[From 1st Report Archaeological Commission, 1878]
The mountain called Meayll, in the parish of Rushen, presents a wild and barren aspect. It is clothed with dwarf heather and sheep-cropped mountain gorse. It is a moorland solitude. A few cottages are, indeed, scattered over the fields which creep up to the moor on the northern side; and the hamlet of Cregneese lies low down on its western slope.
On the surface of the mountain are numerous indications of its former occupation by a primitive tribe. Large enclosures are still visible. The fences by which they are surrounded are of a very ancient type. The existing remains of these fences are composed of rows of upright stones fixed in the ground, and extending over the mountain's surface in various directions. The stones are of a slaty schist, taken from the immediate neighbourhood, and are from two to four feet high above the ground.
Within one of the enclosures are the circular foundations of grouped archaic dwellings, which formed the hut village of the tribe. This stood on the eastern or more sunny slope of the moor. The huts were doubtless built chiefly of turf, strengthened by stones sunk in the ground and surrounding the foundations. The mode of building indicated in the hut foundations is apparently that which was adopted in the erecting of the fencing already mentioned. The interior diameter of each dwelling rarely exceeded nine feet. Some of the huts were very small, and seem to have been attached to those of larger size. These could not have been used as dwellings, and were probably the receptacles off fuel, or other things for domestic purposes. (See Plate I., fig. 1.)
The mode in which the roofs of the huts were constructed is open to conjecture. If they were covered with turf, and thatched with rushes or heather, by what means were the turf and thatch supported The natural supposition is that they were supported, after some fashion, by pieces of wood. There were, however, probably, at the period when the huts were erected, no trees growing in the locality, and few in the Isle. Drift wood might occasionally have been procured; and peat bogs may have furnished limited quantities of oak and pine, remnants of primeval forests. In the treeless Hebrides, it is said, ancient huts were roofed with drift timber, and thatched with turf or peat.
Mr. C. Spence Bate, F.R.S., in a report on the prehistoric antiquities of Dartmoor, read before the Ethnological Society, informs us of a mode of construction which had been adopted in the roofing of ancient circular huts in that locality, and which had many of the characteristics of those on Meayll:- When the walls had attained the required height, circular layers of sods or stones were so placed that each layer overlapped the other, and thus filled up the space and formed a beehive-shaped roof It is not improbable that this mode of roofing primitive huts may have been adopted in this Isle. An example of a roof so constructed still exists in a very ancient wall at Castle Rushen.
Notwithstanding the diminutive size of these dwellings, it can hardly be doubted that fires were used in them. It is generally supposed that the fireplaces were in the centre of the circular floors. Seeing, however, that the interiors were so limited, it is by no means improbable that the fire-places and the chimneys were sunk in the walls. In the huts on Dartmoor, the fire-places were in the centres of the floors. In hut circles found in Holyhead Island, and described by the Hon. W. O. Stanley in his " Memoirs of Remains of Ancient Dwellings in Holyhead Island," the fire-places are represented as having often been in the centres of the rooms, and often at the sides of the walls. The dwellings, however, on Dartmoor and Holyhead Island were considerably larger than the Manx huts.
The position of the hut village on Meayll was one which afforded warmth and shelter to the inhabitants. It was surrounded by the most elevated portions of the mountain on the south-west, west, and north.
The Commissioners discovered several hut circles on the north-western slope of the mountain. It did not appear that these had been surrounded by a wall. From the village itself, though placed in a depression of the hill, the prospect was extensive. It is probable that there were dwellings on the southwestern side, and if there were, no enemy could have approached unseen. On the west, Meayll is fringed with cliffs rising almost perpendicularly from the sea to a height beyond 300 feet-a valuable guard against a hostile surprise. The entrances to the huts within the village were apparently opposite the east or southeast. The ground upon which the huts stood sloped from the west. The entrance to each of these primitive dwellings was at night, probably, closed with a bundle of gorse. The furze bundle used for the purpose was similar to that still employed for closing a gap in a fence, and is named in the Manx dialect scaa 'sy doarlish.
