[From The Runic and other Remains, 1857]


Gaut's Cross, Kirk Michael
Fig1b           Fig1a
Plate I.[Gaut's Cross, Kirk Michael]

THIS cross stands on the south side of the churchyard gate at Kirk Michael, built upright into the top of the wall.

It contains in the inscription the name of the maker, " Gaut," or, as he calls himself (in the inscription on a cross at Kirk Andreas, Plate III. fig. 10), Gautr Sunr Bjarnar, i.e. Gaut Björnson. If his own statement is to be relied on and taken in its fullest sense, viz, that he made it and all then in Man, we should have a starting-point in the age of these crosses, could we only fix the exact date at which he lived. But this seems impossible, as though the names on this cross and on others evidently from the same workshop are pretty numerous, yet there are none of sufficient note to have been recorded in Manx history. From reasons above given, I do not deem it right to fix the date earlier than the middle of the tenth century.

The monument is beautifully carved on both sides, and the Runic inscription runs partly up the edge and partly on one face of the cross. The whole is in a state of very good preservation, and contrasts very widely with the condition of the larger cross at Andreas bearing Gaut’s name and made of the same material as this, viz. clay-schist (Plate III. fig. 10). It is therefore clear that we can determine nothing respecting the age of these crosses from their relative state of disintegration. Indeed, I believe some of the most worn to be amongst the latest. This cross owes its preservation, as does that of a much later date on the opposite side of the gateway, to the circumstance of its having been built into the old church of St. Michael, from which it was removed and placed in its present position not more than thirty years ago.

The remarkable and beautiful ornament which occupies the centre of the shaft of one face of this cross I do not remember to have seen elsewhere, certainly not on any of the Irish or Scotch crosses. I have, however, seen a close resemblance to it in drawings of Welsh and Cumbrian crosses by Mr. J. O. Westwood, who has also pointed out to me in the ornamentation of a Roman pavement a pattern to which it has also a close approximation. I would call it chain-cable work. We have a beautiful variation of it in the cross on the other side of the gateway (Plate XI. fig. 28). See also title-page of this work. It occurs on at least five other Manx crosses, viz. Plate I. fig. 2; Plate II. figures 3, 4, and 5, and Plate III. fig. 9, and probably it occupied the centre of one face of the lost shaft of cross Plate II. fig. 8.

This cross of Gaut now under consideration contains no figures of animals, but only pure knot-work. The same statement is true also of the other cross which bears his name on Andreas Green, Plate III. fig. 10. This is the case also in the Ballaugh cross, Plate I, fig. 2, the St. John’s cross, Plate II. fig. 5, and the Kirkmichael fragment, Plate II. fig. 4, all of which I would attribute to Gaut. All these crosses are also inscribed. If we should be disposed to argue against all of them being Gaut’s work, from the fact that the spelling of words is not the same on each (for instance, af; aftir, and aiftir, thana, thna, thona, thono, thenr), we must remember that Gaut spells his own name differently on different crosses.

The inscription on this cross, very distinct, is,


i.e. "Malbrigd, the son of Athakan the smith, erected this (cross) for his soul, but his kinsman (?) Gaut made this and all in Man."

We have to notice from this inscription that the name of the Island must anciently have been pronounced with the "a" long, or as "au" and thus it shows the connection between Man and Mona.

We meet here too with the ubiquitous name of Smith,. in such a position as to show clearly the origin of that and similar names. It is truly Norse, the Manx would have been "Teare."

We learn the little value which is to be given to the stops or division of words and their absence from a sentence, for whilst we have " i Maun," in Man, written as one word, we have the name Malbrigd written as two words, Mail: brigdi. A similar case occurs on the Andreas Cross, Plate III. fig. g, where we have Sand: Ulf in two words for Sandulf, and Arin : biaurg for Arinbjorg.

Baullaugh Cross 77
Fig 2b           Fig 2a
Plate I.

This cross, which is one of the most perfect on the Island, stands in the old churchyard of Ballaugh.

I presume it to be the work of Gaut, from the reasons before stated (page 16). His normal idea of two pair of ribbons intertwining and forming the arms of the cross, but fastened also with rings at their extremities, is here carried out on the face of the cross (the inscribed face) ; but instead of the central ring of the former cross, we have a boss surrounded by the ribbons, and the rings (four in number) are carried down the shaft, and both ribbons and rings are split up and pelletted, giving a greater richness to the appearance of the whole.

