[From Ellan Vannin, 1895]
[Note Radcliffe's common thread of anti-Catholic feeling - common in this period amongst Methodists and the Evangelical wing of the Established Church - the Celtic Church differed more in polity than theology from Rome]
WE have seen that, in the ancient ruins and surviving institutions and laws, will be found the alphabet and elements of Manx history. The island is rich in such memorials. At the same time it may be noted that none of the ruins suggest Wales, and there is nothing of Imperial Rome. The Romans never came nearer than Galloway, on the opposite coast of Scotland.
I -Druidic Ages.-where there such in Man? In the Welsh Mona, of course, all admit the idea; but how as to the Manx Mona ? Professor Rhys, as has been noted, is of opinion that the two Monas have been confounded, and some may hold that the Druidism credited to the Manx Mona really belonged to the Welsh.
On the affirmative side of the proposition, which asserts a Druidic period in Man, are such arguments as these :
Druidism was the religion of the Celtic race two thousand years before the Christian era, though it had no place south of the Alps, or east of the Rhine, or in the lands between the Adriatic and the Tigris ; or, east of a line having Germany on its west, from the Mediterranean to Scandinavia. But Gaul and Britain and, though less conspicuously, Ireland, were its home; and Man, within a few miles, with a people of the same race and language as the greater islands, was not unlikely to come under the power of the same system. The expulsion of the Druids from Anglesey in the year 59 of our era, by the imperial forces, might naturally lead them to seek refuge in the other imolia, which was not far away. The more intimate relations of Man to Ireland might suggest the same thought of probability ; for, as late as 636, the Druidic pretender had contended with Donald, the Christian king, for the crown of Ulster, according to an lrish account of the time. In the Manx language, again, are found terms in which thj Druidic idea is suggested ; as " Glendarragh," the oak glen. Manx has the word for Druid, " Druaight." The English word " enchanters," in Jeremiah xxvii. 9, in the Authorised Version, is, in the Manx version, " Druaightee." Dr. Kelly states in his Manx Dictionary that " Laa yn Ullick," Christmas day, means the day of the mistletoe (uil or guil= mistletoe), the sacred plant of the Druid. The Enc. Bril., in its article on Druidism, states that Baal worship, with its fire, was a part of its ritual. "Laa Boaldyn," according to Cregeen, May day, contains a reference to the fires (teine) of May eve, the term " Belthane " being also used for the same fires, meaning, as is stated by Dr. Kelly, Baal's fire. The " Oie Vaaltin " of the eve of May day, was the night of Baal's fire. In years which some have not yet forgotten, the line of fire was still kindled along the heights of the island. " Tinvael " is the fire of Baal. The " breast law " of the Druid finds its parallel in the " breast law " of Man before the laws were written, as also in the Brehon laws of Ireland. In " Hunt the wren" on St. Stephen's day is the sacred bird of the Druid, in Manx termed " Dreain," the feathers supposed to have special virtue. Ruins at Mount Murray, Bellown, Spanish Head, Cregneash, Port Soderick, and the Cooil, not to name others, have been taken as Druidic, and Druidism in the island has been admitted as a fact by the general authorship on Manx history.
On the other hand, some may doubt the force of such inductive considerations. There is no Druidic life, as still in Wales which has its Arch Druid, and no trace of the traditional mental culture, unless it be in the knowledge of the medicinal properties of herbs, in charms still spoken of, and in devices by which witchcraft may be defeated.
If the system ever had a place in the Manx Mona, it did little for the clevttion of the people. With the soul's immortality, it held the soul's transmigration, the worship of Baal, and human sacrifices. The oak forest, the unhewn stone circle open to the skies, the central stone for the human sacrifice, the auguries, omens, and incantations, the huge cage of wickerwork with its crowded victims, the great festivals in May and November, would be a terror not a power to uplift. Bondage to the priesthood held the system together. At fixed times the fires must be kindled from his sacred flame, the smoke drifting over the fields believed to be a protection of the crops and cattle from witchcraft, because from the fires of Belthane.
