyard. Cumming speaks of it as " a remarkable pillar-cross, still bearing traces of singular beauty, but much weather-worn from its exposed situation, and the material (new red sandstone) of which it is made. The cross consists of three partsa basement of three unequal steps, a slender octagonal shaft 4 feet 10 inches high, and an entablature or capital consisting of two quadrangular blocks of stone, fastened together with iron cramps and lead. The lower portion of the entablature has four shields, one on either face. The first shield is charged with the Three Legs of Man (the arms of the island after the Scottish conquest, thus proving the date of the cross later than 1270.) The shield opposite to this bears a ring and cross, inclosing a cinquefoil. On the third shield is a chalice, and the fourth, opposite to it, bears an open book with a tassel hanging from it. From this lower portion of the entablature, which is square, springs the real rood, quadrangular, but having two of its faces broader than the other two. One of these faces has a sculpture of the crucifixion, the figure of our Blessed Lord being naked, with arms extended. The opposite broad face bears a group of the Virgin and Child. Both these sculptures, carved with much force, are in deeply recessed canopies richly socketed. The third face bears in the lower portion a kneeling figure, with hands uplifted in the attitude of prayer, which has by some fanciful people been represented as St. Bridget receiving the veil from St. Maughold. Above this figure is a sculpture of leaves surmounted by a shield, the carving of which is indistinct, but apparently charged with bars and oak leaves. The fourth face, opposite to the kneeling figure, has, in the lower part, oak leaves surmounted by a shield hearing a rose, and under the shield some indistinct foliage." We are informed that within the last twenty years a crown was broken off, and is now lost.
Entering the churchyard two crosses will be observed standing at the western end of the church, one on each side of the door. The right-hand one has two figures carved upon it, supposed to be St. Patrick and St. Maughold, seated on either side of a cross ; the other is decorated with knot-work.
In the yard, on the south side, stands a large pillar-cross, plain on one side, and on the other a cross-patee or Maltese cross, such as usually marked the resting-place of a knight-templar.
Close to the church, on the east end, are two crosses. The left-hand one is about 7 feet high. It was formerly laid on a grave, and entirely overgrown by grass, near to the western end of the church. It is a double wheel-cross. The other is 5 feet high, with a cross engraved on it extending over its whole length. It was found lying on the top of a grave, two years ago, covered with grass. Both are composed of new red sandstone.
Over the entrance door of the church is a sculptured stone, used as a lintel, having on. its face, besides the ordinary rude carvings of animals, a figure of an ecclesiastic holding a pastoral staff. It had probably at one time covered the grave of an early bishop.
In the church is an old font, which was lying about uncared for in the churchyard until within the last few years. It is large, but is now only about half its original size, having been cut down when placed in its present position.
The Rev. Mr. Cumming, when speaking of the crosses here, says :" Another is a lintel above the chancel east window, about 6 feet long, which has on it a grotesque figure of a man, and of a monstrous animal with large eyes and feet, and a protuberance on the head, bearing somewhat of the character of the animal named an elephant on the singular crosses in the north-east of Scotland. The Maughold have more of a Scotch character than any others in the Isle of Man." There are no traces of this stone, but from what we can make out it was used as a lintel, and built into the wall at the east end, when the church was last roofed, about ten years ago.
Before the church was repaired (and modernised) the pulpit was used as a kind of old lumber closet. In it were two Norwegian swords, which are now in the vicarage, and are said to have been discovered in a grave.
There is a very beautiful small cross in the vicarage, where it was lately deposited for security, sculptured on both sides, the tracery being very elaborate. Height 1 foot 10 inches, width 9 inches. Mr. Cumming assigns it to the 10th century.
In the vicarage garden are an old lock, 2 feet long and 1 foot broad, and a very thick key. The lock was taken off the western door of the church when the building was being repaired. There are also in the garden the socket of an ancient cross, and the base of a column.
In the walls of the cottages in the village are supposed to be crosses, and carved stones, which have been used by work-men when building, to save expense, and are now covered over with plaster.
