[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 1 No 11 pp382/7]
BY REV. S. N. HARRISON.
In a former paper published in the Manx Note Book, [Vol. i, p. 65] I gave an account of some discoveries made in the churchyard at Maughold.
Since then I have found remains of other structures, a description of, which I here embody with other matter.
I will first refer to two of the earliest records we have relating to this place. At the end of the 12th and during the 13th century there was a close connection between the Island and Furness Abbey. Jocelyn, one of the Monks of Furness, in a life of St. Patrick written about 1185, speaks of this church and cemetery in connection with the name of St. Maccuil or Machaldus. Without giving any lengthy quotation, and accepting only, some of the statements he makes, with such a degree of probability as other evidence affords, it may be noticed that he says :-" There was a city called after him of no small extent, the remains of whose walls may yet be seen
That in the cemetery of its church was a sarcophagus of hollow stone, out of which a spring continually exudes, and that the King of Norway who subdued the Island endeavoured to take it away." The word " city " in early times frequently applied to a monastic settlement, or an assemblage of dwellings connected with some ecclesiastical buildings. Taking the word as used here in this sense, I would add, in confirmation of the above, that we have within the enclosure of the present churchyard, remains of two buildings which appear to have been Chapels of an early date, and from time to time portions of sod and stone structure have been removed from different places. The surface of the ground, at one time presented a much uneven appearance than at present, and tracings of walling have been noticed. There is a hollow stone or sarcophagus, which was dug up near the present Church ; and there was at one time abundance of water springing up and flowing through the Churchyard. There is also some evidence that the Northmen visited the place. Bishop Rvolwer, or Rolf, whose name shows him to have been a Norwegian, was buried here. He is said to have been the first Bishop before the days of Godred Cronan. In the Chron-Manniae we have another early reference to the Churchyard, in a story of the predatory excursion of Gilcolman to this sanctuary. He was chief under Somerled who landed near Ramsey with a number of vessels in 1158. In this story special mention is made of the pastoral staff of St. Machutus, and of priest and clerks. The staff was regarded as a precious relic, and provision was made for its preservation with other relics belonging to the particular saint. Sometimes grants of land were made for this purpose. In Maughold there are lands known as staff lands." [;See ' Folklore of the Isle of Man,' by A. W. Moore, p.108, and note.]
At the end of the 13th century this Church, together with that of St. Michael on the Barony, was appropriated to Furness by Bishop Mark. It was customary when a rectory had been appropriated, to set apart a certain sum for the maintenance of a vicar. In Bishop Mark's Synodical Ordinance, 1691[sic 1291], it was ordained that in churches so appropriated, vicari should be provided. In his letter confirming the appropriation, no mention is made of this reservation. In the certificate of reserves belonging to Furness by by the commissioners of Henry, 1537, the rectories of St. Mahold and and Mighele are, stated to have been let to farm, and a curate found for the yearly sum of £6 1 3s. 4d. Queen Elizabeth granted to Thos. Preston, then trustee, land, glebe, and oblations, on a lease for 31 years, and in King James' reign another grant was made to Frances Philips and Richard Moor per the same sum. In this reign Frances Philips in conjunction with either Richard Moor or Frances Morris obtained grant of several impropriate rectories throughout the kingdom. There was also at the time a John Philip, Bishop here, who died in 1633. During his episcopate in 1631, reasons were given for indemnifying the clergy from payment of £6 13s. 4d. for the farm payable to the Crown.
The ground of the Churchyard on the west and south stands on a higher level than the surrounding land, and has its outer boundary faced up with stone. Above this is a rough stone wall, except on the lower portion. But on the north and east sides, there was formerly an open trench or moat, which ran from near the north-west corner round to the south-east, where it ended in a deep pool. This trench varied in width, and was about five feet deep below the level of the natural surface of the land on either side. This was filled up in 1865. when a stone wall was erected in place of the old fence which had stood on the outer side of the trench.
From the appearance of the Churchyard previous to this, some have expressed the opinion that, the trench had been formed for defensive purposes and that the whole enclosure had been fortified with a strong earthen defence. But, on comparing this portion of the boundary with other places in the parish and elsewhere, I do not think much importance can be attached to this trench, though it may have been made at an early date, and, together with the stone-lined inner boundary on the west and south, may have afforded some protection to the sanctuary of Maughold. The whole ground at one time abounded in water. Newly dug graves were frequently very wet, and sometimes a large quantity of water collected in them. (This was partly due to springs, but also to the continual drainage, both on the surface and below, from the higher lands on the north and east.) This trench, would form a mere ditch between the Churchyard and the adjacent land, when in an uncultivated state, and catch the water flowing down from the hills, before the sod fence on the outer side of the trench had been erected. From time to time it would be cleared out and the soil thrown up on the top of the embankment on the Churchyard side, which had been lined with stones below, and was higher at the south end. Between this end of the embankment, and the south fence, which at that time formed a crooked triangular shaped corner, the water formed a large pool. So that the trench, first formed as a boundary of separation between the Churchyard and outside lands, would be kept open for the sake of the water found useful for farm purposes. Near this pool, at one time called the " Barley,-dub," but on a higher level, is a Well, now filled up, and close to it the foundation of the small Chapel described in the former paper. On a line with the south side of this building were traced scattered stones of former walling, running in a west direction for 15 yards. At the end of this, but on the south or lower side was a flagged space 15 feet by 20, with a heap of wood ash mixed with small bones of animals and birds, together with periwinkles and limpet shells, evidently a midden heap.
