[From JMM vol 1 ]

Various notes etc from Vol 1 of Journal of Manx Museum

The first volume contained little of explicit Manx interest - the few notes have been gathered together here

Vol 1 #2 p21

An Early Church.

In January last Mr. P. M. C. Kermode, Curator of the Manx Museum, conducted excavations at Cronk Keeillane, near Peel, of :which he was able to give an interesting report. An early Celtic Church, from which the mound derives its name, was known to have occupied the site, and when the highroad from Poortown to Peel was made it had cut through the ancient cemetery, revealing many lintel graves. It was thought that all the stones had been carried away and that no trace of the building remained. The excavations however revealed sufficient of the foundations to show the dimensions and plan as well as the general character of the building. Its internal length was 23 feet and the width at the west end 10ft. 6in., but a peculiarity lay in the fact that it widened at the middle to 13ft. (evidently this appearance was not due to settlement) and from this point curved to form a rounded east end. This is a solitary instance of such an end in the Isle of Man, where the Church plan is invariably rectangular and has so continued until recent times. Another local peculiarity is that the Keeills are single chambered. In only three late examples have traces of a division been recorded. At S. Trinian's the foundations of a cross wall not bonded into the walls of the Church, marked a square chancel of 19ft.; in the chapel on S. Michael's-Isle, Langness, Mr. Rigby thought there were traces of a division about the middle of the building, and Mr. Cumming over sixty years ago recognized such traces in S. Patrick's Church, Peel.

Manx Keeills fall into three classes which seem to represent periods of time. In the first, the length is approximately one third more than the breadth, in the second it is twice as great, and in the third three times as great, the last being the proportions of the older Parish Churches. There are, too, three corresponding modes of structure, first, walls built of an inner and outer facing of stones, packed with soil and rubble; secondly, built of clay cement, and thirdly with shell-mortar or lime. In the present example the first mode was followed, the walls three feet thick, having an inner and an outer facing of small, undressed, surface stones, with a core of the heavy red sand of which the Cronk is composed. The walls which were built with a batter (but no `footing') were at no point more than about three feet high and only here and there of full width — at one part the outer, at another the inner facing alone remaining. Neither clay nor any kind of cement was used. The S.W. corner where the ground was falling away had been supported by a buttress about four feet square. The doorway was in the middle of the west gable, but no trace of windows remained. That it had been thatched was surmised from the discovery of a fallen example of bwhid-suggane, the stone pegs set in the wall for the attachment of the straw rope in thatching.

At the east end, the curve of the walls was broken for a length of four to five feet, internally, by a straight line which had a skirting of upright slabs of local stones, undressed. In front was a carefully formed platform, 5ft. long by 4ft., of selected flat boulders, on which was set the Altar. This was built of small flat boulders, packed with sand, and having at either side two narrow slabs standing two feet above the surface and securely buried about 12in. in the platform, the upper ends of which appeared to be naturally rounded but possibly slightly dressed to shape. Such little altar pillars have been met with in one or two other early keeills. The front and the sides (outside of the pillars) had no doubt been faced with slabs. One was in position on the north side, but it was a surprise to find that the inner face of it bore a cross. The form and general appearance of this is similar to one from Lag ny Keeilley, Patrick, of the sixth or early seventh century. It must have been already of some age when taken from its original position and used as a facing slab to the Altar. A lintel grave, previously disturbed, was found inside the north wall and another outside at the east end. As usual, white shore pebbles were met with. Such pebbles have been found laid on the surface in undisturbed graves; in one case as many as 80 were counted, closely packed on the top of a lintel grave.


Vol 1 #10 p74

The Ballafayle Cairn.

Certain of the Trustees of the Manx Museum have recently examined the newly discovered Cairn on Ballafayle, Maughold, which shows unexpected and peculiar features. The plan is that of the Cairn on Ballachrink in the same parish. But it is smaller, and instead of being faced by great upright stones, it has the crescentic front marked by a low bank, or wall, for this was found to rest on a core of stones built up from the original clay surface. Another difference is that the sides, instead of being retained by flat stone pillars with stones in courses between them, were marked by a well-built wall of flags in courses. This measures 53 feet and is 2ft. high. Between the walls the cairn is filled with stones and earth closely packed, rounded in section, but only about 12 inches higher in the middle than the side-walls. There was no break in the front or at the sides, and, upon excavating, it was found to be without those large stone chambers which are so conspicuous in the cairns at Gretch Veg and at Ballachrink.

The remarkable thing about it is the evidence, particularly down the middle length of the Cairn, of intense heat and prolonged burning, together with the discovery that the dead had been cremated, the bones resting on the clay and packed in closely with the stones without any trace of protection. The bodies had apparently been laid upon a pyre of peat with boughs and branches of trees and the stones piled upon them, with alternate layers of peat and wood and of stones above, the whole mass kept burning for a long time. Nothing was found but the packing of stones with abundance of earth, charcoal and peatashes. A broken flake and three small chips of flint on the surface might have been dropped there at any time. But it is worth note that throughout the Cairn, singly and scattered irregularly at different levels, were the White Shore pebbles, indicative of some ritual observance, which in the Isle of Man is found associated with burials at all periods, including Christian lintel-graves of recent times.

Excavations at Rushen Abbey.

In the course of excavations at Rushen Abbey, Ballasalla, under the direction of Mr. W. C. Cubbon, a bronze figure five inches in length was discovered at the head of one of several skeletons found. Mr. . Reginald Smith, F.S.A., of the British Museum, considers the figure to be of Osiris, of Egyptian origin and Roman date, or a little earlier (Ptolemaic). How the figure got to the Isle of Man is a mystery.

Certain of the bones of the skeletons found were submitted to Sir Arthur Keith, F.R.S., conservator of the Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. He is of opinion that the people represented in the graves discovered were not intruders, but Manx people of. a mediaeval (early) period, and that the human types revealed can be identified in the old families still in the Island. Of the portions of nine skeletons submitted, Sir Arthur considered two from slab-graves to be of the 14th or 15th century or even earlier. The others are probably later. He points out that from finding in this burial place males, old and young, women, old and young, and children,.it is probable that the place was an interment place used by the local community.


Vol 1 #13 p100

Knoc y Doonee Tumulus, Andreas.

During the Autumn, Mr. P. M. C. Kermode, the Curator of the Manx Museum, has been examining Mr. J. Martin's tumulus on the sandhills at Knock y doonee which had been visited in July by the Museums Association, some of whose members will be interested to know the results.

The examination is not complete; many things have been found which will need careful cleaning and treatment before they can be fully studied; but they seem to show that in this we have for the first time in the Isle of Man an example on a small scale of Shipburial, probably late in the Scandinavian heathen age. The original base of the mound was found to be 51 feet in diameter, but had been reduced on the north and south by weathering and worn by sheep; the height, 8 to 9 feet from the surface of the field, was in part due to the fact that the sand from around it had been removed to form the tumulus. A burial, wholly unprotected, was found about the centre lying N.E. and S.W., and small boulders which may have been used to support the boat, as well as a great quantity of iron bolts with very decayed fragments of wood, suggested its position. Among the articles recovered were, of iron:-An axehead 7½ in. by 5 in. across the cutting edge; sword in sheath, over 30 in the pommel and some fragments missing; a cup-shaped object 7½ in. outer diameter (including a rim 2 in. wide) and 3½ in. deep, which looked like the boss of a shield; and a socketed spear, 12½ in. with about 4 in. of the socket. These were at the N.E. end of the burial, and with them were a small buckle and a cloak-pin of bronze with some broken fragments. About the middle space was an iron bowl, 15 in. diameter and 5 in. deep, ornamented with bosses; and at the S.W. end a smith's hammer and tongs of the form used at the present day, and a fishing-line weight of lead, pierced above for suspension, and below for the attachment of a snood to be drawn along the bottom of the sea. Further examination at the other end has since brought to light teeth and jaw with other fragments of bone of a horse, together with bits of leather straps and some bronze from the harness. No human bones were met with, but some black, unctuous matter suggested the decayed remains of the body.

