[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 4 #2 1936]
During the summer of 1936 the following Excursions were arranged:
June 4th-Sulby, the Curraghs, and the Lhen. Leader, Mr R. Howarth.
June 18th.-Glen Rushen and Dooilish Cashen. Leader, Captain R. B. Quirk, M.L.C.
July 23rd.-The Sherragh Vane. Leader, Mr J. R. Quayle, J.P.
August 20th.-South Barrule and the Hoe. Leaders, Mr J. R. Bruce, M.Sc., and Mr Cubbon.
Owing to wet weather the excursion to Sherragh Vane was abandoned.
From 17th to 20th September a party of about 60 members of the British Association (which was holding its annual conference in Blackpool) visited the Island. Excursions to various places of antiquarian and scientific interest were conducted by members of the Society. A full report of the visit will be found in the Journal of the Manx Museum.
The following are the reports of the summer excursions.
Leader: Ralph Howarth.
The party of 25 members assembled at Sulby Woollen Mills, and proceeded to Ballabrooie Farm, Sulby, to inspect a flock of seven pure-bred Manx Loghtan sheep, by permission of the owner, Mr Fayle. These sheep are of great interest, as this is possibly the only remaining true flock of this species in the Island, which, in the past, must have been very common in all parts of the Island.
The Ram of this species has four horns, two, which are straight, upright and about 12 inches in length, the other two are curved and lie close to the side of the face; the ewes have only the two curved horns. The horns develop at a very early age in the young males.
The wool is short and very fine in fibre, and of uniform nut brown colour.
At this farm a colony of House Martins were seen, and watched at their nesting place on the ceiling of a passage-way leading into the farmyard. There are about 16 pairs of birds that have regularly nested at this site for a number of years.
In the Isle of Man House Martins prefer the sea cliffs for their home, and regular nesting sites are established at Peel Hill, Spanish Head, Port Soderick, Marine Drive, Clay Head, Maughold Head and possibly other stations. (See " Birds of the Isle of Man," P. G. Ralfe.)
The inland colonies are more rare, and the one at Sulby is probably the largest inland colony in the Isle of Man.
The party then proceeded to the Curraghs. Royal Fern, Cotton Grass, Bog Myrtle, Gorse in profusion, Purpie Loose- strife, Meadowsweet, and Buckbean were all seen to be plentiful where the nature and condition of the soil was suitable. At various places several plants in flower of the somewhat rare Greater Butterfly Orchis were found during the afternoon.
BIRD LIFE.-During the last few years the Curlew has increased in numbers in this area, and may now be considered the dominant species. It has now been definitely established that the Woodcock and Redshank are here regular breeders. The Waterhen is common, and a few pairs of Coot and Little Grebe breed regularly at certain suitable places, as also do the Mallard, Teal, Snipe and Water Rail.
Leader: Richard B. Quirk.
We first visited the old Kiel on Ballacrink, locally known as St. Mary's Church, with its puzzling feature of double doorways. Then we climbed up to the Goldrock situate on Bill Clarke's Larghan, Glen Rushen. This rock was cut into by some Manxmen who had been mining gold both in America and South Africa. On this same Larghan, you will remember, are those mounds, and near the stone wall, two or three stone-lined graves. The mounds number seven, or possibly eight. We then crossed Dalby Mountain to the Dawlish Cashin Farm (now known as the spooks farm). Then down the Rocky Road (also known as "the spooks' road") to Glen Maye. This old road is supposed to have been the main high road to the South. My old grandfather told me he had many times ridden horseback up that road along with many others, on their way to Castletown to attend General Gaol.
As we are on our way to Doalish Cashen, it may be as well to hear a few stories which will put us in the proper frame of mind for meeting with "spooks."
It was in Glenrushen, as perhaps you will remember, that The Phynnoderee made his home. " If these are to be all thine," he said addressing himself, "thine cannot be the merry glen of Rushen." This was said when the well-meaning farmer, pitying his unclothed state, and imagining that he must be feeling the cold, presented him with a cap and coat and breeches. "He flung the clothes away," says Miss Morrison, in her charming, collection of "Manx Fairy Tales," "and walked his way to Glen Rushen, out to Juan Mooar Clarey's." We have passed over Juan-y-Clarey's bridge, I think, this afternoon.
The Phynnoderee was working for Juan Mooar Clarey, says Miss Morrison, cutting the meadow for him, cutting the turf, and seeing after the sheep, and once, when rounding up the sheep, he spent all night chasing one brown "Loaghtan" that gave him more trouble than all the rest. He caught her for all; but when Juan Mooar went out in the morning and looked at the fold, he found, neatly lanketted, a hare!
