« НазадПродовжити »
neighbourhood the cliffs rise to the height of about 400 feet above the level of the sea. On the western side of the Island are the ruins of another Castle, called Rufus or Bow and Arrow Castle, from its erection by William II, or from its supposed adaptation, indicated by the great number of loop-holes in its walls, to the mode of defence in use before the invention of cannon. The adjacent rocks exhibit masses of the most stupendous magnitude, and the cliffs are awfully perpendicular.
The southern extremity is called Portland Bill, and here, on almost the highest part of the Island, are two Light-houses, the Old House, erected in 1716, and the New House, in 1789; both are furnished with excel. lent lights, and in clear weather they are visible at a great distance. The latter building was constructed at the expense of the Trinity Corporation, and is 63 feet in height; it is of handsome architecture, and built of Portland stone. These structures are peculiarly requisite on this spot, as the dangers of the adjacent coast are very great; innumerable rocks lying just beneath the surface of the sea, and occasioning, with the meeting of the tides from the opposite sides of the Channel, a perilous surf. Notwithstanding every precaution, however, many vessels are lost, almost every year, on this dangerous coast.
Near the Bill is a singular Cavern, called Cade Hole, about 50 feet square, and 21 high; in shape it resembles a dome; at the top is an aperture, through which, in stormy weather, à column of sea water is often thrown up to the height of several feet, forming a natural fountain, of a singular and grand appearance. By the violence of the winds small vessels are sometimes driven into this cave; the interior is awfully striking, and the effect is much heightened by the ceaseless roaring of the waves.
The Stone Quarries are highly deserving of attention; they are found in every part of the Island, but the most considerable are at Kingston, from whence about 6000 tons of stone are annually shipped.
The male inhabitants of Portland are principally employed in the quarries, and are a sturdy and muscular race; they are stated to have a peculiar jealousy of strangers attempting to settle among them, and almost always intermarry with the women of the
Isle; as they are bred to hard labour, they are soon in a condition to support a family, and therefore marry early in life; and as the custom of Gavelkiud, by which the land belonging to the father is divided into equal portions among all his children, is observed here, instances of extreme poverty are as rare as examples of great wealth. The population, in 1821, was 2254 persons.
This Island is supposed to have been known to the Romans under the name of Vindelis or Vindenis, and is said to derive its present appellation from Porta, a Saxon chieftain, (the same to whom Portsmouth is indebted for its name), who arrived here about 501. In 787 the first of the Danish pirates, who afflicted England during the three following centuries, landed here, and perpetrated their usual outrages. In 1052 Earl Godwin made a descent on the Island; and subsequently some attempts were made by the French to land here; but the dangers of the coast insured its security. Early in the Civil War the Castle was garrisoned for the Parliament, but was taken by stratagem by an officer of the opposite party, who led a troop of about 60 men, with the Parliamentary colours, in great haste up to the walls, crying out that he had brought succours to the garrison, but was so closely pursued by the Earl of Caeruarvon, that unless the gates were immediately opened, he would be cut off: the unsuspecting governor admitted his treacherous visitor, who was immediately followed by a strong reinforcement; the garrisou were disarmed, and thus was possession obtained of an important fortress, and a large amount of treasure, plate, and rich furniture, brought from Wardour Castle, which had recently been taken by the Parliamentarians.
This Island affords a rich fund of observation to the naturalist and geologist. It is composed of a great variety of strata, and many curious specimens of petrified shells are found here. It appears to have undergone considerable changes from natural convulsions; of some of these we have particular accounts, especially those in 1665, in 1734, and in 1792, in the latter of which years a large extent of ground slid from the top of the cliffs to the water's edge, and a portion was engulfed by the waves.
