Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/285

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THE PIRATES OF LUNDY

adjacent sea are alive with sea-birds, every ledge and jutting rock being dotted with them, or they are whirling round in clouds, filling the air with their discordant screams.

"This island, so little known, so little visited, so wild and mysterious in aspect, possesses an interest in its remote history, its antiquities, its physical features and peculiarities, and in its natural history, almost unrivalled."[1]

Lundy is an outcrop of the granite that heaved up Exmoor on its back, but there never broke through. Here the superincumbent carboniferous rocks have been cleared away by the action of the sea, and Lundy stands forth a naked shaft of granite. It possesses but a single harbour, at the southern extremity of the island.

Lundy takes its name from the puffins, in Scandinavian Lund, that at all times frequented it; but it had an earlier Celtic name, Caer Sidi, and is spoken of as a mysterious abode in the Welsh Mabinogion.

From an early period, its peculiar position, commanding the entrance to the Bristol Channel, its inaccessibility, its remoteness, rendered it a resort of pirates. Thomas Wyke, Canon of Oseney, in 1238, speaks of it as the haunt of a notable pirate, William de Marisco. This William had a son Jordan, who held the island in defiance of the King, and descended from it to make raids on the adjoining coasts. The island had been granted by Henry II to the Templars, but they had been unable to dislodge the De Mariscoes and obtain possession of it. A special tax was levied on the counties of Devon and Cornwall for the siege of Lundy and the defence of their maritime ports, but it

  1. Mr. J. R. Chanter, "A History of Lundy Island," in the Transactions of the Devonshire Association, 1871. Reprinted in Lundy Island’, 1877.