It is strange that a locality so sterile and bleak should have been selected as a settlement. At the period when Meayll was occupied by hut-dwellers the low lands and fertile portions of Mann were doubtless also peopled. But by whom ? Hardly by a native population, but more probably by marauding invaders from Ireland, who may have planted colonies in the Isle after driving the natives from their possessions. There is, however, another theory that these rude hut-remains indicate the site of a very ancient camp-the first position that would naturally he taken up by a hostile band of marauding invaders from the opposite coast of Ireland, driven out, it might have been, from their earlier settlement by a more powerful tribe, and seeking to make themselves a new home in the first land they came to.
Taking the hut-remains on Meayll with the apparently similar remains, in an almost direct line, at Sloc,. we can easily conceive tie strength and advantage of the position. The invading force would be able leisurely to advance and occupy the more desirable portions of the country. In case of being repulsed and dislodged from their hill fast~,esses they would have their boats to fall back on at the Sound, where they may have first landed, or else at Port Erin or Fleshwick, as exigency might require. From the camp-if camp it was-to the Sound, we may trace the remains of a causeway or track line which would make it easy for them, even on the darkest night, to reach the water's edge. But when could such an invasion as this have taken places According to the Irish annalists the " Tuatha-de-Danaan," the fourth colony of settlers in Ireland, drove out the " Firbolgs," the previous race of colonists, who " fled to the Isle of Man, Arran, and the Hebrides."
The circle at the Sound is apparently the foundation of a hut dwelling. The remains on Meayll are probably of great antiquity. There stands upon one of its most elevated knolls a pagan cemetery, in which, doubtless, the ashes of the dead hut-dwellers were deposited. In this-remarkable monument a peculiarity of structure is indicated. It is a circle of twelve single kistvaens, approaching each other lengthwise, arranged in pairs. The Lists of each pair are separated from each other by a narrow space. Opposite to this space is a double row of stones extending outwards from four to five feet. The kistvaens are now denuded of earth. The greater number have fallen down, yet those which remain indicate the character of the structure. The imposts have been removed from all the Lists. From the present appearance of the remains the Commissioners conclude that the original structure was a ringbarrow, with an opening or entrance towards the N. W. The double rows of stones were originally built upon, and when covered with earth. formed radiations from the ring-mound. Each of these radiations pointed to an opening in each of the Lists forming every pair. This opening was probably made in each cap-stone. It was, perhaps, similar to that represented in Plate II., figs. 2, 3; and when an interment had been made, by placing in the List the urn containing the cinerated bones, the opening was covered by a flog, over which earth was heaped. The monument is called in the Manx dialect " Ruillick y lagg shliggagh," be., " The graveyard of the valley of broken slates." When the structure was entire it probably presented the form of a ring with six rays proceeding from it. This peculiarity of formation renders the tumulus exceedingly interesting. Tumuli of the same character are of very rare occurrence. No other similar structure, it is believed, exists within the British Isles. It is said, however, that examples of kist-circles have been found in Sweden.
The interior diameter of the Meayll circle is about forty-six feet. The opening on the N.W., which was sixteen feet wide, was, probably, used to facilitate the introduction of the materials of which the funeral piles were composed, as well as of the bodies to be consumed upon them. The use of the Lists was, perhaps, limited to the settlement on Meayll, and common to all its inhabitants. When a death occurred a pile of heather, gorse, and possibly drift or bog timber was raised within the circle. Upon this the dead body was placed and burned.
When cremation obtained in the British Isles, the poverty and the wild and umcivilized condition of the inhabitants prevented, for the most part, any show or pomp at the native interments; yet the funeral ceremony, doubtless, partook more or less of parade, according to the position or distinction of the person to whom the obsequies were being paid.
Explorations of the Manx tumuli would, probably, throw considerable light upon the manner of interment adopted by the early occupants of Mann.*1 It is far from improbable that among the primordeal inhabitants the obsequies of the dead were performed at night. The elevated positions of the Manx tumuli point to such a practice. Of these hardly one can be traced which does not command a view of the sea. The Romans we know at one period buried their dead by torchlight, and, therefore, at night.
It has been said that among the Greeks funerals usually took place before sunrise. We learn from Homer that the pyre of Patroclus blazed all night.
