[From ManxNoteBook vol ii,1886]
THE ARMORIAL BEARINGS OF THE ISLE OF MANN: THEIR ORIGIN, HISTORY, AND MEANING
OR THE HISTORIAN AND THE ANTIQUARY THE ISLE OF MANN HAS PECULIAR ATTRACTIONS. It appears with the first dawn of reliable history, so far as these islands are concerned, in the Commentaries of Julius Caesar, where he says:" In the mid sea between Britannia and Hibernia is an island called Mona." Colonised by the ancient British tribes, it remained long, like the isle of Anglesey, a chief seat of the Druids
Then it fell in succession under various yokes, the Scots, Irish, the Welsh, the Anglo-Saxons, who in their turn were overcome by the Danes and Norwegians; and for near four hundred years the Vikings, those terrible pirates of the North, ruled with a troubled. sway over Mona. At length, in the year 1266, the island was ceded to the King of Scotland, after which event its history ceases to have any bearing on the subject of this paper. To the antiquary a thousand points of interest present themselves. Commencing with the prehistoric stone circles, barrows, and cromlechs of the primitive Celtic inhabitants, here are also to be found many remains of early British churches, founded in the fifth and following centuries by the followers of St. Patrick, whilst the Runic monuments, inscriptions, and crosses attest the long sway of the Northmen, their amalgamation with the natives, and their adoption of the Christian faith. Here, also, alone in Europe, is to be witnessed a perfect living example of the primitive folk-moot, or open-air assembly of the Notables, held yearly on the Tynwald Hill, when the laws of the island are publicly recited and proclaimed in Manx and in English-a wonderful survival, which Mr. Gornme perfectly gloats over; for, lastly, the Manx have Home Rule and yet are very loyal, as indeed they have good reason to be.
And now we come to the special subject of this paper, the armorial bearings of the island. Here, as in Liverpool, this strange, quaint device, the Three Legs of Mann, meets one at every turn; and there is nothing, perhaps, in connection with the island that gives rise to more curiosity or wonder. What was the origin of a sign so remarkable ?-what its hidden meaning?-for significance it must have had, and a momentous one. We naturally turn to the volumes published by the Manx Society for a solution of the enigma, and the fifth, published in 1860, is especially devoted to the subjedt. Here then, surely, our curiosity will be satisfied It is entitled Vestigia Insulae Manniae Antiquiora; or, a dissertation on the Armorial Bearings of the Isle of Man, etc., by H. R. Oswald, Esq., F.A.S., &c. In this volume Mr. Oswald points out that no armorial emblem in connection with the island is known to have existed before the time of the Norwegian domination ; the earliest traceable is that on the flag of the Norse Vikings, which was emblazoned with a ship in full sail, apt symbol of these sea-rovers. The ship has one mast, is clinker built, and resembles closely the Manx herring boats. Amongst the Cottonian MSS. there exist two charters of Harald, King of Mann, with the dates 1245-46. Their seals bear the ship on one side, and a lion rampant on the other. But after the cession of the island to Alexander Ill. of Scotland, twenty years later, this emblem of the Norwegian kings disappears entirely, and the three legs symbol takes its place, continuing to the present day. The form we usually see is thus described in heraldry:Gules, three legs armed, conjoined in fesse at the upper part of the thighs, flexed in triangle, garnished and spurred, or. Motto : Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, that is whichever way you throw it, it will stand." But this is a later modification, as the armour does not correspond to the thirteenth century, and in the earliest examples, which are of the time of Edward 1. of England, the legs are covered with chain armour, and are without spurs. There is also no motto, which, indeed, is evidently the invention of a later age. The earliest example of the arms of Mann, as now emblazoned, given by Mr. Oswald, is not earlier than A.D. 1480, and this is without the motto. It appears then, almost certain, though we possess no literary document recording the fact, that to Alexander III. of Scotland is ' due the introduction of the "tre cassyn" as the distinguishing arms of the Isle of Mann. But whence did he get it ? He did not originate it, as Mr. Oswald points out ; for every antiquary knows that this striking emblem was figured in various forms on Greek coins and Etruscan vases four or five hundred years before the Christian era. These, however, would be utterly unknown to a Scottish king in the thirteenth century, and neither Mr. Oswald nor any other writer, so far as I know, helps us to a reasonable solution of the difficulty. At first 1 thought it probable that Alexander might have derived it from the bradeates or gold medals, which he must have often seen worn on the breasts of Norwegian kings and cheftains. As amongst other nations, so it was the custom with the Northmen, to wear for amulets ornaments containing the sacred signs. With the Anglo-Saxons the signs were often formed of pieces of coloured glass or garnets set in gold. In the North they were formed of plain gold within a circle. The "fylfot " of the Northmen, or the "suastika," as the figure is called in lndia (see fig. 8), was used as the emblem of their god Thor, the cross (fig. 9) as that of Odin, and the triskele " (fig. 7) was the emblem of the sun-god Frey.
