[From T.Quayle Agriculture of IoM, 1812]


AT the only spot in this island where thesea recedes, the soil is of little value. It is fine sand and gravel, affording no materials for the erection of sea-walls. Instead of meditating conquests from the ocean, it would be fortunate for the islanders if they could devise means to prevent its annual encroachments, both on the north-east and north-west coasts of the island, The land gradually undermined, and falling into the sea, is part of their most valuable soil. The remains of ancient fences, and traces of the plough, broken off abruptly at the edge of the cliff, give dismal attestation to the truth of the tradition, that this evil is progressive. In one spot the parting cliff has disclosed the place of sepulture of the ancient Celt ; throwing in its fall the stone coffin and its contents into the sea beneath. Not the slightest attempt has hitherto been made to guard against these depredations. The mischief done in each generation has been little heeded.

It is occasioned, probably, not by the impulse of the sea acting in a direct line inward, but by what is called the rake of the tide; that is, by the current passing in a line parallel with the coast, scooping out and undermining the cliff in its progress. The experiment has not yet been made of constructing frames of timber, formed by means of posts meeting in an angle at the summit, filled with stones, of the nature of those called break-craters ; and running to sea at right angles with the cliff. These would have the effect of breaking the force of the sidelong wave, and in time, shingle or sand would be collected and deposited on one side or other of the frame.

It is not to be expected that costly operations of this kind should be defrayed at the expense of one individual ; as little, that many will voluntarily contribute ; and there are not in the island any laws on this head analogous to the English law of sewers. The value of the land lost within these forty years would probably have defrayed the whole charge: but the evil is allowed to proceed. If no means of preventing it be adopted, at least none should be taken by which it may be aggravated. In the fall of the cliff, stones of great magnitude, weighing many hundred weight, are discharged. These are too ponderous to yield to the agitation of the tide, and are imbedded in smaller stones, which they preserve. The neighbouring inhabitants not having quarries of building stone within their reach, when they stand in need of any, proceed with their carts to the shore, and regularly carry off these large stones at their discretion. The smaller stones, losing the protection which the greater afforded them, are whirled away, and reduced in size and quantity by the violence of the waves. It seems probable that the water inshore by this means becomes deeper, and the tide in its progress more destructive,


Back indexnext


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2003