[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #2 1923]
ISLE OF MAN NATURAL HISTORY AND ANTIQUARIAN SOCIETY. ANNUAL MEETING, APRIL 16, 1914.
1. There can only be a general reference in this Report to Mr. Kermode's work, which, in respect of the Archaeological Survey, as distinct from the Biological Survey, takes the first place in the work of this Section. Mr. Kermode's work goes 0n, and must go on for a considerable time before even summarised results can be given.
2. The special incident of the year has been the excavation by Mr. W. Cubbon of the ground plan of the Cistercian Abbey of Rushen. The first point brought out is, that the conjecture of Dr. Cochrane (Ireland) that there was a Cistercian House, somewhat of the same scope in respect of the size of the Church, etc., as Grey Abbey in Down.
3. The Church of Grey Abbey was practically of the same size as St. German's Cathedral. `Grey' was founded 1193 by Aufrica de Courcy, wife of John de Courcy, Lord of Down, and sister of Reginald, King of Man 1187-1226.
Jocelyn of Furness was doubtless the architect of de Courcy's own Abbey of Inch or Yoes near Downpatrick, founded 1181; and also probably of Grey Abbey, and of the chancel of St. German's Cathedral. As Jocelyn was Abbot of Rushen in 1187, witnessing the Charter of King Reginald, he was doubtless the architect of the Cistercian House of Rushen; and the small base of a pillar of four fine shafts found by Mr. W. Cubbon in his excavation belongs to that period, and is so far in favour of the probability of the general plan having been then decided on and the work begun. The Church was not consecrated till 1260, in the time of King Magnus, and of an Abbot named Symon, not to be confused with the great Bishop Symon who died about thirteen years before that date.
4. What Mr. Cubbon has established is that the general Cistercian plan remains in foundations of walls; and also that the demolition of Rushen Abbey has been as complete and ruthless as any vandal could desire. Whether this was done at one fell swoop by some utilitarian of the 16th century, or piece-meal by a succession of proprietors, it is vain to surmise.
The few surviving fragments of stone work, tiles of various patterns, and minor objects, are a mere forlorn fraction of a once rich meal for the maw of destruction.
5. The bodies found in the excavation, were no doubt previously disturbed, with multitudes of others; and these, a few that escaped the fate of the other disturbed burials. That they indicate the probable site of the Chapter House is the sole inference that can be drawn from their discovery.
6. The Society is to be congratulated on the fact that the present excavation has been in safe hands. Mr. Cubbon has the true antiquarian spirit, and has brought to bear on the work not only the intelligence of an educated man, but an interest based on a right appreciation of the value of what he has discovered the value of each fragment in detail, and of the ground plan in relation to existing portions of early walls, and to the probable arrangement of the abbey prior to its demolition.
7. That the detached block of buildings near the river, which in effect escaped destruction, are of older date than the Cistercian House so completely destroyed may need proof, but there is sufficient reason that the Society should direct its attention to this block of buildings, of which it is safe to say that it at least may be the St. Leoc's Monastery, which existed prior to 1139, and in that year was incorporated in the new Cistercian Abbey.
8. It is known that in the 12th century many abbeys were founded in Scotland, of the immigrant foreign orders, then patronized by David I, by the merging into them of an older institution. In every case a considerable part of the ancient lands of these older institutions was in the hands of laymen, the institutions subsisted on a fraction of their former estates. and were governed by Priors. In the Isle of Man the condition of things was almost identical with that obtaining in Scotland, and precisely the same thing seems to have been done by Olaf I of Man that was done over and over again by David of Scotland and the territorial lords of that kingdom.
9. Thus Olaf I's Charter of 1139, founding the diocese, and founding- Rushen Abbey as a Cistercian House, did just what was the then fashion. 'Gill, the Prior,' who witnesses the Charter of 1139, was doubtless the Prior of St. Leoc's, his assent to the Charter actually a surrender of St. Leoc's Priory to become a Cistercian Abbey, and the inmates of the Priory to remain as members of the new Abbey adopting the Cistercian Rule.
