[From Manx Soc Vol 15, 1868]
BY THE REV. J. G. CUMMING, M.A., F.G.S.
NOWHERE in so small a space are there so many monumental inscriptions in Runic characters and in the Norse language as in the Isle of Man.
Within an area of not more than twenty miles in length by twelve in width, no less than eighteen of such inscriptions have been discovered, and it is probable that there are many more undiscovered, and there have certainly been many destroyed or lost.
If the Norse language were not at one time prevalent in the island, it must at any rate have been well understood, so as to be used in monumental inscriptions in preference to the Celtic or the Latin.
The marvel now seems to be that, excepting the names of places, we meet with so few, if any, traces of the Norse language in the modern Manx. In the English language we know there are several traces of the ancient Danish occupation of our country, though the Northmen were not in power in England for anything like the time during which they ruled in the Isle of Man. The Celtic is not cognate to the Norse, whereas the Anglo-Saxon is. Hence the Norse soon died out in the Isle of Man on the expulsion of the Northmen, not being readily moulded into Manx; just as the Manx itself is now dying out before the English.
Having been engaged for some time in decyphering the inscriptions on the Manx Runic monuments, not always an easy task, through the wear and tear of time, and in many cases their fragmentary condition, I venture to offer for consideration the readings and interpretations which I have concluded to be the most probable, subject of course to such corrections as a still closer examination and more accurate judgment may deter mine to be necessary.
I may say that I think the most secure method of coming at the readings is that which I have myself in most cases adopted, viz., by making plaster of Paris casts of these inscriptions and then taking rubbings on the raised edges of the moulds, for the inscriptions are all incised. The rubbings thus made upon the moulds come out clearer than those made on the original stones. The material of the casts also being white, and the objects readily turned about so as to catch the light, the shadows thus originated will sometimes enable us to decypher the inscriptions with greater ease than we can upon the dark clay schist of which the inscribed crosses are made, and which are mostly fixed in one position.
After much consideration, I have not seen reason to alter in any very material degree the readings I obtained ten years ago, and gave in my Runic and other Monumental Remains of the Isle of Man, published in 1857, but the interpretations are here amended. The emendations which I am now enabled to give upon my previous interpretations are due for the most part to the valued suggestions of Ralph Carr, Esq., S.A.S.C., of Hedgeley, near Alnwick, than whom no one has shown him self more skilled in the interpretation of Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon inscriptions, and to whom I would express the highest obligations. Since I resided on the island other monuments have been discovered, two of them, at least, inscribed with runes; and happily these are very nearly perfect inscriptions, and may be read with slight hesitation, even on the photographs of the crosses. I refer to the two placed in the centre of Braddan churchyard, near the well-known so-called Dragon cross, within the last twelve years.
One thing which greatly facilitates the reading of the inscriptions is their general uniformity of expression, the words "raistiems thana" ('erected this cross) or "raist inner" (carved the runes,) being of constant occurrence. The difficulty is rather in the names where some of the letters are imperfect or very faintly traced.
Many of the Runic letters consist of one straight vertical stroke, the alteration in the power of them depending on the arrangement of one or two lines meeting them slantwise on either side. Unfortunately the nature of the stone (clay schist), of which all the incised Manx crosses are made, is such that, on weathering, lines or cracks are apt to present themselves crossing the vertical lines of the runes, and creating the appearance of incisions where none at first were made.
The similarity also of the runes for II and U, when badly formed, not unfrequently presents a difficulty in the reading, more especially if the rune has undergone a slight defacement.
We have also to make allowance both for imperfect spelling and varieties of dialect in the inscriptions. Thus the common word "thana" (this) is written thana, thano, thona, thono, thaun, thna, thenr, and thensi, the variety in some cases, no doubt, caused by inflection. The word "aftir (to is written also aiftir, aft, af, eft, and eftir. Again, the word "raisti" (erected), not to be confounded with "raist" (carved), is written also risti, and raiti.
Gaut himself, who seems to have been a noted cross manufacturer in the Isle of Man, on two of the crosses bearing his name, writes thana and thano, gurthi and girthi.
