[From 3rd Report 1911]
TO THE ISLE OF MAN NATURAL HISTORY AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY.
The following List comprises all the remains or sites of Keeills in this Parish so far as we have been able to ascertain
1. Site of Keeill Pharlane, on the Quarterland of Ballamenagh, Treen of Orrystal.
2. Burial Ground and possible Site of Keeill, Cooildarragh, Glen Wyllin, Quarterland of Ballalhie, Treen of Ballanimaide.
3. Remains of Cabbal Pherick in plantation above Spooyt Vane, on Ballacarnanemooar, Treen of Ballacrynane.
4. Foundations of Keeill, Cronk y Killey, on Ballacrynane-beg, Treen of Ballacrynane.
5. Site of Keeill on Ballakilley-clieau, Treen of Cammall.
6. Site of Keeill on Quarterland of Shalghaige y Quiggin, Treen of Shalghaige. The old Parish Churchyard, Cronk y Keeillee, is on an ancient site, and the many cross-slabs found there testify to its use as a burial-place, at all events in the eleventh century.
S. Bartholomew, O.S. IV, 13 (78). When the Ordnance Survey was made, about 1864, the Eastern end of the Cemetery which was about ioo ft. above sea-level, was still visible, and it is accordingly marked on the map. In the year 1855 Dr. Crellin had found, not far below the surface of the soil, a "cist" or lintel grave protruding from the cliff, in which were portions of a skeleton; this must have been from the Christian cemetery. In 1884, the Rev. E. B. Savage, then Vicar of Michael, found a Cinerary Urn a little to the S.W., about half-way down the side of the broogh, as described by him in the "Transactions of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (1879-84)." This is now in the Manx Museum, and serves to show that, like some other of our early Christian burial places, Keeill Pharlane had been set on the site of one of the Bronze Age. Not a vestige now remains of Keeill or of enclosure, but the fact that it once stood there is still remembered, and fortunately, its name has been preserved.-Fig. 1. The rate at which the clay cliffs at this point have been carried away may be estimated from the fact that a fence running to the edge of the broogh at a point a few yards to the North of the site, measured at the time of the Ordnance Survey (about 1870), from where it joined another fence at right angles to it, just 110ft.; when Mr. Lamplugh made the Geological Survey in 1894, it was 62 feet, and, by September, 1910 when measured by us it had been further reduced to 42 feet.
Fig. 1. Site of Keeill Pharlane, Michael, showing erosion of the Sea-Coast; present line measured and plotted to Scale by Mr. J. R. Quayle.
This is not marked on the O.S., but would be VII, 5, (934).Some years ago a drain was being cut near the summit of the steep slope on the South side of the stream at a height above sea-level of about 250 ft., when several graves were found a few inches below the surface. No foundations or trace of walls were met with, but they were typical lintel-graves of the Christian period, and it is almost certain that where there was a Christian cemetery there stood at one time a Christian church.
Spooyt Vane. O.S. VII, 5, (1266).
Fig. 2. View of Cabbal Pherick, Michael, from the West.
Photograph by Mr. W. H. SKILLICORN.
This Keeill stands in a small plantation on the broogh above the stream, about 130 yards N. W. of the charming little waterfall known as Spooyt Vane, and about 150 ft. above sea level.-Fig. 2 (View). It was found to measure about 23ft. by 13ft., the walls standing from 28in. high at the West end to 30in. on the North and South, and 40in. on the East-Fig. 3 (Plan).
Fig. 3. Cabbal Pherick, Michael.
