[From Haining's Guide, 1822]


The Antiquities, Curiosities, Prospects, and Scenery, of the Isle of Man.

WHEN the historical records of former ages are scanty, or have been destroyed by some unfortunate occurrence, we gladly listen to traditionary tales to supply the deficiency, and highly esteem that information which would make us acquainted with the mode of life, customs, and resources, of our ancestors. Tradition is a very uncertain guide, and the farther we are removed from the period in which they lived, the greater is our danger of being deceived ; for nations are prone to magnify the heroic deeds of those from whom they are. descended, and the mind of man is delighted with the romantic marvellous tales of antiquity; hence the fabulous stories which are credited and related by the inhabitants of almost every country, which skew the amazing credulity of men in believing such legends. But whilst we should receive theist with caution, we ought not to reject them entirely, for when stripped of their marvellous appendages, they may be considered as alluding to some fact, and when corroborated by the remains of antiquity, may be used for supplying the deficiency of our historical information. The ruinous remains of former ages are held in veneration in every country, and nest to the laws and privileges transmitted to us, are the dearest pledges that remain of our ancestors: if they are magnificent, we glory in their grandeur; if they are humble, we venerate their simplicity ; and if they furnish facts which shed light on the darkness of our early history, we examine them with great attention, and regard them as the polar star to guide us through the veil of obscurity which hangs over our origin as a people.

In this Island, which is of so small extent, it can not be expected to find many things to arrest the attention of the antiquarian, and to gratify his curiosity, that the pen of the historian should be employed to grace the annals of our country, by recording the heroic deeds of former ages, or that any[ornaments of haughty tyrants should still exist to adorn our sea-girt Isle; yet we have many remains of antiquity, which skew that this Island must have been highly distinguished in ancient times, as the seat. of learning, and the residence of a brave independent people. We have the remains of the Temples of the Druids, the Tumuli of the ancients, used as a burying place for the dead, before the introduction of Christianity, and many unadorned relics of a bold warlike people.

Men, in every age of the world and in the rudest state, have entertained the idea of a supreme Being, have eagerly desired to transmit their names to future ages, and have endeavoured to leave some memorial of their having existed. Hence the temples which have been erected for the worship of the Deity, and the monuments raised in honour of the dead. They have been esteemed the most sacred of all human structures, and being the most solid, have, for a series of ages, survived the ravages of time.

The Druidical remains, which are found in this Island, establish, beyond the possibility of a doubt, the certainty of its having once been inhabited by these venerable men, and it was probably retained by them long after they were driven from Britain by the victorious Romans, and where they performed their religious rites until visited by St. Patrick.

The Druids are generally supposed to have been the descendants of Gomer, the sun of Japheth, belonged to the ancient Celtae, and after various emigrations, to have settled in Britain and Gaul. The Druids were the same among the ancient Britons, that the Sophi, or Philosophers, were among the Greeks, the Magi, among the Persians, the Brahmins, among the Indians, and the Chaldeans, among the Assyrians.

Julius Cæsar, who invaded Britain 55 years before the birth of Christ, gives us the most correct information respecting them; he described them as being very numerous, and connected with the families of the nobility; they were distinguished for their wisdom, and possessed all the learning of that age, which was studiously confined to those who were initiated in the mysteries of their order, which were not unfolded to any, until they had. taken an oath never to reveal them. It was unlawful to commit their sentiments to writing, and all their knowledge was imparted to the initiates! in poetry; and, according to some, they had twenty thousand verses to commit to memory. They were the instructors of the young, physicians, magicians, legislators, judges, and ministers of religion. They were distinguished for their knowledge of astronomy, astrology, arithmetic, geometry, geography, natural philosophy, and politics. They were the judges in all civil affairs, and from their decision there was no appeal. They possessed the high prerogative of enacting, ex plaining, and administering the law. - All controversies," says Caesar, " both public and private, are determined by the Druids. If any crime is committed, or any murder perpetrated; if any disputes arise, about the divisions of inheritance or the boundaries of estates, they alone have the right to decide, and they are the only dispensers of rewards and punishments. Disobedience to their authority was regarded as rebellion against the will of heaven, and the sentence of excommunication pronounced against them, was most awful ; for the persons, who resisted their decision, were excluded from all their religious rites, were held in universal detestation for their daring impiety, were shunned as pests in society, and exposed to various injuries; were deprived of the protection of the law, and declared incapable of any trust."

These venerable men were greatly distinguished for their eloquence, which they had many opportunities of displaying ; when instructing their youths, discoursing to the people concerning the duties of their religion, pleading in their courts, debating in the great council of the nation, and when rousing the minds of their warriors to defend the rights of their country. Their eloquence oftentimes prevented the effusion of blood, by causing hostile armies to sheath their swords; and the British Chieftains, educated by the Druids, were famed for their eloquence.