There is one thing which is particularly worth noticing in these
inscriptions, and that is the entire absence of any request for a
prayer on behalf of the departed. On the Irish crosses we constantly
meet with the request " Or do," and on the Anglo-Saxon we find the
words "Gibiddad dher saule," pray for the soul, or "Giceged
heosum sawlum," pray for their souls, but we have nothing of
the kind on the Manx crosses. Perhaps we may, from this circumstance,
infer the original character of the Manx crosses, and that the
Northmen in the Isles did not owe their Christianity to the same
source as the Irish and Anglo-Saxons. Further, the absence of any
such request on the Manx crosses makes considerably against those who
would have us believe that the Manx cross makers were mere copyists
from Irish models, and supports the views, which I have else where
expressed, as to the ornamentation of the Manx monu ments, viz., that
it is completely sui generis, and not borrowed from another
To proceed with the inscriptions, as given in the plate
i. On a very beautiful cross, which stands on the south side of the churchyard gate of Kirk Michael, we have the following inscription (see plate fig. in). MAIL BRIGUT SUNE ATHAKANS:
SMITH RAISTI : CRUS : THAKO rUT 5ALU: SINI SIN : BRUKUIN:
GAUT GIRTh THANO AUGALA : I MAUN. This inscription is incised, as all the inscriptions are on the Manx monuments. The portion running upwards from the base and ending with the word "Gaut" is carved along the edge of the stone on the right hand as you look at the principal face; then, en the front of the cross, on the same side above the glory, occur the words "Girthi thano auk"; then, above the glory, on the opposite side of the same face, we read the remaining words, ala : I Mann. There can hardly be a mistake about the runes, as they were deeply carved, and remain very distinct, but, owing to an apparent violation of the laws of Norse grammar, the interpretation of the inscription is not so certain.
The learned Scandinavian interpreters, Professors Munch and Worsae, have translated it thus
"Malbrigd, son of Athakan (the) Smith, erected this cross for his Soul. . . . Gaut made this and all in Man."
The words " Sin brukuin" are left untranslated.
I ventured to give in my Runic and other Monumental Remains of the Isle of Man the translation thus :" Malbrigd, the son of Athakan the Smith, erected this cross for his soul, (but) his kinsman Gaut made it and all in Man."
Mr. Carr objects very strongly and properly to Smith and Gaut being considered as in any other case than the accusative. The nominatives would be Smithr and Gautr, and the genitive of Smithr would be Smithar.
My own impression is that these Norse stone cutters might make mistakes in grammar as well as in spelling, which we know they have done, as above stated. In doing this they seem sometimes to have been guided by the space they had at command on the stone, and it has occurred to me that the false grammar in the above inscription may be due to a like cause. Perhaps on account of want of space at the end of the incision, the two words, "in Mann" were written as one without any stop between them, whilst at the beginning of it, where the space had not been calculated, the name Mailbrigdi is divided by a stop into the words, as Mail : Brigdi.
But Mr. Carr's reasonings on the score of grammar are so just and forcible, that I must give them in full. He says " We must ever remember that unless we can make out the exact grammatical construction of an old Norse or of an Anglo-Saxon inscription, we must leave it in obscurity. The cases of the nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, and the tenses and per sons of the verbs, are the only means we have of convincing ourselves and others that we are right; the old Norse is nearly as rich as the Latin in its cases, and which are most wonderfully observed. Writers could no more confound or omit them than a Frenchman could use the wrong genders of a noun or the wrong tense of a verb in speaking. The right ones come to him with his mother's milk, and he cannot mistake them. Hence the accuracy of Icelandic or old Norse inscriptions, and of Saxon ones, and of old Roman ones in Latin, as to cases, genders, tenses, etc. And these very things are the proofs to us that we are reading aright. The moment we find wrong grammar we are at sea, and merely guessing, however plausible the same may seem to us. And grammar makes all compromise impossible, unless where both readings happen to be equally grammatical, and you choose the most likely all things considered. Thus, I have no quarrel with Smith, if we can make grammar of it; but it must stand for Smithar or nothing, if from the noun supposed."
Mr. Carr hence, in the first place, suggested that the word SMITH might be written for SMEITI or SMElT, since "ei" in runes is often written simple "i". Now, the word SMEITE means con tusion or figuratively contrition, and in the dative or ablative it would be SMElT, signifying in a contusion or perhaps in con trition, and the inscription might then be translated" Mad brigd, son of Athakan, in hurt (or contrition) raised this cross for his soul. His betrothed caused Gaut to chisel it in Man."
