[From Manx Crosses, 1907]

 

TheENGRAVED AND SCULPTURED STONES which are described and figured in this volume are of more than local interest. They constitute a continuous series of monuments dating from the introduction of Christianity into these parts to the beginning of the thirteenth century, and form a connecting link between the early sepulchral stones of Wales, the inscribed slabs of Ireland, the cross-slabs of Scotland, and the Celtic, Anglian and Scandinavian stones of the North of England, and as such cannot be neglected by students of this interesting subject. They are contemporary records and illustrations of the period when the British Isles were occu- pied by Celtic inhabitants; they manifest traces of the Anglian folk who, like the Danes, must have come over from Northumbria; and afford evidence of the four centuries of occupation by the Scandinavians, who arrived in Man by way of the Western Isles of Scotland. They mark also the spread and development of Christian Art, and have a practical value in suggesting how their peculiar system of decorative ornamentation may be developed and applied to modern purposes.

Of the one hundred and seventeen monuments of this class so far brought to light in the Isle of Man, many of them within the last six years, about seventy are now for the first time figured and fully described. Our Island has long been famous for its Scandinavian pieces and its inscriptions in the later Runes; I am able to show that nearly two-thirds of our total are pre-Scandinavian, and that Hiberno-Saxon characters and Anglian as well as the later Scandinavian runes are represented in our inscriptions. Perhaps the most interest- ing discovery, however, is that to which I was led by Mr. Romilly Allen and Professor (now Bishop) Brown, who first recognized in a carving found by me at Kirk Andreas, No. 95, a figure of Sigurd roasting the heart of the dragon Fafni. From this I was induced to look for further illustrations of Saga literature, and was rewarded by the discovery of three other Sigurd pieces, and at least six other stones which, beyond doubt, depict characters and illustrate stories from the Norse Mythology.

For illustrations I had intended to rely on photographs, which in the case of small and well-preserved pieces would have been satisfactory enough, but in far the greater number of cases no single photograph could show the details of involved patterns with clearness and precision, nor would they enable the ordinary reader to recognize designs greatly weathered or worn. The stones being warped, and their surfaces roughened and cracked by the weather, the focus and the light required to bring out one portion with clearness would not exhibit other details of equal importance, and I found that nothing could be better for the purpose than careful drawings. My plates, therefore, with one or two exceptions, are reduced copies of full-sized drawings which I have made with the greatest care, doing many of them twice, and not a few three and even four times, before I was satisfied. These, being founded on rubbings, outlined with the stone before me, give at least the true proportions and the relative positions of the different designs, and in shading them I had the aid of the casts and photographs to enable me to represent as nearly as possible the amount of relief and the nature of the carving. Of necessity, considering the comparatively small scale on which they were to be reproduced, I have had to emphasize lines which are barely visible on the stone, and then only in certain lights; but I have represented nothing which I could not actually see. One advantage of a drawing is that one is able to indicate in outline the probable appearance of portions now flaked or broken off, some of the smaller and more weathered fragments, such as Nos. 23, 79 and 107, conveying otherwise little or no meaning to those who have not made a special study of the subject.

As a relief to the monotony of such a work as the present, as well as for the purpose of calling attention to the manner in which this lost Art-which from seven hundred to one thousand years ago flourished in our Island, whither it had spread from the surround ing lands-might be applied in these latter days, I have made use in the headings of sections of letters and capitals from the Book of Kells. Thus, in my word THE at the beginning of this Preface, I have taken the T from the word TVNC (in the sentence Tunc dicit illis I H S omnes vos scan[dalum], St. Matthew xxvi. 31), omitting the V, which in the original occupies the middle space of the T, my H E taking the place of the N C, and the decorative design being slightly modified to suit the altered letters. And on the cover and throughout the volume I have used decorative designs copied or adapted from the carvings on our own monuments.

