[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #2 1923]
By P. M. C. KERMODE.
Rich as the Isle of Man is in Early Christian sepulchral monuments of great and varied interest, the Parish of Maughold is remarkable for the number brought to light in that single district-nearly a third of all those found throughout the Island. In the course of our Archćological Survey we came to examine the remains of a little chapel at the northern end of the churchyard, and, in exposing to their foundations the outside of its south wall, we came, at the west corner, upon a lintel grave. It had been previously disturbed, and a few white shore-pebbles alone remained as some indication of its period; at its foot a stone had been set upright--evidently not in its original position.
When cleaned this proved to be a broken cross-slab, which now measured 32 inches long by 11 to 12 inches wide, and from 2½ to 3 inches thick. The head was broken, but one face still shows one of the arms, and it seems likely that only for a few inches is the carving at this point gone. The lower end of the shaft of the cross on each face is broken off, and there is nothing to indicate certainly what its length would have been; but the form of cross is of the Andreas type, and, if the proportions were similar to that on the Sandulf slab, with the shaft a little more than two and a half times the total length of the arms, then not more than a few inches of carving have been lost, and allowing for 15 or 18 inches uncarved at the end the original height of the slab may have been from 4 feet 6 inches to 5 feet.
It is of the local clay-slate; the sides have been carefully dressed and both faces are carved, An appearance of relief is given to the cross in each case at the smallest possible expenditure of trouble by gradually and very slightly sinking the surface at either side of the shaft from a point about an inch away, the amount of relief thus gained being only from one-sixteenth to one-eighth- of an inch. The hollow recesses between the limbs are carefully formed by a flat chisel into smooth circular cups about one-eighth of an inch deep; otherwise all the carving is incised.
The cross on each face is of the same form, and without a surrounding or connecting ring. It has a cable border with double strands; the only remaining limb shows that the head was not decorated; the shaft in each case shows a novel but inartistic design derived from the ' step pattern,' which is merely linear, the middle of each 'step' linked with the next by two diagonal lines. The execution is feeble. One face, from which the head is entirely gone save for the incurve of one hollow recess which serves to show its character and position, has on the upper part of the space to the right of the shaft a good representation of a ship, which is interesting for several reasons.
Members will be aware that the ancient Arms of the Kings of Man and the Isles was a ship. In Camden's time there was a perfect seal, which has now long disappeared, of Godred Crovan in the office of the Duchy of Lancaster; this was described by him as bearing a ' Ship in ruff sables,' the reverse showing the effigy of a man on horseback. A seal of King Olaf to a Charter in 1134 bore a ship with sails furled; and in the British Museum are two of King Harold, 1245 and 1246, showing the same design. These are figured in " Oswald's Vestigia,' Manx Society, vol. v. One shows neither sail nor yard, the other has the sail furled, and remains of the Standard. But the form of the vessel is not that of the Viking ship, which was high in prow and stern, and low amidships, in order that the oars might reach the water. Attached to a Paisley Charter (circ. 1175 ?) is a seal of Reginald, second son of Somerled, which bears a ship filled with men-at-arms; the reverse has a man on horseback like that of Godred Crovan, of whom his mother was a grand-daughter. Woodward's ' Heraldry' states that ' on a seal of Angus of the Isles of the year 1292, appended to a Homage Deed in the Chapter House at Westminster, the lymphad or galley with furled sail appears, but not included in a shield. He gives as reference, Laing, Scottish Seals, 1, No. 450.
