[From Train's History, 1845]



Review of the Manners and Customs of the Scandinavians, when Masters in Man — Singular Treatment of their Children — Military Education Dress, Weapons, and Accoutrements of the Danish Infiantry — Appointments of the Cavalry — Construction of their Gullies — Number of their Vessels occasionally employed in Hostile Expeditions — Sports and Military Exercises instituted by Walls, a. Neorwegian Vikinyr — lloingtobank Performance — Fire Dance — Ring Dance — Use of'the Bow — Hawking — Forest Laws.

NATIONAL manners and customs are not the production of momentary caprice and peremptory adoption. They flow spontaneously through the slow course of ages, forming from adventitious circumstances the character of a people. Things that are composed of such flimsy materials as the fancies of a multitude do not seem calculated for long duration; yet these have, in many instances, in the Isle of Man, preserved at least some form and colour of identity, during a repetition of changes, both in the religious opinions and civil polity of the islanders.

The Scandinavians, when rulers in Man, had many peculiar customs, which, in the course of time, became blended with those of the native inhabitants. Yet, by discriminate investigation, most of the singular observances of the Norsemen there, may still be traced to their proper origin.1 The treatment and education of their children, destined to follow the profession of arms, could only be practised by a barbarous people.2 When newly-born; they were exposed to the frost and then placed before a fire ; besides being immersed in both hot and cold water, " That their limbs might be more composed to endure heat and cold." They were likewise whipt at the altar by the priests till they could endure severe punishment without crying, " so they drank in the severity of life with their mothers' milk." Their meat was strong, and they lay on planks rather than on feathers.

" Parents teach all their children of both sexes, but chiefly their boys, how to hold, raise, depress, or turn obliquely their hand-bows to shoot their arrows with, and if a dart or arrow missing the mark is lost among the snow or grass, or fall down between shrubs or trees, that it cannot be found, to recover it they shoot one or more arrows after it at length or upright to find it, for that which was first shot is to be found not far from it. That children may hit the mark, they lay down for the boys a white girdle or new bow, and for the maids a linen garment ; and they grow so skilful that at a great distance they will hit a half penny or a needle infallibly, so far as they can see it."3

Norwegian youths were carefully instructed in the art of horsemanship, and were taugbt to wield the spear, dart, and throw the javelin.4 Of their pride of having long hair, and the care which they took of it, there are many instances recorded. "The sons of princes and kings were never polled from their childhood, that their locks might fall down upon their backs, they were divided, and bung down likewise on both sides before."young Danish warrior when going to be beheaded, begged of the executioner that his hair might not be touched by a slave, or stained with his blood.5

It appears from various passages in old Danish sagas, and from the Welsh chronicles, that the general colour of the ancient Danish dress was black. In the Danish ballad of " Childe Dysing," that person is represented as riding even to a bridal feast in " black sendell :"6 black bordered with red is still a common dress of the Northern peasantry. Caradoc, the Welsh bard, repeatedly calls them " the black Danes ;" and throughout the Welsh chronicles they are termed " the black army."

The Norwegian " Resolutes," who infested the British Isles, and took possession of the Isle of Man in the tenth century, wore more complete defensive armour than either the Scotch or Anglo-Saxons of that period, whose weapons consisted only of a small shield, a spear, and a sword.7 According to one of their own historians, the uniform of the Danish foot soldiers was a coat so short as scarcely to cover their haunches, and so " chequered and slashed above that it would not cover the shoulders."8 They wore also corslets of sea-calves' skins, tanned with lime, and elks' skins with the hair on. If the war was in winter these corslets were frozen by pouring cold water on them, " nor will the ice that sticks on the hair melt by the sweating of him that carries it." Some used helmets of thick green skins boiled in lime ; while moist, they were drawn upon wood after the form of the head, which drying by degrees in the open air, proves a good safe-guard for the head; but that they may not flag when the head gets hot, they fortify them with fish-lime and thin bark which resist all moisture.9' " They also wore long boots with great tops turned down, vainly enough for no purpose."10 The skin corslets were covered with a net-work of wire, as were the flawkerties or armour for the legs.