As at night the illumination from the burning mass was more conspicuous than in the day, so the superstition connected with cremation received development from the apparent increase of the fire's intensity.
A hut-village similar to that on Meayll once stood at Sloc, on the southern slope of Cronk-ny-irree-laa. The existing remains composed of numerous hutcircles and a few scattered upright stones fixed in the ground, are named by the peasantry Clagh-y-daa-hoit="Stone of the two settings." The wildness and solitude of this locality exceed those of Meayll. The village was situated within a basin-like depression, the western rim of which is formed by the rugged and stupendous cliffs which rise abruptly from the sea to a height of several hundred feet. Its southern verge is the dark~and bold headland which terminates the lofty Carnanes; while from its southern and eastern limit, the moorland gradually slopes until it unites with the cultivated fields below. Close to the remains is a bog whence the villagers may have obtained water.
The dwellings at Sloc were of a class identical with that of those on Meayll. The size of each hut in both localities was about the same. Traces of the wall with which the Sloc village was surrounded are still visible, but its foundation is less defined than that of the Meayll enclosure.
During the Commissioners' visit to Sloc a few excavations were made chiefly outside of some of the circles, but no relic of any value was discovered. A heap of fragments of quartz was dug into. The stone had evidently been broken by human agency into numerous pieces varying from an inch to three inches in diameter; but for what purpose it is difficult to imagine. Quartz, which abounds in the locality, was probably used for obtaining fire, and for such a purpose is quite as effective as ordinary flint, which could only have been obtained in small pieces on the sea shore.
The position of this village was such that it could only have been seen on a near approach; while from the surrounding elevations a close and effectual watch might have been kept. The precipitous cliffs, moreover, afforded a safe retreat in case of danger.
It would be interesting to ascertain the mode of life of the mountain tribes by whom the archaic villages on Meayll and at Sloc were tenanted. A careful excavation and examination of the remains would probably lead to discoveries which would throw some light upon the condition and habits of the primitive Manninee.
In a little meadow between Ballachurry and Port Erin is an artificial mound of great size, commonly called the Fairy Hill, and named in the manorial records Cronk-Howe-mooar. Its base is 474 feet in circumference. Its height is about 40 feet. Indications of its having been encircled by a ditch are visible. Its form is that of a cone, truncated or flattened at its summit. It is uncertain whether it be a fortification or a tumulus-a question which can only be decided by opening the structure. According to Mr. Oswald " it is said to have been raised over the body of King Reginald." Mr. Oswald, however, affirms that " its structure bears evidence of its having been a fortified position for twelve or twenty men."*2 That it was such seems exceedingly doubtful. This huge mound was raised with great labour and at great cost, which it is hardly likely would have been incurred merely to enable twelve or twenty men to fight from its summit. The existing remains of ancient fortifications in the Island show that their several interiors were of sufficient size to contain considerable numbers of men. The area of the top of Cronk-howe-mooar is so limited that the structure could have been of little use as a fortification. If it is a tumulus, it is probably chambered, and its excavation and exploration would be attended with much antiquarian interest. Its origin must be referred to a period much earlier than that at which King Reginald was killed. We learn from the Chronicon Manniae et Insularum that Reginald was on the 30th of leeway, A.D. 1249 " slain by the knight Ivar and his accomplices, in a meadow near the church of the Holy Trinity of Rushen," but the chronicle adds, " he was buried in the church of St. Mary of Rushen."
The structure is, perhaps, not very dissimilar from the great tumulus of Maeshowe, described by Mr. James Farrar, M.P., in his " Notice of Runic inscriptions discovered during recent excavations in the Orkneys," p. 11. Maeshowe is 36 feet high, and 300 feet in circumstance at its base, and, therefore, is not so large as Cronk-howe-mooar. It is also surrounded by a ditch. It contains a sepulchral chamber, spacious, and carefully built.