The mysteries of their religion, however, were carefully concealed from strangers, and it is difficult correctly to ascertain, what were the religious opinions which they entertained, the rites which They observed, the Deities whom they adored, and the various seasons in which their festivals were celebrated. They worshipped the sun, moan, and stars, as the lively emblems of the Deity, and they adored those heroes who had performed signal exploits. Their altars streamed with the blood of human victims, on the eve of a dangerous war, to overt national calamities, and lo remove the diseases with which persons of high rank were afflicted. They had festivals at fixed periods in honour of their Gods, their sacred groves, their hallowed hills and fountains. The august ceremony of cutting the mistletoe by the Archdruid, is thus described by Pliny :-"The Druids hold nothing so sacred as the mistletoe of the oak; as this is -very scarce and rarely to he found, when any of it is discovered, they go With great pomp and ceremony to gather it.; when they have gotten every thing in readiness under the oak, both for the sacrifice and the banquet which they make on this great festival ; they begin by tying two white bulls to it by the horns; then one of the Druids, clothed in white, ascends the tree, and with a knife of gold cuts the mistletoe, which is received in a white sagum ; this done, they proceed their sacrifices and feasting."

It was an article of the Druidical creed, " that it was unlawful to build temples to their gods, or to worship them within walls, or under roofs; hence they worshipped in the open air, and in places where they had a view of the heavenly bodies. To avoid being incommoded in performing their religious rites, they generally selected the deepest recesses of groves and woods for their sacred places, that were surrounded with oaks, which they considered God had chosen above all other trees, and in performing their religious ceremonies, were adorned with garlands of its leaves. Their sacred groves were watered by a consecrated fountain, and their temples surrounded by a mound to prevent the intrusion of improper persons. In the centre of the grove was a circular area, inclosed with one or two rows of large stones, placed perpendicularly : within this temple stood the altar on which their sacrifices were offered. Near to these temples were their sacred mounts and stone tables, on which they prepared their sacrifices and other things necessary for their worship. One of these Druidical groves has been thus poetically described by Lucan :-

" Not far away, for ages past had stood
An old unviolated sacred wood,
Whose gloomy boughs, thick interwoven, made
A chilly, cheerless, everlasting shade
There. nor the rustic Gods nor Satyrs sport,
Nor Pawns and Sylvans, with the Nymphs resort ;
But barbarous priests some dreadful power adore,
And lustrate every tree with human gore."

The Romans, having vanquished the Britons, destroyed the authority of the Druids, as the ministers of religion, civil judges, and legislators, inflicted on them the greatest cruelties, finally expelled them the kingdom, and they fled to this Island as a refuge from the persecutions of their haughty conquerors ; and we have many visible remains of their having once been the dominant party in it.

The Druidical remains are to be met with in every part of the Island, their temples, sacred groves, and consecrated fountains, the tumuli, in which are deposited the urns which contain the ashes of their dead, and their rude fortifications, designed to guard them from being attacked unawares by the enemy, and to defend them from the furious assaults of daring invaders.


Were very differently constructed, some of them had the altar without the circle being completely formed. Others of them had a circle of stones with the altar in the centre ; and a complete Druidical temple had always an altar or mound surrounded almost at its base with a circle of large quartz stones, having in its neighbourhood the hallowed fountain, and the sacred grove.

In the parish of Kk. Santon, and not far distant from Oatland, are the remains of a cairn altar. It is not large, but is very distinct, and the stones composing it are of a very considerable size. The stone sepulchre in the centre, is exposed to view; and, contrary to the usual formation, is composed of massive stones. A few feet from the base of the cairn, on the east side, is a semicircle of large masses, placed at regular distances, and although there are some on the west, the circle does not appear ever to have been complete.

On the northern extremity of the hill of Mount Murray, and a few hundred yards on the Marown side of the road leading from Douglas to the mountains, stands one of the most perfect to be met with in this Island. it forms a circle, being fourteen yards in diameter, and forty two yards in circumference. The stones, which form the circle, are not large, but are placed perpendicularly, and from their regular distances, seem to occupy the places in which they were originally fixed. No cairn seems ever to have been raised in the space enclosed by the circle. A stream of water runs on each side of the temple, issuing from two fountains, about fifty yards higher up the hill, and which were undoubtedly regarded by the Druids as sacred. The name of the vale plainly indicates that their favourite tree, the oak, surrounded them ; for glen darrah, in Manks, signifies the vale of oaks.

A few yards on the east of the temple, are two walls composed of stones and mound, which bend round the east side of the temple in the form of a semicircle. They are about five yards distant from each other, and enclose a space which was probably used for a habitation. They were divided into two apartments by an entrance to the interior circle ; and in the south end of the semicircle is another gateway, but the mound at the north end being destroyed, we have no vestige left of the way of admission there. This temple stands in a barren, bleak, and uncultivated spot of ground. The sterility of the soil, has been its safeguard, from the hands of the cultivator, and its rude timeworn contents, have been allowed to retain the undisturbed possession of this dreary waste.