The church, one of the oldest on the island, is of the true Manx type, 72 feet long by 17 feet broad, and corresponds with Irish and early British churches. It has a chancel and nave without any architectural division, a western porch, which appears to have belonged to a building of ancient date, being distinctly Norman, with a tympanum and dog-tooth ornament.
There is a western bell-turret, for one bell, which is rung from the outside.
The churchyard is 3½ acres in extent, and is said to be one of the largest graveyards in the British Isles.
One of the most prominent monuments is in memory of Lieutenant-General Sir Mark Cubbon, K.C.B., twenty-seven years Chief Commissioner for the Government of Mysore, who was born in the adjoining vicarage in 1785, and died at Suez on his way home in 1861. Curious it is to note a stone erected over the graves of three Norwegians, who were recently interred here, having been accidentally poisoned by the cook of the vessel. This grave recalls to the mind many thoughts, and onlookers will revert to the days long gone by when sea-rovers came from the same northern country and took Possession of this island, many of them being interred in this very ground.
The churchyard of St. Maughold was formerly a sanctuary where criminals were free from arrest, and until recently there were ruins of ancient buildings in the yard, close to the boundary-wall at the high end, in which some say those persons used to live : others suppose that these remains were the cells of the earlier monks.
The following legend, from the Chronicles of Man, serves to show with what superstitious dread the sanctity of the church and its precincts was respected. When, in 1158, Somerlid, a northern chief, invaded the island with fifty-three ships, " the Manx people conveyed their money and valuables to the sanctuary of St. Maugholds church, in hopes that the veneration due to St. Machutus, added to the sanctity of the place, would secure everything within its precincts. After the battle, in which he was victorious, the fleet of Somerlid lay at Ramsey, and one of his captains, Gil Colum, made a Proposal to surprise the church of St. Maughold, and at least drive off the cattle which were feeding around the churchyard . With much reluctance Somerlid consented, pronouncing at the same time these words : Let the affair rest between thee and St. Machutus ; let me and my troops be innocent ; we claim no share in thy sacrilegious booty. Gil Colum laid his plans accordingly, arranging with his three sons to effect the surprise at daybreak of the following morning ; but as he lay asleep in his tent at dead of night, St. Machutus appeared to him arrayed in white linen, and holding a pastoral staff in his hand, with which he thrice struck him in the heart. Awaking in great terror of mind, he sent for the priests of the church to receive his confession, but they had no words of comfort for the dying wretch. One of them even proceeded to pray that St. Machutus would never withdraw his hand till he had made an end of the impious man, and immediately he was attacked by a swarm of filthy, monstrous flies, and about six in the morning expired in great misery and torture. Somerlid and his whole host were struck with such dismay upon the death of this man, that as soon as the tide floated their ships they weighed anchor and with precipitancy returned home."
After leaving the churchyard at the north-east corner, and crossing a field, the stranger, by searching a little, will find St. Maugholds Well, which is situated directly above the sea, a little way down the north cliff, half hidden by gorse and grass. Those who have had their expectations raised will be rather disappointed. The well is in a dilapidated and neglected condition. A few stones form a square, open to the north, and within the inclosure is a small scooped stone into which the water flows from the rock, but so slowly that it is hardly perceptible. The water is no doubt chalybeate. The stone or rock which formed the saints chair is overgrown or destroyed, for there is no such to be found. It is not altogether unlikely that, nearly fourteen hundred years ago, at this very font, St. Maughold administered the baptismal rite. He is said to have blessed the well, and endowed it with certain healing virtues. It was formerly much resorted to by women for its health-imparting qualities. The water was imagined to derive additional efficacy if drank sitting in the saints chair, which was scooped out of the adjacent rock. For many ages it has been the custom for the natives to make a pilgrimage on the first Sunday in August to drink of its waters, and even now, on that day, the young people in the neighbourhood pay holiday visits to the spot.