In the Isle of Man, by the time that Heraldry had become a science, the ship had given place to the Three Legs, which at an earlier date would appear to have been in use along wtih it. Thenceforward it passed to the descendants of Somerled, now become Lords of the Isles. We find it on sepulchral monuments in Kintyre and the Western Isles, the series beginning about a century after that in the Isle of Man had come to an end. These all show a vessel of the same form, single-masted with large square sail, and having high prow and stern; the sail when shown is generally furled, but in Islay, where there are eight examples, two have the sails spread. Sometimes standards are shown, and we know from the Sagas that those were set up in the prow. Sometimes sailors are figured; in one case there is a man in the rigging; they all appear to have a fixed rudder at the stern. In 1903, Mr. W. G. Collingwood made a most interesting discovery at Iona. In S. Oran's Chapel he turned over a slab of which one face only had been previously figured, and found on the other face the worn remains of ' a large ship in which six little figures are apparently acting as crew, one seeming to manage the sail,' Other figures are apparently in illustration of the Sigurd legend. The " hacked' mark of this piece, he says, is 'extremely unlike the native sculpture of Iona, though strikingly similar to the Manx carvings. The ship, as in later monuments of chiefs here buried, suggests- the Sea-King; and the Sigurd story, if it be rightly interpreted, would be the pre-heraldic hieroglyph for one of the Manx line, descended from the hero. Godred, King of Man, was buried at Iona in the twelfth century, at which time this carving is possibly to be dated.[*Saga Book of the Viking Club, vol. iii, part iii, January, 1904, page 305.]
This was Godred, Olaf's son, who died at S, Patrick's Isle in 1187. Unlike the other examples referred to, this ship shows no rudder, but it is of the same type, with high prow and stern. The carving on both faces is in keeping with the period and it may well be, as suggested by Mr. Collingwood, that this stone was erected to our King Godred. As regards the Sigurd illustrations, you may remember the slab from Ramsey, 'Manx Crosses,' No. 96, illustrating the same subject, which I suggested might. have been set up as a memorial to Godred's father, Olaf Klening, who was slain in 1153.
Our present example shows the ship cut in outline, having high stern and prow, slightly different in appearance from those in the Isles, and showing distinctly the ' lypting,' our raised poop, on which the commander stood and steered, and the bulwarks low amidships. The sail is furled, and instead of the fixed rudder we find the steering oar near the stern on the right side, i.e., ' stjornbordi'-our starboard. This alone serves to show its early date as compared with the other examples mentioned.
The main inscription is on this face, not, as usually happens, running up the edge of the stone, but up the space to the left of the shaft. The Runes-from an inch to 1rin. long-are well formed, clearly cut, and evenly spaced; the words divided by the customary two dots. It reads-' Hedin : seti : krus thino : eftir : dutur : sino,' i.e., ' Hedin set (up) this cross to the memory of his daughter.' I feared that we had lost the name of the daughter, but, upon making my full-sized drawing, I. find that the arm of the cross must have come here, leaving no room for another word. But there is a word below, that is to say, on the space at the other side of the shaft and just below the right arm of the cross. Here three runes are cut precisely similar to the rest, immediately above the sail of the Viking ship. These read ' Lif.' The stone is flaked along the stem-line of the third rune, but I can clearly see the beginning of the upper character-stroke of the F. In the Isle of Man we had lost the use of the letter H, at all events before the letters L, N, and R, as shown by the names Rumun and Rosketil in two of our inscriptions, though in the article ' Hin,' we frequently have it in the late form of the stung-rune, which in other inscriptions stand for E, So, in this case, 'Lif ' undoubtedly stands for ' Hlif,' a well-known woman's name, signifying literally ' guard or protection ' as a shield. There would be room for three or four more runes, and it is just possible that the name may have been a compound one, such as Hlifhild. My reason for suggesting this is that between the stern of the ship and the sail are six finely-cut runes, from half to three-quarters of an inch long, of the same form as these.
I do not think they are contemporary, but in any case they a might possibly be a repetition of this name as it was before it was broken. There is a similar peculiarity in the character stroke of the L, which is unusual. Below the ship are many still finer cuts, some of them in the form of runes, but meaningless, and there is a scratched human figure very puerile in drawing, but they have certainly been added in comparatively recent times when the stone was still exposed. It must have been buried and forgotten for over sixty, and probably for a hundred years.
The other face shows the shaft of the cross almost perfect, the left arm-from which only the border at the end is chipped away-and the lower part of the right arm; from these one can estimate the proportions of the upper limb. The space to the left of the shaft is plain, that to the right gives us the name of the rune-carver: 'Arm : risti : runar : thisar x ,' i.e., 'Arni writ these runes,' The inscription is shown to be completed by the little cross-mark at the end of it.