They had very long fir-tree spears that were dried in the sun, the points of which they sharpened with nails or by burning. With these, they first repulsed the force of light horsemen; and when they came to close quarters, they defended themselves with stones tied to their girdles, which they could throw at the enemy with such art, that they never missed their aim. " Some use cords that they can cast on high and draw them in again, as nets for wild beasts: for, when they fight with their enemies hand to fist, they cast these cords over their heads, and will draw a horse or man to them. Some, also, that have neither iron nor leaden bullets, nor chains, bind a stone as big as a man's fist to a cord that is a foot long, and which is fastened to a staff, and with these they involve the riders' arms or horses' legs, and draw them, to make them fall suddenly."11

At a later period, their armour consisted of slings, lances, swords, arrows, and cross-bows, which descended to their posterity by right of inheritance,12"as a more rich furniture than silver;" a law which continued in the Isle of Man till near the middle of the eighteenth century.13 Such were the habiliments, accoutrements, and weapons of a Norwegian foot soldier. The officers were more splendidly attired. The helmet of one of the lowest class, was of iron, others were of gilded brass, and some even of gold.

In the description of the battle of Slicklastadt, where king Olaf, of Norway, called the saint, was slain, A.D. 1030, that monarch is said to have worn a tunic of ringed mail--"hringa brynio"-a sharp sword, a white shield, and a helmet of gold.14 The ornamental belt, called the Silffschena,15 was only worn by such as could afford to purchase it; and the soldiers' arms were regulated by the law of Gula, said to have been established by Hacon the Good, who died in 963.16

The military dress and accoutrements of the Danes were sometimes very splendid. Earl Goodwin presented to Hardikannte a magnificent vessel, on board of which were eighty soldiers armed with coats of gilded mail, their shields embossed with gold, and their helmets richly gilt. Each of them had two golden bracelets, one on either arm, weighing sixteen ounces. The hilts of their swords were of the same precious metal, and every man had a Danish axe on his left shoulder, and a spear in his right hand.17

The Danish shields were either circular or lunated. By the laws of Gula, the possessor of six hundred marks was required to furnish himself with a " red shield of two boards thickness." Persons of distinction, however, ornamented theirs with gilding and various colours.18 In Saemond's poetical " Edda," mention is made of a red shield with a golden border. The shield was just the height of the bearer, in order to protect him from arrows, darts, or stones; and when they had occasion to encamp in an open field in bad weather, they sheltered themselves by placing several shields together, and by locking one into another, they formed a rampart which surrounded the whole army.

Nor was the shield of. the Danish soldier less useful in naval encounters. If the fear of falling into the enemy's hands induced him to leave his ship, he cast himself into the sea, and sailed away on his shield. When not made use of in war, great pains were taken to embellish them with emblematical figures expressive of the exploits of their owners. They were suspended on the walls of their houses, as the finest decorations with which they could be adorned; and at last they were even used as a bier to carry the dead to their graves,19 a custom continued in the Isle of Man till the commencement of the last century.20

A Scandinavian horseman, when fully equipped for battle, carried a long spear ornamented at the top with the tail of a fox or other animal, as a symbol of contempt for his enemies. He carried, likewise, a cross-bow, either of horn or of steel, with a broad two-handed sword; also, an iron mallet,21 crooked at the end, to penetrate his opponent's helmet, or to beat out his horse's brains. The covering of the horse was either an iron corselet, leather steeped in lime, or wire to keep off the cut of the sword. When thus equipped, they went to war as merrily as they did to a dance.22

From the situation of the Isle of Man, a knowledge of the art of navigation must have been coeval with its being first inhabited. The vessels of the ancient Caledonians were a species of open boat, of which the skeleton was light timbers, ribbed with a texture of smaller pieces of wood covered with hides. These were furnished with masts and sails, the latter being of extended hides, which were never furled, and their tackle was composed of leathern thongs. The thongs, however, were laid aside for a texture composed of small twisted rushes, and hence the remnant of an old cable is still called by sailors, " a piece of old junk," from juncus, a rush.