This latter is identical with the armorial bearing of the Isle of Mann, as will be demonstrated further on. But, as will be seen, the emblem on those medals is invariably of a ruder, more primitive, and rudimentary type. It never appears on the Danish and Norwegian braaeates as three well-developed male legs; and it is not likely that the Scotch of that age would at once make the transition to a more advanced and artistic form. We must, therefore, look elsewhere. Is there any nation that has employed this symbol-the three legs of man-on its coins, buildings, and banners, from before the Christian era down to our own day ? There is, and only one-Sicily. Appearing first on the lovely Sicilian Greek coins about 3oo B. C. it was so frequently repeated that the Romans gave the name of "triquetrum" or three-cornered to the symbol itself. whilst the island of Sicily was called "Triquetra," the three-cornered or triangular island. Through all the reverses of the Sicilians under the Romans, Goths, Saracens, and Normans, it was still used as part of their national arms, was embroidered on their banners, and carved on their buildings. Surely, then, from the Sicilians it must have been borrowed by the Scottish king. But how would the knowledge of it reach ? In several ways, perhaps. To the Crusaders we owe the introduaion of Heraldry, and the era of the Crusades had not yet passed by. In the first enthusiastic longings to free the Holy Land from the Infidel even Scotland was moved. As William of Malmesbury writes:-,, The most distant island and savage countries were inspired with this ardent passion . . The Welshman left his hunting, the Scotchman his fellowship with ane his drinking party, the Norwegian verinin, the Dane his raw fish." The Crusades had a most salutary influence in diffusing a knowledge of other countries. and Sicily, which shared so largely in the fortunes of the Crusaders, was the common resting-place on their way to the Holy Land. We must also not forget that Alexander's mother, a Norman-F:rench princess, married for her second husband the son of the crusading king of Jerusalem. In this way then a Scottish king in the thirteenth century might have become acquainted with the arms of Sicily. But a far more potent influence than even the Crusades was the Norman conquests from the ninth to the fourteenth century, which placed the descendants of the Northmen on the thrones and in the high places of Church and State in nearly every country of Europe. Those hardy sea-rovers who swarmed forth from the shores of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, went forth conquering and to conquer.
Their very religion was fitted for a nation of warriors, since a place in the Walhalla of Odln could only be won by those who had overcome and slain in battle.
The Swedish Norsemen directed their expeditions chiefly against the eastern coasts of the Baltic ; they overran and subdued a large part of what is now called Russia. in the tenth century they became dangerous enemies of the Byzantine empire, the coasts of which they reached by way of the Black Sea, and its capital, Constantinople, they attacked with upwards of one thousand ships,' or boats, in the year 941. The Danish Norsemen ravaged and conquered nearly the whole of Germany and France, especially planting themselves in that part of the latter which was thenceforth called Normandy. These, the Normans of history, a most warlike, vigorous, and brilliant race, rapidly adopted the highly civilized form of life that prevailed in the Frankish kingdom, its religion, language, and manners, but inspired everything they borrowed with their own splendid vitality. In the year 1066 they finally overthrew the Anglo-Saxon monarchy, and William the Conqueror, the descendant of a Norse Viking, established the Norman rule in En-land. About the same time they obtained a footing in Southern Italy, a, before the end of the eleventh century, Robert Giliscar and his brother Roger, both sons of a Norman knight Tancred de Hauteville, were acknowledged by Nicholas "as Lord of all lower Italy, and Counptopo Sicily. The latter and his descendants filled the Sicilian sees with Norman bishops, and many proo might be given of the close Intimacy that existe between the Normans of Sicily and those of England Thus William II, or "the good" (died 1187), niarriec can of England, sister of our Henry II, and had for his tutor, and afterwards prime minister, Walton-of-the Mill, an Englishman, whom he appointed Archbishop of Palermo, and who built in 1169 part of the present cathedral. Frederick II (1197-1250), the most illustrious of the Norman kings of Sicily, married for his third wife Isabella, daughter of Henry III. of England, by whom he had a son, Henry, who died young. After his death, Manfred, a natural son of Frederick, who inherited many of the great qualities of his father, was appointed regent in 1254. Pope Innocent IV. excommunicated him, and then claimed his kingdom as forfeited to