Page images
PDF
EPUB

In June and July, it is abundant at Salcombe and other places on the South Devon coast.

the microscopic organism has been unduly enlarged. As a matter of fact, the silvery white cells were barely visible, and I had no idea of the find until the microscope revealed the entanglement of finely-spiked cells, connected by creeping threads, and twisting in and out between the red fronds.

I have not been able to distinguish the slightest signs of life in my specimen, nor could I find any more in subsequent search through the same pools. I am under the impression that the polyp never has been seen. The frosted white of the stems is very attractive, and the curious form of the spinous cells renders the species unmistakable. Amongst the recorded stations around our coasts for the Beania, Scilly and Falmouth are named. Mr. W. P. Cocks is the authority for the Falmouth district, and Mr. Bean, I believe, discovered the zoophyte on a Cellu. laria, at Scarborough.

In our snatches of holiday, it is impossible to master the life-history of a tithe of what we may find; it would require steady work day by day for half a lifetime, to investigate the marine fauna of such a favourable spot as Salcombe estuary. But I am induced to offer these notes to readers of SCIENCEGossip, not because they possess original merit in

Fig. 208.-Beania mirabilis. X 50.

The Beania mirabilis is, I suppose, one of the rarer British marine Polyzoa ; or perhaps it is a species

Fig. 209.-Beania on Plocamium coccineum.

which is occasionally over-looked in the wealth this age of growing knowledge, but in the hope of parasitic growth. Fig. 209 gives the frond of that young students may be roused to the pursuance Plocamium, on which the Beania attached itself in of a delightful sea-side source of recreation and the low-tide zone. In the endeavour to present a learning. picture of the natural growth, I think the real size of

C. PARKINSON.

To anyone glancing casually at the south-eastern

time it is being strongly fortified, and will, ere long, THE ISLAND OF INCHKEITH.

be fully equipped with all the most recent scientific By CHAS. WARDINGLEY.

paraphernalia necessary to meet any emergency which

may arise in time of war. portion of the map of Scotland, the Island of

But our object just now is not so much to dwell Inchkeith in the Firth of Forth appears so small and

upon its dangerous position or its strategic importinsignificant as scarcely to merit any lengthy or

ance, as to place before the land-dwelling, peaceserious consideration. Even to many of those who

loving reader, a few facts connected with the island, have visited and spent some time in the Forth

which may be calculated to arouse and partially to district the island has presented no special feature of

satisfy his or her interest and curiosity. interest or attraction further than that which is

In Anglo-Saxon times the island appears to have possessed by, and is common to, the other small

been known as Caer Guidi, or Fort of the River, islets which are dotted here and there in the

and under this very appropriate name is mentioned immediate vicinity. Nay, even by the majority of

by Bede. In 1010 Malcolm II. conferred it upon those who have seen it, sailed past it or round it, and

Robert Keith, one of the first Marshals of Scotland by many who have had the privilege of landing

and founder of the Keith family, as a reward for upon it, it would be curtly described and as promptly

personal courage and political services, and in this dismissed as a small island with a lighthouse upon

way the island acquired its present name. Since then it.” There are however exceptions, of which let us

it has been held successively by the Crown, the Lords give two. Dr. Johnson in the company of his

of Glammis, and the Buccleuch family, while from the biographer Boswell) visited it in 1773, and though

latter it has been obtained for the use of the nation. he remarks that there was “rather a profusion of

In the turbulent days of Queen Mary it was frethistles,” acknowledges very frankly that it had its

quently made a subject of contertion, and was in redeeming features. “I'd have this island," he consequence the scene of many a fierce combat. In breaks forth; “I'd build a house, make a good

1548, the year after the Battle of Pinkie, it was landing-place, have a garden, etc.," and further

seized and fortified under the direction of the Lord avows that “a rich man of a hospitable turn would

Protector Somerset, who placed an English garrison have many visitors.” Carlyle visiting it at a later upon it. Two years later this garrison was assaulted date, describes it as “prettily savage," "barley

and expelled by the Queen Regent's French allies, trying to grow under difficulties," " no inhabitants over three hundred of its defenders being killed or except seven cows and the lighthouse-keeper and

wounded. It was re-garrisoned by the captors, who his family," and although he neglects to tell us of the

held it until the Treaty of Edinburgh, 1560. During conditions of the kine, he is so far characteristic as to

this last occupancy a larger and much stronger fort volunteer the information that “the lighthouse

or castle was built, doubtless with a view to future keeper was by far the most life-wearyd-looking mortal

contingencies, but it remained intact only a very I ever saw.”