I must take this opportunity of expressing my thanks to those who have kindly helped me in my work. I am in the first place indebted to Mr. Royston for making me the fine collection of casts, which have been of the greatest assistance in working out intricate designs and worn patterns, as they could be turned about in different lights, and frequently examined and compared. Some details--such as the figure of the Virgin and Child on No. 72, the detached bands of the involved and irregular plait on No. 57, and others-were only discovered by me in the very act of making my finished drawings with the casts before me. Mr. Whiteside, Miss Herdman, my sister, Miss Kermode, and her friend, Miss Boyd-Dawkins, made photographs and enlargements which enabled me to finish some of my drawings. Our present Governor, Lord Raglan, who has shown such an active interest in bringing to light and preserving the antiquities of the Island, permitted me to have the Peel crosses taken out of the Cathedral walls for examination and illustration. To the Rev. R. D. Kermode, Vicar of Maughold, the Rev. John Quine, Vicar of Lonan, and the Rev. A. E. Clarke, Vicar of Marown, I am grateful for informing me of crosses newly discovered in their parishes, and enabling me to have them cast and figured; and to Mr. Light for present- ing me with the Ramsey cross; and the Rev. S. N. Harrison, Mr. Haslam, Miss Dora Brown, Mr. Quilleash and Mr. Haddon, for bringing me similar stones found by them. Mr. C. Roeder kindly drew my attention to the Hibbert-Ware MSS. in Manchester, and sent me extracts and tracings from them. Mr. G. Patterson years ago took the greatest pains and trouble in photographing stones for me, and made a cast of the Adam and Eve one, Bride No. 116, which, as well as some of the others, has since lost some of its carving. The late Mr. Keig and his son, Mr. T. Keig, Mr. Kee, and Mr. Midwood, have been most obliging in taking special photographs, some of them in very out-of-the-way places. The late Sir Henry Dryden, besides helping me to work out the plait in the Braddan wheel-cross and the small Conchan piece, made an excellent drawing for me of the unique figure of the Crucifixion on the Calf of Man stone (page 23, fig. 16). One or two of my outline illustrations of monuments outside of the Isle of Man are copied from well- known works duly acknowledged in the text; Mr. W. G. Collingwood kindly offered to lend me some blocks used in Crosses, etc., of Carlisle, but I made copies of them instead; and I have to thank Dr. Kuno Meyer and the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland for their obliging courtesy in the use of illustrative blocks. It is almost needless to say that I am greatly indebted to Mr. Romilly Allen for his. able analysis of Celtic patterns; I make many references to his Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, a work which no student can afford to be without. In particular I have to thank Dr. Brate, of Stockholm, for timely suggestions and advice, for his valuable contri- bution on the origin and use of Runes, and for his great assistance in looking over the proofs dealing with the Runic inscriptions; Principal Rhys for similar help in respect of the Ogam inscriptions; and my friend Professor Herdman for his constant sympathy and kindness in the tedious and uninteresting task of reading through the whole of my proofs and making many important suggestions which I have gladly adopted. Mr. G. Clinch, F.S.A., has added to the usefulness and value of the volume by undertaking the labour of making a complete Index. Finally, I must express my thanks to my publishers, Messrs. Bemrose & Sons Ltd., for all the trouble and care they have taken to meet my wishes and to make the text and illustrations and binding as perfect as possible.

It has been supposed, and frequently said, that some of our sculptured monuments have been sent off the Island. I have made inquiries, and I do not believe that any have been taken or sent off the Island except one or two which Mr. Wallace had in his museum on Douglas Head, and afterwards took to Distington. Before doing so, I believe he advertised that anyone claiming any local things in his collection might have them back on making application for them. No one applied for the stones, but since his death they have been all returned.

It is a great pleasure to be able to record the fact that these venerable monuments are in no further danger of neglect, for their value is now duly appreciated by the people whose privilege it is to possess them; and to state that since the present work went to press our Tynwald Court has voted the sum of 250 out of our revenue, which, supplemented by subscriptions, has enabled the Manx Museum and Ancient Monuments Trustees to have the crosses collected in their respective parishes, placed under cover, and so arranged that they can readily be examined; and this excellent work is now being carried out as speedily as possible. Remembering the proud words of GAUT, the greatest of our ancient sculptors, who inscribed upon a masterpiece at Kirk Michael, " Gaut carved this cross and all in Man," I have suggested the following motto for the handsome cross-house at Kirk Maughold which contains as nearly as possible a third of our whole collection :-

" THESE CROSSES AND ALL IN MAN HAVE BEEN COLLECTED
AND RE-ERECTED BY THE MANX PEOPLE."

P. M. C. KERMODE.

Claghbane, Ramsey,
Isle of Man.
25th December, 1906.


 

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