The treatment of old iron and of very decayed wood and bone is most difficult and requires special skill and knowledge. It will therefore be some time before this find can be on exhibition in the Museum. In the meantime the Curator has made a plan to scale of the tumulus, and full-sized drawings of the articles recovered.


Vol 1 #14 pp107/8 + 116/8

Manannan Mac Lir.

Miss Margaret Dobbs, an authority on Celtic mythology, delivered a lecture at the Manx Museum on 11th February, on " Manannan Mae Lir," the ancient god of the sea, from whom, it is said, the Isle of Man is named.

There was, she said, a question as to whether Manannan was a god or a man, a deity or a hero. This point was doubtful even in the middle ages, to judge from certain passages in early Irish literature. Manannan was frequently classed as a god with Ana, Brigit, Dagda, Lug, and others; and in many sagas he is a god pure and simple. But there are statements to the contrary in Irish MSS., and these she read.

According to the old MSS. there were four Manannans

(1) " Manannan, son of Alloit, wizard of the Tuatha De Danann. . . . 'Tis he was killed in the battle of Cuillin by Uillinn Abradruid, contending for the kingdom of Connaught."

2. " Manannan, son of Cerp, King of the Isles."

(3) " Manannan, son of Ler wizard . The Irish and British call him `god of the sea,' and say he is a son of the sea; the same is worshipped by the people as a god who can change himself into many shapes.."

4. "' Manannan, son of Athgno King of Man and of the Hebrides."

Miss Dobbs gave a large number of quotations from Irish MSS. concerning the four Manannans. There was, she stated, the assertion that " he dwelt in Ara and from him Emain Ablach is named." Which Ara? There is Arran off Connaught,. Arranmore off Donegal, Arran in the Clyde. From references elsewhere, Miss Dobbs said, it is Arran in the Hebrides that is indicated. One MS. speaks of Arran as " Emain of the son of Ler."

The question of the site of Emain Ablach is interesting. The passage just quoted implies it was in Arran, but a poem in the Book of Fermoy places it in Man and calls it " Emain of the sweet apples, the Tara — elevated place of guileless Manannan." The poem is addressed to an historical character, Ragnald, a prince of the Hebrides. [she thought it might be King Reginald I, King of Man and the Isles], and Emain Ablach is his residence, so that the name was known and in use at that time. Possibly, Miss Dobbs suggested, the adjective "ablach of apple trees" is preserved in the names. Barrool and Keamool and Masool, associated with Manannan in Manx tradition. The actual name Emain Ablach (possibly pronounced Oola) may yet survive in some form in the Island. It is equated with the Welsh "Ynys Avallach," the famous Avalon of Arthurian romance. This land of faery, therefore, had its origin in an actual place-name, but, as Manannan himself became mythical, so did his residence until in the latest romances he and Emain Ablach are both in the " Land of Promise," the region of myth and magic.

Miss Dobbs here suggested a possible explanation for the conflicting personalities and localities associated with Manannan. They were, she said, not necessarily pure imagination. She suggested that the legends of the Tuatha De Danann, mythical as they are, had their origin in a very early Scandinavian invasion in pre-historic times. The accounts are obviously suggested by Scandinavian characteristics. The early sagas, Battles of Moytura, etc., point to invasions of Connaught. There is nothing unnatural in sailing ships from the north coming to the west of Ireland and also to the islands down the west of Scotland. This was what happened in the 9th century. It is possible that Manannan was originally a title (like Pharoah in Egypt or Caesar in Rome) which applied to a whole dynasty of sea kings. This would explain how one Manannan is so strongly associated with Connaught, and others with Arran and Man. It would account for the different fathers assigned to each, and a Scandinavian origin would account for Manannan's skill at sea and reputation as a merchant and pilot. It is noteworthy that Mac Lir is literally " Son of the Sea."

Coming to the position of Manannan in Celtic romances, the lecturer said there was a large amount of matter to deal with. Manannan plays a part in the following famous sagas

The Voyage of Bran (seventh century).
The Sick Bed of Cu Chullain.
The Adventures of Cormac.
The Birth of Mangan.

There are also many allusions to him scattered through poems and legends, and some of these point to stories now lost. For instance, in the Agallam na Senorach, Casilte tells St. Patrick a story about a " Carn Manannain" which was evidently in County Antrim. There is again another story relating to Slieve Donard in Co. Down which links Manannan with that mountain. All the many stories relate naturally to places on the sea coast. These facts are of interest, as the " Manannan country" in Man is on the west side, and Manx tradition makes Peel Manannan's headquarters. The intercourse in those early days would seem to have been with Ireland more than with Britain

One of the finest legends connects Manannan with Dundalk and Carlingford : the " Serglige Con Culaind," which has come down to us in very early form. It is one of the great sagas of Ulster in the Tain Age, and deals with Fand, the wife of Manannan and Cu Chullaind. " . . Manannan came from the east to seek her. No one perceived him save Fand only . . . She said, ` I see the heroic son of Ler in the plains of Eogan Inbir; Manannan, lord of the fair world; there was a time when he was dear to me. . . One day that I was with the son of Ler in the sunny palace of Dun Inbir, we thought nothing should ever part us. . . . I see coming over the sea-no foolish person may see him -the horseman of the crested sea, no fairy ships follow him. Thy coming past us here none can see save they of the Sidhe (fairies]. Manannan had shaken his cloak between Cu Chullaind and Fand so that they should never meet again."

Miss Dobbs pointed out that in this story Manannan is a divine being, invisible to mortals, riding on the waves, passionless and magnanimous as only a glod can be. He is conceived on nobler lines than the Greek gods, who were often represented as very human.

Another story connects Manannan with Conn's grandson, the famous Cormac mac Airt (third century A.D.). It is found in the Yellow Book of Lecan. Cormac is the celebrated king who ruled Ireland in the third century. Manannan comes to him as a noble warrior, bearing the magic branch of music, and tests Cormac's staunchness by taking his daughter, his son, and his wife away to the Land of Promise. When Cormac eventually reaches Manannan's dun he does not recognise him, as Manannan is now a golden-haired young prince. . . When Cormac wins back his family, Manannan gives him a magic golden cup. Throughout the tale Manannan is a divinity and dwells in the world of faery. In the tale of the Sons of Tuirin, although undoubtedly old, the name has only survived in very late MSS., so it is n,ot certain if Manannan was mentioned in the original. His possessions play an important part, and are all magic instruments: his steed Enbarr, his coat of mail, his sword "The Answerer," his helmet " Cannbarr," his boat "The Wave Sweeper," kept at Brugh na Boinne (New grange). Without these the Sons of Tuirin can do nothing.

After quoting from MSS. which have already been edited by scholars, Miss Dobbs referred to a tale which is not yet fully translated. It is in the Book of Fermoy, and suggests an early tale of pagan character worked up and given a Christian moral. The story, in sketch form only, is now printed for the first time.

It begins with the history of the defeat of the Tuatha De Danann and their retreat into the Sidhe - fairy hills. "After the battles of Tailltiu and Druim Leghean the Tuatha De Danann sent for the noble king, Manannan, and they made him and Bodb their rulers, and Manannan ordained their " sidhe" to each of them. . . and he made the Feth Fiada-by which the princes `were invisible, and Goilniu's feast-which gave immortality, and Manannan's swine-which though slain and eaten were renewed perpetually. Manannan taught the nobles to settle at their palaces, and to order their triumphs like the race of the Land of Promise and of Emain Ablach. The nobles acknowledged Manannan's yoke and right and law over every festivity and feast that might be prepared in their dwellings. There was another power in Ireland at that time whose name was Ealcmar and Aengus Og, son of the Dagda, was his fosterling, and his home was Brugh na Boinne (Newgrange tumulus).