On the other face, the central ribbons (also ornamented) are deficient in rings, but have the boss, whilst on one side of the shaft we have the beautiful chain cable work of Plate I. fig. 1 terminated with a plain cross, and on the other an ornament which occurs on at least two other of Gaut's crosses, Plate II. fig. 4 b, and Plate V. fig. 13. This face is also deficient in the large circle or glory about the arms of the cross. I had the cross dug up prior to taking the cast, and was thus enabled to obtain the lower portion, which had previously been buried deep in the earth, and was not drawn by Kinnebrook.

The inscription is tolerably perfect, and runs up one face of the cross, along the edge of the shaft, and into the cavity between the arms. The fourth and fifth words are somewhat indistinct, but I believe the reading to be thus


i.e. " Thorlaf, the son of Thorjolf, erected this cross to Olave his son."

There is nothing in Manx history by which we may identify these persons. Olave was a common Scandinavian name. The name Thor laf occurs on the Dragon cross at Braddan. See Plate VIII. fig. 23 b.


PLATE II. Figures 3 a and 3 b.

These are fragments of what must have been a very beautiful cross; they are built into the top of the churchyard wall, south of the gate at Kirk Michael. The shaft was ornamented on one face with the chain cable of Plate I. fig. 1 a, and on the other had the ornamented ribbons of Plate II. fig. 2 a, as also the beautiful knot of the right hand side of Plate I. fig. I a. The cross may have been of Gaut's workmanship, but it has for ornaments on one face on either side of the shaft ill- fashioned figures of men and animals, one of the men being upside down. The men appear dressed in the kilt or Highland dress. Now as Magnus Barefoot (Barfõd, Barbeen or Barelegs), who made his terrific irruption into the West in A. v. 1093 and took possession of the Isle of Man when he united the Bishopricks of Man and Sodor or the Southern Isles, received his name from his adopting the Highland cos- tume, it is hardly likely that this cross would contain figures of this description if it were prior to his time, at least if we understand the cross to have been made by and erected to a Northman. It is therefore probably not earlier than the close of the eleventh century.

On the edge of one of the fragments we have the words, '' SVAK NISTI : CRUS : TFINA : EFT : u,UMUiv:" i.e. "Suag erected this cross to R~rnW"-and, as a continuation of the inscription, we have at the extremity of the other fragment merely the letters " NT." Each end of the stones is broken and worn, and I am not quite sure whether the first name may not be either Svig or Grim, and not Suak.

The heading of this cross was probably very similar to Plate II. figs. 8 a and 8 b, which is a fragment found in the same church wall. The thickness, however, of the latter stone is greater than the present one. It has also its own inscription; they therefore evidently belonged to two different crosses, though having no doubt like ornamentations.

PLATE II. Fig. 4 a and 4 b.

This fragment of a fine cross, probably of Gaut's workmanship, with the central chain cable running down the shaft, is on the church- yard wall of Kirk Michael.

One side is much worn, and the stone has been cut to fit a curve in the wall, so that the greater part of the inscription has been destroyed, leaving only the words . . . " GRUS : THNA : AFTIR," i. e. '1 This cross to," the names having altogether disappeared. The inscription, perhaps on account of the thinness of the stone, was made along one side of the face instead of on the edge of the cross. The knot-work on either side

of the shaft (Fig 4 a) is prettily arranged, and well worth notice. The simple twist on the right hand with inserted pellet, is an advance on that of Plate II. fig. 3 a. and Plate I. fig. I b.

The small portion of ornamentation, the T pattern or guilloche, on the inscribed face (fig. 4 b) has its counterpart on the Ballaugh cross, Plate I. fig. 2 b, and forms an edging to one side of the shaft of the cross, and to the base in Plate III. Fig. 9 b. and to one side of the shaft in Plate Ill. fig. 10 a.

PLATE II. Fig 5.

This is the fragment (the shaft) of a cross found in the old church of St John the Baptist in Kirk German, when it was pulled down A. n. 1850. It is now erected in the churchyard in the angle between the tower and south porch.

Only one face is carved, and the head of the cross and part of the inscription is wanting. But the chain cable is finely developed, and must have formed a prominent feature in the cross, in fact it seems to have been the only ornament upon it.

The inscription is along the edge, but the letters are much weather- worn, and though the cutting has been deep, I do not feel certain about the first word, the letters r and u being so much alike ; it seems, how ever, to have been, " INOSRUIR : RAIST : RUNAR: THENR : AFTIR . . ." I. e. " Inosruir carved these runes to," &c. Inosruir would seem to have been the workman who made the cross, but I by no means feel sure of the reading of this name.