1o. By the same Charter it is seen that the laymen who held portions of the land of the Priory make surrender at least of a part of what they held, in order to endow the Abbey. And not the least interesting points in the Charter are the facts that 'Gill' who gave the land on which the College now stands, and 'Gill the Prior,' are two distinct persons, but their name a presumption of relationship. In Scotland at that period the influential family that had a dominant hold on alienated ecclesiastical land usually got the office of Prior for a member of their family a younger brother, or the like; as also another fact that Tol, son of Macmars, who gave up the Abbey meadows, was the father of 'W., Monachus' Wimund the Monk (of Furness) who was the Bishop-elect of the newly founded diocese
ii. The Society should take the present opportunity of preparing a complete document on Rushen Abbey, in the light of the excavations of the present year. Attention should be given to the filling up of the river channel, probably since the building of the weir a few hundred yards further down. The river must formerly have run at a much lower level, as will be seen by examining the block of buildings which I venture to call 'St. Leoc's Priory.' And if excavation is carried on further, after Mr. Cubbon's present work is completed, it might profitably be directed to the investigation of certain points of the foundations of 'St. Leoc's Priory.'
12. Even the etymology of 'Ballasalla ' awaits explanation. St. Auxilius, a companion of St. Patrick, has left in Ireland his name in 'Cill Husaille' or 'Kil Ansailli.' 'Ballasalla' farm in 'Knok 'Shewell ' treen in Jurby, near St. Patrick's Church there, is probably 'Bal-Ansailli,' and 'Ballasalla ' of the Abbey may be 'Bal' Ansalla.'
13. The alternative explanation of a derivation from St. Lu or Lua, 'Ma-Lu-oc,' has its probabilities giving 'Ma.-Lu ' and 'Lu-oc,' both actual survivals here, as 'Ma-Lu-oc ' in full survives on the Island of Lismore.
14. But there is a third explanation. In William of Newburgh's life of Wimund, first Bishop of Man, he says that 'Wimund acquired the rudiments of letters, had some knowledge of the art of writing, and was supporting himself by filling the office of antiquary, viz., chronicler, to certain religious men, viz., in a religious community, before becoming a monk of Furness. This was doubtless at St. Leoc's, and that there was a school at St. Leoc's is here implied.
15. Now in Scotland at that period there was a minor religious grade, or class, called the 'Scoloch ' or 'Scholach,' viz., scholar for whom there existed considerable endowments of land. That these had their equivalent in the Isle of Man, in the 'lands called Particles,' which were for scholars, is well known. We find the Particles associated with the Bishop's Barony Lands in the centre, west and north of the Island, and it would seem that the Bishop got his endowment of lands in 1139 from these old ecclesiastical lands, saving a portion left for the original purpose of the Scholars.
In the south of the Island Rushen Abbey got all the Ecclesiastical Lands of St. Leoc's, or all the Priory held in its own hands, and as much as the laymen who had the rest were induced to surrender. That 'Scholars' lands ' existed there is as probable as at St. Lezayre, Jurby, German, and Marown. Was Ballasalla the 'Baly-scolach' or 'Baly-scola' the farm of the Scholars ? The name evidently was originally the name of a Baly or estate. It lay east of the river, and probably extended up the slope towards 'Glashyn ' for which name there has been offered as yet no derivation. One may suggest that it contains as its main part a corruption of ' Scolachyn,' the Scholar.
16. It is usual, but it is unfortunate, that people treat history as formerly they treated geology, viz., assume cataclysms to explain transition from strata to strata. All geological movement is in effect absolutely without cataclysm, for earthquake and volcano are too insignificant to be accounted of in the vastness of the imperceptible, which is the true mode of geological movement. In history things were then as now, and in the 11th and 12th centuries the Island seems to have had its religious and educational activities and endowments, or provision for those activities in a way almost as actual as to-day.
17. Wimund, son of Jol of Balladoole, gets a scholarship at St. Leoc's; gets his education on the foundation; takes his part of Writing-master and probably Secretary and Chronicler; enters Furness; has 'keen intellect, a memory that retains 'everything, and natural eloquence, so that he in a short time 'advanced into prominence as a person of whom high expectations were entertained.'
