[From Ellan Vannin, 1895]



ONE of these is the Norse invasions. They have left their impress on Man, just as they did on Shetland and Orkney and the Hebrides, on their southern course to Britain and the Irish Sea. The Island then was held as a " Norwegian Principality." The conquest of it by Godred Crovan at the battle of Sky Hill, in 1077, stands connected with his escape from the Norwegian defeat at Stamford Bridge by the English King in 1066, the same who, later in that year, fell at Hastings before William the Conqueror. The list of Godred's successors included Reginald (1229), Olaf (1237), Harold (1248), the last of the dynasty being Magnus (1265). The Scotch supremacy followed under Alexander III., who changed the arms of Man from the Norwegian ship to the Three legs. The Manx kingdom was " Man and the Isles " until 1156. On the conquest of "the Isles " by Somerled, it became simply "Man." Early in the thirteenth century Reginald had surrendered it to the Pope. Leaving the marks of these violent times, let us go to the ages of early Christianity in the ruins of the Treen Chapels. These are traces of a happier memory. They may belong, perhaps, to the age of St. Ninian at Whithorne, when he laboured within sight of the Island, and will be considered in the next chapter, Earlier than these, some of the ruins have been deemed Druidic. Next, come the Runic memorials, after the early, Christian, and found chiefly in the churchyards. Lastly, we have the Romanist ruins, most conspicuous of all, and of which a summary may here be given. Chief among them is the Cathedral on the Islet of Peel, with its five acres of land and rock, anciently termed " Holme," a term signifying, according to Canon Bright, of Oxford, in his work on The Early English Church, ground surrounded or washed by a river. The tower near the Cathedral is not unlike the round towers of Ireland. The outline of the Cathedral may be easily traced, chancel, nave, and the prison beneath suggestive of the " moddey dhoo." There are also the ruins of official residences and of erections for military defence. Dating from about 1134, in their foundation, are the ruins of Rushen Abbey, once belonging to Furness Abbey, but less extensive than the ruins on the islet A few fragments remain of the Friary in Arbory. In Kirk Michael, Bishop's Court stands in its own domain. The Nunnery, near Douglas, has a few ruins where, two centuries ago, were remains of some extent and importance. The old churches, mostly of humble structure, and St. Trinion's, must also be included. To these traces in ruins must be added some which may be termed literary. They are partly in the ancient laws, partly in the Manx language itself, as it bears the marks of its historic course. The Manx " Carvals," though an interesting feature, belong to later times ; they are a literature of themselves, rich in correct Manx, and, if not of a high order in poetry, are characteristic, and have been of central interest when sung in the " Oie'l verry " . the solitary singer with his MS. in hand, and a lighted candle, and words of his own choice, all bearing the memory of Romish times. Under the head of "literary," the publications of the Manx Society are entitled to a foremost place. Of course, all are not of equal merit : Feltham's tour was hastily written and lacks research; Waldron's volume abounds in the fabulous; and Camden admits the absurd, as when he states that Manx women never went abroad but in their winding-sheets, and that only one sheep in a flock was " loughtin " in colour. Then there are the traces of surviving civil institutions, in which the " Tynwald " is chief, and full of suggestions of the past. The Tynwald Court represents a system of government more ancient in its basis than the English House of Commons with its date of 1264 in the reign of Henry III. Its Norwegian origin appears on the surface; according to Professor Munch it means " a field for Parliament." It is assumed to have been founded by King Orry; it includes the " Kair as feed," the twenty-four members of the House of Keys, of whom eight, when it was " Man and the Isles," represented the Hebrides, and has as essential members the Council and the Governor who presides. The proceedings of the annual assembly, on each July 5th, are full of Manx history which looks back to the time of Scandinavian conquest, while it now tells of constitutional freedom. With all their value, however, these historic traces leave much untold of a long interval, and of much bearing on the condition of the Manx people in the ages now long past, while the modern annals abound in interest.


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