Manannan made a tour to visit all the Sidhe and Ealcmar heard he was treated disrespectfully . . . and sent Aengus to invite him and Manannan came in front of his army to the fort. . . . The powers of the Tuatha De Danann and the nobles of the Land of Promise were all there, and they were all envious of the fine house. Ealcmar sent his chief steward Dichu to seek fish and fowl, etc. and the nobles sat down and Manannan with them; Bodb Derg on his right, Ealcmar on his shield-hand, Eachdond Mor, son of Manannan at the side, and so on. Aengus was superintending the service they were very merry and cheerful. After three days and nights of this, Manannan had to clear the house, for not one of them was conscious, save Manannan and Aengus. They began to talk: 'It is a pleasant house, Aengus, and I never saw it's equal save Cruitin na Cuan or Emain Ablach. . . If I were you, it is I would have this house, and I would call on Ealcmar to give it up. You would get help from powerful friends to do so,' and said Manannan, 'Are you aware that of all the Tuatha De Danann that I am lord of your kings, senior of your hosts, torch of your battalions . . and though Elcmar be your guardian I am your tutor in valour and magic (cp. Dermot O Dyna in Gilla Deacair) and I am foster-son of the Dagda, and every one of his children who seek prosperity I have a portion to bestow on them.' ' I am glad you admit that,' said Aengus, 'and for what reason is the cairn so called' ' I will tell you that,' said Manannan . . . (gap) 'do you know that it is not fitting for Ealcmar to own the fort and to found the Brugh and, when we sit down again, go to Ealcmar and summon him to quit. That will bring you luck and to him misfortune and exile. Forbid him to return till ogham and pillar, till earth and heaven, till sun and moon be blent together."

This impressed Aengus, and he said, ' I will act on your advice.' . . Ealcmar was preparing the Brugh to welcome Manannan, and Manannan came into the place and sat with the warriors . . . everyone was happy except Aengus, who was sick with fear of summoning his guardian, but for all that he stepped out before Elcmar at the time ordained by Manannan and made a terrible incantation of expulsion against his guardian. Ealcmar straightway left the Brugh with all his people and, when he came out on the lawn, he said: ' Our break up here is pitiful, good people. It is. sad for you to leave the Brugh and it is treacherous Manannan who taught my foster-son to drive me out by magic. Woe to every foster-son after this.' Then Elcmar disappeared and all his people. . . They asked Manannan where Elcmar would go. ' I do not know,' said Manannan, 'and no sage or prophet knows it save only Almighty God.' Thus Aengus made the feast of the Brugh in honour of Manannan and of the nobles of the Tuatha De Danann."

There is no allusion to the Isle of Man, whereas Emain Ablach and an unknown spot, Cruitin na Cuan, are emphatically given as his home. If the site of Emain Ablach could be identified in Man it would be of great interest to this study, and as the place was known in the 11th century, it should be possible to locate it.

The lecturer, in summing up, said there is a quantity of romantic legend which in the earlier ages represented Manannan as a noble and dignified divinity but later on only remembered, and dwelt on, his magical powers and possessions. There is also a definite tradition that there was a mortal Manannan, and we have seen that he is particularly associated with the coasts of Man, Antrim, Down, Arran and also with a stretch of the West of Ireland and with the Hebrides. Miss Dobbs. suggested a possible foundation for this tradition, and with the advance of archaeological research thought we may possibly get a clue to more accurate knowledge as to what these traditions mean. In the meantime she hoped her researches in Irish literature might have brought Manannan a little nearer, and made him a more real figure, to his own people in this ancient Island of Man.


Vol 1 #15 pp113.

The Relations of Wales and Mann.

On 25th February, Professor J. E. Lloyd, F.S.A., delivered a lecture at the Manx Museum on "The Relations of Wales and Mann." He pointed out that, of the four countries with which Mann was concerned, Wales was the most distant, and that, in consequence, its influence was the weakest. Nevertheless, that influence was not negligible; there had been effective contact at more than one period in history. Nor had the Welsh ever forgotten the existence of " Ynys Manaw," a Celtic island away to the north which, in the bardic tradition, stood for remoteness and mystery.

As to the " Mona" of Caesar, whether Mann or Anglesey was meant by his informant was now an insoluble question, but it should be realised that there was no other ancient authority for the use of this name to denote Mann, Mona being in all later sources the name of the Welsh island and of none other. A more authentic link was the common fame in both regions of Manannan mac Lir, in Welsh, Manawyddan fab Lhyr, a mythological figure of great interest. Welshmen knew him from the Mabinojion, where he appeared as a mighty prince turned craftsman, and as the mildest and gentlest of rulers. Mann derived its Christian faith from Goidelic, and not from Brythonic missionaries, but there was one possible line of connexion with Wales, viz., the fame of St. Germanus, the patron saint of the Manx cathedral. He was conspicuous in Welsh legend and had many churches in Wales, but was not of much account in Irish church tradition.

The lecturer said we are on surer ground in tracing to Mann the origin of the dynasty of Rhodri Mawr (d. 878), which gave to Wales all its great princes from the ninth century onward. The connexion, long suspected, had been made practically certain by the discovery near Ramsey in 1896 of the tombstone of Rhodri's grandfather, bearing the inscription " Crux Guriat" (Gwriad).

Wales and Mann, Professor Lloyd said suffered alike from the attacks of the Scandinavian sea-rovers, and in 1098 both were menaced by the same Viking prince, Magnus Barefoot (d. 1103), who conquered Mann and threatened Anglesey, The menace passed away with the death of Magnus, and thenceforward Mann and Gwynedd (north-west Wales) enjoyed a measure of peace under two dynasties which were occasionally brought into touch with each other. Rhodri at Owain recovered Anglesey in 1193 from his nephews with the aid of a Manx contingent, and sought in marriage the daughter of Reginald, King of Mann. Llywelyn the Great at one time aspired to the hand of the same lady, but in 1205 transferred his suit to a natural daughter of King John.

The lecturer referred to the fact that after Wales and Mann had ceased, at the end of the thirteenth century, to be under the authority of native rulers, a new link came to be forged between them in the accession of the Stanleys to power in the northern island. This Lancashire family had important interests in North Wales, and thus it came about that from 1571 to 1633 the bishopric of Sodor and Mann, to which they nominated, was filled by Welshmen. Two of the four prelates thus appointed were men of mark, who took their duties seriously. John Meyrick' knew the Island well, and gave a full account of it to Camden, who incorporated the particulars in his " Britannia." John Phillips learnt Manx, preached in the language, and translated the English Prayerbook for the use of the Manx clergy. His labours were not adequately appreciated at the time, but, according to later testimony, he was " a singularly learned, hospitable, painful and pious prelate."


Vol 1 # 16 pp121/125

Bronze Age Tumuli.

The large mound by the side of the highroad at Smeale, Andreas, was examined in June by the Curator of the Manx Museum. There appeared to have been an original mound of red sand about 38 ft. diameter by 6 ft. 6 in. high, which had been added to, giving the present height of 10 ft.; the diameter when complete would have been 52 ft. This had been cut into and a facing of small field-stones built almost on the line of the original circumference, except across the northern end, which had been filled in to the sod hedge close by. Mr. E. Martin, the owner, said that when the highroad at this point was lowered, an Urn was found with bones and ashes and was reburied. Probably it was at that time there had been some digging, which would account for charcoal scattered in small flakes in the sand throughout a great part of the mound, as well as for the fact that an iron weight (5 lb. 1 oz.) of recent manufacture was found low down near the middle. At a point 4 ft. 3 in. above the original surface and 4 ft. 6 in. S.W. of the centre, was found a Cinerary Urn about 9 in. high by 6 in. greatest width, and 41 in. across the bottom. Unfortunately no part of the rim was recovered; what remains is perfectly plain with a low moulding round the shoulder.

