[From Mannin vol II]

Folk-Lore Notes.

Two Charms.

Thor's hammerHESE two charms, the Crosh Bollan (fig. 1), and Thor’s hammer (fig. 2), are of great antiquity, and the former is of particular interest in folk-lore, as it is not confined to the Isle of Mann or even to the "adjacent islands." This charm is the upper palate of the wrass (a rock-fish), of which the Manx name is bollan, and from its triangular shape is called cross, or crosh, bollan. The merit of the Crosh Bollan is to keep the wearer of it from the power of the Little People, and I am told also that one cannot make a mistake when carrying it on one.

Crosh Bollan

During the summer of 1912, Prof. Boyd Dawkins was staying with Prof. Ridgeway, of Cambridge, who was keenly interested in a charm that had just been sent to him from the Aegean Islands, and which was still in use there. On seeing the charm, Prof. Boyd Dawkins exclaimed "I can send you a duplicate of that from the Isle of Mann!" and gave Prof. Ridgeway a crosh bollan precisely similar to the Aegean one. It would seem that certain charms were almost as common a symbol among widely separated peoples, as the Fylfot.

The Thor’s hammer, is also from the mouth of an animal, being one of the tongue bones of the sheep. Its use is to shew the right road to take when in unknown country. Some fifteen years ago I was driving on the Curraghs, and came to cross roads which puzzled our driver. He exclaimed to us, "I wish I had my charm in me pockut an’ then I could tell the wan to take." On being asked about his charm,he explained that you throw it down on the ground, and the long arm will point to the right road for you.

During the British Association meeting, at Belfast, In 1902, Prof. Boyd Dawkins was shewing the identical hammer which our driver had given him, to a number of archaeologists whilst travelling on a day excursion among the people in the railway carriage was a working man, who said that when he was a little boy living in the country districts of north Lancashire, his mother always tied one of those Thor’s hammers round his neck so that he should not lose himself on the hills. One of the archaeologists was Prof. Haddon, who had received that day a Thor’s hammer from Scarborough,

It would be extremely interesting to know if these two charms are met with elsewhere. For the drawings I am indebted to the kindness of Miss A. Mathison.


 [see also Maxiana, 1870]


In regard to the curious note from Kirk Andreas contributed by "Cushag" in the first number of MANNIN, it may be remarked as a parallel, that modern Italians will not sleep with their heads towards the bedroom door, as it indicates that if you do, so you will be carried out head first,—i.e., as a corpse.

When I was a boy playing on Douglas shore, children called certain small smooth stones "lucky stones." I forget if they were white stones or flints. I mention this in order to draw further evidence. It is worth mentioning that certain white stones were anciently revered in Scandinavia. (See D’Alviella’s "Migration of Symbols").

When I was a child my mother used to tell me that the howling of the wind round the eaves of our house was the crying of the Phynodderee. What she said, not very seriously, to me, may have been seriously told to her when she was a child.

Bonnie Moon, Simla. F. SWYNNERTON.


The following old Manx Nursery Rhyme was recited to me by a Manxman now resident in England, who remembered hearing his mother sing it when he lived with her as a boy in Peel. Il do not find that it has ever been published. it is not only pleasing in its rhythm, but the reference in it to the buggane recalls the time when that creature was held in fear by the Marx people and adds to the charm of the little piece. I am not, however, sure of the spelling of "swynkle swee" nor of the significance (if any) or the words.


Peddyr beg swynkle swynkle,
Peddyr beg swynkle swee,
Haink y buggane rish Peddyr,
As Peddyr boght ec e vee.
Roie y buggane fo yn voard
As roie Peddyr fo yn chair;
Dooyrt y buggane rish Peddyr,
Cha jeanym rhyt veggan aggair.


Little Peter swynkle swynkle,
Little Peter swynkle swee.
The buggane came to Peter,
And poor Peter at his meat.
The buggane ran under the table
And Peter ran under the chair ;
Said the buggane to Peter,
I'll do you no harm-so there. Lonan.