brief period, being destroyed by order of the Lords Neither is the prevailing general indifference shared

of Council soon after Mary's surrender in 1567. Its by the commercial and military naval authorities.

ruins remained until 1803 when they were removed To the former it is a source of considerable danger

to make way for the erection of the present lightand loss, its position midway in the channel of the

house. Firth, and the presence of sunken rocks which In 1497 the island was made an asylum to which surround it on all sides, only too frequently causing

all persons afflicted with an infectious distemper the disablement or wreck of some unlucky vessel,

called “grand-gore” or “gran-gore ” were to repair, which, driven by stress of weather or a gale from the

" and there to remain till God provide for their east, has been compelled to run for shelter into the

health." quieter waters of the estuary. Almost every year,

Robert Lindesay writing about 1550, chronicles a

curious experiment said to have been made some “ When stormy March has come at last, With winds and clouds and changing skies,"

fifty years earlier by James IV. His Majesty, moved

with a laudable spirit for original investigation, some craft or other is driven upon and broken to conceived the idea that it might be interesting and pieces by the rocks bordering this apparently insigni- | possibly profitable to mankind, if he could discover the ficant island. Again, to those having charge of the primitive language of the human race. Accordingly naval defences of the kingdom, Inchkeith, command. he caused to be taken to Inchkeith“ ane dumb woman ing as it does the entrance to an extensive stretch of and two bairns with hir," desiring by thus setting easily accessible coast-line, has been considered of them apart from the rest of their species, “hereby to such paramount strategic importance as to justify it know what language they had when they cam to the in being acquired for defensive purposes, and with aige of perfyte speech.” Details of the experiment this object in view it has recently passed into the are unfortunately not given, but the veracious author custody of the War Department. At the present with a little commendable hesitation records that

[ocr errors]

report said “they spak guid Ebrew," a result not take into consideration the steep declivity of the more remarkable than if the verdict had been “guid rocks at this part, the great depth of the water and the Lowland Scotch."

direction of the currents, we have quite sufficient The geology of the island is extremely interesting grounds for not accepting the absence of carboniand is highly illustrative of that of the shores of Fife ferous limestone pebbles as conclusive evidence that as seen at Pettycur, about two and a half miles to the the carboniserous limestone formation is wanting. north, of which probably the Inchkeith series is an In the north-east of the island there is to be seen outlier. It affords a very fine opportunity for the one of those curious memorials of prehistoric study of intrusive trap-rock and the accompanying times known to archäologists as Kjökken-Moddings deposits of calciferous sandstone and carboniferous (Anglicè, Kitchen Middens) or shell-mounds. These shale. The first impression conveyed to the mind are simply the refuse heaps upon which were thrown when the general mass is viewed from a distance is the shells and bones of the various creatures which that it must have been the apex or plug of an extinct were used as food by the primitive people who volcano, but a closer and fuller examination of the formed them. The example at Inchkeith, first stratified rock soon dispels that idea. The trap brought into notice in 1872, may almost be considered (whinstone) is a greenstone or dolerite, composed of as a typical one, and is well seen in a section made the minerals grey felspar and augite in very fine by the cutting of a military road leading to the grains, and this rock comprises fully five-sixths of the North Battery. The en:ire exposure has a depth of entire island rising in the northern portion to a height a little over eight feet, consisting at the base of a of one hundred and eighty feet above sea-level. fairly compact and dark-coloured rubble. Upon this This trap would appear first to have fractured and is the mound made up of tens of thousands of castdisplaced the sandstones and shales, and later to have away shells of Patella vulgata, Buccinum undatum, protected them from the destructive influence of the Purpura lapillus, and Littorina littorea, together sea by acting as a natural breakwater. The sedimen- with a large number of bones, chiefly from the tary beds have undergone a considerable amount of porpoise (Delphinus phæcæna), and seal (Phoca sp.). change, due to their contact with the igneous rock. Some of these bones have been split to enable the Thus we find the shale converted into a hard, brittle operator the more readily to extract the marrow, rock which breaks almost like slate, while the sand- while many of them show traces of having been in stones are variously affected, here presenting a quartz- contact with fire. The mound is in its turn covered like appearance, there a burnt limestone effect is