It is probable that these rude vessels fell gradually into disuetude soon after the Roman invasion, and that our ancestors then began to fashion them after those of the invaders;23 but they were in general use in the ninth century, and were, frequently, so small that two ox hides and a half were sufficient for the covering of one of them.24 The pirates of Greenland, likewise, used leather ships of very small dimensions. Olaus Magnus saw two of them hung up in the cathedral church of St. Halvard, in the year 1505.25

From the figures on ancient monuments in the Western Isles, the prow and stern of the Caledonian vessels seem to have been equally high. A single mast in the middle of the vessel sustained a square sail, and a flag was borne on a small mast at the prow. Crafts of a similar description are to be seen on the armorial bearings of some of the Scottish nobility, particularly on those of the Duke of Argyle, Marquis of Breadalbane, Earl of Selkirk and Earl of Orkney. Goddard Crovan, after conquering the Isle of Man, brought the Scots under such subjection, that they durst not build a ship with more than three nails in it ;26 but this restraint was soon disregarded.

The Hebridean gallies as well as those along the coast of Scotland, were generally of twenty-four oars each. Every baron having lands within six miles along the shore, was obliged, by law, to contribute for every merkland possessed by him, one man with an oar, towards the equipment of the said gallies, with a proportional part of the expense of maintaining them.27

Somerled, the mighty Thane of Argyle, set out with a fleet of fifty-three sail in the year 1158, to conquer the Isle of Man; but in his next expedition, in 1164, his fleet consisted of one hundred and sixty ships.28 About the year 1204, Reginald, king of Man, fitted out a fleet of one hundred ships to assist his brother-in-law, John de Courcey, to recover his estates in Ireland.

In the year 1224, Allan, Lord of Galloway, equipped a fleet of one hundred and fifty ships, for the purpose of deposing the king of Man.29 When the Manks submitted to Alexander III, king of Scotland, they engaged to assist him, when required, with ten vessels, manned with five hundred men, which were large vessels for those times. But what were these fleets in numerical strength to the three thousand six hundred ships which historians have placed under the command of Hacon, king of Man.30 ?

The small vessels of the Scandinavians were called scouts.31 They were not like those of the Caledonians and Irish-made of hoops covered with leather-but were formed of fir boards, either fastened together with roots of trees or with the nerves of the reindeer, and " being smeared all over with pine pitch, they yielded to the motion of the waves like a sack of leather, because they were not fastened with hard unconquered iron, but with soft twigs and nerves, which lasted long enough against the injury of the elements, because of the imbibed pitch." 32

Scout is still the common name of small vessels chiefly employed in the herring fishery in the Isle of Man, throughout the Western Isles, and along the coasts of Scotland.

Scouts were chiefly employed on the northern coasts. The galleys were fitted out for more distant expeditions, with such speed, that, " in the space of one month, they could make of wood not yet framed, sixty ships or more, to go to sea, provided with arms and provisions."

Such was the facility with which the northern barbarians obtained the means of prosecuting their piratical excursions. Magnus Barefoot left the shores of his kingdom with one hundred and sixty sail, to subdue the Western Isles; but Haco was surrounded by the " largest forest of floating pines that ever left the shores of Norway."33 The king's ship, however, was formed of oak it contained twenty-seven benches of oars, and was ornamented with the heads and necks of dragons beautifully overlaid with gold; yet this vessel was surpassed by one of an earlier date.

Harold Harfager had a ship which the chronicles mention with admiration, under the name of " The Dragon." King Olave Tryggeson 34 had one of the same kind, named "The Long Serpent." " It was very long, high, and of most desirable construction; as a wooden serpent was carved on its poop, and both that and the prow was gilded. It carried thirty-four benches of rowers, and was the largest ship ever seen in Norway."35 But the great ship "Michall," was larger than any of these.36

It is only from the sports and pastimes generally prevalent among a particular people that a just estimate can be formed of their character. The domestic customs and amusements of the ancient Manks appear to have been derived from the Welsh, the Scots, the Scandinavians, and the English, as they successively ruled the affairs of the Island; but when we see people engaged in any of the simple amusements that delighted, in a similar manner, the inhabitants of other countries, nearly a thousand years ago, it shows forcibly the difficulty of ascertaining with historical accuracy the exact limits of national manners and customs.

History informs us that Olaus, the piratical son of Tryggo, king of Norway, after having plundered the coast of Northumberland, arrived in Man about the year 990, and being prodigal of gold he instituted many sports and warlike exercises there, which were at that time prevalent among the more northern nations.37

The ancient field game, called the northern spell, as described by Stratt, slinging, casting the bar, and throwing the javelin, are pastimes supposed to be of northern origin;38 as were also the kayle pins.39 These have been all practised in Man till a recent period, and some of them are even in vogue at the present day.