Cronk Bouyr on Ballakesh, Bride, was then examined and showed no signs of disturbance since it had been used. This also was entirely of the heavy red sand of the district, but the northern half had been vaulted over by a band of small boulders firmly consolidated. The diameter was 50 ft. Near the middle was a grave built of flat surface stones and lying almost north and south. Its inside measurements were 6 ft. by 2 ft. and 18 in. deep. It appeared to rest on the original surface, above which the mound rose 7 ft. There was no covering-slab and no stone floor. It was cleared with the greatest care, but no trace of bone remained, nor were there any flints or other objects. From its S.E. end a smaller grave of similar construction, inclining slightly more toward the S.W., was also found to contain nothing but the sand which had percolated into it. Further to the S.W. a flat slab 32 in. long by 18 to 23 in. wide and 3 j in. thick, covered what appeared to be a neatly formed Cist, 15 in. diameter by 16 in. deep, with a floor lined by a flat slab and side-stones set on edge, except on the south,- but it was found to extend to a total length of 4 ft. Unlike the other two graves, this had been a case of Cremation. Its appearance suggested that it had been prepared to receive the body, but that it was afterwards decided to cremate the remains and place them in the Cist. Hitherto, in the Isle of Man, burials of the Bronze Age have almost without: exception been recorded as by Cremation. At Cronk Bouyr, for the first time, the two methods appear in the one, mound, and, in this instance, that by inhumation, is certainly , the earlier.

A tumulus on Lhergyrhenny, levelled in 1883, showed a. stone-built grave, with which was found a fragment of pottery.

A Cross Fragment.

A fragment flaked off the face of a handsomely carved Cross-Slab has been recently found in digging a grave in Maughold. Churchard. The arm bears a panel with design of our looped rings, the nearest approach to which in the Island is found on the wheel of the large broken slab at Conchan, (19) in the Museum Catalogue, (63) in Manx Crosses. A very small portion remains of the ring which connected the limbs of the cross; this is ornamented with a plait of six, both the plait and the panel design picked out with median lines and very neatly finished. The slab was probably over five feet high and two feet wide. The relief is very slight, and the general character like that of two similar flakes from the same Churchyard, 88, 89 (70, 71) ; yet each represents a separate design. The ring design in a more elaborate form appears on an Anglian Cross of late 9th Century from Thornhill, Yorkshire. On this the shaft shows a row of rings four-looped, the straps interlaced and extended to form an outer border. A somewhat similar treatment is met with in other Anglian and in Scottish Crosses, as well as on some in Ireland. The one now found appears to be Anglian of the 11th Century.

Bequest to the Manx Museum.

Miss Gelling, the executor of the estate of the late Miss Gelling, of 4, West View, Douglas, has given a number of valuable and interesting pictures, books, etc., to the Manx Museum.

The gift includes a large oil painting of a full-rigged ship of date c. 1740, two other seascapes, two coloured pictures worked in silk by Miss Graves, and two watercolours by Mr. J. E. Douglas. Among the other objects are a flint-lock pistol of the beginning of the 19th century, and a silver tooth brush and case with the hall mark 1797. There are also several Manx books, including " The Manx Note Book," " Mannin," and Bishop Wilson's " Sacra Privata."

The Tynwald at Keeill Abban.

It is exactly five centuries this year since the first recorded " Court of all the Commons of Mann" was " Holden at Killabane," in the parish of Kirk Braddan. (See p. 22 Gill's Statutes.)

The site of the Tynwald is marked on the Ordnance Map (6 in. scale) as about three or four hundred yards north of Keeill Abban ('replaced by S. Luke's Church). The exact site is known only to few individuals, and it is considered that the ancient meeting place should be distinguished by a monument which shall place it beyond doubt for all time.

The Trustees of the Manx Museum, desirous of marking the fifth centenary of the above recorded event, have agreed to place a bronze tablet, suitably inscribed, on the site in the present year.

It has been suggested that the parishioners of Kirk Braddan should have an opportunity of taking part in this memorial, and of erecting some sort of suitable cairn of stones on the site, and some large boulders, on one of which the bronze tablet could be affixed.

In order that the parishioners of Braddan, and those immediately interested, could confer together on the matter, a meeting, tookplace in the Reading Room, West Baldwin, on Friday, 1st June.

The Manx Herring Fishery.

A lecture was delivered by Mr. W. C. Smith, M.Sc., at the Manx Museum on 3rd March, styled "The Story of the Manx Herring Fishery."

Mr. Smith said that fish was the staple food of the inhabitants of the Isle of Man in past centuries, and the people were dependent to a great extent for their livelihood on the produce of the sea. The herring bulked largely in the annual catch, and was of vital importance to the well-being of the community. As early as the 13th Century, the Church claimed a tithe of all fish caught, and continued to exact this contribution until the end of the 18th Century. The Lord of the Island also took his toll, and received one mease out of every five caught by each boat. Little more than half the catch was retained by the fishermen, for the exactions of the Church, the Lord of the Isle, the Water-bailiff and other official " hangers-on," between them, accounted for something like 45% of the landings.

It was customary for the Government to make public proclamation before the opening of the herring season each year, reminding the people of the Island to have their boats and gear prepared in readiness for the fishing. The supply of nets was compulsory by Statute; and every farmer and tenant within the Isle had to provide 8 fathoms of net, furnished with buoys and corks, ready for fishing, out of every quarter of ground.

In the year 1610, a water-bailiff was appointed, whose duties were to collect the boats together, and see that good order was preserved amongst their crews, and that the Lord's share of the catch was secured. He also chose the Admiral and Vice-Admiral of the herring fleet from amongst the fishermen, and had authority to impanel juries to determine all maritime affairs.,

The fishermen were subject to very strict regulations, both ashore and afloat, for they were under the control of the water-bailiff on land, and the Admiral and Vice-Admiral of the herring fleet at sea. Divine service was ordered to be performed before the men set out for the fishing; and the Vicar or minister of the parish must proceed to the harbour every morning and evening to read Divine service and deliver good admonition, on pain of forfeiting his tithe of fish for the ensuing night, in which case it was to be given to the poor, at the Admiral's discretion, If any person neglected to attend the service when the Admiral or Vice-Admiral set out his flag as a signal, such person was to be excluded from the benefit of the fishing that night.

By the old Manx law and custom, herring fishing began on the 5th July, and generally ended in October, but the opening of the season was gradually brought forward, and operations, nowadays, usually begin on a small scale in May. The fishermen would not shoot their nets before sunset or, as it was termed, " while your hand being extended to the uttermost distance from your 'body, you could distinguish the black of your nail."

The boats of 300 years ago were much smaller than present-day craft, and it was ordered, in 1610, that all boats that went to the herring fishing must be of 4 tons burthen: They carried crews of four men; and shares were apportioned in eight parts, of which three went to the owner of the nets, one to the owner of the boat, and four to the men. The earliest record of the number of boats engaged is for the year 1670, when the figure was put at 200; and this was doubled one hundred years later.

An idea of the wages paid 250 years ago is afforded by a record for the year 1667, which states that a household fisherman was paid 13/-, a ploughman 15/-, and a maidservant of ability 9/- a year. At that time fishermen worked on the land after the herring season; and, presumably, a household fisherman was a hired farm-servant who followed the sea during the herring fishery.

The English Crown took possession of the Island in 1765, and granted bounties, two years later, to those who caught the first mease of the season, who fished the greatest number of nights, or who caught the greatest quantity of herrings. This was, presumably, to stimulate fishing operations, but the bounties were withdrawn four years later. In 1785, certain other bounties were granted, and these continued to operate until 1829, when they were suspended and have not since been revived.