The farmer who gave him the clothes, Miss Morrison was told, was Radcliffe of Gordon. If they put a stack into the barn in, the evening and loosed every sheaf of it-and they had to do that or the Phynnoderee wouldn't play-they would find it threshed in the morning. One ungrateful farmer grumbled because the Phynnoderee had not cut the grass close enough to the ground. The next year the Phynnoderee let the farmer cut for himself. But he went behind him, stubbing up the roots, and cutting so fast that the farmer had to keep going with all his might to escape having his legs taken off. For several years nobody could be persuaded to mow that meadow. But a soldier from one of the garrisons undertook the task. He commenced in the centre of the field, and cut round in a circle, so that all the time he had one eye on the grass and one eye on the Phynnoderee.
One night the Phynnoderee went to the blacksmith, and offered to shake hands. The blacksmith stretched out his hand, but put in it the iron sock of a plough. The Phynnoderee squeezed it as if it had been a piece of clay, and remarked, " There's some strong Manxmen in the world yet!" He called at the mill when only the wife was there. " When she caught sight of the great big head," Miss Morrison says, "she was frightened terrible. But she handed him the sieve and said, " If thou go to the river and bring water in it I'll make a cake for thee; and the more water thou carry back, that's the bigger thy cake will me." And while the Phynnoderee was struggling with the sieve, and finding that the more water he put in, the more water ran out, the woman made her departure from the mill.
And did you know that the Phynnoderee is mentioned in the Bible? He is, though. The Manx translators had to render a passage in Isaiah, " And the satyr shall call to his fellow." And the nearest they could get to "satyr" was "Phynnoderee." Some of the stories told about the Phynnoderee are also told about another supernatural creature, the Glashthan. There are other stories about the Glashthan which are not too creditable to his morals. There is preserved a "Song of the Glashthan." I came across it first in Mr W. H. Gill's "Manx National Music''-which is not the same book as the "Manx National Songs"-under the title of "One Night in Cronk Ally Mooar." Now, "Cronk Ally Mooar" is really Knockaloe Mooar. In 1924 Miss A. G. Gilchrist edited Dr. John Clague's collection of Manx folk-tunes for the Journal of the Folk Song Society, and published this air under the titled of "Arrane-y-Glashthan," the Glashthan's song. Perhaps you would like to hear it.
Later she found, or the Archdeacon found, among Dr. Clague's notes, a list of the places where the Glashthan went when on his travels. A verse ran:
He was a night in Cronkalin Moar,
And a night in Cronkalin Beg,
For dark, and dark, and dark,
And dark and dark, and dark,
Tie was a night in Gordon Moar,
And a night under Gob-ny-Greg,
For dark, and dark, and dark,
And dark, and dark, and dark.
It appears that he also spent nights at Glenauldyn, Laxey, Maughold, Ballaccoley, Foxdale, and Ballawattleworth. Around Glenmaye circulated stories of a battle between fairy armies on the beach; of a grey horse found straying on the road, who, if anyone attempted to ride him, at once tried to carry his rider into the sea; of people meeting some invisible power which absolutely prevented them from going on. This story has been told me concerning a gentleman who is well known in Peel at this day. "The place whereon we stand is haunted ground."
J. R. Bruce, M.Sc.
On the summit of South Barrule, at an elevation of 1,5001,600 feet above sea-level, lies the only stone-built hill-fort in the Island. The defensive area is roughly oval in plan, about 500 ft. by 600 ft., and was doubtless originally surrounded by a rubble rampart, with one or more entrances. The rampart is now greatly dilapidated, in some parts almost completely so, but sufficient remains on the W. and N.E. sides of the enceinte to indicate its original character as a wall, "faced" cn the outer side, and provided on its inner side with a ledge or platform, surmounted by a breastwork, for the accommodation of the defenders. While the maximum height of the faced walling still standing scarcely exceeds Oft. 6ins., the extent of the fallen stones on the hill-slope below betokens a considerably greater height in its original state. The original entrances are largely obscured, and would need careful excavation, but indications remain which point to the existence of an entrance on the N. side of the enclosure; several gaps in the line of rampart may or may not represent original passage-ways, and certainly owe part of their present condition to the work of the ordnance surveyors. who established a tringulation-point (and incidentally a considerable cairn) within the "camp-site."
As is usual in these defensive enclosures, the strength of the artificial work is proportioned to the vulnerability of the position, while natural "points of vantage" are fully exploited. Thus, where rough ground and rocky scarps occur on the south side of the site, the rampart is aligned with them, and correspondingly reduced in size. In other places, skilful alignment of the walling has given the defenders who lined it the great advantage of viewing an attacking force as it was projected against the sky line at the moment of surmounting the crest of the steep tull-slope below.
The main defence undoubtedly consisted, in the case of the Barrule Camp, of one line of rampart only, but there are indications of a feeble inner bank for some distance along the N. and N.W. sides. In this direction, also, lies a small group of hut-foundations, the examination of which would form an essential part of any detailed investigation of the site. A wall, traditionally and in fact, elusive, occurs within the enclosure, N.W. of the central cairn, and about midway between it and the rampart.