Mr. Carr has secondly suggested that, instead of regarding "Smith" as part of the personal pronoun Smithr, a workman, we may take it directly as the feminine noun" Smidh", a fabric or work of art, and in the accusative case, thus making the whole inscription grammatical.
Again, as GAUT must be in the accusative, we mnst have a verb to govern it, and this we have in the word GIETHI, which follows it, and signifies to cause or make to do a thing, as well as to fashion, form, or make. It is in fact often used like our English word make, as an auxiliary verb. Mr. Carr further observes that, as there is no stop between the words AUK and ALA, but only a break caused by the transfer of the inscription to the other side of the stone, it may well be read as one word AUGALA, and as AU and O nearly sound the same, the word may be for OGALA, "to chisel with a mallet."
With respect to the word BRUKUIN, it may well be rendered bride or betrothed. Hence the whole inscription would stand thus
NAIL-BRIGIM, SUNR ATHAKANS, 5MIDII RAISTI CRIJ5 THANO FUR SALU SINI
SIN BRUKUIN GAUT GIRTIII THANO AUGALA I MAUN.
And may be translated thus
"Mailbrigd, son of Athakan, as a work of art, erected this cross for his soul. His betrothed (or bride) made (or caused) Gaut to chisel it in Man."
The expression raised this cross may merely mean made pro rts ton for 'it, whilst the direction of the work during his de b
dine from wounds or sickness was undertaken by his Manx bride, the natural executrix, and the expression in Man would imply that the inscription 'might afterwards be read by new corners from Norway or Denmark, who might otherwise think the stone had been cut elsewhere, Mailbrigd himself having been not improbably a new corner.
Mailbrigd (the servant of Bridget) is evidently of Celtic origin, and a name not unfrequent in the annals of these countries. One of the churches in the Isle of Man is dedicated in honour of St. Bridget, as well as the nunnery near Douglas.
My own idea still is that the AR in SMITHAR has been dropped on account of the next word RAISTI beginning with K, and the two words SMITHARIIAISTI read together would not sound very different from SMITHRAISTI. Hence I shall prefer retaining SMITH as an appellative, considering it as in the genitive in apposition with the name ATHAKANS, and give, as the result the following translation :" Malbrigd, the son of Athakan, the smith, raised (or caused to be raised) this cross for his soul. His betrothed caused Gaut to chisel it in Man."
In any case, the great advantage of reading AUGALA to chisel with a mallet, instead of AUK ALA and all, will be apparent. First it gets rid of the false grammar of regarding the word GAUT as a nominative, and then sets aside the presumption that Gaut was the earliest cross maker, and the only one in Man of his day. This suggestion is entirely due to Mr. Carr.
It is well to note that the name of the Isle of Man on this cross is spelt MAUN, showing that it was anciently pronounced broad, and thus bringing it into closer connection with the name Mona, the Roman appellation of the island.
II. I will take next the inscription on a very much worn and defaced cross, which stands on a green near the churchyard gate of Kirk Andreas, and which also is the work of Gaut.
The first and last portions of the inscription are too much injured to be read with any certainty, but we may make out distinctly.
CRUS : THANA : AF: UFAIG: FAUTHUR : SIN : IN : GATJTR : GIRTHI: SUNE : BIARNAR. (See fig. II). The word before "Crus" was almost certainly Raisti, but the name has disappeared. The translation would be
(NN erected) this cross to Ufeig, his father, but Gaut Bjornson made it."
After "Sunr Bjarnar" (Bjornson, the son of the bear) occur some runes which look like Cub Culi.
Mr. Carr has pointed out that "kobbi" signifies a seal or sea- calf, and that "culi" may stand for "queli", i.e., killer. Hence if the reading be "cub culi," seal killer, it may be an agnomen of Gaut, indicating that he had previously been in his youth a noted seal hunter, though after his residence in Man becoming a stone cutter.
I take next the inscriptions on three crosses, all of which I believe to have been the work of one and the same artist, Thorburn, a name still permanent in the Isle of Man.