When I was a little boy my grandfather used to take me to the old trammon trees to see the fairies' ears, and warn me not to touch them for fear the fairies would do us harm, for they lived in trammon trees when they were far away from the hills.

A farmer's wife in Baldwin, who had given some milk to a neighbour's child, called the little girl back and put a pinch of salt in the can, saying-"There now, that'll do, thou were just getting away, and thou might ha' took all the luck with thee."

There had to be plenty of clean water in the crock; the poker and tongs had to be in their places; and meat of some sort had to be left on the table before the fire every winter's night before going to bed, so as not to vex the fairies.

If you happen to be on a lonely road by yourself, and happen to hear something that's making ye afraid, say, "Shee Yee dy :ow ma rhym," and then nothing can harm you.

Ashburton, New Zealand, J. R. MOORE.

Prize Folk-Story.

Harry-Crab as yn Mob-beg.

Haink Mob-beg gys traie, as roie ad harrish yn genniagh fliugh er-gerrey da oirr ny marrey. Va'd erchee dy bayrtyn ny conneyn as to mee ginsh diu kys v'ad goll dy yannoo eh. Tra va'n tidey er hraie honnick ad shenn Harry-Crab jesh va troailt noon as noal dy gheddyn lhongey-bee 'syn astyr. Va Harry boght greim- mit oc as v'eh currit stiagh ayns cruick-ushtey oc. Reesht roie ad harrish yn traie as sheese jeh ny brooghyn hie ad, choud as va keeiragh tuittym er yn thalloo. Ghow ad fea fo'n cleigh as ghow unnane jeu veih'n phoagey echey famman cainle. Nish ghow ad yn partan veih'n cruick as kiangle ad thiurid jeebin er yn lurgey echey ; as tra va'n cainle er ny foaddey oc, ghow ad as hug ad ee er yn dreeym echey, as ren adl ee shikyr lesh yn gierr cheh. Nish v'ad cur eh ayns dorrys towl chonning, as roie Harry ersooyl sheese y raad chew-sthie. "Ogh, hogh," va Buck-mooar gyllagh, "Cre'n oyr shoh ! Vel jerrey yn theill eu?" "Cha nel fys aynis" dooyrt yn partan, "agh ta'n Jouyl hene my lurg." "Roie guillyn, roie" deie Buck-mooar, as va'd Boll ooilley fud- :,-cheilley gys dorrys, agh, ogh, hogh ! Va jerrey yn theill ocsyn dy-firrinagh ! Hie reesht Harry-Crab, agh cha nel dooinney erbee gra c'raad hie eh-gys yn thie ain--ny thieyn yn Mob-beg!

Harry-Crab and the Mob-beg.

The boys would be comin' down to the shore in the everin', running over the wet sands when the tide was low. It was after rabbits they were, and I'll tell you what they were going to do. At the edge of the tide hey saw a smart oul' Harry-Crab thravellin' back an' forrards, picking up a meal's meat. Poor Harry was soon puck up at them, and put into an oul' bucket they thad, an' away over the sands they came running, an' up the face of the brooghs, an' the twilight closing down upon them. When they had taken ress under a hedge for a bit, one of them took an end of candle from his pocket. Then they took the partan from the bucket and tied a length of twine to his hind-leg, and set the lighted candle on his back, fixing it with the hot tallow. Then they set him down at the door of the burrow, and away ran Harry down the road inside. "Ogh, hogh," yelled the Buck-rabbit, seeing the light coming, "what's to do now! Is it the end of the world that's in?" "I don't know, indeed," said the partan, "but th' oul' falla himself is after me!" "Run boys, run," cried Buck-rabbit to the rest, an' away they all ran helter-skelter for the door, but Ogh, hogh, the end of the world it was for them in deed. Harry-Crab came back, but the man was not sayin' which road he was taken'-to his own home---or to the homes of the Mob-beg.




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