the Holy See ; but Manfred maintained his rights with an army and as he was supported by the Neapolitan and Sicilian people the Pope had no chance of succeeding unless he invited some foreign host into the heart of Italy. His successor Alexander IV. looked round among the princes of Europe for help, and at length, in the year 1255, he offered the crown of Sicily to Henry I I I. of England for his younger son Edmund, and the priest-ridden king joyfully closed with the shameful proposal, ag.reeing to raise an army and march into Italy, accepting first a considerable advance of money from the Pope to commence the enterprise, and proposing to raise what more might be necessary by borrowing on.h's own and the Pope's security. Considerable preparations were made, and the king conferred upon his son beforehand the title of ,,King of Sicily." In the circle of the English court this arrangement gave the highest satisfacction. The young Prince was paraded in public in the Italian costume, and with the state of royalty. He set his ring, though but a boy, to a deed by which the Bishop of Hereford, John d'Aigue-Blanche, received the crown of Sicily as his proxy (June 22, 1259). Banners, no doubt, with the three-legged symbol of Sicily were duly prepared, and the prince quartered the Sicilian arms with the royal arms of England.
Now mark the close connection of these facts with the subject of the present paper. Alexander III. of Scotland, and his queen, Margaret, the youngest daughter of Henry III, visited the English Court at that very time. The treaty between the Pope and the King of England was signed April 9, 1255, and the visit of Alexander took place in August, 1256. They were received with great pomp and state, and passed several months at the English Court. Doubtless the young Scottish king would take the greatest interest in the preparations that were being made for the invasion of Sicily. Its future king was his wife's brother, and he would promise to raise a Scottish regiment to join the English army; whilst the queen and her ladies would busy themselves in preparing banners bearing the triqtietra of Sicily. For several years (1255-59), the court continued occupied with this business, when Henry Ill, who was always in debt, finding that he could no longer make it an excuse for raising more money, allowed it to pass into the limbo of forgotten projects. A few years later occurred the invasion of Scotland by Haco, the Norwegian king, his defeat at the battle of Largs, the destruction of his fleet in a tempest, and his death; soon after which event the Isle of Mann was ceded to Alexander, that is, in 1266. What more likely than that the king, when he struck the Norwegian flag, should replace it by one bearing the picturesque and striking device of Sicily, an island having so many points of resemblance with that of Mann, over which his wife's sister had ruled as queen, and her brother had been appointed as king ?*
And now we come to the most interesting question of all, the true origin and meaning of this symbol. Alexander, we have shewn, probably borrowed it from the Sicilians, who in their turn had employed it continuously for fifteen hundred years before his time.
Doubtless he was perfedly ignorant of its histurn. mean primitive
but it was appropriate, P'
stri i"~'and it served
From whence, then, did the Sicilians get it, and what was the idea It originally conveyed to them ? On referring to Oswald's volume we meet with nothing but vague guesses, flung out at random. Here is one that he quotes from Nisbet: " It was a device of the Sicilians, the ancient possessors of Isle of Mann," an assertion which we know to be false. There is nothing easier than to solve a difficulty by manufaduring evidence. Another says, "The three legs conjoined were used by Sicily- in allusion to its three headlands or promontories, whence its name, Trinacria." But this also is set aside by the fad that the device is found on many early Greek coins of inland towns having no connedion with Sicily. One antiquary suggests that Alexander adopted the three legs running, 11 because, as mentioned by Boethius, the Isle of Mann had become the common resort of refugees, vagabonds, and runaways ! " Another, 'because the island looks towards three kingdoms-England, Scotland, and Ireland "; and, he adds, "from their former connedion with it, legs have crept into the bearings of many private families in England! The Earl of Derby, for instance, quarters the Manx arms among his armorial bearings because the Stanleys were for two hundred years the lords of Mann." Finally, Oswald tells us, as his own conclusion, that the three legs symbol 11 is doubtless a chimera;" that is, I suppose, a mere freak of fancy. A most lame, and impotent conclusion! which surely did not require an elaborate volume to set it forth. So we are left, for all Oswald's researches, as far off as ever ; and the most recent Guide-Books to the Island, by Cumming and jenkinson, add no more.
