[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol2 #3 1923]

REMARKS ON THE ABOVE PAPERS.

P. M. C. KERMODE.

Criticism and discussion of matters brought before our meeting are to be welcomed as tending to greater clearness of view and precision of statement, as well as being the most likely way of bringing out further useful information. We are, therefore, indebted to our member, Mr. Swynnerton, for initiating what I hope will be an interesting discussion on the Maughold Cross. I am sure that I may say on behalf of my fellow-members of the ArchŠological Survey, and of Dr. Herdman, joint author of ' Manks Antiquities,' that we are very glad to receive and consider criticism of anything we have published, our object being to give an account of the antiquities of the Isle of Man as correct as possible and as full as the scope of the respective works will allow, Mr. Swynnerton does not agree with what we have said, and now contends-First, that the shields displayed on the Cross are heraldic; secondly, that the date must be early loth or even the 13th century; and, thirdly (raising a new question), that this is a memorial cross in the sense that it is a sepulchural monu- ment erected to the memory of some distinguished individual, viz., ' someone of importance in the Isle of Man and more particularly in this parish.'

Taking these points in order, I note that, in favour of his view, Mr. Swynnerton puts forward two arguments; first, that if one shield is heraldic, the five others ought to be likewise; secondly, that each separate device displayed on any one of the shields might possibly be a heraldic charge. In support of his first contention, he challenges the production of another example of a 14th century cross, upon which a genuine well- known coat of arms is associated on equal terms with other shields bearing ' mock-heraldic devices.' But, such a challenge is a fairly safe one, since out of all the crosses erected in England, very few have come down to us, and these, for the most part, are in a very dilapidated condition. We might well counter the challenge by asking for another example of a 14th century cross displaying any shields at all. Again, the term ' cross ' was applied in a loose sense to a number of monuments of very different character, some being large and elaborate structures, and I would ask further for any example during the whole period from the 13th to the 16th century of one like that in question-a simple shafted cross with a canopied or tabernacle-head, bearing shields as an integral part of its design and structure. I do not speak as an expert, my own special studies have been concerned with a very different class of monuments of much earlier date, but I venture to doubt whether such another exists. If, however, one may extend the period by a century, I will accept the challenge, and instance the cross at Iron Acton, described by Mr, Ch. Pooley in Iris ' Old Crosses of Gloucestershire,' which appears to date from 1439. It cannot be compared with that at Maughold, excepting that it has carved shields; these are not on the cross itself, but on the parapet surmounting the arches, which ' support the roof of tire structure. Eight shields are displayed; two are armorial, two are blank, having never, says the author, been touched by the chisel. The other four, which are neither heraldic nor, ' mock-heraldic,' bear figures which he takes to be emblems of the Passion.

As to the second argument, it is not sufficient to say that each device on any of these shields might be a heraldic charge. It is difficult to think of anything; that might not be so. The question is whether each shield does represent a genuine coat of arms.

In this connection one is struck by two circumstances, either of which is unusual, namely, that not one of these six shields exhibits all Ordinary or Sub-ordinary, and that four of them display single devices. Sole charges are, of course, .

well known, especially in early heraldry; a beautiful example is that of a family which for a short time was associated with our island, as seen in the shield of Sir William Le Scrope- Azure, a bend or. The absence of an Ordinary, too, is not unknown, and occurs, among other instances, m the case of the Three Legs. But that six coats of arms should be assembled upon one niontiment, each lacking an Ordinary, and four having sole charges, calls for explanation, Mr. Swynnerton tries to account for the number of arms by supposing an early date before impaling and quartering were practised, implying that had it been a later date all of these separate devices would have been displayed as charges upon the one shield. Apart from the question of date, this does not explain how such a number of coats of different though connected families should have the peculiarities referred to, nor can we suppose that the one individual who finally came to bear the arms of the five others would not be known.

Coats of arms are a matter of record, and if these shields were really heraldic, each of them could be identified; it should be even more easy to recognise one which in the 14th century would quarter all six of these coats. The fact that one of them must represent the lordship of Man makes it practically impossible that, if the charges on these six shields taken together constituted a genuine coat of arms, such a coat should not be known.