The name Cronk-howe-mooar is peculiar inasmuch as the words "cronk" and "howe" are nearly synonymous, each denoting a hill-the former an Erse word; the latter of Northern or Teutonic origin, as indicated in Maeshowe. A similar combination of words, having identical meanings, appears in the name " Tor-pen-howe." Tor, pen, and howe, respectively signify an elevation or a hill. Mr. W. F. Marsh Jackson, in Notes and Queries, 5 s., ix., p. 137, in reference to this name, quotes Hutchinson's History of Cumberland:-" Every syllable of which word in the several languages of the people which successively did inhabit the place doth signify, after a sort, the same thing." " The Britons called a hill a pen. The Saxons succeeding them called the place Tor-pen, i.e., pinnacle pen. They who came next, Tor-pen-howe, that is the ho we or hill Tor-pen." So the hill in Rushen has acquired the two names " cronk " and " howe." If a Scandinavian structure, and it probably is such, it was first called the Howe, and the Manx name Cronk-mooar was added.
In a mountainous locality near Ballakilparick, and between the highroad and the Carnanes are The Standing Stones. They are, doubtless, the remains of a megalithic monument. Two stones only are left. The larger one is 9 feet high, and l l feet 3 inches in circumference; the smaller is about 7 feet high, and 9 feet 4 inches in circumference. Forty years ago the remains consisted of four stones. The two now existing stand 28 feet 6 inches apart.
A few days before the visit of the Commissioners to this spot, a cinerary urn, about 24 inches high, had been ploughed up and broken within a hundred yards S.E. of the stones. It contained a black earthy deposit. Fragments of the urn, examined by the Commissioners, exhibited much rudeness of character. About 2~0 yards on the N.W. of the Standing Stones is an an ancient fortification. It is composed of an outer and an inner earthwork, separated by a circular entrenchment. It measures within the outer work 123 feet in diameter. A portion only of the mound within the entrenchment exists.
Very similar to the Standing Stones are the Giant's Quoiting Stones on the estate of Ballacreggan. The Quoiting Stones are situated at a distance of about a quarter of a mile from each other. One stands on the rising ground to the west of the road leading to Port St. Mary, and one in a field near the farm house of Ballacreggan. The one at Ballacreggan measures 10 feet in height, and 10 feet 9 inches in girth. Each of these stones, no doubt, once formed part of a megalithic monument.
Mr. Quilliam, of Castletown, marble mason, who accompanied the Commissioners to the Standing Stones, is of opinion that they could not have been obtained near their present site. Their specific character is that of the grey stone found at the Sound of the Calf, which is six miles distant from the spot where they stand.
It would be interesting to know for certainty the purpose to which the megalithic structures represented by such stones were applied. They were probably always in a circular shape, and within the area of the circle religious rites were, doubtless, performed, but what those rites were is entirely conjectural.
The Commissioners have inspected several interesting tumult Two fine examples of chambered barrows stand in a field on the estate oft Ballacroak, in the parish of Malew. The larger mound is, at its base, 130 feet, and the smaller 90 feet in circumference. These fine monuments were, unfortunately, a few years ago, opened and rifled of their contents. In one of the chambers a human skull, with other bones, was then discovered. A stone kelt was also found in the same chamber. The re-opening of these tumult might throw some light upon the period to which they belonged. The stone kelt indicated great antiquity, and the finding of an entire skull associated with it points to a period perhaps anterior to the custom of burning the dead. It is said, however, that in one of the tumult cinerated bones were observed. Tumuli of the character of those at Ballacroak, are comparatively rare in the Island. The ordinary mounds or barrows are very numerous. One of these has been partially preserved at Cooil-cam, and measures 24 feet in diameter. The remains of one still exist at Harrisdale, and those of another at Knock-Rushen. These were, probably, at one period, surrounded by circles of boulders; but they are now simply mounds of earth.
In the plantation at Ballown, in the parish of Malew, there is a megalithic circle well worth a visit. The stones are huge blocks or boulders of quartz, some weighing several tons each. Within this circle a tumulus once existed, but no trace of it is now visible. (See Plate I., fig. 3.) ln the ordinary tumult of the Island interments were performed in two different ways. The cinerated bones were invariably placed in urns, which were often buried in the loose earth of the tumulus, and often deposited in stone chambers within it.
