[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1924]
23 JUNE, 1921.
Mr. W. Cubbon was the leader of this excursion, and he gave a brief address at the Sloc on the archaeological features of the neighbourhood.
Mr. Cubbon, in the course of his remarks, said sixty years ago one of the greatest of English authors, George Borrow, passed along here from Port Erin, going to Peel. When he reached Chronk ny Irey Laa, he made this note in his diary: 'This is indeed Ellan Vannin quite Ossianic.' Then again, 'A lovelier isle than Vannin never saw in his wide career.' And we know that the author of 'Romany Rye' and `The Bible in Spain' had had a very wide experience of beautiful scenery.
There is scarcely an inhabited house near excepting the few we see before us at Lhingague and Scard. But there must have been in ancient times, and even within a couple of hundred years ago, a considerable population, as we can see by the remains of the fences of the little cultivated fields in the hollow just below. An even greater solitude seems now to brood over this place than existed in pre-historic times. We know positively that four centuries ago there was a larger population in this district than exists to-day. The fact that a church and burial ground existed in the 6th or 7th Century at Lag ny Keeilley, just over the mountain to the north, is proof that a community existed near by at that time.
Local tradition states that in the hollow immediately below us, where the Colby river commences, a number of crofters dwelt many years ago, and there are still evidences that they existed. I have a copy of the Lord's Rent Roll of the year 1643, and I find that the place was then called 'The Leantyn Veggey,' which is Manx for 'The Little Meadows.' It would, therefore, appear that these little meadows were at one time the property of a considerable community which had possession of this neighbourhood. The properties are now, I understand, merged into the adjoining land which is called Pairk Steyn, Manx for Costain's Pairk.
I this week spoke to a man belonging to this district, who informed me that his father had prospected in Sloc mine for metal. His father had told him that he had seen there remains of workings which might have been made in the Stone Age, for there were no marks of metal tools upon the rock. These ancient mine workings might have been the work of the pre-Celtic people who lived in the age before iron became known.
The site of the Neolithic village at the Sloc is very appropriate, being both remote and sheltered from the prevailing winds.
This place was known to the Antiquarian Society twenty-five years ago, when Mr. Jeffcott, High-Bailiff of Castletown, made some excavations. Although the remains of about a couple of dozen huts were identified, nothing remarkable was then discovered. There is said to be an artificially-built causeway connecting the two parts of Burroo Moar ; at any rate, there would appear to be remains of an earth-work fortification. I would draw your attention to what would appear to be an avenue made from two rows of upright stones. Some of the stones seem to have got out of position, and others have been taken away to build adjoining hedges. The avenue (if I may call it such) runs due east and west. Inside of this presumed avenue, there do not seem to be any remains of dwellings, which rather supports the view that it was an avenue. But to what point it led does not appear. Although the erect stones before us are not huge, yet they may belong to the Megalithic period; as do also the standing stones at Ballakeilpheric, just below us.
When referring to the race which lived here in Neolithic times, I should mention that the finest example we have of a stone axe of the period was found at Lhingague, just below Cronk ny Irey Laa. It is eight inches long, and of a hard blue stone. A feature about it is, that it is so delicately made and balanced, that if you put it on a table, and touch gently one end of it, it will revolve for a long while like a top.
Mr. Jeffcott has recorded the name of the spot where we are standing [the Sloc] as 'Clagh yn daa Hoit,' and says the meaning is The 'Stone of the Two Settings. He does not say what the meaning of these words expresses.