On the whole, some might hold that the alleged ruins are wanting in the specific marks of Druidism, and that it was late in the centuries (about the sixteenth) before any writer favoured a Druidic era. Still some shadows of the system seem to linger in Man, in thought, language, and memorials ; and some probabilities remain with the thought that it is not unnatural that the religion of Britain and Ireland, in the pre-Christian ages, was the religion of people of the same race and language in Man.
2. The " Treen Chapels" touch the times of early Christianity in the island.
The term "'Treen " seems borrowed from later times, and implies an ecclesiastical and parish organisation of great completetiess for the tithes of the Church, such as could ilot have obtained a place among the simple, early structures whose ruins evidently belong to an age when that arrangement did not exist. In Cregeens Dictionary the " Treen " is defined to be an arrangement which divided the tithes into three parts. One-third was for Rushen Abbey ; the remaining two-thirds were divided between the Bishop and the parish clergy.
Each " Treen " was a group of " quarterlands," by which the Island was broken up as a basis for taxation for both civil and church purposes. The parish arrangement was also an element, for to each of the seventeen parishes were allotted ten Treens: each Treen forty quarterlands. the whole Island being thus measured into 68o quarterlands. The Treen, in its taxation, had a threefold reference to Bishop, Abbey, and parish clergy - it was therefore after and for these organisations in chief.
The Treens are not mentioned by the monks of Rushen Abbey,. who have indeed left without notice all things ecclesiastical for more than a thousand years. The Abbey lands seem to have been before the time of the Treens, for there are no Treens in them, though they include so much land. The quarterlands were mapped out before the parishes; for some of them extend into more than one parish, while they differ also in size. The Chapels did not belong to the time of parishes, but to a previous age.
The full arrangement designated by the term Treen agree better with the middle ages of Manx Romanism. The parish idea did not come early into the Celtic Church. In Ireland, as late as the eighth century, there were, in the modern sense, no parishes, and no dioceses. and Man, so closely related to Ireland, would not be likely to be in advance in its church plans. The term Treen therefore seems to have its origin in the later and better ordered times, while the Chapel precedes the setting up of parishes. It may have been at first used as a convenient term of description for ruins which were of old. The Treens are still a basis for taxation in the civil and ecclesiastical ; they are still manorial divisions of the land, with a charge for the church as well as for the lord of the manor. A Manx friend informs me that his farm of '4o acres is assessed to the lord's rent as three-fourths of a Treen, and that the Moar, in collecting the yearly sum for the rent, also demands a curious item termed "Prescriptions," for the church, in lieu of an old tithe charge for the farmer's live stock and the poultry of the farmyard.
The character of these Chapels points to the early ages in the dawn. On an average, they are twenty feet by ten, with space for about twenty adults, a door at one end and a window at the other, east and west ; constructed of wood and earth ; sometimes with burial-ground around; rectangular in outline; and with nothing of the solid masonry of later ages as at St. Ninian's and the Islet of Peel. Their number, from the ruins, was considerable. At Nappin, in Jurby, on to the south; " Lag ny Keillen, " the glen of the churches ; " Cronk ny iry laa," the hill of the rising day; St. Michael's Isle ; ruins at Mount Rule, Laxey, Port St. Mary, and many other places, are the outlines in ruins of these ancient structures distributed through the Island. Belonging to the ages of early British Christianity there are similar structures in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Canon Bright, in his work on The Ear~v -En,-lish Church, tells of such in Scotland and Ireland built of wood, or of wattles plastered with clay, with a roof of thatch. There were some such in Galloway in the fourth century, in the Highlands of Scotland, and in the Hebrides. Their style is noticed by the poet Wordsworth at the grave of Rob Roy. The " Candida Casa " of Ninian, the church of white stone, which gave its name to Whithorne, was an exception in its time. The more substantial and stately belonged to the later Romish period.