PLATE 11. Fig. 6.

This fragment is in the Museum at Distington. The ornament appears to be of the same character as that on figs. 19, Plate VII. infra.

PLATE II. Fig. 7.

This fragment was found in a corner of the churchyard of Jurby by the Italian whom I employed to make the casts. The other side was too much effaced to afford any figure, if it ever was carved; no inscription is legible on it.

The ornamentation of the shaft is the same in idea as that of fig. 3 a, but the reverse portions of the long ribbons are pelletted.

A stag, boar, and portion of a female figure, appear on the right hand of the shaft; on the left, a warrior kilted or clad in a buttoned coat of mail, and bearing a very singular instrument on his dexter shoulder, to which appears suspended a smaller figure, as of one whom he had slain. Above we have a larger fragment of a female figure, bearing in her band a three-pronged fork. The execution of these figures is of the rudest description.

PLATE II. Figs. 8 a, 8 b, and 8 c.

This fragment is at present in the Vestry of Kirk Michael, having been removed from the wall of the churchyard. It has evidently been touched up, but not so as to alter the pattern, which is such as to show that the fragment belonged to one of the more highly-wrought crosses. The pattern of figure 8 b is the same as in Plate II. fig. 3 a. The knot- work, in the left-hand corner at the top, which is a piece of pelletted ribbon, has very much of the look of one of the monstrous fishes or dragons of the Braddan cross, Plate VIII. fig. 22 a, &c. I shall have

to refer to this fact hereafter. The other corner is occupied by a kilted figure, who seems to be ascending towards a piece of cloud overhead. Referring to the other face of the cross, fig. 8 a, we remark at the intersection of the glory of the cross a full representation of the figure of our Blessed Lord, with outstretched arms, (indicating that " oblates est quia ipse voluit,") and bearing on his head a nimbus. In the left hand corner we have the favourite cock (the symbol of repentance), and in the right hand is an angel or winged figure, underneath which we have the triquetra, the emblem of the Trinity. This seems to me the only cross in the consideration of which we might at all enter upon the notion of symbolism in the grotesque figures inscribed, and even here it is of a most doubtful character.

The only words of the inscription which remain written on the broad edge of the stone are,

" GRIMS : INS : SUARTA ; " i. e. " Grims : the : Black." I fancy this is one of Gaut's productions.

It has been observed by antiquarians that in the most ancient representations of the Crucifixion the body of our Lord is fully draped, but in the later the body is nude. In the present instance the dress is of an intermediate character, though reaching down very nearly to the feet. This seems in itself an indication of the great antiquity of this fragment, and that it is not later than the eleventh or beginning of the twelfth century. The figures on the Irish crosses are, generally speaking, nearly nude.

PLATE III. Figs. 9 a, 9 b, 9 c.

This cross stands in the churchyard of Andreas, near the gate. It is in good preservation, but the workmanship is of the roughest kind. The style differs entirely from any of the foregoing. It seems like an attempt by a very inferior workman (perhaps by Sandulf the Black himself) to imitate the patterns of Gaut's crosses. The chain-cable ornament of the shaft of fig. 9 a seems taken from the Ballaugh cross, Plate I. fig. 2, whilst the fragment of cable-and-ring ornament at the base is like the edge of Plate I. fig. 1 b compacted. The knot, however, at the top of the cross, and those on the right hand side (top and bottom) of the shaft of fig. 9 a do not occur elsewhere. Amongst the animals we notice the goat (top of the right hand side), the boar, and one or two horses and sheep. At the base we have the figure of a female, perhaps Arinbjorg, riding on horseback. The junction of the tails of the second and third figures is remarkable.

In figure 9 b we have a bad attempt to imitate the interlacing ribbons of the shaft of fig. 13. The animals are drawn with more vigour, and we seem to have on the left hand side of the shaft the fragment of a hunting scene, viz. a man on horseback about to leap over a rock and a hound seizing on a deer. The cow and boar are fairly drawn. The hounds on both sides the shaft appear of the Irish

type, and one has a collar on his neck, as also has the boar, with curly tail. The inscription is very perfect, except the commencement of the first word, respecting which, however, there is little doubt: it runs thus

" SAND: ULF: EINS : SUARTI : RASSTI : CRUS : THONA : AFTIR : ARIN BIAURK : KUING : SING:" i.e. " Sanndulf the Black erected this cross to his wife Arinbjorg."