Taking each of the shields separately, we note that (i) the East Shield with the Three Legs presents no difficulty in this connection. (2) The South Shield bears a figure which Mr. Swynnerton thinks may be meant for a gridiron. Possibly it may, but it is not the form shown in heraldry. There is no appearance of a frame nor of a handle, and there is a distinct division down the middle. As Edmondson is quoted in this connection, I show you his figure (P1. 7, fig. 42) of a gridiron in armorial designs, which is quite different, But below this design is a leaf which, if heraldic, must he a separate charge. A gridiron is rare in heraldry, a single leaf is even more infrequent,, and if the two combined constituted any coat of arms in the 14th century, it could easily be identified, but this shield is not heraldic, (3) The West Shield is described by Mr. Swynnerton as a cinquefoil within an annulet surmounted by a crosslet. The latter, he thinks, may be a difference; the annulet itself is well-known as a mark of difference or cadency, as well as a charge in heraldry, but I doubt whether an amulet was ever surmounted by a crosslet. And with respect to the figure I must remark that it is not every five-leaved design which constitutes the 'cinquefoil ' of heraldry. This is a very early charge, and, like others, is represented in a certain conventional manner which, though slightly differing in the course of centuries, preserves the type, and can easily be recognised. All that I have seen show the petals distinctly pointed, and this serves to distinguish the cinquefoil from the rose of which the outer edges of the petals are incurved, and from the fraize, or strawberry flower, with its petals rounded. But the device at Maughold has heart-shaped petals, and is not a heraldic cinquefoil. (4) The North Shield displays a cup, but it is the sacred cup or chalice. This is rarely met with as a heraldic charge; an instance occurs in the ancient Italian Order of Camaldoli: Azure, a chalice or, out of which drink two doves argent, in chief an estoile of the second. But I think neither cup nor chalice forms a sole charge. (5) On the same north side of the Cross another shield is shown above. the whole field of which is occupied by the conventional representation of a rose. But it is not the convention of heraldry which figures the rose as seeded and as barbed, that 1s to say, having small pointed bracts between each of the petals. A little twist below the flower-not the stalk of a ' slipped rose '-also shows that it is not heraldic. Neither is anyone known who, in the 14th century, was associated with Kirk Maughold parish or with the Isle of Man, whose coat of arms bore the rose as sole charge. (6) I agree with Mr. Swynnerton that our description of the upper South Shield is not a good one, and, as I am responsible for it, I may say that I do not defend it. When a third edition of 'Manks Antiquities ' is called for, I shall be happy to amend it. He is, however, in error in saying that ' more than one chief . . on the one shield is a heraldic impossibility.' It occurs in the arms of members of the Ghibelline and Guelphic factions and other families. A chief may also be supported by a fillet or devise, as in the arms of the Orsini family, Rome. This, however, is in Continental heraldry. But I cannot agree with Mr Swynnerton's description. 'The upper figures on this shield seem to resemble hinds flying rather than four wings on a staff,' and the rather pointed head of what he takes to be a staff earn hardly be a mullet or a star. as it is not rayed, If, however, this were a genuine coat of arms, it would be recorded, and until it is recognised we are justified in assuming that it is not heraldic.

And, as no coat of arms is known which in any way corresponds with any one of these five shields, so I am sure there. is no coat of arms which itself displays all the 'charges ' here figured.

All the families entitled to bear the arms of Man are well known, so are their family coats. Beginning at 1334 (before this Cross could have been erected), the Island was granted by Edward I. to Sir William de Montacute, in whose family it remained till 1382. The Montacute arms are, Argent, three fusils conjoined. in fess gulps, and do not appear on this monument. In 1392 the Montacute rights were sold to Sir William Le Scrope, whose arms, Azure, a bend or, are not here represented. He was beheaded in 1399, and Henry IV,, having taken possession, made a grant of the Island to Henry de Percy. The Percy arms were-Azure, five fusils in f ess or, to which additions were made late in the 14th century. After the Percys' rebellion, in 1403, the Island was granted to Sir John Stanley, in whose family it remained for centuries. The Stanley arms are-Argent, on a bend azure three bucks' heads cabossed or, Not one of these arms appears in any form on any of these shields; and, as it could only be the Lord of Man, who would be entitled to the Three Legs, it is unnecessary to inquire further. But, if it could be proved that the Cross were of earlier date, it could still be shown that neither does it display the arms of any Lord of Man whatever from the time of the introduction of heraldry.