Towards the end of the 18th Century, over 300 local boats were engaged in herring fishing. They were principally of 12 tons burthen, and carried crews of 7 or 8 men. In addition, 40 or 50 smacks of 20/50 tons burthen were employed in buying herrings from the fishing boats at sea. Altogether, over 2,700 Manx fishermen must have been engaged, and the Manx boats occupied in carrying the fish to market probably employed an additional 200 men, so that, practically, 3,000 Manxmen were working in the herring industry 130 years ago, out of a total population of about 28,000. To-day the population totals 50,000, and the number of Manx herring fishermen does not reach 1001

The Manx fishery was progressive during the early years of the 19th Century, as many as 600 local boats, at times, being engaged; and it was evidently considered of such importance during the time of the Napoleonic Wars that the Admiralty issued Protections for Manx fishermen against being impressed for His Majesty's ships., In 1823, the great abundance of the fishery offered, for the first time, strong inducement to several adventurers from Cornwall and the West of Scotland to try the Manx waters, and they were so successful that they continued annually to prosecute this fishery for many years. Some of the Manx fishermen were also farmers at this time, and many took small crofts, which they manured with seaweed for the year's crop of potatoes. In such cases no rent was paid, the farmers considering the manuring for the succeeding year's crop to be an equivalent for the use of the ground. Peel was the most important herring port on the Island, and, together with Port Erin, was the resort of vessels from England, Ireland and Scotland.

Complaints were general, in 1835, that profits had been greatly affected for 15 years, and earnings had not reached 10 per man for the season. No recovery in the local industry appears to have taken place before 1850, when the number of Manx herring boats engaged was 150/200, although Cornish, Scottish and Irish vessels were still coming to the fishery. The end of this period, however, must have marked the commencement of a great revival in the fortunes of the local men, for during the next fourteen years great strides were made, and in 1864 the value of the fleet had increased three-fold.

Most of the men were now full-time fishermen with shares in the boats, and they followed the herrings to Scottish and Irish waters, although some of them still cultivated the land during part of the year. Before the home season began, a number of the boats proceeded to Stornoway and Lewis, and others moved South to the Irish spring mackerel fishery, off Kinsale. At the close of the Manx herring season many of the boats would go over to the Howth fishing, in October and November, after which they would repair nets, etc., and commence the cod line fishing in Manx waters at the end of January. A much superior class of boat and nets had now been acquired, and the capital invested in equipment was double the amount of 20 years before. The cost of a boat was 240/250, and the craft were owned by speculators or the fishermen themselves; nets being owned, almost entirely, by the men. All the boats were half-decked, carrying 7 men and a boy; and they measured 16/30 tons. Shares were divided into 20, of which the boat took 2.5, the crew 7.5, and the nets 10; stores being taken out of gross earnings.

It was reported in 1879 that 1,000 boats, all told, were fishing in the Channel between Ireland and the Manx coast, and more capital was going into the trade, the gross amount invested in Manx boats alone being estimated at E147,700. Manxmen were now pursuing the herring and mackerel fishing all the year, and the mackerel operations were a most profitable part of the undertaking. The Manx fleet continued to increase, and 334 boats were engaged in 1889, but a decline then set in, and the numbers gradually dwindled until only 57 vessels, manned by about 350 men, were left in 1914, at the outbreak of war. Steamdrifters, sail, and motor-boats from Scotland and Ireland, carrying some 500 men, were also working from Manx ports; and the exploitation of the fishery was evidently coming more under control of the stranger.

The War dealt a severe blow to the Manx herring fishery, and for some years after the close of hostilities the state of affairs was very low indeed, the number of Manx boats engaged dropping to 15 in 1923, when results were the lowest on record. Chaotic political and economic conditions on the Continent resulted in the loss of the principal market for herrings, but after 1923 conditions in Europe began to improve, and to-day the markets are strong again.

During the past four years the Manx herring fishery has greatly developed, owing, chiefly, to increased operations by steam drifters from other parts of Great Britain. Local participation, unfortunately, has not developed to any extent since 1923, and only 17 Manx motor-boats were engaged during the season of 1927. The value of the total catch has risen from £10,000 in 1924 to 47,000 in 1927, but the Manx boats' share has remained almost stationary, being 4,461 in 1924, and 5,400 in 1927. About 200 vessels from other ports were engaged in herring fishing from the Isle of Man last year, and it will be readily appreciated that the Manx herring shoals are to-day being exploited chiefly by men from other parts of the British Isles.

There appears to have been a steady decline in the number of Manx vessels engaged during the past forty years, and a possible explanation for this may be found in the development of steam as motive power for herring boats during that period. Holiday traffic on the Island also greatly developed about the same time, and this may possibly have exercised a somewhat enervating effect on fishing enterprise. The capital outlay for a. steam-drifter is comparatively great, and Manxmen remained faithful to sail almost up to 1914. To-day the local boats are all equipped with motor-engines, which is certainly an advantage in the contest with the steam-drifter, and local crews have now an opportunity of competing on more equal terms.

With markets well established, the undertaking is now on a reasonably sound footing, and offers favourable opportunities for profitable venture. It should be in a position to give a fair price to the fisherman for his catch, and this may well encourage local men to commission a Manx herring fleet that will revive some of its past glories and enable them to take an adequate share in the exploitation of their ancient fishery, and so uphold the old tradition.


Vol1 #17 p131

 

Excavations at Cronk Conoly, Lezayre.

Among the place-names occurring in the Chronicon Manniae, one of the most interesting is " Leabba Aukonalhay" - a landmark upon the boundary of the Myrosco Abbeylands. A careful study of the area has led to the equation of the name (which means the bed," or sepulchre, of O'Conoly), with a mound, upon the quarterland of Balleigh, in the parish of Kirk Christ, Lezayre, which appears upon the Ordnance Map of 1867 as "Cronk Knowle."

The area around this mound must have possessed exceptional attraction as a habitation site in prehistoric and early historic times, situated as it is on a slight dry eminence, near the navigable limit of the Sulby River, and surrounded as it must then have been, on all but the south side, by the lakes and curraghs of the Northern Plain. The site is locally held in traditional regard (Cronk-e-Noo, etc.), and this fact, together with the inherent probability of its early occupation, and the interest attaching to the Chronicle reference, singled it out as especially calling for investigation.

Excavations were carried out during three weeks of August and September, 1928, under the auspices of the Manx Museum Trustees, and the direction of Mr. Wm. Cubbon and Mr. J. R. Bruce. A full report upon the work must await a detailed examination of the numerous finds, which have been placed in the hands of experts, but pending the complete account, a brief and tentative statement may be given of the actual results obtained and conclusions drawn, as to the origin and purpose of the mound and its contained structures.

The lowermost layers of the mound-but a few inches above the original ground level --contained undoubted evidence of human occupation, in the shape of charcoal-layers, hearths, stones altered by heat, etc., but no object of stone, pottery, or metal, which would actually date the settlement. Graves of a later period (7th or 8th c. A.D.) had in places traversed these layers, which are therefore of earlier date. Many years ago a bronze sickle was found in the quarterland, at a point believed to have been near the mound, and it is tempting to attribute these first indications of habitation to the Bronze Age, but in the absence of specific evidence such attribution must remain conjectural. The earliest relics which can be dated approximately are a number of slate slabs engraved with simple linear crosses, which in one or two cases were definitely associated with human skeletal remains. These burials, occurring in an elevated piece of ground, imply the contiguous existence of a keeill. The simplest and earliest' of these structures were no doubt built of sods, with a roof of interlacing branches; and the erection and subsequent ruination, intentional or otherwise, of a series of such buildings during several hundred years, would account for the gradual elevation of the mound. Direct evidence was obtained, in the shape of burials, both in lintel graves, and by plain interment, cross-slabs, iron and wood objects, etc., of a long period of occupation as a Christian burial ground, and a fragment of what must have been a large and handsome wheel-cross, with circular depressions at the junction of the arms, and with an inscription in runes across the face, points to the presence and influence of Christianised Norsemen, and is possibly as late as the 12th century.