The absence of any glory about this cross on either face has before been noted (page 8), perhaps the central circles were intended to re- present the same idea. The age of this cross is hardly earlier than the twelfth century.

It will be observed that there is a stop or break in the midst of each of the names Sandulf and Arinbjorg. The former part might read as " SANT : OLF : EINS : SUARTI :" " Saint Olave the Black." Olave the Black was king of Man in 1188.

PLATE 111. Fig. 10.

This cross, which has been a very fine one of Gaut's manufacture, is now in a sadly worn and dilapidated condition. It stands on the Green at Kirk Andreas, opposite the Church gates. One face is so completely defaced that nothing can be made of it; the other has just sufficient ornamentation left to enable us to fill it up by analogy. The general design of the shaft is similar to Plate I. fig. 1 b and the tall cross of Joalf at Kirk Michael, Plate IV. fig. 13 ; but instead of the animals at the side of the latter, the cross is filled on the right hand by the guilloche or waved ribbon of T pattern both before noticed, Plate 11. fig. 4 b, and Plate I. fig. 2 b, and on the left by a simple knot-work with rings.

The inscription is very much defaced, and is almost illegible at the beginning and end. It appears to be,

...... CRUS : TRANA : AF : UFAIG : FAUTHUR : SIN: IN: GAUTR GUTTHI : SUNR : BIARNAR : CUB CULI ?)" I. e. " A. B. erected this cross to Ufaig his father, but Gaut Bjornson made it," &c.

The last words are very uncertain in reading and rendering, in consequence of the similitude of the runes for R and u.

PLATE III. Fig. 11 a and 11 b.

This is the fragment of a very beautiful cross, in the garden of the Vicarage at Jurby, which has not hitherto received any notice. It seems of the same age as fig. 9, being also without any circle or glory ; but the execution of it is much more elaborate and the design richer.

On figure 11 a we have, running down the shaft, a double pair of ribbons, as in fig. 3 a and fig. 7, Plate II., but in this case both ribbons are ornamented, not with pellets but cross-bars, forming lozenges, so as to give the idea of a cable laid upon the surface of the ribbon. The pre- valent character of the ornamentation is that of broad split ribbons. The same is the case on fig. 11 b, where the shaft is ornamented with what looks like a development of the right-hand side of fig. 3 a. On the left-hand of the shaft we have the wave-ribbon, or T pattern of fig. 4 b, and on the right a beautiful ornament, which I do not remember to have met with elsewhere. The human figures on this cross are pecu- liarly interesting, though, unfortunately, we have only two perfect. On fig. 11 a we have a bearded warrior, in kilt or shirt of mail, with a sword on his left thigh, and in his right-hand a war-trumpet; on his head is a conical cap, surmounted by a knob or crest, and over his head seems to be flying the symbol of war, Odin's raven. In the oppo- site corner appears a portion of a figure seemingly caught by the leg by an instrument still common in Norway, a thong and ball fastened to the end of a pole. In fig. 11 b we have a female wearing a long tartan robe, and with long flowing hair. The style of dress is like that seen in Plate II. fig. 7, where also we have the war-weapon of ball, thong, and pole, and the warrior, clad in a similar coat. It is not improbable that both the crosses were by the same artist. The inscrip- tion on this cross runs up and down the left-hand side of the face, fig. 11 a. It is imperfect at the beginning, middle, and end, and the letters are somewhat worn, but seem to run thus:-

" RU: SUN: IN : ONON : RASTI : AFT: FAITHUR : BR...... Perhaps meaning " . . . Ros'son ; but Onon (erected it) to his fa- ther's brother .......

The fifth word looks more like ~~ raiti" than " rasti ; " if the former, it is a misspelling.

PLATE III. Figs. 12 a and 12 b.

This fragment is in the Distington Museum. I believe it was taken from the wall at Kirk Michael.

The inscription written along the arms of the cross, on the face, gives us somewhat of the private history of the person to whom it was erected, though his name has disappeared, it is,


~~ ... Whom Osketel deceived under security of his pledge of peace." The person would appear to have been slain by an enemy who had been "bound to keep the peace," but who broke his pledge. The Norwegian name Osketel became general in subsequent times, and is connected with the story of the eagle and child, the crest of the Stanley family, who possessed the Isle of Man through so many years.

PLATE IV. Figs. 13 a, 13 b, 13 c, 13 d.