ISLE OF PURBECK. This is, with still less propriety than Portland, called an Island; it is bounded by the sea on the north, east, and south sides, but on the west is only divided from the rest of the County by the Frome, and even this separation does not exist through more than half its western border. It forms the southeastern extremity of the County, and is about twelve miles in length by seven in breadth. The only town is Corfe Castle, already described; but it contains several villages, few of which deserve particular notice; Swanwich, or Swanage, one of the most cousiderable, stands at the south-east extremity of the Island, on the margin of a Bay of the same name; it consists principally of one long street, and has a spacious Church, erected at different periods; the tower is the most ancient part, and is said to be of Roman construction; its walls are very thick, and about 80 feet high; the period of its erection cannot be ascertained from its appearance, as it is entirely without ornament, or architectural distinction. Å Herring Fishery was established here in 1788, which employs a considerable number of persons; and many more are engaged in the Stone Quarries, which are more numerous in this parish than in any other part of the Island. The population of this place is about 1500. To the north of Swapage is Studland, a small village, near which is an extraordinary insulated rock, standing on an eminence, and called Agglestone; its circumference is about 80 feet, its height nearly 20, and its weight is computed by the quarriers at 400 tons; its surface is overgrown with heath, as is the hillock on which it stands, which is 90 feet in perpendicular height. This immense mass is conjectured to be a sepulchral memorial for a British chieftain, as several barrows surround it; but Dr. Maton is of opinion that it is the patural product of the spot on which it stands, and that the Barrow, whereon it seems to rest, is no more than a collection of earth thrown up around it. By the inhabitants of the neighbourhood it is called the Devil's Nightcap, and they state, with becoming gravity, that his Satanic Majesty, irritated at the splendour of Corfe Castle, threw this rock from the Isle of Wight, with the intention of demolishing that edifice, but failed in his mischievous object.
The Island consists almost entirely of limestone, in several places mixed with shells and flint. Two ranges of hills divide its north and west sides from the east; to the south of these it is fertile and beautiful in appearance, finely diversified with hill and dale, intersected by many small streams, and studded with corn fields, meadows, and coppices. Its whole surface was originally a forest, and, previously to the Civil War, it was well stocked with deer; but during that contest they were almost totally destroyed: many of the nobility and gentry had hunting seats here, for the convenience of attending the monarch in his diversion, but since the period above alluded to, they have been deserted, and those which still exist have been converted into farm-houses. The Island had anciently a Governor, called the Lord Lieutenant, who was also Admiral of the Isle, and had power to raise a body of militia; this office has long been discontinued, and the militia is incorporated with that of the County.
Purbeck is famous for its stone, the Quarries of which are principally on the southern and eastern sides of the Island. A considerable quantity of it was used in rebuilding the public edifices of London after the fire of 1666; it was also much used in paving the streets: a grey species, called Purbeck marble, was in great request among the architects of the middle ages, and may be found forming the slender clustered columns which support the roofs of many of our Cathedrals.
RAMPISHAM, a village about five miles east of Beaminster, has an ancient Church, standing on a little eminence, with an embattled tower, adorned with pinnacles. In the churchyard are the remains of a Cross, ornamented by a variety of carving and emblematical figures, and apparently intended for preaching from. In this parish a tesselated pavement was discovered in 1799. It was situated in the midst of a common, and as there were no vestiges of any buildings near it, it is supposed to have formed the floor of a Roman officer's tent: it was in a perfect state when first opened, but was afterwards broken
by the neighbouring rustics, with a view of finding the treasure which they imagined to be concealed beneath.
SHAFTESBURY. This town is situated near the north-eastern extremity of the County, 101 miles from London; it stands on a high hill, affording a very
a very extensive prospect, and from its site the air is pure and healthy, although bleak. It is of great, but uncertain antiquity; by some authors its foundation is placed as far back as 940 years before the Christian era, while others attribute it to the Romans, and Camden states it to have been built by Alfred the Great; the inscription, however, on which he founds this assertion, is believed to refer only to its re-edification, after it had been destroyed by the Danes; and the numerous Roman remains discovered here, seem to justify the opinion that it was known at least as early as the sway of that people.
A Nunnery was founded here, by King Alfred, whose daughter Ethelgeda was appointed the first Abbess; this establishment was one of the most splendid in the kingdom, but scarcely a vestige of it now remains. The Church appears to have been a spacious and magnificent fabric, and was originally dedicated to the Virgin Mary, but on the translation of St. Edward the Martyr, the miracles wrought at his shrine attracted such a concourse of pilgrims, who produced such an excellent revenue, that the good Nuns, in common gratitude, could do no less than choose the royal Saint for their patron, and it was accordingly placed under his protection, and so continued until the Dissolution, when its yearly income was estimated at £1329 ls. 3d.; its possessions were then distributed among the rapacious favourites of the King, (the principal part being conferred on Thomas Wriothesley, afterwards Earl of Southampton), and the Lady Abbess had an annual pension of £133 granted to her. All that now exists of this magnificent foundation are some small fragments of the walls, and a few relics, which have occasionally been discovered in digging in the neighbourhood.
This town is not connected with any historical event; it is mentioned in Domesday Book as having suffered greatly from the Danes; but soon recovered