Now this device is called by the Manx, 'tre cassyn," the three-footed ; it was named by the Greeks "triskele," the three legs; by the Romans, "triquetruml" the three-cornered, or triangular. Various forms of it are seen on Assyrian gems or signets, and on the coins of many Greek cities and colonies, as those of Aspendus, Lycia, Macedonia, and the Thracian Odomanti. These range from 600 to 400 years B.C. Then come the Sicilian coins, which have continued to repeat this curious symbol down to the beginning of the present century. It has been found also on early Greek and Etruscan vases, and on the curious gold medals or bradeates won by the Northmen from the sixth to the thirteenth century. Unfortunately, these ancient peoples have left us no literary monument to tell us what they understood by it, and we are left to solve the enigma by the study of their figured monuments. These, at least, prove at the outset that it was once a religious symbol or hieroglyph of the deepest significance.
And now we find ourselves face to face with the tremendous question on which libraries of books have been and will yet be written: What were the ancient pagan worships-how did they originate-whence were they derived-what was their hidden doarine ? The popular theory until of late, maintained, for instance. by Jacob Brvant, Faber, and the late Cardinal Wiseman, was that all these religions were corruptions of a primitive revelation, made to Adam or to Noah; but this idea has been so little supported by recent discoveries that it had gone out of fashion. Max Muller holds that man has always been a religious animal, and that his religions have been the result of his yearnings after the Infinite. Such an idea is too unpra&ical and intangible to help us in our present enquiry. Indeed, there is something very carnal and business-like in most of these religions, the worshipper making as good a bargain as he could for mutual profit between his god and himself. Thus the prophet Habakkuk gives us a vivid picture of the Chaldean fishermen in his time worshipping their nets for good success. "Therefore," says he, "they sacrifice to their nets, and burn incense to their great drag-net, because by them their portion is fat and their food plenteous." How could Max Muller's theory aid us in grasping the reason for such an anion ?
Surely the fundamental idea that underlies all religions is the natural desire to propitiate, to gain over to our side every power that can help us or harm us, the mightier the better; and man looked abroad into the world ever in search of more powerful allies. It was bodily fear and hunger that first made man religious not a longing after the Infinite. And what objedl would claim his earliest worship-his deepest, most passionate homage? Surely the all-glorious Sun, by which he was warmed and fed; which daily awoke him from sleep and summoned him forth to labour. Was not the sunrise to him the first wonder, the first beginning of all refiedion, of all poetry, of all religion ? How shall we, ',the latest seed of time," realise the awe with which the earliest dwellers on the earth saw that brilliant being slowly rising from out the darkness of .the night, raising itself by its own might higher and higher, till it stood triumphant on the arch of heaven, and then descended and sank down in its fiery glory into the dark abyss of the heaving and hissing sea. As Max Mtiller tell us, ,In the most sacred hymn of the Veda, the poet still wonders whether the sun will rise again; he asks how he can climb the vault of heavenwhy he does not fall back-why there is no dust on his path? And when the rays of the morning rouse the worshipper from sleep, and call him back to new life; when he sees the sun, as he says, stretching out his golden arms to bless the world and rescue it from the terrors of darkness, he exclaims, "Arise 'our life, our spirit has come back; the darkness is gone, the light approaches." This, the morning prayer of the Brahmin, is the most sacred verse in the Veda. We might go through all the chief natural religions in succession, and it would be seen that they are more or less forms of sun-worship. Take that of ancient Egypt. Osirls, the supreme god, was the setting sun, the sun of the underworld; and the hope of every pious Egyptian was that in that world he might be united with Oslrls, sail with him through the various regions of the heavens, seated in the solar boat, to rise with him as Horus, the rising sun, overcoming the darkness; the soul triumphing over death ; the conqueror of Typlion. As to the religion of the Eastern nations, Dr. Oppert says, 'All the Pheenician gods were forms of Baal, the sun, and all their goddesses Astarte," that is, the moon and earth goddess. The Teutonic nations spoke of the sun, as , the eye