by a loose rubble, varying in depth from twelve to produced, and nowhere is it found where it has not sixteen inches, and consisting of sand and decayed been in a greater or lesser degree altered from its vegetation. If this upper rubble were removed the original texture, colour, and hardness. It is quite shell-heap would be found to be in the shape of an noticeable too, that in the proximity of its junction irregular ring, with a diameter of from thirty to with the sedimentary rocks, the trap (or whinstone) thirty-five feet and with a maximum depth of loses its crystalline appearance and becomes of a red eighteen inches, “thinning” out as it gradually and earthy nature. In the southern part of the island approaches the margin. Within or very close to this many of the amygdaloidal cavities are filled with ring was reared the dwelling of the mound-makers, crystals of carbonate of lime, chalcedony, and silica, a dwelling situated on high ground, to which the sea and these when water-worn have a very pretty although near was inaccessible. Unfortunately it is effect, resembling some of the porphyries found in impossible to give even an approximate date to the Perthshire. The dip of the intrusive trap and the period when these rude inhabitants lived, and the stratified rock is to the north-east, the average being language they spoke, the customs they observed, and about 45°.

the conditions under which they existed are all lost Having regard to the vast amount of heat evolved to the pages of unwritten history. They were most by the igneous rock when first poured forth, and the probably a migratory people, wandering from place resulting changes in the strata, it of course follows to place, living in exposed situations in summer and that very few remains of past life reward the efforts seeking shelter on the approach of winter. No of the geologist. As may naturally be expected, this weapons or utensils have yet been discovered at extreme heat has all but obliterated them, and little Inchkeith, but from those obtained in Denmark, or nothing is to be met with except the almost where they have been very extensively found and microscopical tests of the Ostracod crustacean studied by Professors Steenstrup and Worsaae, Leperditia subrecta which occur fairly abundantly it has been inferred that they were made during in the shale. Maclaren in his “Geology of Fife and the early Stone Period, and that they were quite the Lothians,” suggests that the carboniserous lime- probably of the same age as the earliest lake dwellstone crops out in the bed of the Forth a little to the ings. It must however be mentioned that Sir east of Inchkeith, but the persistent absence of John Lubbock records (“Pre-historic Times,” 4th limestone pebbles on the east shore tends somewhat edition, page 234) the finding of a large bronze to throw doubt on this supposition. Still, when we pin in the large shell-mound of Loch Spynie,

which consequently would not be more than 1,200 more replete with interest and instruction, more years old. This seems a solitary and perhaps not capable of yielding food for reflection and pleasure to altogether satisfactory "find,” as by far the greater the mind, more favourably situated for the study of proportion of Moddings have as yet yielded only the past and present of the great world of which this such weapons, etc., as would lead to the opinion that green little isle" forms such an insignificant their formers were scarcely more than acquainted portion. If, as Bacon has enunciated, study is to be with the art of Aint polishing, while their pottery was valued more as a discipline of humanity than as an of the very rudest kind. Of the metals and their exercise of the intellect, here then is a fitting place uses they were probably quite ignorant, employing in which to put the aphorism into practice, and instead the flints and bones which came so readily to while we look into the beautiful and harmonious their hands. From the absence of wood and stone world of nature and life before and round us, let us in the mounds, except where the latter has been dispel those lofty ideas of ourselves, and remember used as a hearth, we are led to believe that the that we, like the ground below us, are but smal} middeners dwelt in tents made of skins, only slightly fractions of this great and glorious universe. This elevated from the ground. Though the transfer of done, and we shall then be able to substitute greater the edible portions of the mollusca upon which they and more just views of the grandeur of creation and lived, from the shell to the stomach, would be ac- the perfections of its infinite Author. complished without any very great regard for culinary preparation, yet the presence of a dark-coloured carbonaceous substance found diffused among the

THE BARNACLE GOOSE. débris, and the marks of burning left upon many of

“ As barnacles turn Poland geese the bones, point to the cooking of such larger fishes

In th' islands of the Orcades."

Hudibras. and birds as came in their way.

Caliban.

“We shall lose our time, They do not appear to have had any knowledge of

And all be turned to barnacles."