The ancient churches of the Island are known by several appellations:-The cabbal, the keeyll, and the treein church or chapel. Dr. Oliver has added another, which he calls " the mortuary chapel," and has endeavoured to classify them, but hardly successfully.*3 In the Manx dialect the word "keeyll" simply denotes a church or kirk, and may be applied to a treein or other church. The term " cabbal," which is only a corruption of the English word "chapel," is not unfrequently used synonymously with the appellation "keeyll." The treein church existed after the division of the Island into treeing, but before the parochial system was established and the term is employed in contradistinction to that of parish church. The Manx word " skeerey " signifies a parish. By combination of this word with "keeyll" is formed "skeeyll" a prefix to the Manx names of churches-thus Skeeyll-y-Chreest, Skeeyll-y-Cairbre, &c (Kelly's Dict. voc. SKEEYLL.)
In the remains of the primitive churches we find that some indicate more architectural care than others. Some are, of course, of greater antiquity than others, and the difference traceable in their form and character is in accordance with that antiquity. Numerous places in the Island are named after keeylls, e.g., Ballakilley, Ballakilparick, &c. Ballakilley farm, in the parish of Malew, is so called from the treein church which stands upon it. The church from which Ballakilparick derives its name was also a treein church.
The keeylls were very numerous, but the remains of these primitive edifices are fast disappearing. To every keeyll, it seems, a cemetery was attached, and each was erected on a mound either natural or artificial
The treein divisions were not in the nature of parochial cures. There were no clergy assigned specially to such divisions. The ordinary clergy were emissaries from the Bishop to administer to the people generally the sacred offices of the church. The treein was apparently instituted for the convenience of collecting tithe. Nevertheless each priest or minister may have had allotted to him a district in which his spiritual functions were performed.
On the farm of Ballayelse, in the parish of Arbory, are the ruins of a treein church or keeyll. A large portion of the rectangular walls is still standing. The present height of the side walls, which are formed of stone and earth, is 6 feet. The interior measurement of the building is 18½ feet by 9 feet. The walls near the foundation are 3 feet in thickness. No trace of a window is observable. The entrance is at the east end of the south wall; and, therefore, must have been opposite the altar, if there was one in the church. A portion of the grave-yard still exists. Much credit is due to Mr. Cubbon, the proprietor of the fawn, for his preservation of so interesting a monument. Unfortunately, the name of this keeyll has been lost.
On the estate of Ballabeg, in the parish of Malew, is the foundation of a keeyll, the interior of which is 21 feet by 12 feet. The entrance, about 2 feet wide, is in the west gable. The remains are in a field called Magher Undin=Foundation-field, indicating that the foundation only of the church remained when the field was named.*4 Graves have been found close to the structure. The field adjoining that in which the remains are is called Magherchibbert-undin, and derives its name from its containing an ancient well in connection with the church. The water from the "chibbert," or well, was, doubtless, used for baptismal purposes. There is a superstitious notion among the peasantry that the water from this well has curative properties. Within recent years persons have assembled on the eve of St. John's Day to test its virtue. A hawthorn tree overshadows the fountain. Every patient took a mouthful of the water, retaining it in his mouth until he had walked thrice round the well. A piece of cloth, part of some garment which he had worn, was then wetted with the water, and hung upon the tree. When the cloth rotted away the cure was supposed to have been effected.
At Renshent=Sacred division, in Malew parish, there is an exceedingly interesting ruin of a keeyll. It measures within the walls, which are composed chiefly of earth, 18 feet by 9 feet. The entrance is in the western gable. Bilberry (vaccinium myrtillis) grows in great profusion over the remains, and gives to them a charm and beauty. The structure is surrounded by a cemetery, and stands on the bank of a rapid mountain stream. Its name has been lost.
The ruin of a treein church, or keeyll, stands in the farmyard of Ballakilley, in the same parish. It has been partially rebuilt and roofed, and now forms a cartshed. The eastern gable has been removed. A portion of the stone frame, exhibiting the mullions of the chancel window, has been inserted in the new part of the wall. The edifice contained two other windows, the larger in the south wall, and the smaller in the west gable. Its interior measures 21 feet by 9 feet. The name of this church has also been lost. During the visit of the Commissioners a grave was opened within a few yards from the keeyll. It was in the normal form of ancient Christian graves. The sides and ends were lined with heavy slates or flags, and a slate covered the top. It was full of fine black mould, but not a vestige of a human bone was found within it.