On the creation of the diocese he gets elected Bishop, probably through his father's influence, and his father's liberality to the new movement, as well as through his own brilliant abilities!
18. It is not too much to say that the block of buildings still by the river at Rushen Abbey are the actual buildings in which Bishop Wimund spent his boyhood and youth.
The following re Rushen Abbey is now worth while putting into form as a communication to the Society.
Vide Manx Soc. VII (Oliv. Mon. II), . . Charter of Olaf, and Letter of Olaf to Thurstan, Archbishop of York; also Bull of Pope Eugenius III, circa 1151.
CHARTER. Testibus hiis : Eudone, Abbate, ; Gill, Priore; W., Monacho; Willelmo et Hugone, Presbiteris; Turkillo, filio fohgel; Jol, filio Macmars; Gill; Fin; Snetol, filio
Cutelli; et Multis aliis, sine quibus res agi potest. Apud How Ingren.
i. How Ingren, place of signing Charter, viz., site of Lorne House, Castletown.
ii. Eudo, Abbot of Furness, was present there, as stated in Olaf's Letter to Thurstan :
re Eudo . . . . 'on a tripartite petition, and by our 'persuasion, having entered on the journey, though an 'arduous one, yet confidently: there having been weighed 'together also, both the laborious burden of making the 'passage, and the fruitful toil of extending the Church, the 'Lord inspiring him, he has arrived here.'
Eudo had therefore come to the Island. Also from the journey being called arduous, and the burden of making the passage across being called onerous, Eudo was probably a frail or elderly man at the time. This bears on the date which I male 1139, not 1134. Because Eudo was not a red-letter Abbot. viz., was not Abbot ten years, and as he died in 1145, he could not have been Abbot earlier than 1136. As Thurstan died in 1140, it must have been before 1140. The troubles associated with the Battle of the Standard, ended with the Peace of Durham 1139, and to this year I ascribe the founding of the diocese, and the grant of the Abbey or Monastery of St. Leoc to Cistercians.
iii. ' Gill, Priore.' I think this is not the 'Prior of Furness,' but 'Prior of St. Leoc's' for these reasons:
(a) St. Leoc's Monastery was in existence at date of Charter.
(b) All grants made tinder David I of Scotland at this period were grants of already existing religious lands, transferred or surrendered to such Orders as the Cistercian, Premonstratensian, etc., and generally by arrangement, life interests of the members of the older Communities Culdee, Columban, Celtic, or whatever we chose to call them being respected; and the members generally incorporated in the new Order. One fact is universal in this connection: the greater part of the old communities' lands had got into the hands of laymen, who took the title of Abbot, viz., the King, the territorial lord, or the local chief, while what was left to the actual use of the community was under its religious head, who was called Prior. This is exactly what we should expect to find the case at St. Leoc's in the time of Olaf. These 'Priors ' surrendered the old establishments to be organized under the new religious orders, they and their fellow inmates being incorporated or otherwise provided for. The Prior of St. Leoc's would therefore be a principal party to the business transacted by Olaf's Charter, and all the witnesses named were principal parties without whom the business could not be transacted. Note also that the lands given Villam St. Melii, terram St. Corebric imply that they had been already religious endowments.
(c) 'Gill ' seems also to smack of the Island, rather than of Furness where, also, its own Prior had probably stayed at home to rule in Eudo's absence.
(d) There is also another 'Gil,' a layman, who is a principal party. I take him to be the then owner of 'Baly Gil.' the estate on which the K.W.C. now stands, at that time given to Furness. These two were probably kinsmen, as at that period in the Culdee, or Celtic communities, the headship `Priorship ' was held by members of powerful local families, and; indeed, kept in the family
iv. W. Monacho, I take to be ' Wimundo. Monacho ' (abl. case), and from Wm. of Newburgh's account, this was exactly where we should expect to find him.