These Chapels, therefore, fit into collateral history and into the early ages of British Christianity. Within the first four centuries British Christianity was in the fulness of its energy. In his Religion of Early Britain Dr. George Smith deems it probable that Christianity reached Britain in the Apostolic age, noting specially his own county of Cornwall, in its relations to the Eastern lands, near to Judea, relations of commerce with marks of Christianity in the early centuries. Tertullian writes, in the second century, that the Gospel had reached some parts of Britain which had not been conquered by imperial Rome. British Christianity,, in 314, had its representatives in the Council of Arles ; and, in 325, in the Council of Nice. In the Dioclesian persecution, from 303 to 310, British Christians had sought refuge in Cornwall, in Wales, and in the northern parts near the Solway, almost inaccessible to the Roman power. It is thus that the Celtic, and not the Roman, Christianity marks the early ages in the British Islands. It was a power of resistance to the monks of Augustine. It sent forth from the Irish Bangor, for example, missionaries to Cornwall, in the early evangelisation, who, in passing down the Irish Sea within sight of Man, would not forget their kinsmen on the little island. St. Bees, also, was not far off, on the edge of Cumberland ; nor Whithorne, at the Mull of Galloway. Canon Bright relates that, in 597, Augustine found the ruins of British churches which had been destroyed by the invading Anglo-Saxons. Before 597, Rome had no church position in these lands. St. Alban, St. Patrick, Columba, Columbanus, and many other great names, belonged to another fellowship. The last, with his helpers from Iona, led on the mission to France, south and east ; and so, from and after 612, was Christian truth disseminated in Germany, in Switzerland, and across the Alps into Lombardy. There is evidence that the Irish Bangor held its theology free from Roman interference in the seventh century. The successor of Augustine complained that the Irish Bishop would not eat with a Bishop from Rome, as is recorded by the Venerable Bede. Not only from Ireland, and places already named, was there near Christian light ; but perhaps, not the least from the Mull of Galloway where Ninian, in 370, had his school of training for young evangelists who, as they rose early in the winter for their studies, as tradition says, could see the lights of the early risers on the opposite shore. The outer ecclesiastical Baronies, with their independent jurisdiction and powers in the legislature, may have grown out of the simple relations of missions to the Manx people in the earlier ages.
The position of Bangor and Sabal in this circle of Christian zeal was conspicuous in other directions also. Under Columba, the Irish evangelist in the sixth century (born 521), and who had Iona as his centre, the men trained for Christian service were sent to labour among the Picts and Scots, from about the year 563. From Iona,Aidan, himself Irish, was sent to be Bishop of Lindisfarne, with the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria as his diocese. He had to lay aside his Irish speech and learn the Saxon for his new sphere, while the king, meanwhile, often acted as his interpreter. It was a warm stream issuing at first from the coast of Erin round to Northumbria by the line of Iona, and had relations to Man as well. The circumstances of British Christianity from the fourth to the seventh centuries coincide with the theory of an early Christianity in Man during the same interval. The records of the Middle Ages make no mention of these Treen Chapels ; they had then probably fallen into ruin and were forgotten. They belonged to the class of " rural oratories " of which Bede writes in his time, and which served the outlying hamlets of England in the seventh and eighth centuries; "quarterland oratories," as Cumming terms them, and at a period before England submitted to the Papacy in 664, and long ages before Ireland submitted in 1172.* The modern Irish patriot, as he glories in the ancient fame of his country for Christian culture and civilisation, is apt to forget that, whatever might be its value, it belonged to the ages before 1172. To that interval the Christianity of Man belonged also.
* The "Treen" arrangement does not seem to belong to the Chapel " era ; it was part of a system of taxation for Bishop, Abbey, and Clergy towards the Middle Ages. The Christianity of the," Chapel" ages was no part of the Papal system. The time of absorption by Romanism is not certain ; but it was, perhaps, after the Norwegian conquest, when we read of royal gifts to the clergy, and of the Island itself to the Pope.