My reasons for coming to the conclusion that they are all the work of this artist are that on all three of them occurs the same remarkable lacertine ornament, and on all are the words risti for raisti, aft for aftir, and thono for thana.
III. The first of the three is that on the fragment of the Oter cross in the midst of Kirk Braddan churchyard. It reads (see fig. m)UTR: RISTI : CRUS : TIIONO : AFT : FROKA : FATHUR : SIN: IN : THUEBIAURN : SUNE.
"Oter (or Otter) erected this cross to his Father Frogat, but Thorbjdrn (or Thorburn) son of (NN made it)."
The name of Thorburn's father and the word girthi "made it" are broken off, but no doubt these were the words originally there.
There was an Oter (Otter or Octar) appointed Viceroy of Man by Magnus Barbeen in 1098, and this date agrees with the period (the tenth and eleventh centuries) assigned to the majority of the Manx crosses by Professors Munch and Worsaae. Gaut was probably the maker of most of the earlier crosses in the tenth century, and Thorburn, whose crosses are more elaborately finished and dialect somewhat different, may have been an artist of the latter part of the eleventh or the beginning of the twelfth century.
my. Alongside of the Oter cross is another of like design but more perfect, viz., the Thorlaf (or Dragon) cross, the inscrip tion on which is very perfect and legible. It runs thus (see fig. Iv) THURLABR NEAKI : RISTI : CEUS : THONO : AFT : FEAK SUN: SIN : BRUTIJUE : SUN : EABES.
"Thorlaf Neake erected this cross to Feake his son, Brother's son of Jaf."
v. The third of Thorburn's crosses is the magnificent Joalf cross at the churchyard gate of Kirk Michael, the inscription on which is very plain, and reads (see fig. v) JUALFR : SUNE: THURULFS EINS : RAUTHA RISTI : CRUS : TITONO : AFT : FRITIIU MUTIIUR: SINA:
"Joalf the son of Thorjolf the Red erected this cross to his Mother Frida."
vi. Having taken now the inscriptions on five of the crosses, of which we believe the makers to have been Gaut and Thor- burn, we will take an inscription which contains also the name of the maker of the cross, but no other name.
It is on a fragment of the lower portion of a cross which stands in a corner on the south side of the church of St. John the Baptist near the Tynwald-hill. The inscription is very much worn and defective both at the beginning and end (see fig. vi). The four first runes are tolerably plain, but the next four are very imperfect, and the great similarity of the runes for II and U, as I have before observed, throws some doubt over the reading. Mr. Kneale has proposed Lw Sunr, "Ino's son." This will require us to read the fourth rune, as two dots or a cross for the separation of the word instead of S, but a very close and repeated inspection of casts leads me still to read the fourth rune as S, and then after the S there are certainly more runes than UNR. That the last rune is R, I have little doubt, and that the letter after S may be U is not improbable; but there are still two letters remaining, of which the first may be R or U, and the other I, E, A, B, O, or N. The inscription will then read 1NOSRUIR : RAIST : RUNAR : THESE : AFTIR; i. e., "Inosruir carved these runes to (NN)."
vii. We have still another Manx cross-maker's name, but upon a work of which he has no need to be proud, for it is a mere slab of clay schist, with a very rude figure of a cross and glory upon it, and the runes are scrawled over it, up, down, and crosswise on both sides of the slab with little apparent connection between them.
On one face of the slab at the top and running upwards we have the word "Cru," part of the word cEns, cross. Underneath it, running downwards, ISIJCRIST, Jesus Christ, placed where the body of our Lord would be on the cross, and near the bottom, running slantwise, THURITH, Titarith, then, on the edge at the bottom, RAIST X RUNER, carved the runes.
On the other face of the slab we have a number of words placed up and down (flovorpo~bi~ov), the connection of which it is difficult to make out. On the right hand side of the face, as we look at it, running downwards and very faintly traced, are simply the runes AM X I, the fragments of two words; run ning upwards there are UGIGAT (or AGEGAT) X ASUIR x ATM- GRIT, on the opposite edge, running upwards, we read SUNE X HAISTI X AFTIR X SUN X sIN A (see fig. vIl), and then runnino~ downwards the word MURKIBLU.