To the west of this was a stone-lined watercourse three feet wide, with side stones a foot high, running north-east, inside the line of walling some 16 feet, and extending south-east to near the boundary of the Churchyard.
On the west side of this, opposite to the flagged enclosure was a square recess 2 feet wide filled with dark ash which I believe to have been fern ash used for bleaching purposes, there was no trace of bone or solid pieces of charcoal.
Nearer the western side of the Churchyard there was also to be seen remains of a sod and stone fence, with some stones of the former building.
In the ground round the Church I have found some other indications besides those mentioned in the Manx Note Book, which tended to show that this is the site of an ancient Kiel. The position of it must have been like that of the Chapel of Ballure, on the sloping side of rising ground. This will account for the wall, which has been traced here, being so much below the present surface on the south side.
In 1834 two urns were found near where the gold coin was discovered, 30 feet south cast of the church. At the south west, about the same distance from the church, have been dug up old swords and daggers, one of these is to be seen in the Museum at Edinburgh. Pieces of others, I remember dug up at a later date. Near the north-east; end of the church was taken out of the ground, the hollow stone now lying in the Churchyard, measuring 4 feet by 3 feet 2 inches and 10 inches deep). To the south if this spot, I have seen portions of a narrow stone-lined drain running in a south-west direction, and a few feet from this a drain was made in 1822 to carry away the water when a vault was being made. When the present church of Lonan was built, sand for building was carted from near the old Parochial School. On digging into the side of the rising ground a quantity of bones, trace of ash, broken pieces of urns and a large number of quartz pebbles were seen. This is much like what has been found at Maughold, and on this site at Lonan some of the stones of the old kiel could be seen a short time ago near where the cottage now stands.
In 1708, in the register of baptisms is the following entry :-" Wm. Costen fil john Bollevelt, January 24th. This child was the first that was baptised after the font was removed into the north wall."
And in the burial register for the same year:-" The first corpse to enter on the new door in west end of Church was Margaret Cotten, alias Woods."
The question arises was this an entirely new door or was it the re-oepning of an old one. Putting these two entries together, in connection with other indications, I concluded that it was a blocked-up doorway re-opened. ,
By an ancient ecclesiastical constitution, a font of stone sufficiently capacious for total immersions, was required to be placed in every church in which it might happen to be wanting. They were always near a doorway, generally at the western end. When found elsewhere it may be concluded that they have been moved from their original position, or that an ancient door near the place had been shut up.
The porch has been described as Romanesque, and the vaulting as notched with a kind of rough nail-beaded ornament. But on examining the vaulting it will be seen that the outer portion of it is distinct from the rest, and appears to have been originally a part of the arch of the doorway corresponding to the sandstone shafts which have a square outline with rounded moulding, and some traces of ornament on their base.
In the sketch of the Church taken in Bishop Wilson's time there appears to have been no porch, but in another sketch taken at the beginning of the present century there is a porch, and at the north side of it the font is seen built up against it. So that it must have been added towards the end of last century, when in many of the churches seats had to be provided for intack holders. In some churches galleries. In 1765 the wardens, seat was done away with, and some seats assigned to the intacks, but as in 1774 the wardens were presented for not repairing the Church, and the vicar for performing the whole service in the chancel, the probability is that the gallery was at this time erected, the Church re-seated, and the font thought to be in the way, being large, put outside.
On putting up the gallery the arch of the door would be lowered (as was the case in Peel when one of the arches there had to be removed), the original stone work taken out, and the present stone lintel inserted, and it may be seen that the capitals, or, top of the door shafts had been taken away in order to shorten them. The door at that time was a heavy nailed one, with a large lock and key, made by E. Christian, Lewaigue, dated 1775.