Following upon the occupation of the site by a keeill and its associated graveyard, there appears to have been an interval during which some of the memorial stones were thrown down and broken. Subsequently, a building, constructed of stone, measuring some 25 ft. by 8 ft. internally, was erected, apparently a few feet to the South of the site of the keeill or keeills. The erection of this building caused some further disturbance to the site, and numerous slabs from the lintel-graves, as well as crosses and cross-fragments were, perhaps unintentionally and unnoticed, incorporated into the building. Of this building, the whole of the superstructure has disappeared, but the foundation courses, consisting of large slabs 4-6ft. long, bedded in the material of the mound, remain to show the position of the North and South sides. One such slab, which may originally have served as a pillar-stone at the door of the earlier keeill, or even in some yet earlier pagan guise, proved to be of quite exceptional interest. One face bears a small equal-armed linear cross, together with some crude ornament in the shape of chevron scribings and what looks like an attempt at a panel of interlaced work, while upon another face, where the stone had been worn smooth, there are a number of remarkable incised drawings of animals, apparently deer, with other markings of which the meaning is not clear. The treatment of the figures is unique, and further investigation will be needed before any estimate of the age or purpose of the work can be made.

Burials continued to take place, both in and around this stone building, and in at least four cases the grave had been sunk to the level of the undisturbed sandy ground beneath the mound and lined with roughly hacked planks. This is an interesting variant upon the stonelined medieval grave.

Among the objects found, one of the most interesting is a green glass bead, with wavy bands of red and white enamel around the sides. This was found in the crushed remains of a wooden casket, which had borne ornamental iron clasps. It is regarded by Mr. Reginald Smith, F.S.A., of the British Museum, as of Early Viking date. The excavation has yielded a remarkably large number of crosses — nine in all — and in this and other ways it has added considerably to our knowledge of one of the darker periods in Manx history, and has incidentally augmented the collections in the Manx Museum.


Vol 1 #23 pp177-181

Sir Mark Cubbon.

On 8th February, Mr. K. N. V. Sastri, of the School of Oriental Studies, London, and a native of Mysore, delivered a lecture at the Manx Museum on " Sir Mark Cubbon's Administration of Mysore 1834-1861."

Mr. Sastri said if India was a jewel in the British Empire, it was due to Britain sending out men like Sir Mark Cubbon. The more Britain sent out such men the greater would be the attachment of India to the British Empire. As a schoolboy, the lecturer played around the statue of Sir Mark Cubbon, and he was now engaged in compiling his life. Sir Mark was the son of the Rev. Thomas Cubbon, who was for a long period the Vicar of Maughold, and who died, at the age of 91, in 1830. Col. Mark Wilks, who lived at Kirby, Braddan, was responsible for Sir Mark Cubbon's success in India. The lecturer showed on the screen illustrations of Maughold Church, Kirby, full-length portraits of Col. Mark Wilks and Sir Mark Cubbon. He also showed a map of India of the period 1852.

In his administration of Mysore, said the lecturer, Sir Mark Cubbon divided it into four parts, and had a British assistant in each division. There was much danger in the villages from wild animals and Thugs (robbers), and it was Sir Mark's duty to protect the villagers. There was also a horde of officials collecting the taxes, and the villagers were ruthlessly plundered. It was because of this corruption that Sir Mark was sent to Mysore. When wild elephants were a menace to the crops he gave 2 a head for their capture, and then sold the tusks for 3, making 1 profit for the State. He paid 10 rupees reward for each tiger, and similarly dealt with stags and antelopes. He improved the breed of native cattle, irrigated the country, running the water off into sluices and channels, and thereby helping the peasants enormously. He helped on the sugar industry, finding work for some of the people, and succeeded in getting Mysore sugar exported to England without being taxed. He also helped in the coffee growing industry, and in the trade with sandalwood. There were on Sir Mark Cubbon's arrival nearly 5,000 toll gates, and every conceivable thing was taxed, sometimes to three or four times its value. Sir Mark relieved these taxes and tolls, and in their place he had to find revenue, which he did without imposing on the people. He also had roads made throughout Mysore, and passes through the mountains of the west. As he got older, Sir Mark could not bear the heat of the country, so he used to visit Wolf's Hill, thirty miles away, where he built a bungalow. The lecturer mentioned that Sir Mark was decorated with the Order of Knight Commander of the Bath. He left Mysore in 1860 through ill-health, never having been home for sixty-one years, and died on the way home to the Isle of Man. His body was, however, brought home and buried in Maughold churchyard.

The lecturer concluded: " He was a worker for the people. He saved them from anarchy, and he tried to purify the administration and make it more enlightened. What was remarkable in him was his earnestness, his courage, and his extreme activity and skill.

He was of the type of Wellington. He was a great administrator, earning the gratitude of the people. He found the place bankrupt, the debts being greater than the actual cash, and he worked it up so that when he left there were 134 laks of rupees surplus after he had abolished the transport duties and other vexatious charges."


S. Patrick's Isle.

Summary abstract of Interim Report of the Rev. Canon John Quine, M.A., on his examination in 1929 of certain of the Ancient buildings on St. Patrick's Isle.

Note :-The Report relates to the more ancient edifices on the summit of the islet, clear within the circuit wall of Peel Castle. The less ancient buildings lower down on the line of fortification will be the subject of another Report.

St Patrick's Isle

i.

The more ancient buildings consist of St. Patrick's Church; its Irish Round Tower and a large building close by, usually called " The Armoury." These form a group: but near and subsidiary to them is a small church north of St. Patrick's, a small building west of the group, a mound with ditch and certain earthwork embankments around the high plateau of the islet; and (as being, probably the earliest approach way) the " sally-port" at the north-east limit of the islet.

ii.

" Inis Patrick" (=Patrick's Isle) occurs in the Annals of Ulster (A.D. 798) when pagan Norsemen " burnt" it; and also " broke the shrine of Dachonna." Dr. Todd identifies it with Peel islet in which view, a religious community was already here, i.e., 400 years after Ninian's time, 300 years after Patrick's, and 200 years after Columba's time.

Jocelyn, Abbot of Rushen (1190), calls it " a certain promontory still called St. Patrick's Isle"; and says that St. Patrick " placed the episcopal seat . there." As St. German's Cathedral did not exist in Jocelyn's day, and St. Patrick's undoubtedly did then exist, he means it was the then Cathedral, and traditionally the Bishop's church.

The " Chronicon Manniae" says that Magnus Barefoot of Norway, in his campaigns of conquest (1094-1103), " landed at St. Patrick's Isle"; and that, " seeing this isle very beautiful, to his view, he chose it as habitation for himself and constructed fortifications in it . . ."

Bjorn his skald (in " Heimskringla") implies that Magnus came to Mann on his first expedition (1097), bringing from the isles Lagmann (son of Godred Crovan) a prisoner in irons. He clearly found the islet and its port to suit him as base for his projected conquests. The questions now arise, (1) what edifices already at that time existed on the islet? and (2) what structures did King Magnus cause to be erected?

iii.

The " fortifications" of Norwegian Kings of that period were the "burg of turf and timber," or of " stone and timber"; that is, timber stockades on embankments of earthwork, or of earthwork reinforced with stone.

Quite manifestly then the vast enceinte, which the Earl of Derby utilized 400 years later as alignment and foundation for the existing circuit wall of " Peel Castle" was the work of King Magnus (1096) ; the timber, provided by the people of Galloway (vide Chronicon), and brought across by the King's vessels.

But already at that time there existed an older earthwork higher up around the high level of the islet plateau, the usual protective enclosure of the early religious community. Whether King Magnus added a stockade to this as an inner work is not an important question. But it is safe to assume that the religious community was in being, with St. Patrick's Church, the Round Tower, and some smaller buildings, of which all have perished except one. But for the moment the important question is with regard to the Armoury. But extreme caution is necessary before a decision can be confidently given.

iv.

Down to the 12th century and much later Norwegian kings, and nobles had residences of timber; the churches, also, for the most part of timber. It is important to note the succession of Kings-St. Olaf (d. 1030) ; Magnus the Good (d. 1047) ; Harald Hardrada (d. 1066) ; Olaf the Quiet (d. 1094) ; Magnus Barefoot (d. 1103). Magnus the Good began a " stone hall" in the King's garth at Drontheim. Harald Hardrada completed this "hall" and built St. Mary's, " a minster-wrought strongly in lime." He had spent many years of military service at Constantinople ; and had visited Jerusalem, Sicily, and North Africa; and therefore had seen much architecture in stone. Olaf the Quiet began a new Christ Church of stone, and in his time a Merchant Guild built St. Margaret's of stone, etc.

