Sand, Sea and Sunshine: hot and cold water through the ages at Ballaugh Beach
This interesting title drew 15 adults and 5 children to Ballaugh shore on a sunny evening at the end of June. Dr Peter Davey and his wife Dr Philippa Tomlison led us along the cliffs and pointed out features of interest.
They began by explaining the geology of our area and how the landscape was formed during various ice ages. This was illustrated by showing us layers of gravel and sand in the cliff and by discussing the rocks found on the beach and their origins. Intelligent questions were asked by our members which Peter was happy to answer.
In their work at the Centre for Manx Studies they have taken part in many studies of the area as coastal erosion and big storms in particular have exposed new archaeological features. For examples a Bronze Age rubbish tip was exposed for three years. We were able to see charcoal in the cliff and Peter and Philippa talked to us about these burnt mounds. It seems that although these sites are found all over Europe they are more prevalent in the Isle of Man, but their function is still a mystery. It was fascinating to learn about some theories that archaeologists have put forward to explain these ancient charcoal filled pits
We saw the remains of a WWII signal station and learned that buried beneath it were the remains of a carthorse, kept at the Centre for Manx Studies.
On the trail of other remains, we moved to the Polly Dub, with kind permission of farmer Terence Waggett. It was fascinating to have a good look at the pool which many of us had never been able to visit before. This old marl pit was where the famous Ballaugh Elk was unearthed. Peter explained that these pits were dug to extract marl, which is a form of clay containing leached minerals historically used by farmers as a soil conditioner.
Many thanks to Peter and Philippa who provided thought provoking theories and a good evening’s entertainment.