There is now at Ballamodda, a farm adjoining Ballakilley, a granite font which, it is said, belonged to this keeyll. It is nearly square, and the hollow portion measures 4 feet by 3 feet 8 inches; and 10 inches in depth. Its large size renders it probable that its position was outside of the little church, and that it was used for the purpose of immersion in the wane of Paganism.
The graveyards attached to keeylls are occasionally of large extent. There are on the hill at Reaby, in the parish of Patrick, the remains of a keeyll, surrounded by a cemetery, which is 40 yards long by 26 yards wide. The interior of this church is 17 feet by 9 feet 6 inches, and in its centre lies half buried its old square font. In the field, named Magher-y-Ruillick, in which the keeyll is, there is a well, the water of which is supposed to have been used for sacred purposes. Near the well is a large circular flat mass of granite, which has in its centre a round cup-like cavity about three inches deep. This may have formed the socket of a cross. Mr. Quirk, the proprietor of the estate, informed the Commissioners that he had not been able to ascertain the name of this keeyll
On the Chapel Hill, part of the estate of Balladoole, in Arbory, the foundation of an ancient Christian church or keeyll is visible. It is named Keeyll Vaal=St. Michael's Church, and is surrounded by the remains of a fence approaching to within a few feet from it. The length of the interior is 18 feet; the breadth 9 feet. There are numerous primitive Christian graves within a short distance from the site of the church. By the kind permission of W. Baring Stevenson, Esq., the proprietor of the property, one of the graves was opened by the Commissioners. It was, in a form, similar to that opened at Ballakilley, and already described. On removing the impost, or covering stone, it was found that the chamber was filled with fine earth, in which a skeleton was imbedded. It was probably that of a man of middle age. The molar teeth had been much worn by trituration. The position of the bones indicated a previous disturbance of the interment. The feet were absent. Some of the vertebrae were found at the foot of the chamber. A humerus and thighbone were lying side by side. Part of the pelvis was immediately under the lower jaw. The skull was injured and displaced, the frontal bone facing the foot of the grave. There Ivan a singular depression of the forehead, and the occipital region was largely developed. Within the chamber a molar tooth of a graminivorous quadruped, and in the earth outside of the chamber two molar teeth of the same species of quadruped were picked up. To what species of animal they belonged has not yet been ascertained. Within the chamber were also found numerous shells of small whelks, of periwinkles and limpets-evidence of the hill's having been inhabited anterior to the interment.
On the summit of the hill remains of an interesting character, other than those of the keeyll and cemetery, are still exhibited in various forms- mounds, depressions, and other inequalities. Some of these are, doubtless, the sites of ancient circular dwellings. There is around the summit an embankment or a circumvallation which encloses an area 97 yards in length by 66 yards in breadth. It is plain that this enclosure was at some remote period a fortification.
There has been a series of defensive earthworks in this locality. On the eastern termination of the rocky bay of Poyllvaash = Pool of Death, is one in a state of almost perfect preservation. It stands on a rock having a considerable elevation on the western side, which rises abruptly from the shore. Its top includes an area of 28 by 30 yards. Its distance from that on Balladoole hill is about half-a-mile. There are also at Big Scarlet, about quarter of a mile further to the east, the apparent remains of another larger earthwork. Its circular base, still traceable, is 40 yards in diameter. Existing swells in the surface of the ground outside of the circle appear to have been external works associated with the main structure.
In a field about 200 yards from, and on the eastern side of Balladoole avenue, the site of a fortification, having a diameter of 44 yards, is still visible. In a meadow at Ballalough, distant about a mile from the fortification at Poyll-vaash, are the remains of two earthworks of considerable size, each of which is encircled by a moat, now partially closed. One almost adjoins the other. To the north of these, on Ballanorris estate, is a large mound, the remnant of a fortification around which traces of a moat are still observable. A stream of water runs near this mound, which is distant about half-a-mile from Ballalough.