It would be pointless to speculate upon the period of constructure of this hill-fort. until positive data are available, but it corresponds in most respects with certain of the tribal hillforts of the Welsh uplands, which appear to have been in use at various times during, and subsequent to, the Roman occupation. It need hardly be stated that the South Barrule fort, in common with others of its kind elsewhere, could never have been a place of permanent occupation, and was only resorted to by the valley-dwellers and their herds, when invasion or hostile neighbours threatened their security.
At the low mound close to the main highway at the Round Table, Mr W. Cubbon, one of the leaders, described the features of the place. One of the most picturesque figures in the realm of English literature, he said, was George Borrow. He, on the 2nd of September, 1855, within a day or two of 81 years ago, passed along this road. He had lived in Douglas about three months in a house in Albert Terrace, overlooking the sea near the Manx Museum. His quaintly-told experiences are in his Diary. The first part of this Diary was published in London in 1899, and the second part in the Manx Society's journal Mannin in 1914. Borrow had been stravaging to Port Noo Moirrey and Purt Yrne and had sailed to the Calf. He had a habit of setting down in his diary just a few words as on a thumb nail. Returning from his visit to the Calf. he writes in his jerky way:
"Wind right against us and violent. Our pull bark. Myself with the fourth oar. Boat tossed about like a cork, and I we through. Port Eirn without a pier or breakwater. Project for building one. The public-house fire. The dinner. The seat by the kitchen fire at evening. The typsy fiddlor. Molly Charane. The company. The miners. The niiner's tale. Mr Curphey, his tale. The Prayer Book. The comfortable bed. The moaning of the sea."
It was the day after that experience, the 2nd September, 1855, that he came along this road to go through Dalby on the way to the city of the west. He had come from Surby on the Ballakillowey road, through Scard and past the Sloc.
He writes in his scrappy Diary:
"All of a sudden a desire carne upon me to turn from the path which lay before me and ascend the Big Berool. I hesitated for some time,. At last I said `I will; I will. The side was heathy and slaty. At last I gained a slate crag on the south-eastern brow. A little above was a cairn. Written on the lee side or East of the cairn on the top of Berool moar, after having ascended to the top. Sept, 2nd, 1855. On a stone on the top is written, amongst, other things: 'R.N. 5Ap. 1812.' The top of the hill is Man, evidently by the hand of art. There is a little pool about, 9ft, in diameter on the top with a slate flag on its N.W. side."
Then he describes the scenery, which impresses him. In his day he had travelled more than most Englishmen, so that he was a good judge. He goes on in his jerky fashion:
"The scenery was grand-yet beautiful. There was mist and sunshine. The Isle of Man is a very noble Isle. The inoor ; the enclosed country; the glen by the left. [He meant Glen Rushen.] The lovely view of the sea; the silent village: sun, shine: A lovelier isle than. Mannin never G. [George] saw in his wide career.'
The Round Table is the name of the little round mound which generations ago was called in Manx "Boayrd Runt." Whether the mound is sepulchral we do not know. It has never been examined. There is no outward evidence that it is sepulchral.
But there can be no doubt whatever that the Round Table is of great historical importance. It would never have been used as the actual point where three parishes meet if it were not on Ômportant feature.
The boundary between Kirk Malew and Kirk. Arbory cuts through the centre of the mound, while Kirk Patrick boundary was originally marked by an upright slab a few yards to the north of the mound. All this must, of course, be significant.
The single upright stone standing due south is on the boundary line between Kirk Malew and Kirk Arbory.
You will quite appreciate that this place is important from the archaeological and historical points of view. But it is still more fascinating- from the topographical aspect. This mound is not only actually the point of division between three parishes. It is also the most significant point of division bet.,. een the South and the North. Politically and physically the Isiand is divided into two almost equal parts-North and Sou h. The boundary betwixt them commences at Lag ny Keiiley on the sea side of Cronk ny Irree Laa. It comes over the smoulder of the Cronk on this side, past Cronk Fedjag, on the Round Table. Some of us in this group are in the North and some in the South, besides being in three separate parishes.
The boundary- betwixt the North and South is the longrange of hills form Cronk ny Irree Laa to North Barrule, overlooking Ramsey.
From this mound it goes along the north shoulder of South Barrule. then to Greeba, Colden, Carraghan, Penypot, on to North Barrule.
That is the backbone of the Island, and at this spot we are at the very head of that backbone.
Has our Round Table anything to do with that of the great romance of Arthur and his Knights? The origin of the Arthurian Romance is very obscure. The first reference is in the 12th century, by Wace. the Anglo-Norman chronicler.