Standing in the centre of this doorway, and looking up to the chancel end, the east window is seen to be out of line with the centre of the Church, and before the last restoration in 1862, the east end of the south wall curved in, so as to equalise the distance between the window and the side walls. This was thought to be symbolical. In Bloxham's Gothic Architecture, a quotation is given from Sir H. Channsey, Historical Antiquary of Hertfordshire, in which he says, "The chancel of some churches incline or deviate, and are not continued in a parallel or straight line with the nave. This deviation is supposed to have reference to an esoteric meaning, explained by some as symbolical of the inclining of the Saviour's head on the cross." There is also a quotation with reference to the orientation of churches, which I give as it bears on the question as to who was the Saint from whom the church derived its name :-
" One end of every church doth point to such place where the sun did rise at the time the foundation thereof was laid, which is the reason why all churches do not directly point to the east. For if the foundation was laid in June it pointed to the north-east, where the sun rises at that time of the year. If it was laid in spring or autumn it was directed full east, and in winter south east, and by the standing of the churches it is known at what time of the year the foundation was laid." St. Machutus' Day is November 15th, and the church stands due east.
When the east end of the south wall was taken down, and the plaster removed from the remainder, several pieces of chiseled stone, chiefly sandstone were found built up in the wall ; and a round headed trefoil arch of the 13th century, of the same limestone, and corresponding mouldings, as the capital of a cluster pillar, now to be seen in the churchyard. The place where this arch was found was near the junction of the chancel end with the body of the church where a small doorway, had been opened after the alterations in 1708 and had two steps down to the clay flooring inside.
Below this, nearer the west end, were two small Gothic-shaped openings like windows built up.
In the north wall, near the west end, was to be seen a built-up recess, about 4 feet high. This I believe to have been the place where the font stood, after its removal into the north wall. I saw no other trace of early work in this wall, but nearly opposite to where the small door stood, in the south wall was a splayed opening built up, half the thickness of the wall, and a small window in it, this space was 6 feet high and from its appearance and position, probably formed the entrance into the Church, before the opening of the door at the west gable.
On cleaning out the floor of the Church, which had been lowered at a previous date, there was seen a cross wall, near where the pulpit stands, of angular form, as if it had been the foundation of an Apsidal end. The Apse was generally semicircular, but sometimes it was triangular or polygonal in form. It was characteristic of the Norman period of architecture.
From what I have myself seen and learned front various sources, I believe the western half of the present church represents the old one; that it was built near the end of the a ith or beginning of the 12th century; and that there have been two extensions eastward, the first before the istil century, when the present cast window may have been made and afterwards removed, and the pillar cross at the Church gates erected.
The second extension must have been before the middle of the 17th century. When the chancel floor was lowered, in 1865, a large quantity of earth and bones was removed. Captain Edward Christian was buried in the Church at the south side of the chancel aisle, near where a step at that time led up to the rails, and a stone marked the place bearing the date 1660. At the time of the extension but little attention would be given to symbolical ideas or architectural construction, so that the unusual position of the east window and form of south wall must be attributed to some other cause than that referred to in the quotations given from Bloxham.
What was the connection between this Church and the other two buildings in the Churchyard I cannot suggest. Within the enclosure surrounding the one at the north end, was seen a skeleton in a grave, some four feet below the surface directly under the outside of the east gable. The skull was small and round, the bones very thick andsutures open. The rest of the bones were much broken and all of a dark tan colour. No trace of coffin. In this enclosure was dug up a small flat stone, with four holes on one side, like another I found within the enclosure, round Keil Vail on the Barony, where I saw one grave opened very different from the usual form. It was six feet long, lined with thin slabs of stone, double, one over the other Within the Keil were stone-lined short graves.
I add some particulars respecting the " Hollow Stone" in the Churchyard of Maughold, as it may save some from falling, into error. It was at one time used as a drinking trough, but it was not originally one. It was dug up near the Church, as I have before stated. It was then placed at the side of an old well, known as Chibbyr-Chrink, in Garey-a-Clearagh (Clerk's Garey). This well was lined -with stone, flagged on the bottom, with steps going down some 10 feet or 20 feet. It was supplied with water by a stone built trench, the opening of which could be seen in the west side of the well. This trench, I have been told, was connected with another large well, known art Chibbyr Moar, in one of the fields of the glebe. My father's servant saw it at the top of the vicarage garden when digging there many years ago.
It supplied the village with pure water, before the pump was set up, at the time when the mines began to be worked. The stone was afterwards brought down to this pump, and as long as water remained in the pumpwell, it was used for holding, water. It was again put back into the Churchyard. This was not the only stone turned to account. The capital of the cluster pillar, iioix, also in the Churchyard, is-as placed near ilic same well in the Garey for the purpose of beetling clothes. It was then removed to a stream of water which flowed along Ramsey highway, across the village, close to the old firm house of Ballakilly, where I have often seen the beetling process carried on. This stream of water was caused by a level driven up through the glebe, which cut the spring and deviated it from the direction of the wells near the village, and the mining operations deprived the village of its clear bright sweet water, much to the inconvenience of the people in the village and also the farmers' cattle.
Besides the chapels in the Churchyard, there are scattered, in different parts of the parish, remains or sites of eleven other kiels or chapels and the probable sites of five more. There are several places where have been groups of tumuli, as well as single ones. Of many of them I have notes, which I may submit on some future occasion.