Earthworks for the purpose of defence are frequent on the coasts of the Isle. Elevated cliffs rising abruptly from the sea shore, and united on one side with the land, were usually selected for such works. Such were the fort at Perwick, the fort near St. Michael's Island, and that at Cosh-ny-hawin, near Santan Glen. Such also were Boirane-Ballelby and Boirane-Creg-lich, in the parish of Patrick. These are all of the same character, and vary in size as do the rocky eminences upon which they stand. They are, doubtless, the works of the Norsemen during their sanguinary invasions of Mann. The appellation " Boirane " has a significant meaning, for it denotes " a clamorous or mutinous person," and points to the din of many a hard fought battle. No less significant is the name Poyll-vaash, probably so called after some bloody conflict between the Manxmen and their cruel invaders.
There is on the top of South Baroole an ancient enclosure or encampment surrounded by a wall, which on the northern side is of great thickness, and is built of flags of schist, without mortar. The area within the walls comprises nearly seven acres. The enclosure is invisible to persons ascending the mountain. It was not improbably a fortified retreat to which the inhabitants of the district retired with their flocks to avoid the pillaging hosts of the Vikings. The prospect from the enclosure is so extensive that no enemy could approach undiscerned. A stronger position can hardly indeed be supposed to have existed at the period when the work was designed.
A visit was paid by the Commissioners to Castle Rushen. An excavation was made in its N.W. tower, and two subterranean chambers were explored, but no relic of any value was found. The time at the disposal of the Commissioners was too limited to enable them to examine thoroughly this noble fortress. (See Appendix II.)
At Renshent are the remains called " The Giant's Grave." These are composed of two large grey boulders, placed in a line. Though originally only nine feet apart, they now stand at a greater distance from each other. They, probably, formed part of the stone circle of a tumulus.
Only a few sculptured stones have as yet been examined by the Commissioners. A remarkable and interesting relic exists on the site of an ancient Christian graveyard at Bradda-mooar, in Rushen. It is a very rudely sculptured stone slab 3 feet 2 inches long, 1 foot 8 inches broad, and 3 inches thick. On its face are four shallow square cup-like excavations, each of which is 3½ inches in diameter. These are placed opposite to and at a distance of 4½ inches from each other. The space between them forms a cross, with limbs of equal length. Within each of the side arms of this cross, and above its upper and beneath its lower limb, is an incised lineal cross 2½ inches long by 2¼ inches wide. It is probable that the lineal crosses, which are of the Roman type, may have been engraved long after the other sculpturings had been made. The stone, apparently uncared for, lies among other loose stones. (See Plate III., fig. 2.)
In the mountainous district of East Surby, in the same parish, there is an interesting monolith partially buried in a fence, near the site of an ancient keeyll. It has a fiat top, which measures 1 foot 10 inches by 11 inches. Its height about the fence is between and 3 feet. It is rudely formed, and has a knobule projection on the upper portion of its thinnest side. Within this projection is a round holes which perforates the stone. The tradition associated with it is that it was " a bridle stone " to which horses were tied on the occasions of funerals. (See Plate II., fig. 1.)
At Ballelby, in the parish of Patrick, there is a curiously sculptured monolith It is fixed in the ground within a few yards from the farm house. Its height above the surface of the ground is 4 feet 9 inches. Its top is somewhat arched, and it is 2 feet wide. Upon its face is a carved cross formed by five united lineal squares, one of which is in the centre of the others. It is said that an ancient road passed the spot on which this stone is erected. It is, therefore, probably, in situ, and seems to indicate the custom in ancient times of erecting, for religious purposes, such monuments on the sides of roads. (See Plate III., fig. 1.)
A runic stone of considerable size stands in a yard at the Four Roads, near Port Erin. The sculpturings are, for the most part, defaced.
Two fragments of runes lie in the churchyard of Malew. It is desirable that these should be taken care of, for there is at present a danger of their being stolen.
The relics described below have been examined by the Commissioners:-
1. A flint arrowhead found associated with charred bones in an urn taken from an excavation at Glenchass, in Rushen, and presented to the Commissioners by Capt. Grose. The flint has been blackened probably from having lain for many centuries in the deposit which the urn contained. It is a very good specimen.
2. A bronze axe-blade, in the possession of Mr. McMeikin, of Castletown. Its large size renders it probable that it was the blade of a battle-axe. It is 8 inches long and 4½ inches broad. It was found near a field called the Ruillick, at East Surby. (See Plate IV., fig. 2.)