Magnus Barefoot therefore was acquainted with stone churches, and also with a " stone hall," completed by Harald his grandfather "in the King's garth." That "stone hall" was badly lighted, as told in " Heimskringla" " Mirk it is in the King's Council Chamber." The figures given below make " the Armoury" answer rather well to this description.

v.

The Armoury.

Armoury St patrick's isle

This " hall of stone" is by the Round Tower on the south of it; a space of ten feet between. For foundation some of the rock knoll was quarried away. The long axis is east and west, oriented more north than St. Patrick's Church, its north side almost in line with the south side of the church.

The exterior dimensions are 74 x 24 " Old English" feet (13.22 inches), a measure disused after (A.D. 1435). Its apertures are an cast gable door; three windows on the north side; three on the south; and two in the west gable. The S.W. window has been replaced by a door. The windows have the rare structure of a double-splay, the light slits (30 in. x 7 in.) admitting in all less than 15 square feet of light, where the floor area is 1,500 square feet. Truly, " mirk, it is in the Chamber."

The circumstantial evidence rather tending to show that it was a " skali" (or stone hall) of King Magnus, has however to be balance with other evidence of 11th century conditions in Mann that may justify its being regarded as an ecclesiastical edifice of somewhat earlier date. The architecture corresponds to the period under consideration, and will be considered later on in this Report.

N.B.-This will appear in further instalments of this Report.

Vol 1 #24 pp186/9

S. Patrick's Isle. (Second Instalment.)

REV. CANON JOHN QUINE, M.A. The King's Hall.

Armoury

i.

Positive evidence points to "The Armoury" as an ecclesiastical building, of date somewhat earlier than the arrival of King Magnus Barefoot (1097). But also further evidence points to another building still standing on the isle as the " residence" of King Magnus : being (as it is) the type of "hall" in fashion in Norway in his time; and the site, on the east brow of the isle, immediately commanding the anchorage of his fleet sheltered from the incessant westerly winds; and, in those days, with clear view of the estuary harbour inland, where ships might be ebbed for overhaul.

Magnus, born 1073, was formed to the fashions adopted by his father Olaf the Peaceful, in whose reign (1067-1093) peace brought prosperity, trade and wealth to Norway. " The cheaping-stands of Norway hove up much " Then came into vogue drag-kirtles laced to the side; sleeves five ells long, trussed by arm cords up to the shoulder; high shoes all sewn with silk and even embroidered with gold."

There were also new Court customs wooden wooden beakers (instead of horns) for drinking; trencher-swains to pour out drink, and candle-swains to hold candles before the King and his guests."

Moreover there was a wholly new arrangement of things within the King's hall; and a new type of hall.

ii.

Formerly the "high-seat" had been on a dais, on one side midway of the hall lengthwise. Olaf the Peaceful "was the first to have his high-seat on the high-dais athwart the hall: the Marshal's seat . . . looking up the hall to the high-seat."

This implies the building of a new type of edifice; and building is explicitly shewn : " he " was also the first to build halls with ovens " (wall fireplaces), and to bestraw the floor in winter as well as in summer."

In the older type of hall (the long skali) the fire-hearths were along the middle line of the floor: much of the floor occupied in that way in winter. But as fires were not needed in summer, rushes were strewed over the area of the firehearths. In the new type of hall, equipped with a wall fire-place, the carpet of rushes was laid down all the year round " in winter as well as in summer." The new hall, " with the high-dais athwart," was wider in proportion to its length than the long hall or " skali" : and this new type once adopted was thenceforth necessary to befit royalty. It is a hall of this type that. still stands on St. Patrick's Isle.

It is clear that Tynwald in Man is more King's Court than people's Thing; much more like the "Things" of the Kings of Norway than like the people's Things of Iceland. The bestrewing of the midsummer Tynwald may very well date from the introduction of that usage at the Court of King Magnus on St. Patrick's Isle.

When King Magnus arrived at St. Patrick's Isle (1097), the tenth year of the reign of William Rufus (who built the Tower of London), it was an age of much building. In England a type of hall had been evolved in general proportions such as those of Westminster and of Winchester; and fashion (the insidious invader in all ages) had brought its ideas to Norway.

King Magnus was 24, in the flush of an imperious manhood; his characteristic, to affect such fashion as best became a King his aspiration, "fame rather than long life." He had in mind a scheme of conquests; or rather a set of descents on Wales, Scotland and Ireland. His "fortifications" and his " residence" on St. Patrick's Isle, were therefore not for mere passing or temporary occupation; but an equipment for the requirements of Court as well as Camp. He was accustomed as prince in his father's time, and then as King, to halls of the new type. If the hall was to be of timber, the ship-wrights of his fleet equipage could erect that type of residence; and quite possibly that material was used. But the existing hall of stone may very well be the original edifice. As a place of deposit, and for the safe-keeping of loot, St. Patrick's Isle was entirely adapted to the King's requirements: and that object had still its place in the plans of a King of Norway.

 

The Companions of King Magnus.

The " Chronicon" says that King Magnus " reigned over the Isles six years" (1097/103). Two expeditions are related in " Heimskringla" and in the Orkney Saga: if there was another expedition, its incidents are included in the account of the first.

In the first he brought with him from Orkney, Hacon son of Earl Paul, and Erling and Magnus, sons of Earl Erlend, to serve him as pages and to learn war-faring. From the Isles he brought in irons Logman, son of Godred Crovan (who had fallen defending Islay). The Norwegian nobles with him were Eyvind his marshal, Vidkun Jonson; Sigurd Hrani'son ; Wolf Hrani'son ; Sark of Sogn ; Dag Eilif'son; Skopti of Gizki (the King's kinsman) and his three sons Ogmund, Finn and Thord; Kali of Agdir and Kol his son.

These were all men famous in the sagas. Hacon eventually became Earl of Orkney; murdered his cousin Magnus ; made a penance journey to Jerusalem and reigned afterwards in good repute. His daughter Injibjorg became the wife of Olaf I (King of Man). Young Erlend fell in the second expedition. Young Magnus refused to fight; sang psalms during the battle of Anglesey Sound; deserted and escaped to Malcolm, King of Scots; returned to Orkney to be martyred by his cousin Hacon ; and ended by being glorified as St. Magnus of Orkney. Kali was "wise, " dear to the King, and a good rhymer" : the King also himself a rhymer ; and, in order to tell the story of his achievements, had with him two official skalds, Bjorn Cripplehand and Thorkell Hammerskald. Young Kol, Kali'son, eventually married Gunnhilda, sister of "Saint Magnus," and was the builder of Kirkwall Cathedral (along with his son Rognwald, Earl ,of Orkney (1136). These all were present at the Court of King Magnus in St. Patrick's Isle on his first arrival (1097).

Of Skopti the King's Kinsman.

Of Skopti, and his three sons Ogmund, Finn and Thord, the after fate was wondrous romantic. After the return to Norway from the first expedition, Ogmund saved the King in the flight from the Swedes after the battle of Foxern. " King Magnus was easily known " . . he had a red surcoat over his byrny " (chain mail), the hair silky flaxen falling down over his shoulders." Ogmund rode on " one side, and said, `Give me the surcoat, 'King.' The King answered, `What hast ' thou to do with the surcoat?' ` I will have 'it,' said he. The King gave his surcoat to " Ogmund, and he donned it; and turned right athwart and his company. When the " Swedes saw that they all rode together after him. So the King rode away to the ship; "but Ogmund drew away . . . and yet came " hale aboard ship."

