BY PROFESSOR W. BOYD DAWKINS, F. R. S.
IN accordance with his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor's request, Professor Boyd Dawkins, F.R.S., has made the following able report on the Antiquities of the Isle of Mann, and the best means of preserving them:-
Manchester, 21st September, 1885.
Having been requested by your Excellency to inquire into the question of the Antiquities of the Isle of Mann, and after having examined a large number of them under the able guidance of the Rev. E. B. Savage, I beg to present the following Memorandum:-
1. The ancient Kingdom of Mann has long been known to contain large and varied series of remains which are worthy of being preserved and recorded, not merely for the sake of their great local interest, but on account also of the light which they throw on early Christian art, and on the complicated and little known relation of the Northmen to the Celtic population of the British Isles. This may, in my opinion, be done at a very small expense, and to the great and lasting advantage of the Manx people, and of the students of the ancient history of NorthWestern Europe.
2. The principal objects to be aimed at are:
(a) the existing remains;
(b) the record of those which now,exist, and of those which either have disappeared, or are now disappearing by the action of the weather, by the progress of cultivation, and by wanton mischief;
(c) and lastly, the record of the old Manx place-names.
3a. The Runic Crosses which are exposed to the weather are more or less rapidly being destroyed, and should as far as can be, removed from suitable places into the parish churches, and pieced together where it is necessary. If some steps be not taken to protect them from the action of the weather, and from wanton mischief, an important portion of the materials for working out the ancient history of the Isle of Mann will be destroyed; one at Jurby, for example, has been converted into a gatepost, and one at Braddan is used as a stile, others have been carried out of the Island by visitors, others have been used as building materials in the modern churches. One disappeared as late as the building of Bride Church, within the last ten or twelve years. They should not be removed from the parish churches, church yards, and village greens, into one central museum, because they form a part of the history of each parish. Those which are in private hands and cannot be restored to their proper churches, should be collected together in a museum, and preserved in the Island. It be noted that these crosses throw a flood of light on the early Christianity in the Island, and form a part of a group of monuments widely scattered over North-Western Europe.
3b. There is a large and important group of remains in the Island, which in the main stand apart (b) Pre-historic and from written history, but which reveal the unwritten Non-historic Remains. history of the Island in very remote times. They consist of habitations, camps, places of assembly, and of tombs. They lie scattered over the surface of the country, generally in relation to the streams and the coast, and in no relation to the existing roads. They are for the most part unrecorded, and, in some cases, incorrectly represented in the Ordnance Maps. Hitherto they have been protected by the current superstitions, but these are rapidly vanishing away, leaving them without protection. They are at present being destroyed needlessly, and in some cases merely for the sake of destroying them. The alignments, for instance, in the wood behind the New Church at Braddan, have recently been injured by some of the upright stones having been thrown down, and thus an interesting national Manx monument has been seriously damaged.
4. Some of the prehistoric and non-historic remains in the Island should be carefully preserved from destruction, such, for example, as the Braddan alignments. This might be done in the Island, as it has already been done in England, Scotland, and Ireland, by the selection of the most important of them by a competent authority and by their periodic inspection under some such Act of the Manx Legislature as "The Ancient Monuments' Act" of 1882 (45, 46 Victoria ch. 73). The Island in which the prehistoric remains are more numerous than in any other equal area of the British Isles is the only portion left unprotected.
5. It;is very desirable that no time be lost in accurately recording everything that can be gathered concerning the antiquities of the Island, and more the especially those which have hitherto escaped notice, and which are rapidly being swept away, such for example as:
Hut circles and other habitations;
Ancient camps and ramparts;
Stone circles, standing stones;
Burial places, Tumuli, Cairns, Cists.
The most prominent antiquities, such as the Ecclesiastic Buildings and the, Runic Crosses, should also be looked to, although the need for a record in their case is not so pressing. Isolated finds, too, of implements and weapons should also be noted and collected in a Museum.
6. The localities of all these things should be accurately marked on the 25-inch ordnance map. As an illustration of the kind of work which maybe done the result of a survey of one of the slopes of Snaefell is appended to this memorandum. None of the remains there represented are to be found on the 25-inch ordnance maps. A survey of this kind carried out throughout the Island would show the ancient centres of population, and reveal a good deal of what may be termed the prehistoric history of the Manx people. Such a survey might be carried out by the voluntary effort of those competent to undertake it, at the trifling cost of the maps and of the small sums of money paid to shepherds, etc., for discovering localities and collecting information generally. The maps should be deposited in the Government Office, or in the Museum.
7. The record of the old Manx names for fields, bits of fields, rivers, &c., which has been begun by The Isle of-Mann Natural History and Antiquarian Society, should be carried on without delay, because the memory of these things is fast dying away. With the death of every old Manx inhabitant some local knowledge of the Island is lost to the world. The Ordnance Maps give no information as to the names, although the old fields are both numbered and marked. To obtain this information the 25-inch maps should be distributed throughout the Island and the information collected in each parish by voluntary effort. The resultant maps should be placed among the Government records, and would be valuable not only from the historical but also from the legal point of view. The cost of doing this would be little more than the cost of the maps.
In close connection with the place-names is the folk-lore, which is rapidly disappearing. It is well worthy of being collected, before it disappears as completely as it has disappeared from Wales.
8. The publication of the record of the prehistoric and non-historic antiquities (which need not be very costly) would be very creditable to the Manx Government, which by so doing would be the first in Europe to follow the admirable example of the United States. The Manx Society, which has already done so much for Manx history, and the contributors to The Manx Note Book, a young and valuable publication, will doubtless carry on their work on the historic antiquities and the documents. If this scheme be carried out the whole of the history of an Island, which is of singular and fascinating interest, will be covered from the earliest times, and the Manx people will have in their hands a more complete record of their own country than that of any other country in Europe. I am, your Excellency's obedt. Servant,
W. BOYD DAWKINS. To his Excellency the Lieutenant- Governor of the Isle of Mann.