Wm. of Newburgh says: `Wimund was born in a very 'obscure part of England; and since, after he had received the 'rudiments of education, he had not wherewith to continue in 'the (monastic) schools, to relieve his poverty he filled the 'office of antiquary (!) to certain religious men, (though but) 'a beginner in the art of writing! '
This would exactly fit in with his having been at St. Leoc's, being the son of Jol, the son of Macmars, and every probability points to Balydooil as his home: the statement as to his poverty being that it was relative to his ambition. I take the word'antiquary' to mean clerk, librarian, or possibly the office of chronicler to St. Leoc's, opening to us a romantic vista as to the lost Chronicles of that older monastery.
'Wimund afterwards entered the Monastery of Furness, and 'became a monk there. He exhibited exceptionally fine talents, 'and high expectations were formed of him. . . . He seemed 'to have courted popularity among the Manx, and soon to 'have gained it to a very high. degree. He had the distinction 'of a commanding figure, and the gift of eloquence in some'language known to the Islanders. Before much time had 'passed they desired to have him as their bishop! '
Now there is no difficulty whatever in supposing that the ' Hamondus ' of our Chronicle (Chronic-Mamuas) is a MS. error, or a 13th century scribe's error for 'Wimundus,' especially as the Chroncon says, 'Huic successit in Episcopatum Gamaliel Anglicus Generas, etc.' Wimund's fall took place in 1150; and this exactly corresponds to the probable date of Gamaliel's succession, as he was bishop in the time of Godred IT, 1154-87.
Furthermore, the above-mentioned desire of the Islanders to have Wimund as their bishop is confirmed by Olaf's letter to Thurstan and the Charter.
(a) CHARTER. 'Idcirco ego Olaph, sapientium Consilio 'et honorum assensu decrevi et statui tit in meo regno . . ' etc.
'Therefore I, Olaf, by the advice of the wise and the `assent of the good men, have decreed and determined 'that . . .' etc.
(b) LETTER. 'Denique et nostro decreto et plebis 'consultu sancitum est inter nos, tit ex suis pontifex 'eligeretur,' etc., . . . 'tit episcopus noster ad episcopi 'gradum,' etc.
'Finally both by our decree and a plebis consultu it has 'been solemnly decided between us that the bishop should 'be chosen from among his (Eudo's) people (viz., Monks 'of Furness) . . . in order that our bishop to the grade 'of bishop,' etc.
Here the 'plebis consultu' clearly means a decision of the Commons of Man. A 'senatus consultus ' was of course a decree, decision, or Act of the Roman Senate (or House of Lords) ; a 'plebis consultus ' was a decision of the Commons, or people. And I take it that the Thing or Tynwald voted for the election of Wimund.
Thus Wimund seems either to have come over with Eudo from Furness as bishop elect, or at least to have been there and witnessed Olaf's Charter, probably with. an understanding that he was to be the man selected.
v. William and Hugo. Presbyters, may have been the Abb'ot's Chaplain,. and the King's Chaplain; or both accompanying Eudo; or both insular men.
vi. Turkill, Jol, Gill, Fin and Snetol I have dealt with before, but may again say who they evidently were.
(a) Turkillo, filio Fohgel owner of Thorkelstadt, or the Treen of Kirk Michael, which includes Ballahick, Balla-woods, Ballaquaggan, and generally the land between Ballasalla and Santon River 'Turkel-land' being still the name of a part of it. What he gave as his portion [of old ecclesiastical lands surrendered back] is the part called `Villain Thore filii Asser' (Manx Soc. vii, p. 11), which is abominably bad editing in any case, and = 'Villam Thorekil alterarv' = 'the other or second Thorkelstadt,' or 'one of the two vils of Thorekil,' viz., Balthane, and all the land about the Sycamore probably. At least he did not give Thorkelstadt.
(b) Jol, son of Macmars who gives 'Fragerwl,' manifestly `Prata Jol,' the meadows of Jol, viz., the Monk's Meadow, the Abbey Meadow, or the Great Meadow which borders along Balydooil. Macmaras was the Keeper of Man, Godred Crovan's chieftain, whom he left Governor of the South when he went to Islay to defend it against Magnus Barefoot some time about 1094-1103. He fell at Santwat, fighting Otter and the Northern Manx. So we find, as Macmaras was Godred Crovan's trusted lieutenant, Jol, the son, was one of Olaf's friends, and present on the occasion, to witness the Charter, and convey his contribution of surrendered ecclesiastical land; his son Wimund getting the bishopric.