Another is situated on the brow of the hill, at Ballown, in the parish of Malew. The stones., forming the circle of this temple, are large irregular shaped masses of white quartz, and enclose an area, about ten yards in diameter. On the east side of the circle are placed, in advance, two large stones like 'the pillars of a portal, and the late proprietor of this estate removed an immense table of granite, from the interior of the temple, and which lay nearly opposite to the portal, on the east. This was probably used by them, when devoted victims were sacrificed.

An extensive cemetery has been discovered on the top of the hill, a little to the west of the temple, the urns were ranged close to it, were very numerous, and some of them contained ornaments of gold and of other metals; the stone graves were at a greater distance, were thickly placed, and were found to occupy nearly the whole summit of the hill.

On the south side of this temple, and in the meadow, at the foot of the hill, is a flat mound of earth, nearly thirty-five yards in diameter, and about one. hundred in circumference, and is surrounded by a fosse, twelve yards in breadth, the mound stands about six feet high, and the surface is rather irregular. The superior size, and peculiar beauty of the stones of the circle, plainly indicate that it was a temple of a superior description. The stone graves most probably belonged to the Druidical age, and this cemetery must have contained the remains of a numerous population.

On the brow of the hill, on the north east side of Laxey Gill, is found a Druidical ruin of somewhat different construction ; the circle is imperfect, and apparently has been but small from its ruins; a terrace of about three yards wide, runs to a large sized cairn, situated a little lower down the hill. This cairn, which is wholly composed of stones thrown carelessly on it, has its summit nearly level, and at the lower extremity stands a lofty stone pillar; probably the use of this was twofold-for the. interment of their renowned men, and for the immolation of human victims. The sacred stream purls at its side, and the venerated oak, to this day, overhangs and decorates the rugged banks of the rivulet.

About two miles distant; on the western side of Laxey Bay, stands a Druidical temple, known by the name of the Cloven Stones; this name was derived from two tall prominent stones, which appear to have been cloven in twain.. Tradition says, that the cairn of the cloven stones is the grave of a Welsh prince, who invaded the Island, and having landed at Laxey, was slain in his first engagement with the natives, and interred where he fell. The most probable opinion is, that it was used as a sepulchre for the inhabitants of the encampment. in the neighbourhood, as there was in the centre a stone sepulchral chest; which was demolished some time ago by the Laxey miners, expecting to find some treasure, but they only found the remains of decayed globulous mortality and was also employed for practising their mysterious rites. The base of the cairn, and part of the circle still remain, and the tall stones are standing like a portal on the eastern side. There is another small circle, apparently Druidical, on the farm of Arragon, in the parish of Santon. On the very brink of the cliffs, on Spanish Head and near the tremendous chasms in the rocks of that promontory, are found the remains of a Druidical temple; the place was not only retired, but most lonely and wild. Vestiges of these Druidical temples may be discovered in almost every uncultivated spot in the Island, and undoubtedly they were very numerous.


The Tumuli of the ancients are the most simple and natural memorials that could be raised for the dead, and have proved the most durable. This mode of interment was practised by the Jews from the earliest period of their history as a nation, When Joshua had hanged the King of Ai, he commanded his body to be cast out at the entrance of the gate of the city, and a great heap of stones was raised on it.

The Greeks adopted the same mode of interment; they incinerated their (lead, and placed in the Apex of the Tumuli conical pillars, or different kinds of images. Homer gives us the following description of the funeral rites of the chief, who fell fighting under the walls of Troy:-

" His snowy bones his friends and brothers placed,
With tears collected in a golden vase;
The golden vase in purple rolls they fold
Of softest texture, and inwrought with gold.
Last o'er the urn the sacred earth they spread,
And raised a tomb, memorial of the dead;
High in the midst they raised the swelling bed
Of rising earth-memorial of the dead."

Ossian's poetical descriptions of the tombs of his heroes, skew that the same plan was followed by the northern nations. Orla says to Fingal :--" If I shall fall, as one time the warrior must die, raise my tomb in the midst, let it be the greatest in Lena." Speaking of the slain, he says:-" Raise high the mossy stones of their fame, that the children of the north hereafter may behold the place where their fathers fought." The Tumuli were generally raised over the bodies of their distinguished heroes who had fallen in battle, and on the very spot where they had expired, to be an inducement to other warriors to signalize themselves in the defence of their country; and probably had as powerful an inducement, in leading them to perform heroic deeds, as the desire to have a monument erected in Westminster has in the present day.

In this Island the modes of inhumation varied at different periods, and it is highly probable that these monuments for the (lead were raised by different nations; hence we meet with barrows that contain nothing but clay urns filled with ashes, and are generally composed entirely of mould. These are mostly found in the low grounds, and on the sea side, in the northern and southern parts of the Island. Another kind of barrow is composed of mould and stones of irregular sizes, carelessly heaped together, and some of them are surrounded by large stones placed near the base; these are found in the interior, on the high lands, and on the eastern side of the Island.