Those military exercises of the quintain, tilting at the ring, and justs, which under the general name of tournament, were the favourite pastimes of the nobility of southern Europe in the middle ages, seem not to have formed any part of the habitudes of the Scandinavians. Hawking and hunting were the field sports of the Norse nobility; and all kind of mountebank performances were exhibited for their amusement.

The ancient author, whose authority I prefer in illustrating this part of my subject, mentions " a dance or play where, upon a wooden engine men were carried into the air by the motion of the wheels. They likewise sport with spears, about which they turn themselves nimbly; they walk on ropes by times, and will slide through a hoop like a fish, and walk on their hands with their heels upwards."40

In the "fire dance" of the Scandinavians may be recognised the prototype of similar customs observed by the American Indians. They sometimes " make a great fire before the king's palace, at midnight, and by beat of drum call the most valiant soldiers to dance round it, which they do so violently, and hold so fast, that the last man must needs fall into the fire ; then leaping forth again, as if he should break a strong chain, by the applause of the dancers, he is set on the highest seat'-that he may, for spoiling the king's fire, drink one or two great cups of the strongest ale. Thus they continue till midnight, falling almost by turns into the fire to procure the cup of ale." "By means of these and other exercises the fresh-water soldiers gain such strength of body that they will endure firmly in fire, dancing and hard rubs, so that when war comes indeed, they can better sustain the violences of it. But if any man, by malicious presumption, commit an offence at the king's gate, he seldom escapes being burnt alive in the bone-fire."41

The ring-dance is of a more rational description. The dancers commenced slowly by " singing modestly the deeds of famous men; and while the pipes played and drums beat, they moved round or stood at the command of a person called their king. That this might be done more solemnly, they bound little brass bells to tinkle at their knees, like morris-dancers. They also danced in their harness that rattled as in the wars, and these were governed by the minstrel who played slower or softer that they might leap so with their swords or bucklers. After dancing thus three times with their swords in their scabbards, they drew them forth and danced with the naked blades lifted up; then taking the points and pummels one of the other, they changed ranks and placed themselves in a hexagonal figure, which they called rosam. The dance was then finished by raising them up so as to form a square rosa above, drawing back their swords over each of their heads, and then by a most nimble whisking of them about collaterally, they quickly leaped back, and ended the sport with songs and the most vehement dancing."42

The Danes, as before mentioned, were taught with great care in early life the rudiments of archery, and at a more advanced period the use of the " strong steel bow and its accompanying wheels," for which they manifested no small degree of affection, as by means of it they could "with wonderful agility shoot the arrows with such force that they would pierce through a man in armour as through soft wax." Their arrows, however, were of the most varied description ; some were made of iron, like broad knives, others had broad heads of wood, and many were used with a " forked head." Many thousands of them were carried with the army, " because they were portable, and were seldom carried in vain." They had also a kind of " three-pointed arrow dipt in venome," Which, however, as they made " no great wound," were lightly used, but when it was understood the enemy was fierce and cruel and would give no quarter.43

The male population of Man was, in early times, also trained to the use of the bow. They met in companies to practise at the different parish churches, on holy-days, and periodically at other times. Many of the " bow-butts" are still to be seen nearly entire. That in front of Peel Castle, called by some " The Giant's grave,"44 is ninety feet in length and five feet in breadth. The sword and buckler with all the bows and arrows descended as " corbes" to the male heir of the yeoman. The sword, bow, arrows, doublet, and habergeon of the garrison soldier, became at his death the property of the Lord of the Isle, and were added to the armory of Peel, for the future defence of the Island."45

Hawking was another favourite amusement, particularly of the nobility, in olden times. In the most ancient luminated manuscripts now extant, the portraits of many of the kings of England are distinguished by their having hawks on their hands, as the symbol of its being a royal pastime.46 Hetzner, in his " Itinerary," written in 1598, assures us that hawking was the most favourite sport of the English nobility. Sebastian Brant, a native of Germany, in his work entitled " Stritifera Navis,"47 accuses his countrymen of taking their hawks and hounds into the church with them.

