[From Annals of Kirk Christ Lezayre]


THE first recorded event in the history of Lezayre is the Battle of Scacafel (Skyehill). Here is the account as related in the " Chronicon Manniae et Insularum."I (The dates in the earlier part of the Chronicle are all ante-dated by nineteen years). In the year 1056 (1075), Godred Crouan collected a number of ships and came, to Man ; he gave battle to the natives but was defeated, and forced to fly. Again he assembled an army and a fleet, came to Man, encountered the Manxmen, was defeated and put to flight. A third time he collected a numerous body of followers, came by night to the port called Ramsey, and concealed 300 men in a wood, on the sloping brow of a hill called Scacafel.

At daylight the men of Man drew up in order of battle, and, with a mighty rush, encountered Godred. During the heat of the contest the 300 men, rising from the ambuscade in the rear, threw the Manxmen into disorder, and compelled them to fly. When the natives saw that they were overpowered, and had no means of escape (for the tide had filled the bed of the river Sulby, and on the other side the enemy was closely pursuing them), those who remained, with piteous cries, begged of Godred to spare their lives. Godred, yielding to feelings of mercy, and moved with compassion for their misfortune, for he had been brought up amongst them for some time, recalled his army, and forbade further pursuit.

Next day Godred gave his army the option of having the country divided amongst them if they preferred to remain and inhabit it, or of taking everything it contained worth having, and returning to their homes. The soldiers preferred plundering the whole Island, and returning home enriched by its wealth. Godred then granted to the few islanders who had remained with him the southern part of the Island, and to the surviving Manxmen the northern portion, on condition that none of them should ever presume to claim any of the land by hereditary right. Hence it arises that up to the present day the whole Island belongs to the king alone, and that all its revenues are his.

The Chronicle (page 50) states that Fingal, son of Sytric, became king of Man in 1070. Worsae (p. 287) says that Fingal and " Sygtrlg Mac Olave, Danish king of Dublin," fell in this battle, but he gives no authority.'

The battle probably took place in 1079, for we know that Godred Crouan or Crovan died in 1095, and he reigned 16 years. Probably the date in the Chronicle is that of his first attempt.

The actual site of the battle is not known. It has been suggested that the Mooragh is the most likely place.' The suggestion seems to meet the requirements of the case. Fingal's force, crossing the Sulby River by the ford at Bayr Dhown, advanced to meet Godred's men, who had landed at Ramsey. With the sea on their left, the river bed filled by the rising tide at their back and the enemy in front, their only ways of retreat are by the ford to the north or along the foot of the hills to the west. These were both blocked by the ambuscade. So they had to yield. A field on the Milntown estate was called Magher y Troddan,' " Field of the Contest." The contest may have been the battle and the field may be the spot where the retreat of Fingal's army was cut off by the ambuscade. Both armies would be composed mainly of Scandinavians. They had been in possession of Man for two centuries previously.

Godred Crovan is probably " King Orry," the traditional founder of all our insular institutions.' He founded a dynasty that lasted nearly two hundred years. The system of " Lord's Rent" that he introduced lasted until our own day. It was finally redeemed by the efforts of the late Mr. J. D. Clucas, whose home was only a short distance from the site of the battle.

There are many Scandinavian place names in the parish. Apart from natural features like Snaefell and Scacafel (Skyehill) the names of all the Treens, save one, are of Scandinavian origin. They represent the large estates held by the ruling race, while many of their sub-divisions-the Quarterlands-are of Celtic origin. Perhaps the conquered remained as tenants on what was their own land formerly.

Professor Marstrander has an interesting explanation of two of the Treen names.3 Brerick, the Treen north of the mouth of the Sulby river, he considers points to a bridge near where the present stone bridge stands-five hundred years before the legislature bestirred itself to build bridges. Aust-he gives several possible derivations-one of them, " Hof-stadir," " the King's Court." He adds, " If I am inclined to choose this, it is because it is the only estate which can be taken into account as a royal residence. It lies in the north of the Island, is near Ramsey and the " King's Road " at Scacafel."


1 The Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys, by Munch & Goss. Manx Soc., Vol. XXII, p. 50.
2 Moore, Hist., Vol. I, p. 97.
3 Canon Quine in Proc. I.O.M.N.H. & A.S., vol. II, pt. I, p. 22.
4 W. W. Gill, A Manx Scrap Book, p. 250.
5 Moore, Hist., vol. I, p. 103.
6 Det Norske Landnam pa Man, in Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap, pp. 246, 249, 250. For place names generally see above, pp. 40-386. (The year is 1932, vol. VI). For names see also A. W. Moore, Surnames and Place Names of the Isle of Man, Also Place Names of the Isle of Man by J. J. Kneen, Part VI, Ayre.


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