(c) Gill was the owner of the present Baly Gil on which K.W.C. stands, and of a good deal more land, no doubt; the Prior of St. Leoc's probably his kinsman.
(d) Fin is the owner of Fistard at Port St. Mary (Fins-stadt), and his donation Ballacrara, around Port St. Mary Bay towards the Smelt.
(e) Snetol, son of Cutell, I take to be also a Kirk Ch. Rushen man Kitterland, probably named from his father Kettill and his donation Ballakilley, on which Kirk Christ Rushen Church stands.
The 'multis aliis sine quibus res agi potest ' are the whole Thing or Tynwald or assembly of the Commons of Man at How Ingren : their signatures not necessary, as not being principal, nor donors, though participators 'communi diligencis.'
There are some other points I wish to put before you, and may do so here in brief.
There was in the Culdee (or what name you like to call the older religious institutions) an order, a religious class called in Celtic, Pictish of Galloway, etc., the 'Scholach ' or 'Scholach ' order, viz., the Scholars. They were generally in training for the priesthood, or religious life, and extensive endowments of land existed for them.
This corresponds to our particles, some of which were certainly for 'scholars ' until such time as they should get preferment in the Church. These endowments existed before the Catholic reorganization of the 12th century, and the introduction of the foreign orders (Cistercian, etc.).
Out of these lands I suspect our Bishop's Barony was taken as in Jurby, German, etc., we find them still together. Doubtless at Ballasalla there were `particles ' but as the Abbey of Rushen was endowed from these lands in the south, the Bishop got his endowment in the north.
I go so far as to suggest that 'Balesalazc ' or 'Balesalach ' in Abbey boundaries may be the `' Bale-scolach ' or Baly of the Scholars, and that the name definitely applied to an area of land on the east side of the river, the site of the present village, and extending up towards Glashen which I suggest has in it the same word 'Scholach ' or 'Scolachyn,' the Scholar's land.
Referring again. to Wimund, he was doubtless educated as a scholar: the endowment not enough to send him to the Oxford or Cambridge of those days, and probably he took a tutorship or the like in St. Leoc's, and then went to Furness. Furness was founded 1126, I believe, and" he was made Bishop in 1139, I believe.
You will remember my Wimund paper. I there said Godred Crovan recruited for his last and successful attack on Man in the north, where the Macbeth family had been broken by Malcolm Canmore 1054 or 1055.
Now in the Macbeth family the succession was NOT by primogeniture most distinctly not: but everyone within a certain degree of blood-relationship was a true heir presumptive, as much as the eldest son; and if there were ten sons, each with ten sons, every one of this hundred would consider himself, and would be considered, the heir as really as any of the other ninety-nine, provided he had the power, wit, or other means to secure it
Thus every dispersed scion of the Macbeth family was the 'Earl of Moray' presumptive, and if one fell, another stood. If a Mac-Maras or 'Son of the Maormar,' in the misfortunes of the family, joined Godred Crovan and got the choicest bit of land on the Island, his son, and grandson, could, and if he had spirit, would, claim to be 'Earl of Moray.'
The family of Malcolm Canmore was the first in Scotland to introduce primogeniture succession, and if they regarded one only 'Earl of Moray,' the 'Earl of Moray' family considered that idea not one to be imposed on them, either by Malcolm Canmore, or by Edgar (1097-1107), Alexander (1107-1124), or David I (1124-1153), his sons.
The feud between all the Macbeth race and the sons of Malcolm Canmore was a vendetta sort, and continued till the death of Malcolm Macbeth in 1168, and Wimund must have been of this Macbeth race which is easily likely through his grandfather coming from that northern region with Godred Crovan.
Another point, I am convinced that the old block of buildings at Rushen Abbey near the river, covered with ivy, are far older than the parts demolished and now being excavated. The old block is so early in certain features that it may easily be, and probably was, in part at least, St. Leoc's of 1139. But it may only be the 12th century buildings, before Jocelyn began his work about 1190.