[From Journal Manx Museum vol 2 p153, 1934 ]
BY PROFESSOR H. J. FLEURE, D.SC., F.S.A., AND G. J. H. NEELY.
This monument had been partly ruined in the last seventy years, but two old sketches by Sir Henry Dryden, dated about 1853, gave valued clues, though they are very difficult to interpret.
The first task undertaken during 1932 was to try to determine as much as possible of the plan of the monument and to save fallen stones and, where possible, to replace stones that had been removed within living memory. The finding of details of the plan was greatly facilitated by the fact that the surface soil containing many stones contrasted strikingly with a yellowish clay subsoil. By careful skinning it was there-fore possible to determine beyond any doubt a number of holes in the subsoil that had held standing stones. Sometimes it was possible to estimate the size of the stones that had stood in the holes, though it was difficult to gauge the allowance for packing.
One of Sir Henry Dryden's sketches showed three standing stones (which had disappeared) on the south side of the forecourt, and by measuring offsets from a median line in the fore-court equal on N. and S. sides, the holes for the three stones were located on the south side. Near the westernmost stone-hole on the S. side the stone which had almost certainly occupied the hole was found lying buried under the turf. It was of shaly material and rootlets had forced cracks, but the pieces were fitted together and the stone cemented and set up in situ. Stones which had been taken from the monument for use for farm purposes were brought back and were set in the holes identified. We could not say that any of these were the actual stones that formerly stood where we placed them, but we chose stones that showed something of the pro-portions of the stones sketched by Dryden, and we marked these restored stones '1932.'
At this stage we had knowledge of three stones on the S. flank of the forecourt, but there were only two on the N. flank, corresponding to the two more westerly ones of the south flank. We therefore estimated by offsets the probable position of the hole of the third stone and found this hole within a few inches of our measured estimation. A restored stone was inserted here, but we have no guide to the proper proportions, as there is little in Dryden's sketches to help us. Moreover the other large stones on this side are giants, and we have not yet a giant available for this place, though it may be possible to get one later on, thanks to the generosity of Mr. Harry Kissack. The giant on the N. side of the E. flank of the forecourt was raised with the help of Mr. Corteen of the Dhoon Quarries. It was estimated that this stone weighs 6 tons.
With the raising of this stone the forecourt began to resume something of its ancient dignity, and the next task in this area was to remove the accumulations of stones on the surface of the f orecourt. It was f ound that digging had taken place at some spots, but that elsewhere, at a small depth, slabs occurred which were remnants of an ancient rough paving, while at one spot in a disturbed area a pile of these slabs had been built up, in all probability by a previous digger. We therefore felt justified in concluding that the forecourt was paved, and after marking the paving slabs that are still in situ, we completed the pavement in order to preserve it, using the slabs that we found piled up around the area that had been disturbed.
In the course of this work, oil the pavement of the forecourt a quite small vertical stone was discovered centrally placed and jammed in position by pavement. We think this might pos-sibly be an original feature, and we have left it untouched. On the N. side of the forecourt what may be remains of a cist were discovered and left for future examination after fruitless sieving of loose dry earth on and round about it. Several minor verticals were revealed in the outline of the forecourt, as well as one probable piece of drywalling much disturbed by large tree roots which were carefully removed during the work of the 1933 season.
The demonstration of the plan of the fore-court was the most striking part of the first year's work, but a good deal was done elsewhere.
The series of chambers was cleared and some fallen stones found and reset in their original places. Two holes were also identified, and more or less suitable stones were set up in them. They are to be marked '1932.' This gave five chambers, but unfortunately no holes could be traced on the N. side of the fifth chamber. After some discussion we placed one in this position in 1933. The N. and S. laterals of the chambers usually lean inwards and give the impression of having been supports for roofing stones.
East of the nave of chambers was a mass of stones which were picked off, revealing a large mound of burnt shale some 10 ft. in length and 4 ft. in breadth and in height. As the mound lies exactly along the line of the chambers. and as it has obviously long been buried, we have concluded that it is an ancient, probably even an original feature.
Behind some laterals of chamber 1 were found what may be either collapsed drywalled and more or less corbelled chambers of small size, or merely packing. Some loose earth from the N. side yielded a few small bits of ancient pottery when sieved. An original but small vertical was found a little way back from the line of the laterals in chamber l.
