[From Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 3]


17th December, 1931.


I ought, perhaps, to apologize for choosing the Abbeylands of, Kirk Malew as a subject for my paper, seeing that it has already been exhaustively dealt with by Canon Quine and Mr Ralfe at former meetings of the Society.

It is my intention, however, to deal with the place-names in the Chronicle text rather than the actual sites, but the latter are of so much importance that one cannot pass them over lightly without trying to identify them. There are several places mentioned in the text the sites of which are doubtful, because the place-names have been replaced by more modern names. Mr W. Cubbon and I have carefully compared the text with the 6 inch map of the area in question, and have arrived at certain definite conclusions as to the identity of the places in question. The annexed plan has been carefully drawn by Mr Cubbon.

(1) "This is the boundary between the land of the King and of the :Monks of Russyn. By the wall arid ditch between the estate of the castle and the land of the Monks."

The estate of the castle--Villa Castelli in Latin and Kastellaland in Norse-was the land about the castle, which seems in later times to have been absorbed by the treen of Scarlett.

(2) ". . . and it goes round by the south between the meadow of the monks and the estate of Mac Akoen."

The meadow of the monks-Pratum Monachorum in Latin-is now called the Great Meadow (Le Grete Medowe, 1539) a name by which it has been known for centuries.

The estate of Mac Akoen-Villa MacAkoen in Latin-has come down to our own times in two forms: Ballakeigan and Bymacan. Mac Akoen is probably a Gaelicized Norse name meaning Hákon's son. The vowel á, following a well-known phonetic law in Manx pronunciation, becomes palatalized into a, thus Hákon becomes Hwkon, hence the place-name Ballakeigan.

In Byrnacan we have one of our later Norse names, with by-a farm-prefixed. By-Mac-Hákon was worn down into Bymacan. There seems to have been an alteration in the boundary here. for Ballakeigan must at one time have been a quarterland of the treen of Byrnacan.

(3) "and ascends by the rivulet between Bylozen and the land of the same monks."

Bylozen-now Billown-is another Gaelicized Norse name of the same complexion as Bymacan, and postulates the Norse *By-lodinn, meaning "Lodhinn's farm."

(4) "and bends as far as Hentre."

This estate became known later as Ballakew and Ballavell. The holder in 1611 was Richard Kewe, and in 1666 John Bell. Hentre represents the lost Norse name of the estate. It means either (*Hanará) "Hani's nook or corner," or (*Hanatröd) "Hani's cattlepasture." It is probable that this estate went further south than at present.

(5) "and goes round the same land of Hentrae and Trollatofthar."

This estate is now called Ballakewne. Thomas Kewen was the 'holder in 1611. The first element in Trollatofthar (*Trollatoftar) either postulates the Norse personal name Trolli or refers to the trolls; the giants, fiends or demons of Scandinavian mythology. Toftar, the plural of toft, is cognate with the English tuft, and means a green tuft or knoll, a green grassy place. In later Norse it meant a place marked out for a building. This estate probably extended further south along the banks of the Silverburn.

(6) "and descends by the same wall and ditch to the river near Oxwath."

This name means the "ford of the oxen" (O.N. *Uxavad), and the ford must have been somewhere near the site of Silverburn Bridge.

(7) "and ascends by the same river to the rivulet between Aryeuzryn and Staynarhea."

The first element- of Aryeuzryn is Manx eary (Ir. *airigh), "a fú11-pasture or shieling" ; the second element is an obscure personal name. The Chronicle text spelling suggests Amhrán. In the 16th century Manorial Roll this estate is called Arernan, which suggests Earnán. This area is now called the Moanee Mooar, the Great Turbary. Staynarhea-now Clougher-means "stony pastureland" (O.N. *Steinarhagi).

(8). . and ascends as far as the valley which is called Fanc."

The text here says "ad valle(m)," which, if correct, means "to the valley." But there is no valley-or glen-in the neighbourhood worth speaking about, and it is possible that the text here should read "ad vallu(m), "to the fence or rampart." Fane is Gaelic *fainn(e), meaning a ring or circle; and in Clougher, for an older Cleigh Cor (Ir. *Claidh Cor), "round fence or rampart," we have another name of similar meaning. We thus find three names in the same neighbourhood having a distinct bearing on each other. To quote the text: "As far as the rampart which is called Fainn (the circle)" which must be in the neighbourhood of Clougher (or Cleigh Cor) the round rampart. A remarkable fence or rampart must have existed in this neighbourhood at some time to give rise to these names, and it is possible that it still exists, although it does not appear on the maps and is not mentioned by Mr Kermode in his "Manx Antiquities."

(9) ". . . and ascends by the slope of the mountain which is called Worzefel."

This is, of course, Barrule, the "mountain of watch and ward."' (O.N. *Vördufjall).

(10) "and descends to the rivulet which is called Mourn. And ascends from the rivulet Mouro."

This rivulet is now called Strooan ny Barrule, "Barrule Stream." It is impossible to analyse satisfactory the stream-name Mourm It is possible that it is one of those ancient names found all over Britain-usually applied to mountains, rivers ,etc.-which have been bequeathed to us by the Neolithic peoples.

(11) "by the old wall by Rozefel."

This was the old Norse name (*Rjodfjall) of the Granite Mountain, probably taking its name from the colouring of the granite when weathered, a distinctly ruddy hue.