3. A bronze socketed axe blade. It is 3½ inches long by 2½ inches wide, and was no doubt used simply as a tool. It is fluted at the socket. It was picked up several years ago at Braust, in Andreas. (Appendix I., Plate IV., fig. 1.)
4. A stone hatchet, in the possession of Mr. McMeikin, found on the farm of Balladoole, in Arbory. It is 4¼ inches long by 2¼ broad. (See Plate IV., fig. 3.)
5. A very beautiful and ponderous stone axe, 9 inches long, and 4 inches broad. It was dug up in the parish of German, and is formed of sienite.
6. A large tooth, probably that of the great elk. This was discovered near the spot where the stone axe was found in German.
7. Flint flakes, some of which are seemingly arrowheads, found in the field containing the ancient fortification at Cosh-ny-hawin, near Santan Glen.
8. A board of considerable antiquity is affixed to the wall in the chancel of Arbory Church. It is said to have been removed from the Friary. It contains a curious but imperfect inscription in old English characters. A portion of the inscription it is difficult to decipher, but the rest is given below The Rev. Frederick Grier, vicar of Arbory, has kindly furnished the Commissioners with a beautiful fac-simile of the lettering:-
"Till his time God has him given such grace he laboureth busily-
Blessed the* * * of the child found in the eagle's nest. Thomas Radcliffe, Abbot,"
9. Sculptured coffln-lid at Rushen Abbey. It is supposed to have covered the grave of a knight templar.
10. Church furniture at Malew Vicarage, consisting of "a silver paten, a bronze crucifix:, a portion of a staff covered with brass, and a curious bronze article."
The Commissioners are of opinion that if a public museum were once established in the Island an interesting collection of Manx relics of antiquity, now in the hands of private individuals, might gradually be formed in it. It is highly desirable that such relics should be preserved and safely kept..
Equally important is it that the pre-historic monuments scattered over the face of the Isle, comparatively few of which have as yet been seen by the Commissioners, should be preserved. Their preservation, however, can only be ensured by legislative provisions. Though the Commissioners have already given some consideration to this subject, they are not prepared in this, their first report, to propose any definite scheme as a basis for legislation.
J. F. JEFFCOTT, Chairman.
JOHN F. CRELLIN.
ROBERT J. MOORE.
WM. BARING STEVENSON.
March 7, 1878.
*1 A pretty correct conception of the most ostentatious kind of Celtic funerals may be derived from what Caesar says about those of the Gauls:-" Funera sunt pro cultu Gallorum magnifica et sumptuosa, omniaque, quae vivis cordi fuisse arbitrantur, in ignem inferunt, etiam animalia: ac paulo supra.hanc memoriam servi et clientes, quos ab iis dilectos esse constabat justis funeribus confeotis, una cremabantur." (Com de Bell. Gall., 1, vi., c. 19.)
["Their funerals, considering the state of civilization among the Gauls are magnificent and costly, and they cast into the fire ail things, including living creatures. which they suppose to have been dear to them when alive, and a little before this period slaves and dependants, who were ascertained to have been beloved by them, were, after the regular funeral rites were completed, burnt together with them."]
The custom of casting into the fire the arms and other property of the deceased prevailed among all the Celtic tribes.
According to Tacitus the funerals of the ancient Germans were of a simple character:-"Funerum nulls ambitio: id solum observatur ut corpora clarorum virorum certis lignis crementur. Struem rogi nec vestibus neo odoribus cumulant: sua cuique arms, quorumdam igni et equus adjicitur. Sepulcrum caespes erigit." (Taciti Germania, 26.)
["Their funerals are without parade. The only circumstance to which they attend is to burn the bodies of eminent persons with some particular kindle of wood. Neither vestments nor perfumes are heaped upon the pile The arms of the deceased, and sometimes his horse, are given to the flames. The tomb is a mound of turf "]
*2 Vestigia Insulae Manniae Antiquora, p. 53.
*3 See Antiquitates Manniae, edited for the Manx Society by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, M.A.
*4 The name of this ancient church is now forgotten, but from the circumstance that persons were wont to assemble at the well on the eve of St. John's