Tempest, Act IV. sc. I. agriculture, not a single instance being known of any variety of grain having been found in the mounds. OME years ago I was spending the Long VacaEven the shells and bones which they threw away

tion at Eastbourne. It's an ill wind that blows bear witness that this early people had not the means nobody any good, and so it proved in this case. On of obtaining for themselves a very diversified meal. the morning after the storm I noticed, while strolling All the species of shells, with one or two rare exceptions, found at Inchkeith are such as may be gathered between high and low water mark, while the remains of the porpoise and seal are readily accounted for by assuming these creatures to have been caught in the various shallows and pools left by the receding tide. No human bones have yet been discovered in any of the shell-mounds, so that we are quite unable to form any definite opinion either as to the physique of this ancient race or their methods of disposing of the dead.

The Flora of Inchkeith is not very extensive, a circumstance fully accounted for by the exposed situation and the limited extent of the island, a strip of land about half a mile long by a quarter broad not affording very great scope for the growth of many varieties. No account of Inchkeith could be con. sidered anything like complete which did not contain some reference to the zoology of the Forth in its immediate neighbourhood. A few hours' energetic dredging just off its rock-bound shores will yield

Fig. 210.–Bernicle Tree. quite a bountiful array of Estuarine Fauna. Large specimens of the beautiful sea-urchin, (Echina along the beach at an early hour, a large piece of sphara), numerous starfishes and crustaceans, many wood cast up on the shore. Wondering whether it varieties of bivalves, and quite a host of the lowly would prove to be a tree-trunk or only one of the but equally beautiful and interesting anemones, timbers of some ill-fated ship, we drew near and sponges, corallines, and seaweeds; these and many examined it.. To my great surprise and delight it others abound in the adjacent waters.

was the former and nearly covered with patches of It may fairly be questioned whether there is any acorn shells (balanus) and barnacles (Lepas anatifera). spot in the kingdom of such limited extent, which is My delight may be imagined, as this was my first

[graphic]

acquaintance with these adult crustaceans in a state of nature.

Barnacles-order Crustacea, specific name Cirripedia (Lat. cirrus, a curl; pes, a foot]—begin life as active larvæ, resembling nauplius, and may be found every autumn swimming along our coasts in great numbers. This larva at its first moult develops a lateral mantle-fold. At its fourth change the front of its head becomes fixed by the flattening of one of the joints of the antennæ, and by the secretion poured out by a gland which, though placed in the body has its duct opening into the altered joint. At the fisth stage the eyes and antennä vanish, the head becomes fixed by a broad base of attachment, the mantle-like fold of integument surrounds the body,

Gardens, London, a Wonderful natural curiosity, called the Goose Tree, Barnacle Tree, or Tree bearing geese, taken up at sea on January 12th, 1807, and more than twenty men could raise out of the water." This “wonderful natural curiosity,” was nothing more nor less than a tree-trunk covered with barnacles. The name of the individual under discussion, Lepas anatifera, literally “goose-bearing,” takes us back in spirit to the times when the popular superstition proclaimed that the branches of certain trees on falling into the sea, collected sea-foam on themselves, and therefrom hatched a sort of shell-fish called barnacles, which in their turn evolved the bird going by the name of the barnacle goose.

This superstition of the Middle Ages owes its

[graphic][graphic][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

and becomes calcified into a shell of many valves, within which the hinder parts of the body are enclosed, together with their six pairs of limbs. These limbs remain free and capable of protrusion, while the mouth with its mandibles lies at the bottom of the mantle cavity. Both the sexes are combined in one individual, and their fecundity is something marvellous. But to proceed, on passing along the beach a few hours later I noticed to my great amusement that the ilog had been taken possession of by some fishermen, who had rigged a tarpaulin over it, and were charging one penny admission to view the “Wonderful Sea Lioness.” “ What elastic imaginations some people possess !” was my comment. My companion replied that he had seen a paragraph in “Notes and Queries ” to the effect that there was exhibited in Spring

origin no doubt to the play of words, the barnacle being confounded with the barnacle goose. The former is derived, according to some authorities, from the Irish barneach ; according to others it is the diminutive of the Latin perna, a shell-fish, pernacula being transformed into bernacula by a mere interchange of labial explodents, in strict accordance with the primary rules governing the permutation of sounds.

The name of the barnacle goose, on the other hand, is derived from the Low Latin bernaca, through the French bernaque. We have, according to Ducange, Bernaca, aves aucis palustribus similes (Bernacæ, birds resembling the fowl in the marshes).

The story 'once placed on a sound footing, sceptics were told to read their Bibles, and give special attention to Genesis i. 20: “And God said, Let the

[ocr errors]
« EelmineJätka »