The tourist ought not to leave without climbing to the top of the headland, where there is a lovely and extensive prospect. Ramsey bay, with its fine sandy beach extending to the lighthouse on the Point of Ayre, is spread to view, and also the large tract of level land between the lighthouse and Ballaugh church. There is a wide breadth of sea which is bounded by the Scotch coast from the Mull of Galloway to Solway Firth, and then by the Cumberland coast as far as Black Combe mountain. in very clear weather the Welsh coast can also be seen. The neighbouring coast to the south is very beautiful, being formed into a number of hays by the promontorjes Garvain, Cornah, Laxey, and Clay Head. Westward stands a range of hills stretching from Albert Tower and Slieu Lewaigue, past the fine conical summit of North Barrule, to Slieu Choar, and Snaefell, and thence by Slieu Lhean and the Dhoon mountain to the sea at Laxey Head. The Kirk Maughold village, with its church and graveyard, is a pretty object at the feet of the spectator. Within a stones throw, close to the sea, on the south-east side of the headland, is the Dhyrnane iron-ore mine, recently opened by the Maughold Head Mining Company, Limited. The ore is shipped direct from the mine, there being 25 feet of water at high tide, and the tramway from the mouth of the mine is only 100 yards long. This company have also recently reopened an iron-ore mine in the adjoining Cornah Glen, which was commenced some years ago and afterwards closed. The ore from this mine is carted to Ramsey. The same company have re-opened an old copper mine in the cliffs of Maughold Head. They employ sixty or seventy men. Near the church is an old iron-ore mine, which has not been worked for the last eighteen or twenty years. Several trials have been made in other spots around for iron ore, but with only partial success.
A lightship will be observed stationed about 5 miles from Ramsey and 3 miles from Maughold Head. it is close to the Bahama sandbank. The crew consists of master, mate, and nine hands. There are always six men and one officer on board, and three mere and one officer on shore. The nine hands are divided into three watches, which give the men two months on board and one month on shore. There is a library belonging to the ship, and the comforts of the men are well attended to. The vessel is kept beautifully clean.
Before leaving this spot the spectator ought to step a few yards to the edge of the cliff, and overlook the " Traie Curn," an extremely wild and picturesque creek. Veins of ironstone and masses of. quartz rock interspersed with the slate impart a variegated appearance to Gob-ny-Skey, the north-eastern angle of the precipice, with red and white streaks upon a gray ground. Though the visitor may have been disappointed with the meagre appearance of the church and the far-famed well ofSt. Maughold, he will feel amply repaid for his pilgrim-age to the spot when he suddenly comes upon this wonderfully impressive and weird-like scene ; for though the creek and precipice are not on a vast scale, they present a striking combination of the sublime and beautiful.
This is a pleasant spot, and is entered by following the Peel Road for 1 mile to the mansion of Milntown, where an excellent road branches to left, and conducts up the glen for 2 miles, then a rugged cart-track continues 1 mile farther to a slate-quarry, and from the quarry the pedestrian may reach the summit of Snaefell, 2 miles distant.
After passing a rivulet flowing from a ravine called East AId.yn, the glen gradually narrows, until at last there is only room for the stream and the road, and high hills rise picturesquely on either side, those on the left sloping to North Barrule and Slieu Choar. Tlie sylvan aspect presented for some distance after entering the glen is now changed, and it becomes wild and solitary as the recesses of the mountains are approached.
From the farmhouse near the slate-quarry the traveller can ascend the height on the right, and have an agreeable walk to the summit of Sky Hill, with lovely prospects in one direction of Glen Aldyn, Ramsey town, and the mountains of North Barrule and Snaefefl ; and, on the opposite side, the level land stretching to the Point of Ayre.