Those of mould are circular grassy hillocks, of various dimensions, some of the single barrows remain very complete in the neighbourhood of Bishop's Court, in the parishes of Andreas, Bride, Jurby, German; and Rushen; but the barrows, are oftener in groups regularly ranged, having one or two superior to the rest, which was probably a mark of that. respect paid to the hero;. when dead, which he had received when alive. A group of nine small barrows may be seen regularly ranged on Lammal hill, and twelve are irregularly placed and more widely scattered on the mountain of Arch allachan, in Marown:.


Are very numerous in the Island,. are generally found on high lands; are composed of stones, carelessly heaped together, and were used, not merely for interring. the: dead, but were a line of communication with the- different parts of the Island, to give information to the inhabitants, by means of fires lighted on them, of the approach of the invading enemy; and to chew where they were to assemble for their mutual defence.

That they were used as- sepulchres is clearly proved from those which have been opened, containing urns, stone coffins, and the ashes of mortality.

The elevated places on which they are found, and the regular line of communication by them, from north to south, plainly indicate that they were designed to secure them from being attacked unawares by the invading foe, and that they might be prepared to give the daring, invader a warm reception.

On the northern coast we have a chain of them, forming a regular connection; and being placed on eminences., indicates their. principal use, as upon them watch and ward were kept in. ancient times, The most northern of these, is situated near Lane Moor,. on a commanding eminence; and is named a watch by day. The second is on Jurby Point, _s of the largest size, and is called Cronk Moar; the third is on the heights above Orrisdale, and there are several along the coast to Peel Castle; whence also we may trace a line of communication southward, by the watch hill of Knockaloe; and eastward by some cronks in the neighbourhood of St. John's. These beacon positions are mostly upon hills of secondary magnitude; yet some are placed upon the top of the mountains. In Kk. Christ Rushen, there -are several apparently connected with the large mound, called the Fairy Hill, communicating with those,in the interior, which are so situated as to complete the chain from north to south. Some of them bear evident marks of fires having been frequently kindled on them, but it is uncertain for what particular purpose, whether to warn the people of approaching danger, or from the sacred fires kindled annually by the Druids, that the people who had extinguished those in their houses- might be supplied from the hallowed flame.


According to ancient usage; were employed for the interment of their dead, as fortified places to secure them from the enemy taking them by surprise, and also for the promulgation of. the laws. The Mound, called. Cronk na-Moar; or Fairy Hill, is the largest in the Island; its situation and peculiar construction plainly shew that it was originally formed for defence. It stands in a low morass near to Kk, Christ Rushen, and close to two defiles, leading to Port Erin bay, and the creek of Fleswick. It has been raised by gravelly soil from the neighbouring banks, but at what period is unknown., It is a truncated cone about forty feet high, and one hundred and fifty yards in circumference, having been completely surrounded by a deep and wide ditch. There is on its summit an excavation ten yards in diameter, of a circular shape, and a regularly formed parapet which was probably a considerable height ; the sides of the hill facing the defiles, are almost perpendicular, but that which looks to the interior has a gradual descent, and a terrace is regularly formed, opposite to a mound, running diagonally through the morass to the neighbouring banks. On the north east side, a pathway is perceptible, ascending to the top; the ditch which surrounds the hill is most apparent between the mound and the lodgment, and very probably the bridge was laid across, at this place ; according to the mode of ancient warfare, this must have been a strongly fortified place, as the whole morass could easily have been covered with water, which would have prevented all access to it.

In a park, on the west side of Mount Murray, on the road side leading to Balla Kew, there is another in a tolerable state of preservation. Its circumference is one hundred and twenty yards; the summit is a little sloping towards the south, and the whole structure resembles that which has been already described. It is surrounded by a rampart and fosse, which are strong towards the east. The outer ditch is eight yards wide, and beyond it are some marks of countervallation. It was a place of strength, according to the ancient mode of warfare ; the hill prevented all communication with the beacons to the north and east, but it had a commanding view of those to the south. At a short distance there is a sepulchral barrow.

The artificial mount of Tynwald, where the laws are promulgated, is situated in a plain at St. John's, about three miles from Peel, on the Douglas road, has a singular appearance, and is of unknown antiquity. It is difficult to trace, with certainty, the etymology of the name. Some have derived it from the word Ting, signifying in the Danish language, an assemblage of the people, or a court of justice; and Wuld, a field enclosed. A modern author maintains that it is compounded of two British words, Ting and Val, signifying " the juridical hill;" and it is urged, in confirmation of this opinion, that the name Tynwald is found in parts of Scotland where the northern nations never penetrated.