of Wodin, and they also called the sun the face of their god" (Grimm, Dezitsche Mythologie.) For so prominent an object in the picture-gallery of the human mind, a si-n or picture-symbol must have been invented at a very early period. The circle, as found in the Egyptian hicroglyphs, in the Chinese picture-writing, and in our common astronomical tables, would be the simplest possible sign. But something more was needed to indicate speed. One mode was to represent the disc as winged; thus was formed the Mihr, the most sacred emblem of divinity amongst the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians (see figs. i i and 38). Another far simpler device, one of the commonest and most primitive of all, was formed by crossing the disc with four lines, and thus giving it the semblance of a wheel. Those early thinkers could not conceive the sun's disc as rapidly moving onward unless it revolved as well-trundled, in faa, like a wheel. And thus the wheel, usually four-spoked, became a well-recognised solar emblem (see figs. 2, 3, 4, and 5). It appears on the reverse of many early Greek coins. The Northern sun~god held it as his symbol, and the worshippers of Mithra, the Persian sun-god, at their religious feasts partook of a consecrated bread in the form of circular cakes, with a cross on each, as his emblem. But the human mind in its restless a&ivity was not satisfied with this; it endeavoured to give the idea of motion to the spokes of the wheel, and of motion in one direction, too. This was done ingeniously enough, by taking away part of the rim of the wheel, leaving sufficient to indicate its course; and thus was produced the ,6siiastika" of the Hindoos, the "Fylfot" of the Northern nations, perhaps the most characteristic and universally diffused of all the mystic emblems of sunworship (see figs. 8, 15, and 16).~ It was inscribed, along with other well-known sun-emblems, on the circular amulets of terra-cotta found in great numbers by Dr. Schliemann amid the ruins of ancient Troy. It was borne by the warriors of Greece, Etruria and Rome, on their helmets and their shields, and was marked on their funeral urns. It is repeated on the hem of the garment of a grave-digger in the Roman catacombs, and appears constantly as the sign of Thor on the gold bradeates worn as sacred amulets on the breasts of the Northern Vikings (see figs. 18, 20, and 23).
Amongst the many remains of sun-worship which still linger in the Isle of Mann, one is especially interesting in connedion with the present subject. On the ' 5th July, that is, old Midsummer day, in each year is held the great assembly of the island around the Tynwald Hill. On the summit sits the Lord of Mann, or, his representative, his face to the east, and his sword held with the point Upwards. The preceding evening, or Midsummer eve, fires are light d on the hills and the day is called in Manx, Lhaa Boaldyn, i.e., "the day of Baal's fire." A cart-wheel, tarred over and bound with straw, is taken to the top of a high hill, is then set on fire, and being started it trundles along into the valley beneath, a rude yet expressive emblem of the sun.+
But a further development took place in the mind of these primitive worshippers. They conceived of the sun as a living being, resembling glorified humanity. The wheel was but the one visible wheel of his fiery chariot, drawn by four white horses. And thus the sun-god as a charioteer is a favourite device on the early Greek and Roman coins. See especially fig. 29, where a representation of the solar orb, rayed, forms the head of the charioteer. Sometimes a horse galloping, often winged to increase the idea of speed-the sunhorse-does duty for the whole (see figs. 22 and 32). The horse was counted specially sacred to the sun, because, as Herodotus explains, it is the swiftest of animals.*
In those old Pagan faiths which consecrated every pleasure, the chariot races became a joyous form of sun-worship. On the spina of the Circus Maximus the statue of Apollo stood next to the obelisk, itself a sunemblem, and thus struck the key-note of the allegorical allusion in the chariot-race. The course ran due east and west, or the stin's daily path. The twelve doors were the twelve signs of the Zodiac. The four faaions, with their respective colours-green, red, blue, whitewere emblematical of the four seasons ; the foiir-yoked chariots were the sun, the two-yoked the moon, and the seven tinies round the course symbolised the seven days of the week, or the seven planets. On the top of the obelisk was a polished brass globe called the 11 pyropus," from which the sun's rays, refledled, seemed to bring the god of ~ay nearer to the race-course. " Flammasque imt*taitte Pyropo "is the description of Ovid. And thus the sun presided over the races at Rome.