The letters are all badly formed and much worn, being on the face of the stone, which was exposed and knocked about for some time on a piece of rock-work in a garden at Kirk Con chan. The strokes in the runes, which should be vertical, slope considerably, and the side strokes are often too much prolonged. Hence we can readily read the word "Ugigat" as "Agegat," which, as Mr. Carr has well remarked, will enable us to give some meaning to this otherwise obscure inscription. For "Agegat" may be an abbreviated form of "Agegnat," which means over against, then "Asuir" may be for "Osuir," our. The grammar requires that we should read "Aftir Sun Sin, not "Sina," and this we may properly do, for the "a" is in fact separated from the" Sin" by a line forming a portion of the rude figure of a cross scratched on the face of the stone, and this line may be considered as equivalent to the usual mark separating words. We can then further regard this "a" as a preposition governing the word "Murkiblu," though it is on the other side of the slab, and "Murkiblu" may be read as "Murkibla," signifying mirk-blue or dark-blue, i.e., mourning.
Further, We may observe that a portion of the slab (doubt less containing some words before "Agegat ") is broken off. Hence the inscription may be put together thus
AM X I... AGEGAT X ASUIR X ATHIGRIT X ... STJNR
X RAISTI X AFTIR X SUN X SIN X A )( MURKIBLA, and we can then translate it.
am I . . . . (lies buried) over against our Athigrit, (NN's) son erected (this) to his son, in mourning."
The inscription, though imperfect, is thus rendered intel ligible, and is one full of affection and sad remembrance.
vini~. I am not aware of the names of any other makers occurring on the Manx crosses, but probably there was the name of one upon the cross, a fragment'of which is in the garden of the vicarage at Jurby. I am not without hope that the remainder of the cross may still be discovered. The portion of the inscription remaining (written f3ova-'i-pocfni~ov) reads thus (see fig. viii).
... RU : SUN : IN : ONON KAITI: AFT: FAITHUR: IIRU.
..... Ro's Son, but Onon erected it to his Father's Brother." Ru may be merely the termination of a name or the name itself. In either case it seems to be connected with the maker of the cross, whoever he may have been. "Sun" must be in the accusative case. The "Raiti" seems misspelt for "raisti," raised; if we could read it "raist," carved, then we should have Onon as another cross maker. The "Bin" is either part of the word Bruthur, or of the name of the father of Onon.
I will pass more rapidly over the remaining inscriptions, which, with one exception, are of a less interesting character.
IX. On the cross which I have called the Sandulf cross in Andreas churchyard is the following inscription (see fig. ix).
SAM) : ULF : EINS: SUARTI : RAISTI : CRUS : THONA : AFTIR : ARIN: BIAURK : KUINO : SINO.
"Sandulf the Swarthy erected this cross to his wife Ann bjorg."
The most remarkable part of this inscription is the division of the names Sandulf and Aninbj6rg each into two words, just as Mail Bnigdi is separated in inscription'. On the cross is the figure of a female, perhaps Arinbjbrg, on horseback.
x. On a very beautiful and almost perfect cross which stands in the churchyard of the old parish church of Ballaugh, is the following inscription, which runs up one side of the face of the fust of the cross, and into the cavity between the arms (see fig. x).
THORLAIBR : THORIULB : SUNE : RAISTI : CES : THONA: AIFTIR : ULB: SUN: SIN.
"Thorlaf, the son of Thorjdlf, erected this cross to Olave his son."
In order apparently to save space, the carver has omitted the rune for U in Crus, crowded the rnnes Ulb (Olave) and put Sun Sin in the head of the cross. And yet he writes Aiftir for Aftir.
xi. On a cross which had formed the doorstep of Braddan church,
but which is now placed in the midst of the church yard, we have the
following very nearly perfect inscription (see fig. XI)
TIIURKETIL: RAISTI: cRUs: THANO : AFT ; UFAIG : SUN: KLINAIS.