These birds were so highly appreciated as to be deemed presents worthy of royalty. The king of Scotland sent Edward III the present of a falcon, which he not only graciously received, but rewarded the falconer who brought it with a donation of forty shillings, a proof how highly the bird was valued. In the reign of king John, Geoffrey Fitz Pierre, the chief justiciary, gave two good Norway hawks to the king, that Walter de Madine might have leave to export a hundred weight of cheese out of the king's dominions.48

Hounds and hawks were often made the tenure, by which land was held of the crown. Bertram de Croil held the manor of Seaton, in Kent, from Edward I, on the condition of his providing a man to lead three greyhounds, when the king went into Gascony, as long as a pair of shoes, valued at four shillings, would last him.49 The Manks hawks, like those of Norway, whence they were first imported, were for strength and flight the most famous in the world.

Sir John Stanley received a grant of the Isle of Man from Henry IV, "to be held of the king, his heirs, and successors by the service of a cast of falcons, payable on the coronation day of each sovereign respectively."50

The Manks laws refer to only one place in the Island where the hawks breed : " If any person go to the bough F where the hawks do breed to take the young hawks or their eggs, he is to be presented to the Great Inquest and punished at the discretion of the Lord of the Isle."51 To rob the heron's nest was likewise a high crime, as thereby a penalty of three pounds was incurred. It was a favourite amusement of the Manks princes to pursue this timorous bird with the falcon, which was called "heron-hawking." Therefore great care wilts taken to preserve the species.52

As the ancient Normans and Manks Danes derived their origin from the same stock, they differed little in their manners and habitudes, and still less in their amusements. The propensity for hunting was, at least, common to both. The Norman kings of England had their Sixty-eight forests, thirteen chases, and seven hundred and eighty-one deer parks in different parts of England;53 and the Danish kings of Man, even in that little Island, had their forests, their deer parks, their foresters, and consequently their forest laws.54

As the Manks Danes, like their ancestors, held in contempt every pastime or occupation where the highest honours were not attainable by bodily strength or reckless daring, they knew no medium of recreation between violent exertion and a state of lethargic inaction, except carousing amidst boisterous mirth. So much were they addicted to intemperance, that no marriage, baptism, or funeral could be attended or religious festival solemnized without feasting and drinking to excess.55

On some of their solemn occasions, they drank out of the skulls of their enemies, to the memory of such of their relatives as had fallen bravely in battle, or to the manes of their heroes or kings. In Pagan times, at the festivals that usually followed the sacrifices, they quaffed what was called the " cup of Odin" to obtain a victory and a glorious reign, and the " cups of Niord and Frey" for a plentiful season. The Scandinavians were so much addicted to this custom, that the first Christian missionaries who visited them, being unable to abolish it, instead of false deities, substituted the true Messiah and the prophets, to whose honour they drank luxuriously for many ages.56


1 Crichton's Scandinavia, vol. i, cap. iv.

2 In Annandale and other places along the Scottish border, it was the general custom, prior to the union of the two kingdoms, to give every male infant the first aliment it received on the point of a sword, thereby indicating its future dependence on that weapon.

3 Taus Magnus's History of the Northern Nations, London, edition 1658, pp, 60, 106.

4 Ibid, p. 106.

5 Iomswikinga Saga, lib. i, cap. v.

6 Danish Kaempe-Vizer; Illustrations of Northern Antiquities, 4to edition.

7 Guthrie's History of Scotland, vol. i, p. 61.

8 Olaus Magnus, p. 108.

9 Olaus Magnus, p. 137.

10 Olaus Magnus, p. 108.

11 Olaus Magnus, p. 136.

12 Olaus Magnus, page 95; Mallet's Northern Antiquities, vol. i, cap. ix.

13 Lex Scripta, p. 319, statute of 1747 ; whereby a firelock is substituted for the ancient weapons of war, which were, by various statutes, required to descend to heirs law and assigns, as "corbes."

14 Heimskringla, book ii, p. 352.

15 Olaus Magnus, p. 108.

16 Thorstein's Vikings sons Saga, with Reenheislm's Notes, Leipsic, 1680, cap. x, page 78.

17 Florence of Morcester, p. 403 ; MS. Chron. ; Cotton Tiberius, books i and iv; History of British Costume, London, 1834, p. 47.

