[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 2 pp 149/152]


(Read at the Annual Meeting, April, 1894.)

Good work has been clone by the Archeological Section of our Society during the past year; one-third of the Papers read before the Society having been Archeological, and, of the twenty donations to our Museum, twelve come under the same heading. About eighteen of our ordinary members appear to take a more or less active interest in the work of this Section-if any others care to take part in it I shall be very pleased to hear from them.

We were able to arrange some small expeditions, and, on more than one occasion, joined hands with the Geologists, with results gratifying, I think, to both Sections. Early in the summer, for instance, we had an enjoyable day at Santon, Mr. Lamplugh having told me of some curious depressions he had met with while engaged on the Geological Survey. With him for our guide we soon found the place-a detached, precipitous rock, a little north of Port Soderick, off Arragon Mooar. The rock, 60 or 70 feet above mean tide, is almost perpendicular on every side, and the summit can only be reached with difficulty by winding round on the eastern or seaward face. The top has a gently sloping, grassy surface, with eastern aspect, about twenty square yards in extent. The western edge of this is protected by an embankment, of which the outer face is perpendicular and flush with the rock.

Within the embankment is a circular depression about eight feet in diameter, the earthen walls being about two feet or more in height. On either side, and adjoining this, is another depression similar in all respects, but rather smaller; to the S.E. there may have been another, as there certainly was to the N .E.

This place is not marked on the Ordnance Survey, and appears to be unknown. It would certainly be worth having some excavations made.

Later in the summer, some of us were directed by Mr. Moore, of Bradda, to a Stone Circle on the Head overlooking Fleshwick, which also is not on the Ordnance Sheet. unless attention were particularly called to it, it might easily escape notice, consisting of small slate slabs on edge, the surface round being littered with similar stones. It bears a slight resemblance to the Circle on Cronk Dhoo, above Ramsey, which is a third place unmarked and unknown, I hope in time to get some excavating done at both these Circles, which, in the meantime, I am inclined to class as sepulchral. On Cronk Dhoo also are traces of small Tumuli.

But the chief work on which I have been engaged has been in conjunction with our honorary member, Dr. Herdman, who tore himself away from his interesting and important work at the Marine Laboratory, Port Erin, to help me to make a thorough examination of the unique Stone Circle on the Meayll. The results were so important that I embodied them in a separate communication at one of our Meetings,* and hope that before long we may have them published, with plans and good illustrations, in our Transactions. We set at rest the question of its purpose and the period of its erection, and have enriched our Museurn with a collection of Pottery (unfortunately in very fragmentary condition) representing 26 Cinerary vessels, and some Flint Arrow-heads, Knives, and other implements. We proved, also, by their contents, that the groups of circular mounds below the Circle, one of which groups is known as Lag-ny-Boirey, Slope, or Hollow, of Scolding, were the remains of habitations of the people who erected and used the Circle.

We had two men working there for about a fortnight, and, though I let it be known to as many as possible of our members that I was about to undertake the examination, I was very sorry that only one or two were able to witness it. Mr. Keig very kindly came down from Douglas on purpose to photograph the Circle and Cists while still open, and, as we made a most careful Plan, showing the position and giving the measurements of every stone as discovered by our excavations, we have now a very satisfactory record of it.

The same day Mr. Keig accompanied me to Bradda, and took a photograph of the interesting old Cross there, figured and described in the Report of the Archaeological Commissioners, 1878. They mistook the design, however, describing it, is a Stone Slab, having on its face "four shallow square cup-like excavations," etc., the fact being that these are the usual cup-like hollows (not square) between the limbs of a cross patee.

In May a Cross was disclosed by the fire at Bishop's Court, and, though sadly flaked and damaged by the heat, Mr. Royston was able to make some good casts for me, showing what remained of the patterns, one of which was interesting as being new to the Isle of Man. I published a description of it in "The Isle of Man Times," June. 3rd, 1893, which I need not here repeat.

At our meeting to-day the Rev. S. N. Harrison exhibits a fragment of a Cross recently found by him in Maughold, making a total for that parish of 23, exclusive of the beautiful 15th Century Cross at the gates. This piece measures 10 by 12 inches, and 1 inches thick. It is carved on one face, flat, but in bold relief, evidently the bottom of the shaft of a cross, showing, between two plain borders, Zoomorphic interlacing, the spaces between the interlacing and the borders being occupied by double spiral or volute figures, suggesting the favourite Key-pattern, but not continuous. The original height would probably have been over five feet : if there were an inscription it would be on the edge, higher up than what remains.

While on the subject of crosses, I may say that my collection of Casts is growing surely, if slowly. Unfortunately, our Society has no funds itself to undertake such a work, nor even is it in a position to afford a grant in aid. But among 140 members, it might be expected that some would be so far interested as to be willing to subscribe towards the expense, which comes heavy upon one individual. Yet, in answer to my appeal of a year ago, I have received from our members only 5 6s. 6d., which is not very encouraging.** Seeing the exposed situation of most of there fine old pieces of sculpture, and the neglect with which even yet they are treated, it must surely be admitted that to take a complete set of casts of them for our Insular Museum is praiseworthy, if, indeed, it is not absolutely necessary, in order to have a record of them when the sculpture on the originals will have crumbled away. I am very willing to continue the work, but cannot afford to bear the whole cost as well, and, with confidence, therefore, appeal to members of this Society to share in the expense and in the honour of it!

In my address as retiring president, 1886, I suggested that, with respect to Archaeology, "our first aim should be to furnish a complete catalogue of Manks Antiquities." In my report as your delegate to the British Association Meeting at Cardiff, 1892, I again strongly urged "the drawing up of a complete Catalogue of our Antiquities," and suggested the formation of a Photographic Section, "which should undertake a regular and methodical survey of the Island for Archaeological and Geological purposes." When, therefore, you did me the honour, last March, to elect me Secretary of this Section, I determined to do all I possibly could in this respect, and, if members will give me any support, I am hopeful of accomplishing it in time. As a beginning, I append a list of all our Antiquities, roughly classified. It will, of course, require revision, and I shall be very glad to receive any corrections or additions. I hope in time to be able to perfect it, and to expand it into a Catalogue on similar lines to that I have already published of our Sculptured and Inscribed Crosses. My next object will be to examine, all these remains, and to place full accounts of the results on record, with plans, photographs, and other illustration, : this detailed examination I have commenced with the remarkable circle on the Meayll.

It will thus be seen that there is plenty of work to be done in our Archaeological Section, and every member can share in it. But as I have shown, a lot of money is required for the casting of the Crosses, and still more will be needed for carrying out the proposed excavations, and for recording and publishing the results with suitable illustrations; those, therefore, who can help us in no other way, can give most material assistance by subscribing to the cost.

P. M. C. KERMODE, Secretary. Ramsey, March, 1894.

* Namely, at Ramsey, January, 1891; Dr. Herdman and I had also given an account of it on Ocrober 13th, 1893, to the Liverpool Biological Society, in whose transactions it was published.

** The total amount received to date is 16 7s. 6d. (about half of what I have already had to pay). Another 6 16s. 0d. has been promised.

[the initial list was superceded by the 1930 publication]


Back index next

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2004