The door-way is in the middle of the West wall, and proved to be 25 in wide inside, narrowing to 16 in. at a point two feet from the inner face of the wall, whence it expanded outwards to about 18 in. There appeared to have been a step of about 12 in. down from the outside, against which.; the usual bank of earth and rubble could be traced for a width of about 4 ft., but no sill-stone was found there ; across the inside there was another step of 9 in., the sill was .now represented by a small stone on edge, 1zin. by 11in. high, and 4in. thick-Fig. 4. One of the jamb-stones remained on edge on the North side, the rest was built of rather large flat stones. Several of the. pavement stones remained in position at the East end, mostly of small size, flat and irregular in outline. The Altar-see Plan, Fig. 3, was of unusual shape, measuring 7 ft. 6in., against the East wall I whence it narrowed to 5 ft. 3 in. in front, being aE in. wide, and now about -rz in. at its highest point ; the sides were marked by small stones set on edge, the purpose of which may have been to support the large upright slabs with which it was probably faced. The sill of the East window, as well as the jamb-stones had gone, but the bed prepared for it could be traced, at a height from the floor pavement of 40 in. The walls showed a slight but distinct batter which was more conspicuous on the North side, where it measured at the foundation aft. 6in., but at a height of aft. 6in. was reduced to a width of aft. Sin.-Fig. 5. Mr. J. R. Quayle, Secretary of the local Committee, at our request cut through this wall just opposite the face of the Altar, and gave us.the section here figured, showing that the wall consisted of an inner and an outer face of stone, filled in with soil and rubble. The stones, set without mortar, were undressed, but carefully fitted, those of the lowest course of some size. Just inside, to the North of the doorway, Mr. Kermode found a small flat stone lying on its face, on which was incised a very simple linear cross.-Fig. 6. It is of clay-slate and measures only 25in. long, by Sin. wide, and an inch thick, ;showing no surface dressing, but its very simplicity makes it difficult to suggest a date for it. The broken upper-stone of a granite quern was found loose in the Keeill, probably thrown in after it had long been in ruins ; very few white pebbles were met with. The enclosure, irregular in shape, was surrounded by a low embankment of earth strengthened with stones, about 4 to 6 ft. wide at base. Its greatest length, North and South, was about 32 yards, and greatest width, East and West, 25 yards, the Keeill standing in the Northern half.-Fig. _7. Trials were made at different places, and in one on the South side, two flat stones were met with, 2 ft. and 2 ft. 6 in. long, beneath which the soil had been disturbed, but no other trace of burial was found ; the whole enclosure was so thickly matted with roots of trees that digging was very difficult. Outside, at the South-west corner, the foundations were found of a small rectangular the hollow, passing close beside it. Mr. Keig, the owner, willingly granted permission for us to make; the examination, and presented the little cross-slab to the Manx Museum and Ancient Monuments Trustees, who intend to place it with the others from this parish in the handsome Cross-house and Lych-gate, which, with the assistance of parishioners and friends subscribing, they have erected at the Parish Church.
Fig. 6. Cross-slab from Cabbal Pherick, Michael.
It is told of this Keeill that the last Priest who officiated in it was guilty of mending his carranes on a Sunday, and in consequence, met with a sudden and dreadful end. The story as told by the late Mr. Cannell was as follows: "The priest of Cabbal Pherick, at the Spooyt Vane, was a cobbler to his trade. One day he was so busy mending a pair of shoes that he did not notice the people passing in the road and looking at him in surprise. His housekeeper came to him at last and said 'Are you not ashamed to be doing work on the Sabbath and all the people waiting at the Chapel for you.' What are thou talking of woman,' he said, 'Go and count the eggs and see how many are in the nest.' For the priest had a hen which laid an egg every day and they were collected only once a week, and that is how he knew what day it would be. So the woman went, and when she came back she said-Seven eggs there are.' Then the priest threw down his tools, and rushed away with such haste that he fell down the Spooyt Vane, and was drowned. And the people never used the Chapel any more." Another version lays stress on the fact that he waxed his shoe-laces, and when he was crossing the stream he tripped ever them and was carried down the fall !
Fig. 7. Plan of Enclosure, Cabbal Pherick; showing Cell at S.W. corner.
Fig. 8. Enlarged Plan of foundations of Cell at Cabbal Pherick, with Section of firehole.
O.S. VI, 12, 0402). To the West of the modern house on Ballacarnane-beg the ground rises steeply, with out-cropping rock to form the Cronk y Killey, abont 200 ft. above sea-level, so called from the fact that on its summit stood a little Keeill, the dedication of which is now lost. The proprietor, Mr. J. Q. Cannell, assisted us in the opening of it. When cleared of rubbish the foundations were seen to be in a sadly ruined state, and it was not without difficulty that the exact dimensions were ascertained, but the S. E. corner remained, and the others were estimated from the lines of the walls, which though broken and bulging inwards, were still traceable; these were uneven in length and in width, both sides of the building narrowing towards the East end, making the inside measurements from 12 ft, to _I2 ft. gin., by 9 ft. to io ft.-Plan, Fig. 9.
Some allowance, however, must certainly be made for settlement. The walls now stood from 30 in. high in the North to 48 in. in the South, from the inside foundations ; they were built of undressed shore boulders throughout, without mortar, but the lower courses had been for the most part of granite, faced inside with slabs set on edge, some of which remained in position round the S.E. corner, the sharp angle of which was rounded off by one. The doorway in the West end was nearer to the South side by a foot, and measured two feet inside, and from four to six inches wider at the outside. There were an outer and an inner sillstone, the tops of which were on a level, the space between them being flagged. An upright jamb-s, tone remained on the North side, and the inner sill, measuring 28 in. by iq. in. and i %, in. thick, formed a step which must have been from g to 1s in. to the paved floor; only two or three stones of the-pavemetit remained in position.Fig. io. A sill-stone of the East window was found at a height from the foundations of 3 ft. 6 in., and by its side was a large rough boulder, evidentlyone of the jamb-stones, but now out of position. The sill-stone was much nearer to the South side than to the North as was the case in the Keeill at Ballaquinney in Marown. The North-East and South-West corner stones of the Altar were in position, showing that it measured 29 in. by 21 in., its highest point at the North East being now 18 in. Some hundreds of white shore pebbles were met with, and there was a pile of them in the S. E. corner; a fragment of the upper-stone of a quern was found also. A couple of trenches cut across revealed no trace of graves inside the building; at a depth below the level of the window-sill of only four feet, we came to the shale, evidently on the top of the rock.