These inscriptions have several points of interest. The runic characters show certain peculiarities, both in form and value, and, for the first time in Man, we see the H, ' hagel,' in its ordinary Scandinavian form of a stem-line crossed at the centre by two small diagonal lines. The few instances in which this letter occurs in our other inscriptions show a later form which in other cases stands for E, as it does here, namely, a stem-line. with central dot, and if the H had been required in them it would no doubt have been of the form shown in this one. They are numbered in my 'Manx Crosses,' 85, 104, 112 and 113. The fourth rune in the Scandinavian Futhork, Oss, is formed in all our Manx inscriptions by a stem-line with two diagonal strokes down-falling on the right side; here, for the first time, we find it with the characterstrokes on the left. This latter is the form used in the inscriptions at Masshowe, but our ordinary form appears to be the older. The runes for A, N, and T, have their character-strokes on either side of the stem-line, a peculiarity which only occurs elsewhere in the Isle of Man on the Mal Lumkun cross, Michael, 'Manx Crosses,' No. 104. At the same time the rune for S is here in our usual form of a half stroke ending in a dot, while the Mal Lumkun inscription has the more ordinary Scandinavian form of an upper and a lower half-stroke connected by a diagonal, only it is reversed.
As regards values, the stung-rune, as stated above, stands in this inscription for E, as it does in four other instances. The Oss, or fourth rune, which for convenience I have throughout my book transliterated ' O,' here stands for the nasalized 'A' (pronounced as in our word 'on'), as in the greater number of our inscriptions.
The main inscription gives us a new word constituting also a new formula, namely, ' SETI,' where elsewhere we invariably find 'RASTI' in one or other of its forms-A.B. raised, or erected, this cross, etc. Here we have ' set up ' this cross. The word occurs in the old heathen formula---to set up a stone, ' sati stain '-and was introduced into Britain by the Angles. Mn 1911, Mr. Collingwood described a rune-inscribed Anglian cross-shaft from Urswick Church,[* Trans. of the Cumberland and Westmorland Ant. and Arch. Soc., vol. XI. New Series.] which reads: ' Tunwini set up in memory of Torhtred a monument to his lord,' and he tells me of two shafts from Thornhill, near Dewsbury, which he supposes to be of late ninth century, in which we find ' sete and ' sett.' But, though these monuments were crosses, we do not find the actual word for 'cross,' and in the Urswick inscription the objective appears to be ' Becun,' monument. The word was used in the district so late as the middle of the twelfth century, and occurs on the tympanum at Pennington, Furness-seti thesa kirk.' (Cumb. and West. Trans. N.S. III, 373.)
We have no separate rune for D, and the word for ' daughter ' is spelled ' Tutur,' as on the slab at Peel, ' Manx Crosses,' No. 113, not as on the Mal Lumkun cross which has ' Totir.' Otherwise, apart from the names, the wording of these inscriptions calls for no remark. But each of the three names is new to us. They all appear in Saga literature, and are not distinctive of nationality. Hedin, lit,, jacket of skin or fur, appears as the name of a heroic being in Bragi's Shield
lay, as the husband of Hild. At least six men of that name are mentioned in the Icelandic Book of Settlement, Landnáma, and others in the Orkneyinga and other Norse Sagas, and it is rather curious that, in two instances, we read of a Hedin having a daughter named Hlif, viz., Vaga Glum's Saga (period of Olaf Tryggvasa), and, in Landnáma, Hlif the daughter of Hedin of Meola, in Norway.
Hlif---literally, cover, protection, shelter, especially of a shield-appears in Heroic days, with Hlifthrasa and others, as maids that sit at Menglaed's knee on the hill of healing. Landnáma mentions several of the name, and Turf Einar had a daughter Hlif.
Arni also was a well-known name, occurring in the Sagas, and in Iceland; about 1170, we find it as that of, among others, the noted builder of the Cathedral at Skalholt.
But it is no more possible in this than in our other inscriptions to identify the individuals, All we can say for certain is that none of them have appeared before, either in documents or on monuments, as connected with the Isle of Man, No other of our cross-slabs bears any resemblance to this; it is certainly of late date, and. if Arni had any acquaintance with our earlier monuments he was in no way indebted to them, either in his formula, in the character and use of his runes, or in his decorative treatment.
| Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB
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