The second question is that of date. The architectural details of the Cross, such as the crockets and cusps, the form of the shafted cross with its tabernacle head, even the shape of the shields, are characteristic of the decorated style. Though it could not he of earlier date, it is, of course, possible that it might be a survival to a later; and it is evident that it is the treatment of the shields which has led to its having been so regarded. Thus, 1 remember long ago being told that the Three ,Legs with the exaggerated spurs was a sign of late date, and I find that Woodward, in his ' Heraldry, British and Foreign,' 2nd Ed., quotes an authority that such spurs were unknown in England about 1422. This, however, must be a mistake, for we have the rowelled spur figured on our Sword of State, which Mr. Sargeaunt dates as 13th century. Though this shield is weathered, I do not think that it bore the full plate-armour as shown in the 15th century, and it is certainly not chain-mail; taken together with the rowels it seems to fit in best with work of late 14th century. Then we have the chalice. We know until 1360 the foot of the chalice was circular, and it is so figured in heraldry; this was followed by a form with curved hexagonal foot and sharp points or claws, which I think gave place to the lobed foot as we see it on our pre-reformation chalice at Jurby.

Altogether the general character of the designs on the shields is in keeping with late 14th century work, rather than with that of an earlier date. This falls in with the period of the east window, the only one in the Isle of Man, at least in a parish church, which shows foliated arches; it appears to be of the same St. Bees sandstone, and is likely to have been made at the same time, and to owe its origin to the same source,

That this is not a sepulchral monument to the memory- of any individual is sufficiently evident by its position outside the consecrated ground. If it had been so, there would probably, as Mr. Swynnerton suggests, have been an inscription, but, haying seen the Cross taken to pieces when, many years ago, I had it cast, I feel positive that all the parts of it are original and of the same date, and, most certainly, it never has borne an inscription.

Now it is true that we have no record of the erection of this monument; the same is to be said of very many others. But there is no mystery about it. We have records of a sufficient number of them to enable us to judge how and why others of the same class came to be set up, and we know enough of tire history and social conditions of the time in the Isle of Man to apply to this Cross experience gained from the study of others, so that it is not difficult to understand how, when, and by whom it was made. In the 14th and 15th centuries there were thousands of crosses in England, differing greatly- in character and in purpose. There were memorial crosses, churchyard, wayside and boundary crosses, crosses built over wells, preaching and market crosses, gable crosses, and others. Memorial crosses were set up not only to individuals, but also to commemorate events, as the building of a bridge, building a chantry and a tower, re-building a church. Preaching crosses were put up by the Friars and by the great Monastic Orders, particularly the Cistercians, and so numerous were they, and so much was this taken as a matter of course, that separate records were not kept. To the stem of a tall shafted cross-from the steps at the foot of which a Monk or Friar world be sent to address the folk at fairs and markets, it was soon found to be convenient and almost necessary to attach a covering as shelter from the weather. This was gradually enlarged in other instances to a vaulted roof supported by pillars, and suggested a further development for the express purpose of providing shelter for a number of people and their produce. Hence arose the market cross covering an area sufficient to contain over a hundred persons. From this has been evolved the covered market of our own times.

The Isle of Man, allowing for the smallness of its area and population and its limited means, was not behind England in this respect. We have record evidence m the middle of the 17th century of crosses at Douglas, Peel, and Ramsey, which no doubt were market crosses. Old plans show the position of the cross outside of the churchyard of Lezayre, corresponding with that of Maughold; people in Arbory will still point out the bank at a little distance from the church on which stood the cross over the well, the water of which is still used in baptism. Vicar Parr, of Malew, in his deposition of 1662, concerning the rebellion, speaks of people ' att or aboute the cross short of the Church style as they came from Castletown.' Another cross, set up near the Keeill or treen Church on Cronkbane, its the parish of German, has its site marked on the Ordnance sheet, and the socket is shown at the house. Now that attention is drawn to the subject, it is to be hoped that others may be heard of and possibly their remains discovered. That they should all have perished is not to be wondered at; the marvel is that the beautiful example at Kirk Maughold has been preserved to us in such a perfect condition.

