[From Proc IoMNHAS vol 1 #3]
The regular monthly meeting of the Society was held in the Masonic Rooms, Ramsey, on Thursday, January 31, 1907, at 4 p.m.
There were present :Mr. P. M. C. Kermode, President, in the chair ; Mr. A. Rigby, Vice-President ; Rev. S. N. Harrison, Rev. J.Quine, Messrs. T. E. Acheson, J. Steavenson, Miss Morrison, Miss Joughin, and Dr. Fellet.
The minutes of the last meeting having been confirmed, the following were duly elected ordinary members of the Society :Mr. Jas. Bell, Ramsey ; Mr. W. P. Groves, Maughold.
The following presentations were laid on the table, and thanks voted to the respective donors : To the Library By subscription. Palæontographical SocietyVol. lx. From the Smithsonian Institution U.S. National Museum. National Herbarium-Vol. x., pt. i, and Vol. x., pt. 2. (C. V. Piper, 1906.) Vol. xi., Flora of the State of Washington. (By C. V. Piper, 1906.)
From the Society.Proceedings of the Liverpool Geological Society, 1905-6. (This includes a valuable memoir on the Pleistocene Sands of the isle of Man, by Messrs. Mellard Reade and J. Wright.)
From the Museum.Anales del Museo Nacional de Montevideo Vol. xi.Flora Uruguaya.
Mr. Rigby read a paper on " Castle Rushen," dealing more particularly with the question of its origin and the date of the square tower, and the addition of the four later towers, which he illustrated with a large scale plan of the Castle, and with plans of various other castles bearing some architectural resemblance to it. In the absence of documentary evidence fixing the dates of any parts of the buildings erected before 1644, the best sources of information, Mr. Rigby said, would be
1st. The General History of Military Architecture.
2nd. The Architectural Styles of the Buildings themselves.
3rd. The History of the Isle of Man.
4th. Comparisons with dated Castles.
Discussing No. I, Mr. Rigby pointed out that castles of the private ownership type began to take the place of tribal fortified enclosures during the early part of the 11th century in Western Europe ; in England, in the time of Edward the Confessor. In the Isle of Man the erection of such fortresses might well begin after the change in land tenure introduced by the conquest of Godred Crovan in 1079. The first castles in England were of the mound and ditch " type, with buildings and palisades of timber, twenty years after Godred Crovans innovation, it is recorded that Magnus Barefoot made the men of Galloway bring timber to Peel for the construction of forts. 1079 might, therefore, be looked upon as the earliest possible date for the commencement of Castle Rushen.
Considering, in the second place, the architectural style of the buildings, it was clear that there were structures of at least three dates. First, the plain square tower, which appeared to be the original castle, and which Mr. Rigby adjudged to the 13th century. Secondly, the additions to this tower and the outer walls and gate-house, seemingly of the middle of the fourteenth century. Thirdly, the counterscarp and its towers, probably of the sixteenth century. These latter towers suggested the early days of cannon, when these imperfect instruments, often more injurious to their users than to the enemy, were kept at a distance from the main buildings.
Coming now to the bearing of Insular history on Castle Rushen, Mr. Rigby questioned whether it was to be assumed from certain statements in the Chronicon Manniæ that Godred Crovan, after giving to his followers the southern part of Man, himself made that: part of the Isle his headquarters. Crovan made extensive military expeditions, chiefly in Ireland, where Mr. Moore thinks he probably principally resided, and, if this were so, Peel would be his natural headquarters in Man. The latter place, and, perhaps, sometimes Ramsey, were, Mr. Rigby thought, the seats of Norse government in Man, at least until the beginning of the 13th century, and he supported this opinion, which had been much disputed, by reference to events in Manx history during the rule of Donald, Magnus Barefoot, Olave I., and Godred II.
Reginald, Godreds son, first came into political connection with England, and thenceforward " Rannesway " appeared as a usual landing-place (first in 1228). The first mention of Castle Rushen was in 1265, when Magnus Olaveson died there. History then seemed to date the original tower between 1228 and 1265, nearer the latter than the former date.
For the 14th century enlargement the most likely builder was Sir William de Montecute, first Earl of Salisbury, a wealthy nobleman, who required a safe landing, and fortified government seat.
Comparing, in the last place, Castle Rushen with other fortresses of known date, Mr. Rigby said that the square tower, common to several centuries, supplied no evidence. The main idea in the enlargement was what was known as the concentric plans in which an inner court was surrounded by domestic apartments of several stories ; this, again, at a distance of some 12 yards, being surrounded by a lower outer wall, the keep thus losing its separate identity, and sometimes being absent altogether. London, with a keep, and Beaumaris, without one, were instanced as examples. This concentric type was introduced into England by Edward I. about the end of the 13th century, and allowing a reasonable time for the new plan to gain favour, the date above-mentioned was again suggested.
The plan of the inner ward was very unusual, and Mr. Rigby knew of three castles only with any similarityTrim, Warkworth, and Hermitage.
As to the position chosen for Castle Rushen, great physical changes had taken place in its surroundings since its erection. It was in a peninsular situation, bounded by the sea, the river, and boggy land, and originally approached only by the ridge along which the Malew road now passes. The only entrance being from the shore favoured the idea that the castle was not for the protection of the Island so much as for a defence against an enemy already in possession of it, or a safe landing-place for the lord.
Although the market place was higher ground than that on which Castle Rushen stood, and seemed to command it, yet with the long bow, the usual weapon of the 14th century, and having a range of 200 yards, that place was well covered from the walls. Across the neck of land, at the same level, where Arbory-street is now situate, there might have been a ditch in early days, and another probability was that a third, or town ward, existed, containing the church and houses of the officials, and surrounded by a ditch and palisade.
Mr. Quine added some interesting and instructive remarks agreeing with the author as to the date of the portions referred to, and suggesting that the oldest part might be contained in the foundations of the tower by the river, at the entrance of the surrounding ramparts.
The Chairman thought that the supposed grant of lands in the Isle of Man by Godred Crovan to his followers might be treated as fable. At all events if there ever was such an occurrence it must have been at a much earlier period.
Time did not allow of a lengthy discussion, but Mr. Rigby was thanked for his interesting paper, which it was hoped he would follow up by a larger work on the whole subject,