"Thorketil erected this cross to Ufeig Klinaison." There is some doubt about the first name, though the first syllable seems very like Tliur, and the next five upright marks appear to me to stand best as the runes for ketil. Mr. Kneale has remarked on the number of Norse names beginning with Thor, as Thdrbj~5rn, Thorfinnr, Thorketil, Thorstein, Thorvaldin, to which we may add from the above inscriptions Thorlaibr and Thorinib. To my eye the runes in this inscription altogether look most like Thurketil, and I adopt this name. The termination ketil is very frequent in Norse, and has been corrupted in English into kettle. Thus there are in a parish in Suffolk with which I am acquainted the names Tirkettle (Thorketil), Ashkettle (Osketil), and Rinkettle (Runketil). The two first Norse names occur on Manx crosses, and in the same Suffolk parish there is also the Norse name Feake, the Feak of the Braddan cross.
XII. On the fragment of a cross originally at Kirk Michael, but now in the Museum at Distington, we have the singular inscription (see fig. XII)
ER : OSKETIL : VILDI : I : DRIKU : AITH : SOARA: SIIN.
The Scandinavian savans read this ASKITIL : VILTI : I: TRIOU: AITHSOARA: SIIN, translating it "Whom Askitil deceived in security, contrary to his pledge of peace."
A close examination of the cast of this stone enabled me to detect an ER at the beginning, and the stop between "Aith" and "Soara," which I pointed out to Mr. Cam, and the result of the amended reading has led to some valuable hints as to the translation, and given a totally different character to the inscription.
I would first observe, as I have done in the table of Alphabets
appended to my Runic and other Monumental Remains, that the
Manx alphabet contains no rune for h. The first word,
therefore in this inscription "Er" is put for "Her," here.
Next, the third word, "vildi," is derived from "vila," to bewail, and is not to be read for "villdi," from "villa"," to beguile, deceive or seduce.
The fifth word must be read "driku", drink, and "i driku" will mean in a drinking, i. e., in a Funereal feast, which we know was always accompanied with ale drinking amongst the Norse and Saxons.
The next word, "Aith," is most probably a female proper name.
Then "Soara" is an old form of spelling for "Svara," a mother-in- law, the Latin soer u.s.
Sun is another method of representing the long sound of the I in SIN.
Putting all these readings together we get the inscription as,
ER: OSKETIL : VILDI : I : DRIKU : AITH : SOARA: SIIN.
"Here Osketel bewailed in a drinking feast Aitha his mother-in-law."
XlII. We have at Kirk Michael fragments of three crosses bearing
inscriptions (see figures xii, xiv, and xv).
The first is in the vestry of Kirk Michael Church, GRIMS: INS: SAURTI. "Grims the Black."
xiv. The next, which is in the churchyard wall, is svrn:
RISTI : CRUS: THNA: EFT: RUMUN. "Svig erected this cross to Romon."
The Svig is not very plain. On another fragment of the same cross we have simply the letters NT.
xv. The third inscription also on the churchyard wall is CRUS : THNA : AFTIR. "This cross to ."
xvi: . In the walls of the nave of Peel Cathedral is built the fragment of a cross bearing this inscription (see fig. XVI) US : THENSI: EFTIR : ASRITHI : KUNU : SINA : DUTUR : UT RAIST.
Filling up the inscription as far as we can, it may be translated
"(AB erected) this cross to his wife Asrith, the daughter of Oter;
(CD) carved (the runes) ."
The first three runes in Dutur are imperfect, and the word may be Mutur, "Mother."
The name Oter has before been noticed on the Braddan cross. If the stone were extracted from the wall of the Cathedral we might perhaps be able to form a conjecture from the style of ornamentation as to whether the two Oters were the same person.
xvii. The word Kunu for Kuinu "Wife", seems to point to a later dialect, which we have in the next inscription which is on that cross on the churchyard wall of Kirk Michael, which has been before noticed as having a more foreign aspect than the other Manx crosses, and the runes upon which are spoken of by Professor Mflnch as being of a later date, differing from the older Manx runes in the letters A, D, N, and S.
NIAL : LUMGUN : RAISTI : CRUS : THANA : EFTIR : MAL : MURU : FUSTRA: SINA : DOTIR : DUFGALS : KONA : 05 : ATHISI : ATI.