This ancient harrow is of a conic shape, and beautiful structure; which, from its antiquity and the very important object for which it was erected, must be considered as highly interesting, and be viewed with some degree of enthusiasm. The vestiges of two gates, and a wall which once fenced it round, are now scarcely visible, but the rest of this important mount is entire. This cone is about twelve feet high, and eighty yards in circumference; the summit is about seven feet in diameter, and its sides are divided into three circular terraces, diminishing as they approach the top. The avenue, from St. John's Chapel to the east, is one hundred and twenty yards, and a flight of steps conducts the different officers to the places assigned them. Below the summit, there are three circular seats ; the lowest row is about four feet wide, and eighty yards in circumference. In the circuit and width of the two higher, there is a proportionable diminution, and each row is regularly advanced three feet above the other.

It is reported, that Henry Byron, a man of great prudence and severity, and who was appointed by Stanley Lieutenant Governor of this Island, held a Tynwald Court on the top of Cronk Urliegh, on the hill of the eagle, a lofty mountain, in Kk. Michael, and the Tynwald mount instill to be seen. It was,on that. occasion, that the people assembled, asserted their rights, loudly complained of the abuses which existed, and compelled those in authority to redress their grievances, to do justice to the injured, and to check the intolerable usurpation of the clergy.

In the area of Peel Castle, one of these mounds remains entire; but for what purpose it was raised,, is uncertain.


«'hick bear marks of antiquity, are not numerous. About half a mile distant from the cloven stones,. and a little further up the valley, is an encampment; which, from its natural strength, must not only have secured from surprise, but have baffled the attempts of the assailants. On the N. E. point of Langness, is an old fort, designed to protect the entrance to Derbyhaven ; and above Port Greenack, on the opposite side of the bay,. are two old fortifications, which were probably used as posts of observation. There is an ancient fort behind Mr. Christian's; Ballacurry, which, though more modern than the various Druidical and Danish remains, is a great curiosity. This noble old camp is considered as not older than the time of the Commonwealth;. and this opinion is founded on its similarity to those formed during the civil warn: it is the most complete of any of that period; and the situation was very eligible, as it was formed on a small natural eminence, in a very level country. There are four noble bastions at the, corners, and it is surrounded with a wet fosse of large dimension. The internal square, on which the troops encamped, is a fine level piece of ground, sunk much below the bastions and curtains, as effectually to secure the troops from any attack with fire arms. The camp has not sustained any injury from being assaulted.

Whilst this Island was subject to the Norwegians and Danes, the castles of Rushen and Perl were built, and were places of more than ordinary strength.


Which overlooks the country for many miles, was built in 960, by Guttred, a Danish Prince, the second of the race of the Orrys, who lies obscurely buried in the noble edifice which he had reared. It is built on a rock, and before artillery was used, was impregnable. The building is remarkably solid; has sustained several sieges; has for ages survived the ravages of time, and with its battlements and towers, still retains the gloomy and formidable grandeur of Gothic architecture. It is said to be a striking resemblance of the castle of Elsinore; is surrounded by a stone glacis, supposed to have been built by Cardinal Wolsey, and has lately been converted into a prison.

Grose, in his Antiquities of the Island, gives the following description of it:- The Manksmen, according to Waldron, have a strange tradition concerning this castle, which, as it will probably divert the reader, is here transcribed in his own words :-" Just at the entrance of the castle is a great stone chair for the Governor, and two less for the Deemsters. Here they try all causes except Ecclesiastical, which are entirely under the decision of the Bishop. When you are past this little court, you enter into a long winding passage, between two high walls, not much unlike what is described of Rosamond's labyrinth, at Woodstock. In case of an attack, ten thousand men might be destroyed by a very few in attempting to enter. The extremity of it brings you to a room where the Keys sit. y They are twenty-four in number; they call them the Parliament; but, in my opinion, then more resemble the juries in England, because the business of their meeting is to adjust differences between the common people, and are locked in till they give in their verdicts: they may be said, in this sense, indeed, to be supreme judges, because from them there is no appeal but to the Lord himself.

A little further is the Castle, as also the two walls which encompass it, and are broad enough for three persons to walk abreast on the freestone, -which is the only building in the Island of that sort. 'Within the walls is a small tower adjoining to the Castle, where formerly state prisoners were kept, but serves now as a store house for the Lord Derby's wines. It has a moat round it, and a drawbridge, and is a very strong place. On the other side of the Castle, is the Governor's house, which is very commodious and spacious ; here is also a fine Chapel where divine service is celebrated, morning and afternoon ; and several offices belonging to the Court of Chancery." The fabulous history of this Castle, recorded by some writers, is so extravagantly absurd, that it does not deserve insertion.