But we learn now that the name is not Clagh yn daa Hoit ; but Clagh y daa Heet, which is quite different, and full of meaning, and even of romance. Mr. Cubbon, farmer, of Lhingague, states that the name is Clagh y daa Heet, namely, 'The Stone of the Two Comings,' or ' meetings.' Mr. Cubbon (who is one of the Cubbon Mooars of Colby Bridge) tells me that in his boyhood days his grandmother explained to him the significance of the stone and why it was so called. Her story is intensely interesting. It was to the effect that 1n very ancient times, watch and ward were kept on the high peaks of Cronk ny Irey Laa and Barrool. Two distinct parties from the parish of Rushen had to share in the watch. One party came by way of the 'Crellyn' road from the Saureby and other Treens. The other party arrived by the other road from Ballakeilpheric and Scaleby Treens, and, prior to taking their duty at the Watch Hill, they met here at this stone, The Stone of the Two Comings. What name could be snore appropriate. The piece of coast line which we are about to see from Cronk ny Irey Laa to Fleshwick is very rich in place names; the most of them, strange to say, being Gaelic and not Norse. There is Lag ny Keeilley, near the foot of Cronk ny Irey Laa, the Lag of the Church. North of Lag ny Keeilley is Oog ny Seyir, the Carpenter's Cave, associated with the Guillyn Veggey, the little people, or fairies, who must, of course, have been numerous about here.
Looking down upon Lag ny Keeilley hundreds of feet below us, we see the 'Shenn Phaal.' This, as the name indicates, is an ancient sheep-fold situated in the most remarkable place on the face of a steep mountain down below us. The name Shenn Phaal is a word which has been taken from the Latin. The word Pale, as anciently applied to Dublin, is a cognate word. On our way to Bradda we pass over Lhiattee ny Beinnee, which means the slope or face of the Bens or peaks. We will pass the inlet of Earnery, where, on the cliffs above, is a remarkable, and certainly ancient, wall of huge stones, looking like a fortification. Then, just before we get above Fleshwick, we will pass the inlet of Raclay, where local tradition says St. Patrick landed.
Traditions concerning St. Patrick are very tenacious in this district. The Saint, when he arrived, is said to have walked up to the highest point of Lhiattee ny Beinnee to view the land; and a heap of stones which you see was set up, and the place was therefore called Spigeen Pharic, St. Patrick's Spire. I am now repeating the tradition as told to me three weeks ago by Mrs. Cubbon, of Colby Mill, a splendid old lady, who died recently at the age of 93, and corroborated by other people in this district. The Saint looked down from Spigeen Pharic to Lag ny Keeilley, and said that it was to be the last resting-place of princes and kings, and saints of the church. And the story goes that they were brought from Scotland and from Ireland and Wales, and buried at Lag ny Keeilley.
St. Patrick is said to have dedicated his first church in Mann, not on Inis Patrick, but just below us at Cronk y Dooney, which means the Hill of Sunday. The Keeill was called Keeill Pheric, and the Treen land took the same name.
In reference to what are known as the Standing Stones of Ballakeilpheric, the name is a misnomer, for there is now, unfortunately, only one stone standing. Three years ago there were two. The farmer in digging at the foundations of one, prior to taking it away, barely escaped being caught under the falling megalith. He tells me that he, at any rate, will not attempt to take down the remaining stone. Tradition is very strong in this neighbourhood that the Standing Stones originally were in the form of a circle: some local people say a Druid Circle. Mrs. Cooil, a sister of the owner of Ballakeilpheric, has told me an interesting story which her grandmother told her. The old lady said that in her young days there were five stones, and that originally they formed a circle. Continuing her story, the old lady said that when she was a young girl her grandfather had taken with him to the field of the Standing Stones, a young child. Before proceeding to work, he placed the child lying on a flat stone, which flat stone lay like a lintel on the top of two of the Standing Stones. The child went to sleep, and the grand-father, forgetting about it for the moment, went home without it. On arriving home, he was, of course, reminded of the child, and he immediately ran to the field, found it still asleep, and carried it home. In addition to being a nice story, it has helped the Corrin family of Ballakeilpheric, at any rate, to remember that there had once been a circle.
The walk was continued over Surby mountain, past Spigeen Pherick, to Bradda, where the party, numbering fifty, were entertained to tea by Mrs. Pilkington.
The following new members were added: Mrs. Quine, the Vicarage, Lonan; Miss Clucas and Miss Isabella Clucas, Thornhill ; Mrs. Brierley, St. Olave's, Ramsey.