Fig. 9. Keeill on Ballacarnane-beg, Michael, with figure of stone pillar at the door, and probable position of a corresponding pillar at the other side.
Outside the door, on the North, had stood a large stone pillar, which some years ago had fallen and been removed to a hedge, but Mr. Cannell now had it replaced, as nearly as he could remember, in its original position. Probably there had been a similar pillar on the other side, as is known to have been the case at Keeill Pherick in Rushen. The one which remains, appears to be of a trap dyke slightly tinted with red, probably a shore boulder, and measures about 4 ft. high by 1g in. tapering to i i in. wide, and i i in. thick. About the middle of one face are two large diagonal scores, and, at the foot, three others, but there were no other traces, and they appeared to be meaningless. Mr. Cannell had no recollection of the enclosure, which had gone before his time, but evidently it had reached Eastward to the present dwelling house, as in digging its foundations a human skull was found buried there.
Fig. 10. Doorway of Keeill at Ballacarnane-beg, Michael, from the inside.
Photograph by Mr. J. R. QUAYLE.
A family tradition tells that, about 200 years ago, the owner demolished the Keeill, intending to convert it to other uses. He had seven sons who assisted in the work, and, in the course of a twelvemonth, he and his sons were all taken ; the property thus devolved upon his only daughter, who had had no part in the demolition, and was married to an ancestor of the present proprietor.
Mrs. Quiggin and others remembered a field on this farm, overlooking Glion Kiark on the North side and some 500 ft. above sea-level, known as the II Chapel Field." This is not marked on the O. S., but would be VII, 9, (16961, at the S.W. corner of the field some 5ooft. above sea-level Mr. Moore in his "Place-Names" renders this "Church Hill Farm": it should rather be " Hill Church-Farm," the estate being called Ballakilley from the fact that the Keeill was on it, and the word for "hill" added to distinguish it from the other holding. part of the same Ballakilley. The dedication is lost, and no traces of the building now remain.
On the Eastern slope of Cronk ny Fedjag, (pron. Vashag) an outlying portion of Sholghaige y Quiggin, there was a Keeill marked " Site of Burial Ground" on the O.S., VII, 13, (2148). This is al)out 300 yds. in a line North of the farm-house of Little London, on a natural elevation in the field, at a height above sea-level of about 55o ft. In 1910 the field had been ploughed, and, in crossing it, we noticed a single building-stone distinct from the field-stones on the surface, and such as might have been used in the walls of a Keeill. We were told that many others had been found on the site at different times.
The O.S., VII, 13, (2044), marks "Site of Chapel" on the Intack lands of Sholghaige y Quiggin, about 383 yds. N. N. W. of the last. When cleared, however, this showed a circle of white quartz boulders about 23 ft. 6 in. diam., the inside area packed with small stones mostly quartz. It had all the appearance of a pagan burial-place, and there was no sign of any building. As it was so close to the last, and on the same Quarterland, it is unlikely that there was a Keeill, and it seems probable that the titles of these two on the O.S. had by accident been transposed.
The O.S., VI, 8, (1063), marks " Burial Ground " on a plateau about 15o ft. above sea-level, at the Glen Mooar, rising abruptly above the Peel road on the East side. We cannot think that there was a Keeill here, but the, position, on a small peninsular plateau with traces of a raised mound across its narrow neck, suggest that there may have been a Fort or Earthwork.
The Parish Churchyard, O.S. VII, 1, (534, 535), as stated above, is on an ancient site, but there are no remains in it of an early building. It is remarkable for the number and interest of its Runic inscriptions, as well as for the fact that the, first of our Scandinavian sculptors had his residence in the neighbourhood, one of the' crosses containing the record "Gaut carved this and all in Man." From an inscription at Kirk Andreas we learn that Gaut was the "son of Bjorn of Kuli,"which probably is the farm still known as Cooilley, a little to the North of Michael village ; the farm adjoining it is known as Barnagh, which, it is possible, may have been that of Gaut's father Bjorn; in or near there may someday be discovered traces of his workshop. In March last, Mr. Sayle found, in his garden adjoining the churchyard on the North, O.S., VII, 1, (538), a fragment of another slab with remains of a runic inscription and decorated with mythological figures, bringing the total of the Michael pieces to twelve. (Fig. 32). It is rather curious that, with the exception of the small one found by us at Cabbal Pherick and of the Bishopscourt slab, which may be Anglian, none of the Michael monuments that have come to light, or are recorded, are older than the eleventh century.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
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