Before the subjugation of Man, by the English, the Kings resided here in all the warlike pomp of those barbarous ages, exercising their authority by oppressing those who were not sufficiently submissive to their will ; and supporting their splendor by the spoils of the vanquished. Now, it is the gloomy abode of the unfortunate, and of those who have violated the laws of their country. The Countess of Derby, being taken a prisoner by the republican army, was kept in confinement until the Restoration. When she was discharged from captivity, she carried off the archives of the Island which were deposited in the Castle, and it is uncertain what is become of them. The Statute Book of Man is preserved in Castle Rushen, which still retains an air of royalty, and from its lofty top, you have a commanding view of the surrounding country.


Stands on an extensive and lofty rock, formerly surrounded by the sea, on the western extremity of the bay, the summit of which is crowned with the venerable and picturesque ruins of this Castle, the Cathedral of Mona, dedicated to St. Germain, of St. Patrick's Church, the Armory, the Lord's Mansion, and the Episcopal palace. Time has defaced the grandeur of this Gothic edifice, its massy columns are levelled with the ground, its ornaments lie scattered among the weeds, and its mouldering walls are overspread with the ivy. This once important and romantic spot, was formerly walled round, having lofty towers and strong battlements, but is now in a very decayed state. The insertion of Grose's minute description of this venerable ruin, may prove highly interesting to the reader, since his judgment of these things was so correct. The extract is taken from the fourth volume of his Antiquities of England:-" Peel Castle stands on a small rocky Island, about one hundred yards north of the town. The channel, which divides it from the main land, at high water is very deep, but when the tide is out, is scarcely mid-leg deep, being only separated by a little rivulet, which runs from Kk. German mountains. The entrance into this Island is on the south side, where a flight of stone steps, now nearly demolished, though strongly cramped with iron, comes over the rocks to the water's edge, and turning to the left, others lead through a gateway in the side of a square tower into the Castle. Adjoining to this town is a strong vaulted guard-room.

" The walls enclose an irregular polygon, whose area contains about two acres. They are flanked with towers, and are remarkably rough, being built with a coarse, grey stone, coigned and faced in many parts with a red gritt, found in the neighbourhood. It is highly probable this Island has been fortified in some manner, ever since the churches were built; but the present works are said, by Bishop Wilson, to have been constructed by Thomas, Earl of Derby, who first encompassed it with a wall, probably about the year 1500.

" Here are the remains of two churches, one dedicated to St. Patrick, the era of its erection unknown ; the other called St. Germain's, or the Cathedral, constructed about the year 1245. It is built, in the form of a cross, with a coarse grey stone, but the angles, window cases, and arches, are coigned, and formed with a stone, found here abouts, almost as reel as a brick. This mixture of colours has a pleasing effect, and gives a richness and variety to the building. The Cathedral is now extremely ruinous, much of it unroofed, and the remainder so much out of repair, that it would not be oversafe for a congregation to assemble in it. The eastern part of it is, however, still covered and shut up, in which there are seats, and a pulpit This was the Episcopal cemetery; and the inhabitants still bury within and about its walls.

"Beneath the easternmost part of it is the Ecclesiastical prison. The descent into this vault is by eighteen steps ; and the roof is vaulted by thirteen ribs, forming pointed arches, and supported by as many short semi hexagonal pilasters, only twenty one inches above ground. The bottom of this place is extremely rough ; and in the north west corner is a well, or spring, which must have added greatly to the natural dampness of the place, to which there is no other air or light, but what is admitted through a small window at the east end.

"About the middle of the area, a little to the northward of the churches of St. Patrick and St. Germain's, is a square pyramidical mount of earth terminating obtusely. Each of its sides, faces one of the cardinal points of the compass, and measures about seventy yards. Time and weather have rounded off its angles, but on a careful observation, it will be found to have been originally of the figure here described. For what use this mount was intended,may not be easy to determine. Perhaps from this eminence the commanding officer harangued his garrison, and distributed his orders; or else it may have been the burial place of some great personage in early times; Tumuli of this kind not being uncommon in the Island."

It is related that the Duchess of Gloucester, accused of associating with wizards and witches, to ascertain if her husband should ascend the throne, was banished by the malice of the Duke of Suffolk and the Carolina: of Winchester to the Isle of Man, and Sir John Stanley acted as jailer, confining her fourteen years in a dungeon in Peel castle, where she expired. It is reported that ever since her death, a person has been heard ascending the stone steps of one of the houses on the wall as soon as the clock has struck twelve: and it is conjectured that it is no other than the troubled spirit of this lady, who died as she had lived, dissatisfied and murmuring at her gate. A still more marvellous tale is recorded by Waldron of the apparition of the Moddey Dhoo, or Black Dog, which haunted Peel Castle, frequented the yard-room every night, greatly awed the wicked soldiers, and was the cause of the death of a drunken blustering soldier, who vaunted that he could meet it singly, to ascertain what it was, but after this attempt he never spoke more, died on the third day after, and the dog never returned.