18 Archaeologia, vol. xxiv. "The Anglo Saxon shields in the illuminations, are generally white, with red or blue borders and circles painted upon them; but we find no crosses depicted on them before the eleventh century, which leads to a conjecture, that they were introduced in the North at least, by St. Olaf."-History of British Costume, p. 47. The ancient Scots used round targets, generally made of oak, and covered with strong leather ; but there is one of iron preserved in the Castle of Dunvegan, which, even in its decayed state, weighs nearly twenty pounds.-Grose's Antiquities of Scotland, vol, ii. p. 298.

19 Mallet's Northern Antiquities, London, 1770, vol. i, p. 241.

20 Waldron's Description of the Isle of Man, p. 170.

21 The spear, the bow, the two-handed sword, and the leaden mallet, were also the principal articles of defensive armour used in war by the ancient Scots. Lamb's Battle of Flodden; ap. Grose's Antiquities of Scotland, vol. ii, p. 298.

22 Olavs Magnus, pp, 98, 1o9.

23 Whitaker's History, vol. i, p. 380.

24 Arnot's History of Edinburgh, 1788, p. 47.

25 History of the Northern Nations, London, 1658, p. 20.

26 Chronicles of the Kings of Man, ap. Camden.

27 Acts of the Scottish Parliament, James I, part ix, chap. cxxvi.

28 Sacheverell's Account of the Isle of Man, London, 1702, p. 41.

29 Anecdotes of Olave the Black, King of Man, printed 1780.

30 See ante, vol. i, p. 66.

31"They had likewise a small light kind of bark, called a snekkar, containing besides the steersman and rowers, one man-at-arms with an archer. "-Crichton's Scandinavia, vol. icap. vi.

32 Olaus Magnus, , p. 59.

33 Poem of Snorro Sturlson, who accompanied King Haco on his expedition in 1263, translated from the Flateyan and Frisian MSS., by Johnstone.

34" Olaf Tryggeson was stronger and more nimble than any man in his dominions. He could climb up the rock of Smarlserhorn and fix his shield upon the top of it, and he could walk round about the outside of a boat upon the oars, while the men were rowing, without disturbing any of them."-Pontoppidan's History of Norway, page 248.

35 Mallet's Northern Antiquities, London, 1770, vol. i, p. 258 ; Suhm's History of Denmark, tom. iv, pp. 282, 291.

36 Appendix, Note i, " The great Ship, Michall."

37 Antiquities Celto Scandicae Harniae, 1786, page 69.

38 Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, London, 1833, .f f , 33, pp, 73, 74, 75, 109. Olaus Magnus says-" They throw the sledge and cast the bar, that being one of their chief amusements," p. 168.

39 Appendix, Note ii, " Singular discovery in the Moors of Galloway."

40 Olaus Magnus, p. 168.

41 Olaus Magnus, pp. 168, 169.

42 Olaus Magnus, pp. 167, 168.

43 Olaus Magnus, p. 95.

44 "The grave of an enormous giant is shown beneath the outer walls of the castle. It was lately opened by two young sportsmen from Manchester, who discovered no bones or other vestiges."-Lord Teignmouth's Sketches, cap. xx.

45 MS. Statute Book, pp. 9, 16, 23.

46 Strutt's Sports and Pastimes of the People of England, London, 1833, p. 24.

47 Translated into English by Alexander Barclay, London, 1508.

48 Madox's History of'the Exchequer; Hume's History of England, cap. xi.

49 Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, p. 16, Appendix; Olaus Magnus, p. 193.

50 Seacome's History of the House of Stanley, Liverpool, 1741, 4to., p. 204 ; Tytler's History of Scotland, vol. ii, p. 406.