But " Skopti (King's kinsman) fell out with King Magnus, and they strove about an heritage. Skopti took care that he and his sons should never be all at the same time in the King's power. Skopti in the quarrel addressed the King thus, " I take after my fore-elders to hold my right against any one, and in that I have no respect of person. Finn sought the King and said I looked for something else from thee, King, than thy robbing me of law herein, whereas I went in thy service (against the Swedes) as few others of thy friends would do! Ogmund, who had saved the King's life at Foxern, said: " Will that saying be sooth " in this case, that the giving of life most men reward ill or nought? I shall never again come into thy service, nor anyone of our fatherhood "

Next Spring thereafter Skopti, with his three sons, " in five longships well dight," sailed to Flanders, France, and through Norvi Sound (Gibraltar Strait) . . . to Rome . . .. " there died Skopti . . all died in this journey " . . . but Thord the last . . . in Sicily." Skopti was "the first of Northmen to sail " through Norvi Sound . . . and most famed " was that journey!"

These then did not accompany King Magnus on his last expedition; but were already far away, to find a new lord (no doubt) in Roger the great Norman Count of Sicily-.

The Fate of King Magnus.

King Magnus ended his first (or his second) expedition by a treaty with Malcolm, King of Scots, who ceded to him all claim to the Isles including Cantire, across which at Tarbert his galley was drawn overland.

" When King Magnus came back from his west-viking he held much to the fashion of raiment . . . in the Westland; and . . . his men likewise. They would go bare-legged in the street and had short kirtles and over cloaks (kilts and tartan-plaids?) . . so then men called him Magnus Barefoot or Bareleg."

" In St. Mary's Church in Cheaping (Dron theim), which King Harald (his grandfather) had built . . . . were hammered out three crosses,. . . Harald's height (uppermost) . . Olaf's height (midway) . . . Magnus' height " (nethermost) . . . where each of them might kiss the handiest!"

In the battle where he fell in Ulster (Aug. 24, 1103) he is thus arrayed: " King Magnus " had a helm on his head, and a red shield, and laid thereon a golden lion; girt with the sword 'Legbiter,' tooth-hilted, and the grip gold-wrapped; he had a spear in hand, a silken surcoat over his byrny, and a silken " lion shorn out on back and breast, gules . . ."

" Eyvind the Marshal had a red silken surcoat of the same fashion as the King's."

In the retreat, before the victorious Irish, who had ambushed the Northmen, the King called to Thorgrim and bade him fare over the dyke := ` We will defend it meanwhile," says he, "so that ye take no hurt . . . . and " shoot at them while we fare over the dyke, " for ye be good bowmen!" But when Thorgrim and his men got over the dyke they cast their shields on their backs and ran down to the ships!

King Magnus got a spear-thrust through both thighs above the knees. . . He gripped the shaft and brake off the spear head: " Set ye on well: I shall be none the worse," he called to his men: but he was hewn on the neck with a sparth, and that was the death of him." at the age of nearlv thirty. deemed to be masterful, nimble, noble and word handy."

" There fell with Magnus, Eyvind the " Marshall,. Wolf Hrani'son, and many others ". . . . Vidkunn slew that man who was the banesman of King Magnus; he himself had " gotten three wounds . . . He bore to the ship " the sword ` Legbiter' and the King's banner. " . . These three men were the last to rum; ".Vidkunn, Sigurd Hrani'son and Dag " Eilif'son . . ."

" But the. Northmen that got away left the " land straightway that harvest." From Strangford Lough it was a short run to St. Patrick's Isle, their rendezvous.

The Chronicon says that Lagman reigned it seven years." He was then at St. Patrick's Isle a prisoner; and from that year (1103) we may date his freedom by amnesty, and the beginning of his reign, as successor to Godred Crovan with acknowledgment of the suzerainty of Norway.

The " residence" of King Magnus Barefoot would therefore pass into the hands of the kings of Man: and there can scarce be a doubt but that it was the residence of the kings of Man until 1250, when Magnus Olaf'son, last King of Man, conveyed St. Patrick's Isle whole and entire to Richard the Bishop shortly afterwards dying at Castle Rushen.

Magnus' Hall


Vol1 #23 p180/1

The Isles of Man and Mona.

The last lecture of the winter session at the Manx Museum was given by Mr. Edward Owen, M.A., reader in Welsh Mediaeval Antiquities at the University of Liverpool, on " The Isles of Man and Mona."

Mr. Owen said that " Man" and " Mona" meant precisely the same thing, and the words were found nowhere but in Celtic districts. The Romans did not seem to have occupied the Isle of Man, but they did occupy Mona (Anglesey), and had left signs of their occupation there. There were Roman remains in Anglesey, including the fortifications at Holyhead. After a period immediately following the withdrawal of the Romans, about 500 years elapsed before either island made a considerable appearance in history. A celebrated chieftain or king was supposed to have been driven from the Isle of Man and took refuge in Mona, from whom Anglesey became the founder of a very important line of princes. The lecturer referred to the charter of Rushen Abbey, and the place names that it contained. One was Staynorthai, a Norse name, meaning Stayn - stone, and Arthai - Arthur, or the stones of Arthur ; and endeavoured to associate the name with the Round Table in the South of the Isle of Man. Mr. Owen also referred to the fact that land in the Isle of Man was divided into treens, and said there was a corresponding word in Welsh which also meant dividing the land into three portions.


Sir John Ross.

Professor James Johnstone, a trustee of the Manx Museum, has directed attention to the fact that in Sir John Ross's "Arctic Expedition, 1829-33," mention is made that the ship "Victory," in which he sailed to the Arctic, had been employed between Liverpool and the Isle of Man. The " Manx Sun" makes mention of the ship in several issues. She was bought by Captain John Ross, R.N. (after having been advertised for sale) at Liverpool in 1829, and was then refitted and altered. She was classified as Al at Lloyds in 1829, 120 tons, schooner rig with engines and detachable paddles, " no flue," 8 feet paddles. Trade, " London to North Pole." The engines were a complete failure and were put ashore on Boothia in October, 1829.

In the summer of 1830 Ross was unable to liberate his ship from the ice. In 1831 he was still icebound, but in that year, by land travelling, he discovered the North Magnetic Pole in Boothia. In 1832 he was still icebound. He abandoned the ship in May 1832, sailed South in boats, was picked up by a whaler and reached Hull in October 1832. He had a crew of 24, and lost three men during the voyage.

Ross was knighted, and so was his friend Felix Booth. He received 5,000 from the Government and his crew received 4,580.

The "Manx Sun" for 9th June, 1829, recorded that "Douglas has been favoured during the past week by a visit from the celebrated Northern navigator, Captain Ross, in the vessel with which he is about to proceed on another polar enterprise. The expedition is fitted out at his private expense and that of his friends. The employment of steam power, in addition to that of the wind, constitutes the prominent feature in the present plan. It will be recollected that a small steam vessel, the Victory, employed some time ago in trading to and from this port, now forms the foundation of the present ship, but so built upon as not to be recognised. The immense quantity of timber employed in her for the protection from ice, does not certainly add anything to her beauty; but, for the present instance, beauty must yield to safety. Her engines are of 40 horse-power, and of the peculiar construction; they are said to combine the principles of both high and low pressure. The furnaces for the reception of the fuel are very small, but the formation of steam is rapidly promoted by the blast of bellows worked by a 4 h.p. engine, and the steam in consequence can be raised in little more than half an hour. Coke is used instead of coals, and even oil, and other combustibles may be employed if necessary. The paddle wheels can be elevated or depressed at pleasure, and when not in operation they are kept completely out of water, so as to form no obstruction to the ship's way. They are constructed of wrought iron, instead of wood, and are not placed at right angles with the wheel as usual, but cross it in a slanting direction. We hope that by the powerful aid of steam the voyage may be brought to a successful issue. Should this prove the case, it will furnish additional laurels for the brow of the ingenious author of this noble invention, and the names of Watt and Ross will be entwined and handed down to posterity together. The Victory is provided with presents for the Esquimaux, and also with a number of boats, two of which were used by Captain Franklin, and have been furnished by Government.

Commanded by such an able officer, and manned with a gallant and enterprising crew, we may reasonably hope that the attempt will at length succeed, and thereby gam, in addition to mere fame, the, substantial recompense so liberally proffered by a generous nation."

 

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