In the Book of Psalms the sun is compared to a swift runner. To the Hebrew poet the sun is "as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race " (Ps. xix, 5). Here are two very dlstln(,t ideas of the all-glorious sun, conveyed in the two pidures. First he is the generator, the fertiliser, the source of new life; second, he moves through the heavens as a racer, a swift runner. The same ideas are embodied in a Greek coin of very early type (see fig. 24), in which the sun-god Apollo appears, holding in his right hand a budding branch, emblem of fertility and new life. He strides along-it would have been infra dig. to represent him as running-but the idea is conveyed vividly by a little nude figure, like his own, on his extended left arm, having four wings, two to the arms, two to the ankles, who is both running at full speed and flying at the same time. Now it was a frequent practice to represent a complex symbol by some small portion of the same, which, so long as it was characteristic, served to remind the devotee of the whole. Accordingly, the Greek warrior represented on an archaic vase (fig. 25) has placed on his circular shield, itself an emblem of the sun, the representation of a single leg running, and that was counted enough. The shield became thenceforth a sacred amulet, which claimed the special protection of the god.
But again, they desired to combine in one powerful symbol the two conceptions of the sun as a revolving wheel, and as a swift runner; and this was at length accomplished by the invention of the symbol we are discussing, the " triskele " of the Greeks, the "triquetrum " of the Romans, the "tre cassyn " of the Manx.
Some intermediate stages were, however, passed through before the three legs symbol appears in the artistic form perpetuated for two thousand years on the Sicilian coins. Sometimes the "fylfot" or "swastika "appears formed by three naked human legs in the attitude of running, winged at the heels, with a " phallus" in the border between each. The wing and the phallus, be it remarked, are both sun emblems (see figs. 27 and 30). Later on, the Sicilians usually represented the legs naked, and sometimes armed with greaves, like the Greek warriors of the time. On the earliest known Manx example the legs are encased in chain armour, without spurs. And thus we have traced the pedigree of the three legs of Mann to the primitive solar wheel, the tire being excluded as useless, since the idea of running, yet rotating was obtained without it. Indeed, the dirty little boys in our streets when they "turn wheels" before the 'buses, do their best to reproduce the type.
A very curious question now suggests itself: Why three legs only ?-and a volume might be written in reply. Well, to begin with, the number has been reduced to the fewest practicable, on that principle of economy already enunciated. You cannot have a wheel with less than three spokes; and less than three legs running in a circle, however grouped, would not appear to rotate, yet in all positions stand firmly. But there is much more than this in the matter. Amongst the most noted symbols of the sun were the horse, the lion, and the cock-the horse for its swiftness, which idea was further intensified by representing it as winged ; the lion as suggesting strength, dryness, heat, and for other reasons. A red lion, with the sun behind, is still borne on the standard of the Persians. The cock, that announced the dawn, was especially sacred to the sun. Now, on the oldest gems and coins we frequently meet with this rotating sun-emblem, in which each element is replaced by a winged lion, or a winged horse, or a cock, and always as a traid (see figs. 36 and 37). Of course, the explanation already given, founded on the idea of apparent stability, would no longer account in these forms of the emblem for the invariableness of the number. Indeed, the longer one studies the symbols that have survived to our time of these old natureworships, the more one perceives that even the apparently trivial details in them are full of profound meaning. Three is with all of them the most sacred number, and trinities and triads abound. Thus, in the Northern mythology, although Thor, Wodin, and Frea, the three great gods, are usually represented as separate persons with different attributes, sometimes we see instead a single body with the three heads; and again, each of the three! gods had three forms or manifestations. Many attempts have been made to explain this remarkable phenomenon. A primitive revelation of the Christian dogma of the Trinity in unity has hitherto been the most popular. Whatever be its origin, one thing is certain, that the idea was generally diffused over the ancient world long before the advent of Christianity. Let me venture to suggest another possible explanation which, so far as I know, is new. The great parent-languages of old have usually three numbers-the singular, the dual, and the plural. Many of these Pagan peoples were, as St. Paul testified of the Athenians, "in all things God-fearing, very religious." They strove to represent their God as infinite in his attributes, powers and manifestations, and yet endeavoured to do this by the simplest means. The principle of economy, therefore, suggested the number three as being the smallest number that would represent the indefinite P12tral, and therefore express the attributes and manifestations without number of the Godhead. So interesting a topic might well tempt us farther, but we must refrain.