51 In the Isle of Man, "Eagles and kites are in great plenty. The eagles sometimes seize on young children and carry them to a considerable distance, and are otherwise so troublesome, that any one who kills an eagle, may, by ancient custom, claim a hen out of every house in the parish where it was killed. Hawks and falcons have their nests in several parts of the Island. The Lord's falconer goes over every year and takes away the young."-Camden's Britannia, edit. 1695, p. 1063,

52 Lex Scripta, Douglas, 1819, pp. 13, 66, 68 ; Statutes, 1422, 1577, VOL. 11. \'

53 Hume's History of England, Appendix to chap. xi.

54 Appendix, Note iii, " Forest Laws."

55 Pellutier, ap. Mallet's Northern Antiquities, vol i, chap. xii,

56 Mallet's Northern Antiquities, vol. i, chap. xiii.




Lindsay, of Pitscottie, thus describes this singular vessel, built by one of the kings of Scotland :- ' The King builtit a great schipe, called the Michall,' quhilk was ane verry monstrous great schipe; for this schipe tuik as muckle timber that schoe wasted all the woode in Fife except Falkland woode, forbye the timber that came out of Norway. For many of the schipewrights in Scotland wrought at her and schipewrights from other countries had their desyre at her, and all wrought busilie for the space of ane year at her. This schipe was twelff fortis length, thirty-sax feet within the wallis ; schoe was four feet thick within the wallis of tutted rails of oak, so that no cannon could doe at her. She cumbered all Scotland to get her to the sea, and when schoe was committed to the sea and under sail, schoe was counted to the King to cost fourteen thousand pounds of expences by his ordoinies and cannons which she bare. Schoe had three hundred mariners to govern her, sax score gunners to use her artillerie, and one thousand men of warre, by captaines, and skipperies, and quarter-maisteries. Quhen this schipe passed to the sea and was lying in the road, the King caused to be shot at her ane cannon to essay if schoe was right bolt of cannon : and if any man misbelieve what we have said of this schipe, let him go to Tully Cardyone and he will find her length and breadth sett down."Chronicles of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1814, vol. i, pp. 256-258.



" In the summer of 1835, as some labourers were casting peats at Iron Maccannie, when cutting near the bottom of the moss, laid open, with their spades, instruments of an ancient game, consisting of an oaken ball, eighteen inches in circumference, and seven wooden pins, each 13 inches in length, of a conical shape with a circular top. These ancient ' kayle pins,' as they are termed by Strutt in his Sports and Pastimes of the People, London, edition 1833, p. 271, were all standing erect on the hard till, equidistant from each other, with the exception of two which pointed towards the ball that lay about a yard in front, from which it may be inferred that they were overthrown in the course of the game. The ball has been formed of solid oak, and from its decayed state, must have remained undisturbed for centuries, till discovered at a depth of not less than twelve feet from the original surface. In the excavations making at Pompeii, utensils are often found seemingly in the very position in which they were last used. This may be accounted for by the awful calamity that befel that devoted city ; but what induced or compelled the ancient gamesters in the wilds of Galloway to leave the instruments of their amusement, in what might be considered the middle of their sport, is more difficult to solve. These relics can now only be prized for their curiosity, the singular position in which they were found, and the relation they bear to ancient times. Little did the individuals by whom they were used conceive that the instruments which then formed a source ofamusement to them, would prove subjects of curiosity at the present day."Dumfries Courier of July 7, 1835.



" The King's forest extended from Castle Rushen to Kentraugh burn, in Kirk Christ Rushen, and following up that burn to the Fell ditch on the N.E. of Kirk Sauton burn; and along that burn to the sea side, and from thence to the Castle of Rushen."-Lex Scripta, p. 84. In the year 1584, in pursuance of an ancient privilege, the King's officers were again allowed to hunt in the forest of Rushen, at that time stocked with red deer.