This cross, which is the largest but one in the Island, and by far the most perfect, stands in front of the churchyard gates at Kirk Michael. It has frequently been drawn, but very imperfectly. Bishop Wilson refers to it in his history of the Isle of Man, and gives it almost correctly. There is an attempt at the drawing of one side in the " Gentleman's Magazine," and both sides are imperfectly represented in the Archaeo- logical Journal, vol. ii. pages 75 and 76. The stone is so tall (being also mounted on a lofty pedestal) that it was difficult to make out the details; but by means of the cast which I had made, they have come out pretty distinctly, and present some interesting features. At the head of fig. 13 a we have, filling up the corners, above the circle the triquetra ornamented, below the circle the triquetra plain. This is said

to be a characteristic Irish device. It very frequently occurs on the Manx crosses, with great variety of arrangement.

Thus, on either side of the shaft of this cross, fig. 13 a, we have four triquetras, arranged so as to form crosses and circles. It is seen again, in another form, just above, at the base of the two minor crosses, with circles each of a different pattern. It is disposed also in the knot tying together the two fishes or dragons, at the base of the shaft.

It will be observed, with respect to the spirals on each side of the shaft, that the upper pair consist of single, the lower pair o f double ribbons.

The ornament forming the base or pediment of the cross is, pro- bably, a twisted cable of two large strands, at least it presents much of this appearance in the Braddan monument, Plate VIII. fig. 23, which is not so much worn and is more deeply cut. We have it again, Plate III.

fig. g b. The animals represented are, on one side, a horse, and a man on horseback; on the other, two figures, perhaps deer, with dogs on their backs. The dogs have the shape of the Irish hound, and this form is

common on the Manx monuments. The large figure at the base ofthe stone appears to have been intended for a stag. The monstrous fish or dragons are too much worn to determine whether they were covered with scales.

It is well to note the singular fancy of making a spiral at the point of junction of the legs with the bodies of many of the animals.

The other face of the cross, fig. 18 b, bears an entirely different character. The head and shaft have the characteristics of Gaut, as seen in Plates I. and II. At the head we have a bird perched on the back of a stag and pursued by a hawk. The figures of the animals on the sides are too much worn to determine for what they were all intended ; one of them has much the appearance of an owl, and one is evidently meant for a man on horseback.

The edge of the cross, fig. 13 c, is a variation of the ornament in fig. 3 a and fig. 7, Plate II., with the terminal of a cock.

The inscription of the other edge, fig. 13 d, is very distinct and reads,

46 JUALFR : SUNR : THURULFS : EINS: RAUTHA : RISTI : CRUS : THONO AFT: FRITHU : MUTHUR : SINA : " I. e. " Toa f the son of Thorolf the Red, erected this cross to his mother Frida."

Probably the figure of the warrior at the head was intended for Joalf.

The names Joalf, Thorolf, and Frida, are Norwegian.

PLATE V. Fig. 14.

This cross is the tallest in the Island, being upwards of eight feet in height. It formerly stood at the cross-four-roads between Port St. Mary and Rushen Church, in the parish of Kirk Christ Rushen, but has been removed to a farm yard close by, where it forms one side of a doorway into a cow-shed opposite the inn. There is hardly any ornament left on it, what there is seems like that of fig. 15 ; and, like fig. 16, this cross is pierced with four holes, without any appearance of a circle or glory. No inscription can be made out.

PLATE V. Figs. 15 a, 15 b.

This cross I found lying on the ground in a corner of the church-yard of Malew, unnoticed and unknown. With the consent of the vicar and churchwardens, I had it removed to the Museum of King William's College, in the same parish. It is much decayed, and in order to make out the tracery, I took casts of the different parts. The stone is a very dark clay-schist, and in it the lines are with much diffi culty traced. By turning the casts about in the sunlight, after making rubbings, I was enabled to fill up the figures and knot-work in a great measure, though some parts are evidently imperfect. In the general character of the shaft, the cross resembles figures 14 and 16, Plate V. ; but it has representations of animals of a peculiar character, and more closely approaching to those on the Scotch crosses (as, for instance, the most remarkable one at Aberlemno), than any other Manx crosses of which I am aware. I am inclined to affix to it a very early date.

PLATE V. Fig. 16.

This fine cross was formerly the stile at the west-end of Braddan churchyard. It is now removed and erected near the west-gate. The ornamentation is bold, but simple, and producing a fine effect. Instead of the plain circle on the arms of the cross, we have a circle formed of the cable-and-ring ornament before noticed, Plate III. figs. 9 a and 9 b, and Plate II. fig. 4 a. The angles of the arms are pierced through with


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