One of the sanest writers on the Romance is Dr. Lewis Mott. He has pointed out that "Round Tables" exist in many parts of Great Britain, the name being often associated with circular trenches or rings of stones which were employed in connexion with the folk festivals held at mid-summer and other periods. The founding of the Round Table is ascribed to Merlin, the famo :s Bard of Welsh tradition. It is said that the number of knights whom the table will seat varies; it might seat 12, or 50, or 150.
1Ī only we were aŚl eto conjure u psome of the dramatic incidents which have occurred here! It was the meeting place of the men of the three parishes, for they were responsible for the keeping of watch and ward; a custom which went back at least to Scandinavian times.
A 15th century regulation reads:
"The night watch shall come at sun setting, and not depart before sun rising; and the day watch shall come at sun rising and not depart till sun-setting. And whosoever faileth any night in his watch and the warden appoint another in his room , forfeiteth to the Warden the first night a wether : the second night a cow; but if he fail the third night, he forfeiteth body and goods to the Lord of the Isle"
The name Barrule, of course, comes from the very ancient custom of watch and ward. The name is Scandinavian "Vordufjall." Wardfell is the literary form used in the Manorial Roll. Barrool was the colloquial form used by the common people.
In collaboration with Professor Marstrander I made a plan of the stations for the Day and Night Watches in the various parishes, which was used in the year 1627, 300 years ago. The information was gained from a document in the Museum.
The Day Watch at that date was not on Barrool; but on a hill called Echewle, which Mr J. J. Kneen thinks is the old Norse name for Cronk yn Irree Laa. We know that the day watch was kept there. The name Cronk ny Irree Laa, of course, means the "Hill of the Day Watch." The Night Watch was at Pooilvaish, which we can easily see from here.
For Rushen the day watch was on Bradoe, and the night watch at Port Yrne. Invariably the day watch was on a hill and the night watch at a port.
Professor Marstrander is of the opinion that a warning fire on South Barrule would be seen by the people on North Barrule and vice versa. He thinks that in the times of political trouble in the past, these two were the chief points from which the inhabitants all over the Island received the warning of the coming foe.
From the point where we stand, looking south, we see Langness. The little hill to the right is Cronk ny Fedjag (Hill of the Plover). Cronk ny Irey Lhaa dominates the scene on the west. Almost due north is the slope which goes down to Glen Rushen. And to the right stands in the background the longridge of Sheau Whallian. The little cairn can be seen on its summit.
Lag ny Keeilley, where the Early Christian Chapel is, lies near the foot of Cronk ny Iery Lhaa, on the sea-side. Two miles away as the crow flies, close to Eary Cushlin. But by foot it is quite six miles.
The site of what was termed, about forty years ago, a Neolithic Village, is near the Sloc, on the southern slopes of Cronk ny Irree Lhaa. Mr J. M. Jeffcott in the early days of the Antiquarian Society, made some excavations. He said that the remains of a couple of dozen huts were identified. Beyond that, nothing remarkable was discovered. I examined the place about 30 years ago, and saw what appeared to be the remains of an avenue made from two rows of medium-sized standing stones. Since then many of the stones have fallen or been taken away. The avenue-if it may be so called-ran east and west.
Burroo moar is the name of the rugged rock nearest us. Burrow meanagh the next rocks, and Buroo sodjag the farthest away. There is said to be an artificially-built causeway connecting the two parts of Burroo moar. At any rate there would appear to be the remains of an earthern fortification.
There is a stone standing about here which is called Clagh y daa Heet, meaning "the Stone of the Two meetings." It was here that the members of the incoming watch party met the outgoing watch at the hour of sunset.
Further west beyond Cronk ny Irree Lhaa is the long mountain ridge which runs to Fleshwick, and called Lhiattee ny Beinnee, meaning the slope or face of the Bens or peaks. There is an inlet of the sea before you get to Fleshwick. It is named Eairnerey. It was here St. Patrick is said to have landed-one of the numerous places the Saint is said to have walked up the rocks to a place called Spigeen Pherick-St. Patrick's Spire. The Saint looked down on Lag ny Keeilley and said that the little keeill there would be the last resting place of kings and princes.
St. Patrick is said to have dedicated his first church in Man not in Inis Patrick, but at Cronk y Dooney, just below. The hill became known as Cronk y Dooney, from the Gaelic "Doonaght," meaning Sunday. St. Patrick's dedications are said to have always been performed on a Sunday. The keeill was called Keeill Pheric, and the Treen as well as the quarterland became known as Ballakeeilpheric.
Referring to the ascent of South Barrule, Mr Cubbon described two rather prominent rocks on the west face called Creg yn Arran and Creg ny Vaare. Creg yn Arran was so called for the reason that the men who composed the Watch took their meals in the shelter of that rock. Arran is Manx for Bread. Cronk ny Vaare means the Rock of the pathway. So., that when you come to the outstanding rock you are near the old track to the summit.
| Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB
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