If Sky Hill be not ascended when returning from the head of Glen Aldyn, the tourist should make a special visit to it from Ramsey and scale it direct from near Milntown. The view from. the top is most beautiful. The town of Ramsey is spread before the eye, apparently within a stones throw, and very charming it looks. Lezayre church is seen close below on the left, nestling at the foot of the hill, with its spire surrounded by trees. The whole of the northern flat district is displayed with its countless fields, houses, and farmsteads, and the churches of Jurby, Jude, and Andreas are in sight, also the Point of Ayre lighthouse ; whilst across the ocean are the Scotch and Cumbrian coasts. Inland are Snaefell, Slieu Choar, North Barrule, Lewaigue Hill, and the Albert Tower.
Few visitors will remain long at Ramsey without climbing the fine peak of North Barrule, the presiding genius of the place. The distance to the top is about 2½ miles, and the time required for the work will be an hour or an hour and a half.
The ascent may be made from Ballure bridge by following a cart-road on either side of the glen, or from the Hibernian Inn situated on the Douglas road, 3 miles from Ramsey ; but the shortest route, and the one generally adopted, is that by Claughbane and the Park Moor farm.
The summit being in view the whole distance, and the ground so open, it is almost impossible for the stranger to err after once entering the proper road. Fine views are obtained all the way, and from the top a grand panorama is visible.
To the south and east are Maughold Head, the Cornah Glen containing the Ballaglass Waterfall, Douglas Head, hotel, and lighthouse, and a broad expanse of sea, with the coasts of Cumberland and Wales. The mountain range runs past Slieu Choar to Snaefell, Pen-y-Pot, Slieu Mullagh Oure, and the Cairn ; and in the west are Sartfell, Slieu Farrane, Slieu Dhoo, Slieu Curn, Slieu Monagh, and Mount Karrin; and close to Glen Aldyn is Sky Hill, then a strip of level land to the Point of Ayre. At the spectators feet is Ramsey town and bay, presenting a pretty appearance. A glorious walk might be had by continuing on the tops and over Slieu Choar to Snaefell ; or a descent might be made in the direction of the Cornah Glen, and a visit paid to the Ballaglass Waterfall, the stone circle of Castle Chorry (or Castle Ree Orry), the treen chapel on the Barony Hill, or the Quakers Graveyard near Port Mooar.
Ramsey to Sulby village, 5 miles ; Head of Sulby Glen, 8½ miles; Snaefell, 11 miles ; Douglas, 19 miles.
It is a delightful drive from Ramsey to the Sulby village, at the entrance to the glen. (See page 112.)
From the village the road passes by a starch-mill and runs up the glen at the base of Mount Karrin, and by the side of the river, with the Carrick mountain on the left, and in front Slieu Monagh. Every object around is extremely beautiful, and perhaps in no part of the island are the hills more finely grouped.
The tourist presently finds himself in a secluded vale, surrounded by high mountains, and discovers that he is approaching a most hilly country, and a spot worthy to take rank with some of the most attractive of the hills and dales of the sister isles.
After making a sharp turn to the right and passing a few farmsteads, another reach of the glen, a mile in extent, is displayed, where the road runs by the side of a stream, whose bed is strewn with boulders of quartz and slate rock; and the mountains, covered with gorse, heather, and grass, rise so sheer on either hand as only to allow room for a tiny plot of ground on one side of the brook.
When the next house is reached the vale narrows so as only to allow room for the stream and the road on the mountain side, and egress appears almost impossible. At the top and bottom, and on each side of the glen, are mountains inclosing as lovely and secluded a spot as can be imagined.
At another sharp turn the lower part of the vale disappears, and the scene becomes in the highest degree wild and solitary. A view is caught of the summit of Snaefell. On the brink of the river are two or three cottages, tenanted by the families of men employed in the adjoining slate quarry. High hills are on every hand, with the stream forming cascades and flowing over boulders and ledges of rock at the travellers feet, and all around are tiny rills trickling musically down the mountain sides.
Another turn reveals a pleasant portion of the glen, containing a small larch plantation, and at the head a Methodist chapel, close to the Dockspout Bridge which crosses the stream.