Let us, by way of conclusion, sum up in a few words the results of our enquiry. There is not the slightest trace of the three legs symbol having been employed in connection with the Isle of Mann until after the cession of the island to Alexander III. of Scotland, in 1266. The only arms or emblem known to have been used before that time was the ship in full sail, the sign of the Norwegian kings; but ever since that period, down to our own day, the three legs running in a circle has been the heraldic emblem of the island. It was borrowed by the Scottish king from the Sicilians, of whose island it has been the distinguishing badge for two thousand years, his knowledge of it having been derived from and his attention called to it by the offer of the Sicilian crown to Henry III. of England, and afterwards to his son, Prince Edmund, who indeed assumed the title of King of Sicily, and who were respectively Alexander's father and brother by marriage. This heraldic sign was originally a religious emblem of the most sacred charaaer, derived from and always associated with the worship of the sun. It was probably, invented by the ancient Chaldeans or Assyrians, and borrowed from them and humanised by the ancient Greeks who colonised Sicily. Like the " fylfot " or swastika" it was a modification of the solar wheel by incorporating also the idea of the sun-god as the swift runner, the racer, and was reduced from four to three elements to form one emblem, yet a sacred, united traid, expressing by the lowest indefinite plural number the innumerable, the inexhaustible attributes of their Supreme God.
JOHN NEWTON, M.R.C.S.E.
[This Paper, was read last year before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Liverpool, whom we take this opportunity of thanking for their kind permission to reproduce the annexed plates. Dr. Newton has since made some slight alterations.-ED.]
Matthew Paris, Chronicle, 1254-60; H. Gally Knight, The Normans of C. H. Pearson, History of England during the Middle Ages, Vol. ii; E. W. Robertson, Scotland under her Early Kings, Vol. ii; A. C. Hare, Southern Italy and Sicily. * Also " Manx Note Book," Vol. I., pp. 1-15.-ED.
+ Bonfires are still lighted, but cart-wheels are no longer trundled.-ED.
* The sacred horses and chariot of the sun preceded the armies of Cyrus and Xerxes (Herodotus i ' 189 ; vii, 55), and when Josiah destroyed the idols of alienated Judah " he k away the horses that the kings of judah had given to the sun, at the entrance to the temple of Jehovah, and he burned the chariots of the sun with fire " (2 Kngs XXiii, I I).
EXPLANATION OF THE ILLUSTRATIONS.
Fig. i.-The Solar disc, usual form in the Egyptian hieroglyphs.
Fig. 2.-The Sun-wheel, as a solid disc with axis. This is the form still used to signify the Sun in Astronomy, as it was by the ancient Astrologers.
Fig. 3.-The Sun-wheel with four spokes. This was the form of the sacred cakes used at the Mithraic Banquets.
Fig. 4.-The Sun-wheel with a central axis. This is found on the reverse of early Greek coins, filling the entire field.
Fig. 5.-The Sun-wheel with eight spokes, much less common in ancient art than four.
Fig. 6.-The Sun-snake or Serpent, within a circle, is a sacred emblem frequent in Chinese and Japanese Art. It is an elegant mode of representing a wheel rotating, reduced to the simplest possible elements. See 8 and 14.
Fig. 7.-Here we have the idea of rotation still better given by three spokes, curved to give the idea of diredion : a primitive form of the three legs symbol.
Fig. 8.-Origin of the , fylfot " or 11 suastika," by leaving out part of the rim of the sun-wheel.
Fig. 9.-The spokes only of the sun-wh e forming a cross, often used alone as a solar sign.
Fig. 10.-The Sun-star, a frequent sun sign, developed from 5.
Figs. ii and 12 are from Babylonian or Assyrian seals, figured by Layard, Culte de Mithra. The sacred Mihr or winged sun in 11, is replaced in 12 by the " triskele, " as fig, 7, shewing their common origin and significance.
Figs. 13 and 14 are from very ancient coins of Lycia, figured by Sir C. Fellows, and exhibits early forms of the "triskele, " still retaining the central axis of the solar-wheel. On No. 13 it appears impressed on the body of the solar-griffin. On No. 14 it is accompanied by the sun-snake, which also retains the axis.
