[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #2 1923]



In 'Manx Crosses,' Plate X, p. III, is figured a cross patee, within a band or double circle, and on the band the word 'Blagkiman ' in Anglian runes. Also in 'Manx Crosses,' Plate LXVI, facing p. 218, is figured a fragment of a cross patee, with the word 'Blakgman ' in Anglian runes. Both crosses are at Maughold. Mr. Kermode considers 'Blagkiman ' and 'Blakgman ' the same word, and a proper name. The runes are similar, he says, to those on the 7th century Bewcastle Cross, Cumberland, and to those on the Leasowe Stone, Wirral, Cheshire.

The name of Ida, founder of Bamborough, and the first King Northumbria, whose name looms clear in Anglian history, is our first landmark for this note on `Blagkiman' or 'Blakgman.'

King Ida ruled Bernicia, on the northern part of Northumbria, prior to A.D. 56o, and was succeeded by his sons, who reigned in turn. His fourth son, Ethelric, or Eadric, began to reign in 585, and after a while grasped the sovereignty of Deira, or southern Northumbria, in the year 587, thus dominating the whole of Northumbria. He died in 592, leaving several sons, the greatest of whom was Ethelfrith, who reigned from 592 to 617; and also a son 'Bleacman,' who was not prominent by his individual exploits.

But 'Bleacman,' as a prince of the royal race of Ida, maintained the position of his own branch of the family, as a family of rank with pretensions to succession, for in the fifth generation, his branch, in the person of his great-great-grandson, succeeded to the throne of Northumbria.

'Bleacman ' was born probably circa 580, and, as the younger brother of the heroic and fierce Ethelfrith, no doubt took part in the wars waged by the Angles against the Scots under Aedan of Argyle, ending in their crushing and final defeat near Carlisle (603) ; and probably also in the conquest of Lancashire and Cheshire, and the defeat of the Britons or Welsh at Chester (613). .

On the death of Ethelfrith, the sovereignty passed from the family of Ida to the family of Ella of Deira. Edwin, son of Ella, the first Christian King of Northumbria, reigned for sixteen years, and conquered Man and Anglesey, which remained afterwards outlying parts of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. After the fall of Edwin (633), the family of Ida recovered the sovereignty of Bernicia, that is, all the Northern and Western parts of Northumbria-in the persons of Oswald (633-42) Oswy (642-70), Egfrid (670-85), Alfrid (685-89), etc.

That is to say, Oswald and Oswy were the nephews of 'Bleacman' ; Egfrid and Alfrid, his grand-nephews; and it is to be noted that the Bewcastle Crosses are usually ascribed to the reign of Alfrid (685-705), viz., in the time of Brynhom, grandson of 'Bleacman.'

The succession of 'Bleacman's ' family stands thus in Florence of Worcester's Chronicle:-'A.D. 765-774, Alhred, King of Northumbria, son of , son of Brynhom, son of Bosa, son of Bleacman, son of Eadric, son of Ida.'

We may take the lifetime of 'Bleacman' to extend conjecturally from 580-640, during fifteen or sixteen years of which period the Ida dynasty were in exile, during Edwin's reign.

That members of this family may have taken refuge in the Isle of Man is more than possible. In their exile, Oswald and Oswy, Bleacman's nephews, visited Iona, and adopted the Christianity of the Columban community, afterwards to introduce it into Northumbria.

The great landmark date for Anglian footprints in Man is the Council of Drumceatt in Ulster, where the Scots were devising plans for stopping the Anglian advance into West Cumberland, Dumfriesshire, Galloway, and probably Man.

The King of Down and Aedan of Argyle carried an expedition to Man in 580, probably to drive the Angles out of the Island. After the crushing defeat of Aedan and the Scots at Carlisle in 603, the Scots attempted no further expedition.

The famous passage describing the conquest of Man and Anglesey by Edwin (617-633), was possibly to take it out of the hands of some chieftain of the family of Ida, even 'Bleacman ' himself possibly, for Edwin was the deadly foe of this rival Anglian family for the crown of the whole of Northumbria.

We have here, then, in possibility-indeed with no great improbability-an Anglian prince, 'Bleacman,' who, at that time, was one of a great family, ousted from Northumbria, but still maintaining their claims, and maintaining their status and class. 'Bleacman's ' nephews recovered the crown (633); and 'Bleacman's ' own great-great-grandson succeeded as above indicated in 765, or about 140 years later.

As a monumental cross, or crosses, such as those at Maughold, were erected at that time only to persons of distinction, and also as family names were really 'family ' names, it is not improbable that the two persons, 'Blagkiman ' and 'Blakgman,' who were Angles, were members of this family, and directly related to the 'Bleacman ' of the Chronicles relating to that period.


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