A cottage close to the bridge is said by the residents to be the oldest house on the island. We had often wondered whether there were any Manx people totally ignorant of the English language, and here we accidentally heard that there lived at a farm on the summit of Craig Mooar, the height directly above the chapel, two people, a widow and her grown-up daughter, who could not speak a word of English. We questioned others, a few miles away, on the subject, and they all affirmed that it was well known these two people were conversant only with the Manx language, but some appeared to think they were acquainted with a few, but a very few English words.
Close to the chapel, on the opposite side of the stream, is a small but prettily wooded gill leading in the direction of Snaefell, and a notice-board warns strangers that they may not enter without leave from the people living on the adjoining farm of Ballaskella, perched on the hill above. Picnic parties sometimes spend the day here.
From the bridge the road ascends in a winding course with Shea Dhoo in front, and when the stream is again seen deep below on the right the tourist will be surprised to learn that the little building by its side is a school, a rather out of the way place to erect a seat of learning ; it also serves as a chapel of ease to Lezayre church. A little higher up the streamlet is a spot where meet the three parishes of Kirk Braddan, Kirk Michael, and Lezayre, and then the stream branches, one part extending into the wilds of Druidale to the feet of Slieu Farrane and Sartfell, and having on its banks a treen chapel and St. Michaels well.
The road now bends to left, leaves the glen, and after passing through a gate enters the open fell, and commands a view of Snaefell in front and parts of the glen in the rear. Soon Pen-y-Pot comes in sight, and after winding round the base of Snaefell the refreshment house is reached, and the road entered leading by Keppel Gate to Douglas.
The Point of Ayre, and the large tract of level country on the north of the island, are seldom visited by tourists, but those who remain for any length of time at Ramsey should not omit a ramble along the coast (see page 203), and to pay a visit to the lighthouse, the fort, and the churches.
The distance from Ramsey to the Point of Ayre is 7 miles, and there is a good road all the way.
After crossing the Sulby by the bridge at the head of the harbour, the Sandy Hill road must be followed for a mile, with fine views of the glens and mountains. A short distance beyond a flour windmill, branch to the right in the direction of the shore, and presently the whole of the bay is seen from Maughold Head to Shellag Point, with the Scotch and Cumbrian coasts ; and in the rear the heights of North Barrule and Snaefell. For the next 2 miles there is a good view of the sea on the right, and on the left of the level land, the tall tower of Andreas church being a prominent object. The road runs along the sand, gravel, and rounded pebbles of the pleistocene era, which thickly cover the whole of this part of the island ; and on crossing the rising ground near the small height called Break-o-Day hill, a descent is made to St. Brides church, some 4½ miles from Ramsey.
The old church has been pulled down, and a new one erected on the site, the tower of which is not yet finished.
The granite used in portions of the building is found in loose blocks in the neighbourhood, and must have been brought there by ice during the glacial era. In the churchyard are two fragments of Runic crosses, beautifully decorated, one of which contains a Runic inscription.
Turning round the church, and winding to left, a straight road runs along a flat tract of country direct to the Point of Ayre lighthouse, 2½ miles distant.
To reach Andreas church it is well to return to St. Bride, and after travelling a few hundred yards in the direction of Ramsey enter a road on the right, from which is seen the Point of Ayre, Ramsey town and bay, and the heights of North Barrule, Slieu Choar, Snaefell, Pen-y-Pot, and Slieu Farrane.
On emerging from the round sand-hills, most of which are cultivated, the level country is entered, and the tower of Andreas church stands direct in front. There is a pleasant view of the mountains, and the open country at their feet. From Bride to Andreas church is 2½ miles. In the church is a marble font, once belonging to Philip I. of France, which, at the breaking out of the Revolution in 1789, fell into the hands of a Manxman. The tower is Lombardic, and is 60 or 70 feet high, being a conspicuous object for many miles. The living is a rectory, generally held by the Archdeacon of the island.