Figs. 15 and 16 shew well the origin of the , fylfot" from the solar-wheel. The first is from a coin of Lycia (about 500 B.C.), the other is from an Etruscan ear-ring figured bywaring. "Ceramic Art in Remote Ages."
Fig. 17.-An Iron Spear-head, from Brandenburg, N. Germany, covered with sacred signs, among which sun-wheels, the "fylfot, " and the "triskele " are conspicuous. Waring.
Fig. 18 is from a gold medal, or bradeate, figured by Worsaae, in his Ancient Arts of Denmark. It represents Thor with the he-goat, surrounded by the suastika or fylfot, the triskele, and the crqss (formed by four suns) the signs for Thor, Odin and Freya.
Figs. 19 and 20 are Scandinavian ornaments, from Thorsberg, containing the same sacred signs. Worsaae.
Fig, 21.-From a very ancient Greek coin of Aspendus; it exhibits well the origin of the triskele from the sun-wheel.
Fig. 22.-From a coin of the ancient Britons, represents the sun-horse with wheel underneath; above is an emblem like the primitive triskele, but with eight curved arms, modified from the eight spoke wheel, fig. 5.
Fig. 23.-Another braateate, from Worsaae's Work, represents the Scandinavian triad : Thor in the centre, Odin with sun-horse, Freya with sword, surrounded by three cross-signs, and the triskele, which, though primitive in form, gives the idea of running.
Fig. 24.-From an early Greek coin of Caulonia, represents sun-god, nude, with his four-winged counterpart, running and flying. British Museum.
Fig. 25.-A warrior, from an ancient Greek vase, on whose shield is figured a leg running. Waring.
Fig. 26.-Three legs armed with greaves, running in a circle, borne on the shield of a warrior; from a Greek vase found at Agrigentum in Sicily. Waring.
Fig. 27.-From a very ancient Thracian coin, representing three legs running. There are wings to the heels, and three phalli or fleur-de-lis. British Museum.
Fig. 28.-The sun-chariot with the sun-lion running under; from a coin of Syracuse, about 480 B.e. British Museam.
Fig. 29.-The sun-god in his chariot; instead of a human head is the solar-disc, rayed. Roman denarius. British Museum.
Fig. 30.-The three legs running, and winged, having for centre the solar-disc, rayed ; from a coin of Syracuse, 300 13.C. British Museum.
Fig. 31.-The sun-lion with the triskele, two sun symbols in one; from an archaic coin of Aspendus. British Museum.
Fig. 32.-The sun-horse winged, three the legs running under: from a coin of Syracuse, 300 13.c.
Fig. 33.-The sun-god winged, in his quadriga, or four-horse chariot, having the eight-rayed sun emblem above; from a coin of Syracuse.
Fig. 34.-The same, but the triskele of three legs replaces the eight-rayed sun symbol; from a Syracusan coin. British Museum.
Fig, 35.-The three legs running in a circle, having for centre the head of the sun-god winged. This ancient form is still used in Sicily.
Fig. 36.-The triple symbol formed by three winged lions from an Assyriari signet. British Museum.
Fig. 37.-The same, formed by three cocks, with the solar-disc in the centre; from a very ancient coin of Lycia. British Museum.
Fig, 38.-The Mihr, or winged solar-disc, that special emblem of the Divine presence common to the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Persians, is here represented as a triple triad, three figures, three wings, and the glory or lightning is three-forked; from an Assyrian signet. British Museum.
Fig. 39.-Three flowers on one stem, each a triad; the sacred device on a Jewish shekel of Simon Maccabaeus, 13.c. 139, British Museum.
Fig, 4o.-The terminal knobs of an ancient Danish neck-ring, decorated with sacred signs. One bears a triskele with three others inserted, the second has the triskele enclosing three triangles, each made by three dots. From Worsaae.
Fig, 41.-The ship (slightly restored) on the seals of Harald, King of Mann, dated A.D. 1245 and 1246. British Museum. From Oswald's Vestigia.
Fig. 42.-First appearance of the Three Legs of Mann; from seal of a charter, about A.D. 1300. British Museum. Oswald's Vestigia.
Fig. 43.-The later form. Oswald.