[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 1 p140/1]



(Read January 7, 1890.)

Out of the many sculptured stones found in Maughold, this is the only one on which Runes can be distinctly read. It is a small slab of the schist of the district, two feet long and one foot broad, with the top right-hand corner broken. The lower edge is smooth, but the top and ends are jagged and rough.

The inscription is on the face of the stone, and there is no trace of any ornamentation. When my attention was first called to it, it was lying on the banks of a stream, close to the way side, at the upper end of Coma valley, where it had been used as a resting place for tubs, &c.

Upon inquiry, I found that it had been carried down from an old burial ground some distance away, on the north side of the valley, called Cabbal Keeil Woirey (Keeil Chapel of Mary), probably the Blessed Virgin Mary, or possibly some other saint named Muireach or Mourie. The floor of the Chapel, which measured 15 feet by 9 feet, was at one time paved with quartz pebbles like that of St. Leoc, Rushen, which, however, was rather smaller. A stone now standing at the east end of the Chapel has "an incised linear Latin cross" on one face. (See "Catalogue of Manks Crosses," by P. M. C. Kermode, p. 21.) No other cross or ancient stone has been found at this place.

The word Keeil is generally translated " Oratory," or " Church," and Dr. Joyce, in his "Irish Place Names," says:— " Out of some 3,400 names beginning with Keeil or Cell, in Ireland, 2,700 are from the word Cill, ‘a church,’ and that is derived from the Latin Celia." Mr. Brash, author of "Ogham Monuments in the British Isles," considers the word Keeil to be Celtic, and not derived, as other ecclesiastical terms, from the Latin, though cognate in meaning with the Latin Cello, celatus, hidden. That the word Cilia means a grave, or hiding or concealing the dead ; and refers to O’Brien’s Irish Dictionary, which says Ceal, or Keil does not properly signify a cell or oratory, though now commonly used to signify a church. He also says the old Pagan burial grounds were called Keels, and are now used only for the burial ‘of unbaptised children and suicides ; that the Oratories were frequently erected near some of these to draw away the people from superstitious reverence to their Pagan ancestors, and that Ogham stones found in these places were, after the introduction of Christianity, marked with a Cross’ and other Christian symbols.

The other inscribed stones found in the Island are Sepulchral Crosses, so belong to the Christian period. The names are usually Norse, occasionally Celtic ; those with Celtic names being considered the oldest.

Is this a Christian memorial stone ?

The inscription reads as if it were, as follows—omitting the few illegible letters at the beginning :—" Risth Maloki oc Bathric Athananman U (or Ir) nal sauthar I uan aristi U (or Ir) kurnathal." The form of the inscription differs from all others in the Island. There is no distinct Christian symbol represented, and the names are like those found in Oghams, and so Celtic.

In an article on Manks Runes, in the Manks Note Book, Canon Taylor says, on historical grounds, the Manks Runes may be assigned to the two centuries 1050 and 1250, and, from a Palaeographic point of view, the greater number can be assigned to the 12th century, though some may have been written at the end of the 11 th or beginning of the 12th. Two Runic Alphabets were used, one of which must be somewhat earlier than the other ;‘ they differ chiefly in the form of Runes for the consonants N, S, and T. The form in this inscription belongs to that which Professor Munch and’ Cumming consider the earlier, but Canon Taylor the later, of the two ; but in a review of Canon Taylor’s paper in the Academy, August 21st, 1887, Mr Henry Bradley says :—" The two forms were in use concurrently in the Scandinavian world," and whilst agreeing with him as to which is the older form of Runes, says, "The oldest stones may have the later form of Runes," depending on which form was used by those who first brought them to the Island. Canon Taylor also considers that the new forms were coming into use before 1092, whilst the old were not altogether superseded in remote districts in Cumberland in 1170, and that the older form would probably maintain themselves longer there than in the Isle of Man, which was in close connection — politically and ecclesiastically — with Norway. ( Manx Note Book, vol. II., p. 108.) So the date of this stone may possibly be the beginning of the 12th century.


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