Running obliquely outside the line of chambers, and well to its south, there was known to be a line of low vertical stones of which about six had been identified. We found one more in situ buried under plant growth, and two more were found, fallen and buried, and were set up in situ. It was proved (by absence of holes) that the line did not extend eastwards beyond Stone 9.
Just here around the mound of burnt shale were found what seem to be paving slabs, and on what appears to be the S. edge of the monument there were 2 vertical slabs (one previously known), each set with its faces E. and Whether these are remnants of stones that formerly stood higher we could not feel sure. \lr. Cannan told us that he remembered two stones in about that position which once touched one another at their top ends several feet above ground (i.e., they may have made another 'port-hole' or they might have slipped into this posi-tion). We looked for other stone-holes in this area and found one in which we placed a vertical at least pro tern. We have not found a second hole near this one, but at a point somewhat further west blackish organic material was noted. This matter of a possible second porthole and of the standing stones in this position remains for further consideration.
On the north side of the chambers one vertical was found, and neither its position nor its orientation paired with anything on the S. side. We found, however, what appear to be large numbers of paving slabs, and some on the \ . flank of the monument still have a slope. It is possible that in some cases these slabs may be verticals that have fallen.
The S.E. end of the monument was specially investigated because of a fallen giant which was reset in its original hole. Careful examination then revealed a few courses of the base of a dry wall, which in this area had apparently formed the boundary of the monument. Between the dry wall and the great stone at the E.S.E. were found quantities of smooth beach quartz pebbles. Several more were found near the two low verticals standing parallel to one another on the S. side, one occurred in the material behind the N. lateral of chamber 1, one near the vertical in the N. region that, so far, is unrelated to any other stone, and a few on the `paving' at various spots.
A bone was found near the hole for N. 2 in the forecourt, but finds were conspicuously scarce.
The pottery, as Mr. Stuart Piggott has already stated, is very early, and we agree with him that it approximates to the type known as Windmill Hill A. It still remains to be demon-strated whether resemblances of this kind indicate any close relationship or whether they are just both quite rough.
The monument resembles that at Carn Ban in the Isle of Arran, Firth of Clyde, but is appar-ently better preserved and shows more features. It is closely akin to the monument that formerly existed at Anna-cloch-mullin in Ireland. The type is akin to that of monuments of the ,'Eneolithic Age in Sardinia.
The investigation was continued in 1933 and the chief new results may be summarised as follows:-
(1) A study of large stones in a sloping position on the N. side revealed the fact that they were the oblique line of stones, paired with the series of low verticals on the south side, but they had been pressed down by a huge dump of field stones above them. They were reset, and it was found on further clearing that the floor between them and the series of chambers was paved with rough slabs continued eastwards along the north side of the mound of burnt shale to a point beyond the mound.
(2) An isolated group of stones north of the northern oblique line show such resemblance to a collapsed cist that it was rearranged in this form, admittedly conjecturally.
(3) The mound of burnt material was examined and found to contain a central plat-form built up slab above slab to a height of some 19 - 20 ins. In the burnt material there have so far been found a small piece of bone and some fragments of vesicular material that are being investigated. In spite of sieving nothing else was found here.
(4) On the south side of the monument a continuation of the foundation of the dry wall was traced westwards.
(5) The space between the series of cham-bers and the southern oblique line was investi-gated for pavement, etc., and the results suggest that the area had been disturbed, but this question is reserved for future investigation.
(6) Eastwards, at the point of junction of the two oblique lines and the line of the cham-bers, a stone some 4ft. long, accompanied by two smaller ones, was found under the turf. Its regular rectilineal form as well as its position suggested that it had meaning, and it was thought best to preserve it by setting it up in position to crown a small low cairn. If such a cairn existed originally it might well explain the sudden stopping of the dry-wall when traced northwards from the south-east corner of the monument. Pavement reaches eastward to about the base of such a possible cairn.
(7) The floors of the chambers were examined and here alone, in spite of much sieving of earthy material treated in every part of the monument, were found fragments of ancient pottery in some, if nevertheless small, quantity. Flints were also found. They are to be investigated more closely.
H. J. F. AND G. J. H. N.