On the north side of the Island there was a royal park extending from the burnfoot of Ballaugh round the shore to the Point of Ayre, and up again to Ramsey burnfoot. In 1666, these lands were farmed out to certain warreners at a yearly rack-rent.-Statutes, 1584, 1586, 1587, 1597, 1666. The forest was enclosed with a gray-hedge, to keep up which, it was enacted " That all gorse whirs and ling that cloth join to the out hedge as far as a man from the same can throw or cast his heath or grose hook shall be reserved for the maintenance of the said hedge." Also, " If a person shall set fire to any ling, gorse, or turf within the forest, either by day or by night, or dig or pull turf there;' and not fill up the pit again with swarth, having the green side up, such as offend in that may be lawfully fined by the Great Inquest. "-Liber Placitorum, anno 1606, 1607, ap. Parr s MS. Statutes of the Isle of Man; see ' Forrester's Duty.' To keep a gate at the entrance of the said forest, it was enacted that " each person passing through the same with gorse, ling, or heath pay for keeping up the same."-MS. Statute Book of the Island, folios 20, 39, 40, 64 ; Statutes, anno 1577, 1618, 1638. While in Scotland, it was enacted, " That none hunt or hawlk within six miles of the kings woods, parks, castles, or palaces under the pain of are hundred pounds."-Act, James 6th, par. xiv, cap. ccxiv. The Manks forest laws were less severe, " If any person goeth to the king's forest by day or by night with bow and arrows, or with hounds or greyhounds to kill the king's game, whether hart or Minde, you shall present him to the Great Inquest by virtue of your oath."-Statutes, 1422, 1517 ; Lex Scripta, pp. 13, 68 ; Statute Book, folios 7, 44. It was anciently the custom to impannel a certain number of persons throughout the several parishes of this Isle, to report such persons as committed any trespass within the Forest, to the Great Inquest. " Such persons, upon a true presentment at the Great Inquest, to be fined in vii for every such offence, as well for a young as for an old deer, and if it be a tame deer he is to pay Ex, besides imprisonment at the descretion of the officers." -Liber Placitorum, anno 1581 ; Liber Scaccarii, anno 1638, ap. Parr's MS. Statutes; ' Forrester's Duty.' The king's forester was a privileged person. While he had on his hunting boots he was not liable to be cited to any court of judicature. His bugle was the horn of an ox, and his authority extended as far as the sound of his horn could be heard. On the eve of St. Columb, he or his deputy was required to ascend the summit of the highest hill in the Island, and after sounding his horn thrice, to repeat the forest laws with a loud voice that the people might hear and know the same ; and on the third day after, he was required to go forth to the forest, taking such company with him as he might think fit to witness his proceedings, where, " if he find any sheep unshorn, if the same be not a milk sheep, he ought to take the same with his dog, and to take the fleece to his own use, and put his privy mark on the sheep, to the intent that if any such sheep be found the next year by the said forester, he is to certify the same to the comptroller and receiver, that they may be sold for the lord's profit as a stray : the same to be done with any lamb, sheep, goat, or kidd found within the precincts of the forest."Statute, 1504 ; Lex Scripta, pp. 35, 36 ; Liber Scaccarii, ap. Parr's MS. Statutes; ' Forrester's Duty.' " And if any person be found to conceal any such strays, and assume them as goods of their own, and not be able to justify the same, but intentionally keep them to deprive the Lord thereof, such persons are to be proceeded against as felons, or fined severely. "-Liber Scaccarii, anno 1591, 1619; Liber Placitorum, anno 1577, ap. Parr's MS. Statutes.

By a subsequent act, passed on 7th November, 1747, it was enacted, " That thereafter, it should not be lawful for the forester to go forth to clip such sheep on the commons as his perquisite till the twenty-first day of June in every year."-Lex Scripta, p. 3, 21.

The forester's fees appear to have been very limited : " Whereas the forester of this Isle is, by the laws, to have an ob.1 of every manner of person that goeth to the lord's forest for turff and ling, and to have a penny halfpenny of all that put swine, horses, or cattle into the forests, and any person paying the said fee may have a waste rent imposed upon them by the Setting Quest."-Lex Scripta, pp. 63, 64, 92 ; Mills's Ancient Ordinances, p. 57. " And the keeper of the forest gate to receive an ob. at the end of every seven years from every person allowed in any way the liberty of the forest."

1 The Ob. is frequently mentioned in the old Marks statutes ; it evidently bears reference to the ancient coin called the Obulus, regarding which we have the following notice in Plutarch's Life of Lysander :- "A decree was passed that no coin whatever of gold or silver should be admitted into Sparta ; but that they should use the money long in circulation. This money was of iron dipped in vinegar while it was red hot to make it brittle and unmalleable, so that it might not be applied to any other use. Perhaps all the ancient money was of this kind, and consisted either of pieces of iron or brass, which, from their form, were called Obelisci, whence we have still a quantity of small money, called Oboli, six of which make a drachma or handful, that being as much as the hand can contain."-Plutarch's Lives, London, edition 1825, p, 313. It is well known that coins of every country and denomination have been, from an early period, current in the Isle of Man, it, therefore, appears evident that allusion is here made to this ancient species of coinage. The forest fee being so small shews that the regulation was merely to uphold the Lord's right. [In Manx records = ½d]


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