Walter Scott alludes to this fabulous tale in his Lay of the Last Minstrel :-

" But none of all the astonished train
Were so dismay'd as Deloraine;
His blood did freeze, his brain did burn,
'Twas feared his mind would ne'er return ;
For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him of whom the story ran,
That spoke the spectre-hound in Man."


Is pleasantly situated in the village of Ballasalla, about two miles distant from Castletown, and was formerly the residence of the Abbots who possessed great influence in this Island. Sacheverel in his history of the Isle of Man, informs us that one M'Maris, who had been appointed Governor on, account of his many virtues, laid the foundation of the Abbey of Rushen, in the village of Ballasalla, in the year 1095, and that the first inhabitants of it were remarkable for their self denial, and painful mortification's.

Olave, King of Man, in the year 1134, gave to Ivan, Abbot of Furness, in Lancashire, the Monastery of Rushen, together with some additional lands, with which he either enlarged or rebuilt the Abbey; dedicated it to the Virgin Mary; instituted the Cistercian order of discipline, and made it dependent on the Abbey of Furness, which possessed afterwards the right, not only of electing the Abbot of Rushen, but as some say, the Bishop of Man. Rushen Abbey, was, by the same king, endowed with great privileges and immunities, and the Abbots received one third of the tithes for the education of youth, and for the support of the poor. The Monks, who were then the public almoners, by their own labours supported themselves, and rather increased than diminished the public charity.

Richard, Bishop of the Isles, in the year 1257, consecrated the Abbey Church of St. Mary, Rushen, which had been one hundred and thirty years in building, and soon afterwards the Monastery "-as plundered by one Richard le Mandeville, who, with a numerous train of Irish, landed on the Island, defeated the Manksmen under Barool hill, and after remaining one month, embarked for Ireland with his spoils.

Tanner says that this Monastery flourished some time after the suppression of religious houses in England, and this Abbey, though dependent upon that of Furness, had another dependent upon it, which happened thus :-Goddard, in 1171, haying married a daughter of the King of Ireland, without the accustomed ceremonies of the Church, Viranus, Apostolic Legate, came into Man, and caused it to be canonically performed, and Sylvanus, the Abbot of Rushen, married them, to whom the King as an expiation of his error, gave a piece of land at Mirescoge, which is conjectured was Ballamona, in Kk. Christ Lezayre, to build a monastery, which was afterwards granted to the Abbey of Rushen, and the monks removed thither

These designing Ecclesiastics were well skilled in the art of increasing the revenues of the Church, and enriching themselves by the errors and faults of mankind.

In the reign of King James, the Grey Friars, the Priory at Douglas, and the Abbey of Rushen, were leased to Sir Thomas Leigh, and Thomas Spencer; were afterwards granted to William, Earl of Derby, to hold of the manor of east Greenwich, paying the accustomed rents, and the site of the ruins was lately in the possession of James Moore, who built thereon a very handsome house, converting part of the offices of the ancient Monastery to out houses. The ruins of the ancient buildings, which appeared to have been constructed for defence, present nothing worthy of observation. In an adjoining close, the tomb of one of the Abbots, without date or inscription, is shewn; on it, indeed, are the pastoral staff, and the broad sword, signifying that he had temporal as well as spiritual authority; emblems of his usurpation, when living, and marks of his disgrace, when dead, for attempting to unite in one person, things which are distinct and irreconcilable. The Abbey Bridge, is esteemed by the inhabitants of great antiquity, but whether it actually belonged to the Abbey at Ballasalla or not, is uncertain. The passage is extremely narrow, being not more than eight feet in the clear; one of the arches is nearly semicircular, and the other is somewhat pointed, and both are irregular.

Many huge white and grey stones are to be met with throughout the country; they are mostly to be met in groups, sometimes singly, and very frequently two stand together. Ossian makes two grey stones mark the tombs of his heroes. In the farm of Ballamona, Kk. Braddan, are three, huge masses of micaceous quartz, designed as a monument for some of their great men. There are two very tall grey stones in Rushen parish, between Port Iron :and Port-le-Murray, called the Giants' Quoiting Stones; they are some hundred yards distant, and one of them is ten feet above the ground, and proportionally large, but for what particular purpose they were placed there, is unknown. In., the valley, north of Mount Murray, stand another couple, and several large stones are found in the farm of Ballachrink, near Kk. Santon, one of which stands ten feet high, and it has been conjectured that the wicker basket, which contained the human victim, was fixed to it, when the cruel immolation was practised.