In the churchyard is a fine Runic monument, in excellent preservation, sculptured on both sides with representations of horses, cows, boars, goats, sheep, birds, a person on horseback, and a hound seizing a deer. On closely examining these animals, we found that upon each there were Runic letters, to which we call the notice of the learned in such matters, as it does not seem to have been previously observed. It appeared to us that these letters might merely denote the name of the animal on which they were carved. The inscription along the edge is
" &srsdulf else suarti raisti hrus thana aftir Aria Biaurg kuinu
i.e.: " Sandulf the Swarthy erected this cross to his wife Arinbjbrg."
The first three words may also be read, " Saint Olave the Black."
On the green, just outside the church gates, stands a tall Runic monument, which, after being of service to the bill-poster, has within the last few years had the carving completely obliterated, as though with a chisel. On the edge is an inscription, only part of which is legible, and runs thus:
" crus t/lana af Ufaig fauthur sin fee gautr gfrth~ sunr Biarnar."
i. e. : " (A. B.) erected this cross to his father Ufeig, but Gaut Bjdrnson
In the parish of Andreas are several tumuli.
Two miles to the south-west of Andreas church is Ballachurry Fort, an earthwork or fortified camp, said to have been erected by the seventh Earl of Derby, who was be-headed in 1651 after taking part in the battle of Worcester. Others say it was made in the time of the Commonwealth by the Parliamentary troops. The internal square on which the troops encamped is a level piece of ground, sunk so much below the bastions and curtains as effectually to secure the troops within from any attack of firearms without : this space is 150 feet long, and 120 feet broad ; the fosse is 20 feet wide, and the outer rampart is 12 feet high. There are four bastions, one on each corner, the tops of which are about 48 feet square, all constructed of the earth which has been thrown up out of the ditch surrounding the encampment. There is no breach in any part of the works, which favours the supposition that the troops retained peaceable possession of their fortified camp.
Half a mile from Ballachurry is a chapel of ease dedicated to St. Jude.
The distance hence to Jurby church (3½ miles) forms a pleasant drive along a level well-cultivated country ; houses and farmsteads being on every hand, and a grand view of the neighbouring mountain range. The hedges are mere mounds of earth covered with gorse and briars, and there are few trees, although more than in most parts of the island. Lakes existed here a few hundred years ago, and now a large drain takes away the water to the sea. Trunks of oak and fir, and the horns and skeletons of the elk, are sometimes found when digging in the peat a few feet below the surface.
Jurby church is in the high ground close to the sea, and commands an excellent prospect of the level land, the ocean, and the Scotch coast, and the heights from Peel Hill to Maughold Head, including Cronk-na-Irey-Lhaa, South Bar-rule, Slieu Whallin, Slieu Curn, Slieu Farrane, Slieu Dhoo at the head of Ravensdale, top of Ien-y-Pot, Snaefell at the head of the deep hollow of the Sulby Glen, Slieu Choar, North Barrule, and Albert Tower.
A large Runic cross, used as a field gatepost, stands close to the entrance to the churchyard, and in the church are two Runic monuments, one containing some interesting figures ; the other being inscribed with the figures of the raven, a female figure and warrior in kilt or shirt of mail, and a broken sentence, which reads thus:
" Ru sun in Onon raisti aft faztleur br
" Ros son ; but Onon erected it to his fathers brother."
In a field near the church is the West Nappin treen chapel, in a ruinous condition and without roof, although it is an interesting relic, and is perhaps in a better state of preservation than any other treen chapel on the island. The dimensions inside are 21 feet by 10 feet. A slate slab which forms a lintel over the window is thought by some to be a Runic monument, but in its present position no carving is visible.
In the wall the piscina is still remaining. Within memory the building has been used as a schoolhouse.
One and a half miles from Jurby is the Ballaugh old parish church, a picturesque object covered with ivy, and in a disgracefully neglected condition. In the graveyard stands a beautifully carved Runic cross bearing the inscription
" Thorlaibr Thorluib sunr raisti crus thana aiftir Ulb sun sin."
" Thorlaf the son of Thorjolf erected this cross to his son Olave.
After travelling another mile the new parish church of Ballaugh is reached, and the road entered leading to Ramsey, or to Kirk Michael and Peel.