In my Runic and other Monumental Remains, etc., I translated Kona "Keen," following Professor Munch, though differing from him in the reading and translation in other respects. I have more lately been informed by my friend David Forbes, Esq., F.R.S., a Manxman and brother to the late much lamented Professor Ed. Forbes, that in the wild and more primitive interior of Norway the word Kona is still used for Wife, to which the Kunu of the previously named inscription approximates. Further than this, Kona is not the genitive,as it ought to be if rendered Keen, and agreeing with Dufgals.
It is also questionable if such a word as "os" occurs in the
accusative for whom; but, remembering that the Manx had no
rune for h, it may well be put for "hos," i.e.,
"hucns," in the genitive signifying of whom or
The translation of the inscription will then be "Niel Lumgun erected this cross to Maelmore, his foster child, the daughter of Dugald, whose wife (widow) Athisi he possessed."
This makes very plain sense. Niel Lumgun married Athisi, the widow of Dugald; hence Maelmore, the daughter of Dugald by Athisi, would become the step-daughter or foster child of Lumgun. Mr. Carr, objecting to Athisi as a proper name of a woman, conceives that it may be put for the word ATVISTI, which is dative and ablative, from ATVIST, "existence" or "being", and would render the latter part of the inscription "whose wife (or widow) in lifetime he had".
In an extract, apparently from the Niala Saga, contained in the Antiquitates Scandicce, we learn that in the year 996 the Nialsons Grim and Helgi, together with one Kari, slew in Man Dungal, son of the King of Man, and that in 1014 one Gunnr Lambasour was slain by Kari in Rossey. The Niel Lumgun of the above inscription looks so like Gunnr Lambasour that we might possibly connect him or his kin with it. The inscription joins a Niel Lnmgnn with a Dugald, and Kari slew both a Dugald and a Gunur Lambasonr. If this Dugald were the son of the King of Man in 996, he was son of Godred III and brother of Reginald II, of the line of Orry. But all the names are so common in Manx history of that date that it is quite unsafe to connect these monuments with any particular persons. There was a Helgi, King of Man in 894; and according to the Egilla Saga one Nial or Neil was king in 914, and we have before (inscription XIII) met with the name Grim, but we have no right to connect the Grim of that inscription with the Grim the son of Nial and brother of Helgi of the Niala Saga.
In connection with the supposition that the Dugald of our inscription might be the son of Goddred III and an elder brother of Reginald II, it may be well to note that, as before observed, the Manx having no rune for H, the ATI of the inscription may be put for HATI, signifying "called" or "named", and the KONA may be translated in the higher sense of" Queen". Hence KONA os ATHISI ATI might even be rendered "Queen by us in lifetime called". We can well imagine Maelmore, the granddaughter of Godred III, to be called "Queen" on the death of her father Dugald. Perhaps she died soon after her father. Her step-father, Niel Lumgun, who erected the cross, would certainly be the enemy of Kari who slew Dugald, and so afterwards engaging with him in Ross, was himself killed by the hand of the slayer of his step-daughter's own father. This cross may therefore have been erected to a Queen of Man, whose name was Maelmore.
XVIII. The only remaining Manx Runic inscription, as far as at present known, is that which is given in Camden's Britannia, Gibson's edition, p. 1458, and which is from a stone said to have been built into the wall of the old church of Kirk Michael. It is in the same later Manx Runes as the last noticed inscription. Casts of it are in the possession of Sir Henry Dryden, Bart., of Canons Ashby, and in the Museum of the Archaeological Institute, which were taken by Mr. Balley. The stone cannot now be found. The inscription, which runs thus, is imperfect
STRA: ES: LAIFA : FUSTRA : GUTHAN : THAN : SON : ILAN.
(See fig. XVIII.)
The "Stra" must be part of "Fostra," and in the accusative case. The "Guthan" will be the same as "Godhan" or "Good han," good, whilst the "Ilan" may be put for "Illan," ill or evil.
Mr. Carr thinks that the ES LEIFA may be read as a compound word ISLEIFA, the accusative of ISLEIFI, ice-giant; and that the word Eft may have come before the first Fostra; and that "A," towards, is understood before Than. He proposes, therefore, to read the inscription (EFT : ro) : STRA : ISLEIFA FOSTRA : GUDHAN: (A) : THAN: SON : ILAN, and translate it "To foster father Isleif, the good foster father, towards an evil son."
I can conjecture no better rendering for this obscure and fragmentary inscription.