Bishop Wilson, in his concise history of the Isle of Man, observes, that perhaps no country in which more Runic inscriptions are to be met with, particularly on funeral monuments : they are generally cut upon long flat rag stones, and are to be read from the bottom upwards. The inscriptions are generally upon one edge of the stones, and on both sides are crosses and little embellishments of men on horseback or in arms, stags, dogs, birds, and other. devices, probably the achievements of some notable person. In the village of Kk. Michael, and at the entrance to the church yard, a noble relic of antiquity stands in an elevated position: it is a lofty square pillar of blue stone, figured over with devices, curiously involved in each other, from the base to the summit, and is supposed to have been erected in honour of Thurulf, a Norwegian hero. The Runic inscription JUALFTR : ! UJND : THURULF ! : EJN '. RAUTHA : RI ! KRU ! : THONO : AFT FRITHU : DUTHUR: ! .JAO-+ has been translated by. Sir John Prestwich :-"Walter,, son of Thurulf, a knight right valiant, Lord of Frithu. The Father, Jesus Christ." But Mr. Beauford, from Ireland, renders it, "For the sins of Ivalfir, the son of Dural, this cross was erected by his mother, Aftride. Another stone of a similar description stands in the church yard of Braddan, which Mr. Beauford frankly acknowledged he was unable to decipher.

" Thus o'er some antique ruin, time defac'd, The sons of science oft delight to stray, To trace the inscription on the desert waste, And pierce time's dark veil by its lucid ray. But vain the labours of the inquiring sage, If thence the mind no moral truth sublimes, Nor learns from heroes, of a distant age,

To love their virtues, and to shun their crimes." The curiosities of the Island are not numerous, but the view of them may afford satisfaction to the visitor. Sacheverel, in his history of the Isle of Man, mentions, that there is a Pool in the mountainous parts of Kk. Christ Rushen, of so vitriolic a quality, that no ducks nor geese can live near it, owing, as it is supposed, to the quantity of copper in the mountain, and which impregnates the water.

The abandoned lead mines of Foxdale, which are situated on the northern extremity of south Baroole, and about midway from Castletown to Peel, present nothing peculiarly interesting, but there is in the neighbourhood, a stream rolling tumultuously from the hills, and falling over a steep rock of considerable height, forms a very romantic and beautiful cascade. It throws itself with much rapidity into the vale, and its picturesque beauty and wild melody receive an additional effect from the solitude of the surrounding scenery. It appears to most advantage after a heavy fall of rain.

The beautiful waterfall of Glen Moij, which is the most delightful romantic spot in the Island, lies about three miles from Peel, on the road to Dauby. The rivulet, which descends from the mountains, winds through the vale and at last enters a glen, whose banks are rugged, in some places nearly perpendicular, and covered with trees of various kinds ; and, after murmuring gently through the stones, forms a beautiful cascade. The scenery here is very romantic, surrounded by hills ; and the northern bank is a perpendicular rock, making its appearance here and there, through a covering of luxuriant ivy; the southern bank is very steep, having the trees beautifully overhanging it, and through the vale winding around the hill, the sea is perceived at a distance, into which the river gently glides.

In the curragh of Ballaugh, fir trees have been found twenty feet beneath the surface; their roots were firm in the ground, their trunks broken off, and their heads lying N. E. Bones of animals, unknown in this quarter of the globe, have been frequently dug up, and a few years ago, the entire skeleton of a large Elk was found in a marl pit, near Ballaugh, eighteen feet below the surface. It had a most majestic appearance, stood six feet high, and possessed all the marks of fleetness the horns, having fifteen branches, were lofty and extended, being 13 feet from the ground, and 8 from tip to tip. The enterprising individual who found it, expended a considerable sum to prepare it for exhibition, which he did in Ballaugh, Douglas, and Liverpool, but being claimed by the Duke of Atholl, as Lord of the Manor, he was obliged to surrender it, and now it is placed in the Museum of the college of Edinburgh.

'Marvellous tales are still related by the ants of the origin of St. Patrick's Well at Peel, and of the efficacious virtues of the water of Maughold's Well; great advantages were expected from sitting in the chair of the saint, and drinking a glass of water from the fountain. Multitudes still, according to ancient custom, resort thither on the first Sabbath in August, and the sacred day is shamefully profaned by their unhallowed merriment. Others flock to the mountains on that day, but the origin of this singular custom is unknown.

A ridge of hills, running from south-west to north-east, divides the Island. Snafield, being 580 yards above the level of the sea, is the loftiest, and from the top of it, which is considered the centre of his Majesty's European dominions, there is a most extensive prospect. There is a commanding view of the mountains of Scotland, from Ayrshire to Dumfries; of those in Cumberland and Westmorland, in England; of Snowden and Holyhead, in North Wales; and of the Morne mountains, in Ireland. When the atmosphere is clear, there is a distinct view of the neighbouring kingdoms, of every part of the Island, and the sea is seen rolling around.

The scenery of the Island is very varied, and some of the landscape views are uncommonly fine. Some places have a fertile luxuriant appearance, and others are sterile, vvild, and romantic. The Island is not sufficiently ornamented with trees, to give it a pleasing rich aspect, but the frequent changes of hill and dale, abundantly compensate for this want; and the extensive prospect of hill rising above hill, in all directions, must give to the reflecting mind an idea of infinity. Probably no spot in the creation can surpass it in all these respects.



Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001