(12) "And ascends by the same wall between Cornama and Totnranby."

If Cornama went as far as the Santanburn River at one time. it might contain the ancient name of that river, Corna. It is extremely likely, however, that it is pure Gaelic Cor ny rnaa (Ir. *Cor na nlbá), meaning "the round hill of the kine." This name has now become Cordeman.

Totmanby means the "knoll of Mani's farm" (O.N. ''ToftManabyr) one of our late Norse names formed in the Gall-Gaelic period. Mani's name is also found in Manowle (O.N. *Manafjall), meaning "Mani's hill," The southern part of the Granite Mountain bore this name.

(13) "and descends by the same wall obliquely between Oxrayzer and Totinanby."

"Oxrayzer" (O.N. *Uxahreyzar) means "the cairn of the oxen." It is difficult to say whether some of these names which do not imnpiy farms ever became farrrr-names. Oxrayzer may have become fastened on to one of the farms south of Tosaby, perhaps Slrenn Valley, "the old farm."

(14) "as far as the river which is called Corna."

Corna was the O.N. name of the Santanburn, and means "mnillriver." (O.N. *Kverná).

(15) ". . . This Corna is the boundary of the land of the king and the monks from that part as far as the ford by which the public way crosses."

This ford still exists at Mwyllin y Quinney on the old Castletown road.

(16) "between Thorkel's estate which by another name is called Kyrkernychel."

Thorkel's farm or estate-Villa Thorkel in Latin-would represent a Norse name which is lost, Thorkelsby (O.N. *Thorkelsbyr). The alternative name of this treen, Kyrkemychel, was from an old church or keeill which has now disappeared. Its site is marked on O.S. 6" map.

(17) "and Herynstaze."

Now Herristall, wrongly set down on the O.S. map as Orrisdale. From (O.N. *Haeringsstadr), "Haering's farm." This estate was probably larger at one time than it is at present.

(18) "and it ascends by the wall which is the boundary between the same estate of Thorkel and Balesalach."

Ballasalla, or -sallagh, for an older *Bally ny sallagh (Ir. *Baile na saileach), means "Willow or osier farm." Ballasalla here refers to a farm and not to a village, the latter resulting from a gradual subdivision of the estate into small crofts, until finally the name ceased to exist as a specific farm name.

(19) . .. "and descends obliquely by the same wall between Cr~syvpr and Byulthan."

C~yvor is another late Norse name. It means "Ivor's cross," -and must have been in the neighbourhood of the treen of Logh. The cross has long since disappeared. Sometimes in place-names the word "cross" refers to a penitential station, usually at the junction oĽ roads, where prayers were offered up.

Byulthan is now Balthane. The Chronicle orthography of this name with the prefix by, suggests that it may be another of those names which were formed during the later stages of Norse domination in the Island. The second element in this name-ultan-may be an extended form of *uladh or *ulla, which originally meant a tourb or cairn, as the following passage from O'Donovan will show:--oc denarn uluidh cuindachta únat flaith, "making a protecting tomb over thy chief." In the leabhar na hUidhre, it is related that Caeilte, Fin Mac Cumhail's foster son, slew- Fathadh Airgtheach, monarch of Ireland, in the Battle of Ollarba, A.D. 285. Caeilte says: '*The Uluich of Fothach, Airgtheach will be found a short distance to (Ire east of it. There is a chest of stone about hire in the earth. there -are two rings of silver, and his two bunnedoat (bracelets) air his torque of silver on his chest; and there is a pillar-stone at his cairn; and an ogam is on the end of the pillar-stone which is in tile e,-.rth; and what is on it is, "Eochaidh Airgtheach here."

In later times these tombs became penitential stations, and were used by the faithful as places of devotion. In the Bat 'e of Moyrath it is said: "Dornhnall never went away from a cross without bowing, nor from an uladh without turning round, nor from, an altar without praying."

(20) "and so goes round Balasalach and descends fromm Balasalach by the wall and ditch to the river of Russyn as is known by the country people and descends by the bank of the same river in different manners as far as the aforesaid ditch and wall whir" are -between the territory of the monks and the land of the same castle Russyn."

(21) (Note)-'.'And be it known that it goes round between Baligil and Comsary."

Balagil means either "Gill's farm" or "the farm of the stranger or foreigner."

A later forma of Cornsary is Conessary. .If the early speliing is correct it must contain a personal name. The later form suggests (O.N. *Konungsgardr), "king's enclosure." It was here the kings of

Mann landed when proceeding to Castle Rushen. Ronaldsway was Reginald's bay, called after one of our kings.

(22) "as far as the sea in the middle of Sandawyk."

Still Sandwick (O.N. *Sandvik), "sandy bay." Now, I believe, :pronounced Sandrick. --

(23) "and by the sea as far as the Lord's house by the river of the castle with wreck and bailey and toll as (is set forth) in the charter."

The identity of the house referred to in the text is uncertain. The 'Manorial Roll of 1511 contains the following item among the rentages of Castletown houses. "From the Abbot of Rushen for the chamber with garden, demised to him as above 3s." It does not seem likely that this was the house referred to in the text, as the abbot here paid rent to the lord. The Domus Domini or Lord's house may refer to the ancient chapel of S. Mary, until recently the Grammar School. The Latin domus often referred to a sacred edifice. It has also been thought that Lorne House may be a perpetuation of Lord's House, but this site, like the others, is merely speculation.


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