Now it is clear from the old East Window and the remains of other carvings that Maughold Parish Church was rebuilt late in the 14th century. This could only have been done by the powerful Cistercian Abbey of Furness, to which this church was appropriated. It is surely only reasonable to suppose that the Abbey should at the same time have had this monument designed by the same architect, carved by the same workmen, and set up in the position in which we now see it; this would be in part as a token of their ownership with its responsibilities and privileges, in part commemorative of the important work of rebuilding, while the site would be well adapted for it to serve as a preaching cross on the occasion of the annual fair and possibly of other fairs and markets of which the memory is now lost.

This being, I suggest, the origin and the purpose of the Cross, it becomes more evident that the shields are merely a part of the architect's design and simply decorative. Having adopted this effective use of shields it would naturally occur to the designer that one of them, in the most honoured position on the main face, should have a complimentary allusion to the Lord of the Manor, who in this case was also Lord of the Isle, and so display the Three Legs, not, however, as the arms of any individual but as an emblem of the civil authority and the lordship of Man. Neither inscriptions nor arms of donors are found on other crosses of this character, and this is no exception-the arms of Furness, Sable, on a pale argent a crozier of first, first, do not appear, and the designs on the other shields are purely decorative with, in some instances, perhaps, emblematic or symbolic allusion. Thus, if we regard the South Shield as bearing a gridiron, though this cannot be explained on any heraldic ground, it would be appropriate as a reference to St. Laurence, one of the favourite saints of the period, who, as a Deacon of Rome, was especially charged with the care of the poor and the orphans and widows; in that case the purely conventional leaf may be explained as representing the martyr's palm of victory. So, the chalice, which, though scarcely used in heraldry, is well known on sepulchral monuments as an emblem of the priestly office, would in this case point to the ecclesiastical character of the donor.

This, I submit, is the perfectly natural and reasonable explanation of this monument-the only one of its period or of its kind now existing in the Isle of Man-a simple shafted cross which, in respect of the shields as an integral part of its structure and design, is unique.

In the following discussion, the President, Canon Quine, in reply to Deemster Callow, said that Maughold never belonged to the Abbey of St. Bees, There was plenty of evidence bearing on that point. Maughold was a rectory from its foundation as a parish, and was organised at the same time as all the parishes of the Island were organised, not earlier than 1250 or 1275. It so continued to the time of Bishop Mark. On the decease of the Rev, J. D Horuton, who was the last rector, about 1305, the appointment of the next clergyman was in the hands of Furness; because, during the episcopate of Bishop Mark, Furness had acquired the advowson of Kirk Michael and Maughold. The then Abbot of Furness was custodian of Man as representing Alexander III. of Scotland. Subsequently Edward III. of England took the Island into his own hands. Bishop Mark, in a letter, said that the transference of the presentations to these livings had been done with the assent of the whole of the clergy of the Island; that it was not done by any, force or violence whatever. Mr. Horuton was rector about 1302, and about 1305 Maughold became for the first time a vicarage. Deemster Callow remarked that a similar case occurred at Marown vicarage, in connection with Whithorn.

The President said that, generally, he agreed with Mr. Kermode's conclusions about the Maughold Cross. He thought the base of it was older than the shaft, but Mr. Kermode was indisputably right in saying there was no inscription on the base and there never had been.

Mrs. Deemster Callow expressed the view that Mr. Kermode had not refuted the heraldic character of the Maughold Cross. The President thought it was a market cross, and that it had probably been erected by the Abbots of Furness, who were the patrons of the parish, and had a proctor there levying the tithe, Furness had acquired, about the year 1240, from the King of Man, the rights of mining in Maughold, and had various interests in the parish, They had a plot of land at Cornaa, a mill, and the right to build a house for their miners There was no doubt that Furness did mine to a considerable extent in North Laxey Valley, and there was every reason why they should be the people to erect that Cross. What the particular devices on it meant he (Canon Quine) did not know, but as to the general purpose of the Cross, he did not think it was erected in memory of any great person or for any religious purpose, though no doubt it might have been utilised by the preaching friars, who did not leave the Isle of Man out of their calculations.

The President also said they only owned the staff land at Ballajora. Their first grant was a small piece of land at Port Mooar.


Index
Back index next  

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2008