[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 4 pp203/210]


(By the Rev. J. Quine, M.A.)

It may be taken as certain, from Columban names surviving in the dedications of Insular churches, that the Iona missions extended to Mann. If Columban missionaries came here in St. Columba’s lifetime, it means in the VI. century ; the date of his death being 597.At any rate, at an early period, probably not later than the VII. century, we may assume that some missionary centres were established here. The next consideration is, that our forefathers were in all matters by nature conservative ; traditions were law; old sites were adhered to ; consequently, when Catholicism came north, in the XII. century, it was on old foundations that new establishments were set up. For this reason, the fact that Maughold had a new church in the XII. century makes it certain that there had existed an older church there, probably, in its origin, Columban.

II.—Maughold Church today is an extremely complex problem. It has been restored, at the beginning of the XX. century. From one point of view this is a good work. From the purely antiquarian point of view, something quite different might be said. However, without making further remark on that, the restoration in question gave opportunity of looking upon, as it were, "the face of the dead saint in his opened coffin."

III.—Maughold Church to-day, or rather, yesterday, was a church mainly rebuilt in the XIII. century; and with traces of many alterations at various subsequent periods, before and after the Reformation. It is not worth giving any account of these various alterations ; they were mostly, or altogether, "cold, heartless, and damaging. " It is enough to say that the church, stripped of plaster, revealed them all, and showed, apart from them, a XIII. century church, with materials of a XII. century church worked into it.

IV.—Who built (or rebuilt) this XIII. century church ? To that question the answer, based on the style of its work, is that it was probably done early in the episcopate of the first Scottish bishop, Mark, about 1275. The architecture was early English—three lancets of equal size in the east gable, and a small similar lancet on the south side. The west door (prior to the last restoration) was of older work (XII. century). But the west gable is itself an awkward problem. It is possibly later than the XIII. century. The church, in fact, probably had a north and south door, the XII. century work having been used for the south door, and then shifted and used again for the west door—which took the place of the two doors done away with. Thereal interest of Maughold Church is, however, the XII. century church, of which the Norman work of this door remains.

V.—What do we know about this XII. century church ? What sort of church was it ? Who built it ? To whom was it dedicated? The present paper offers results on these points. First, then, it was of Norman character, incomparably better in feeling and quality of work than even the XIII. century church (conjecturally) of Bishop Mark’s time. One cannot infer what a building is like from . seeing one of the bricks of which it is built ; but one can infer what a church must have been in character from seeing the character of the porch and doorway of it. The date of this XII. century work may be safely set down as somewhere about 1125. As has been said before, people at that time were by nature conservative in a way and degree to the majority of people nowadays perhaps inconceivable. For that reason, it may be inferred, or rather asserted, that the site was already ancient. But the church then built was new. As to who built it, and to whom it was dedicated, the rest of this paper is to offer an elucidation. It will consist of two closely connected propositions, viz. , that it was built by Olaf I. of Mann and the Isles (1114-1154), and that it was dedicated to St. Magnus, of Orkney—whose name, by implication, is the origin of Maughold, the present name of the parish.

VI.—Going upon the hypothesis that the church was built about 1125, it falls within Olaf’s reign (1114-1154). Olaf was brought up at the court of Henry I. of England. It js probable that he may have seen Archbishop Anseim (died 1109). He had, at least, seen what churches and religious services were like in the south. He was an introducer of religious change into Mann, subsequently, viz. , Catholicism as introduced into Scotland more extensively than before by David I. Olaf made his kingdom a diocese in 1134, and granted the lands of St. Leoc to the Cistercians of Furness, who accordingly founded Rushen Abbey (1134) . These general con-siderations bear upon particular considerations that follow. As an incontestable fact, on the evidence of the " Chronicle of Man," there was a church at Maughold when Somerled landed at Ramsey (circa 1168) in his war with Godred Olaf-son. There was much treasure at the church. It seems to have had a strong dyke about the precincts, into which people took themselves and their belongings, as a refuge. It was no doubt a " sanctuary," though the traces of the dyke to-day are so considerable that it probably admitted of being defended, like one of the Kremlins which are a feature of the village churches in Eastern Europe. At any rate, it was a place worth looting by Somerled’s followers ; and the details of the attempt being foiled, by the Saint himself appearing in a dream to Gilcolm (the chief who was meditating it), are plain evidence that the church had singular sanctity, and was of much importance. Yet, on the evidence of surviving architecture, it was built only about forty years before that day ; the church new, richly furnished with gifts, and generally of much consequence. Now, Olaf had met his death at Ramsey in1154, viz., a dozen years or so before that. Where had he been buried ? The " Chronicle of Mann " tells us where practically all the other kings of this dynasty were buried Godred Crovan had died in Islay. The chronicler probably did not know where he was buried. Olaf died at Ramsey; but his burial place is not mentioned. Godred II. was buried in Iona ; Reginald at Furness ; the others at Rushen Abbey. Why is not Olaf’s burial place mentioned? Evidently, at any rate, because he was not buried at Rushen. My suggestion is that it was at Maughold. Moreover, that the wealth of the church was partly through gifts made to it in that connection. That he had built the church is presumptive ; but, in the absence of any other alternative builder in any degree so likely, the presumption is fairly safe.

VII.—What is the Saint to whom Maughold Church is dedicated, and what is the origin of the word "Maughold " ? My suggestion is that it is St. Magnus, of Orkney. Olaf’s reign divides itself into two periods—two alliances by marriage with powerful families— two associations in religion. He was first connected with the family of the Earls of Orkney ; afterwards with the family of Fergus, Lord of Galloway. It will be more convenient to consider this latter alliance first. It dates from about 1130. He married ( circa 1120) Aufrica (or Elfrica), daughter of Fergus and grand-daughter of Henry I. of England. It was the period of David I. of Scotland, when that king was unifying his kingdom, and in religion introducing Catholic usage ; giving old Columban lands, that had passed to the Crown, back to religion, in the endowment of the Cistercian and other new and Catholic religious orders inducing the great lords, who, as lay abbots, held old Columban lands, to do likewise in their own districts. He was also completing the organization of the Scottish dioceses. He induced Fergus to make Galloway a diocese. This was done ; and the bishop’s seat placed at Whithorn, at that time rehabilitated as a priory. Olaf, by his connection with Fergus, came into this stream of influence. Fle made Mann and the Isles a diocese, with a diocesan bishop, and also founded (or rehabilitated) Rushen Abbey. But in the period prior to that, what were Olaf’s associations—politically and religiously? With a different order of things. Our evidence is the Orkney Saga. .

VlII.—Olaf had married Injibiorg the Honourable, a grand-daughter of Hakon of Orkney. Hakon repented, and went on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Meanwhile the great Bishop William and Hakon’s family, as a whole, were engaged in doing due honour to the merriory of Magnus. His body was brought from where it had been buried at the scene of his death, and laid at Kirkwall. This was circa 1110. The cathedral of St magnus, of Kirkwall (built 1138), has, of course, within it the shrine of the Saint. Bishop William was Bishop of Orkney over the whole period of Olaf’s reign. He was the chief agent in the matter of doing honour to St. Magnus ; but the whole Orkney family took the matter up, and made it their own. Magnus was the Saint of the family. His name was as ointment poured forth. And Olaf, in marrying Injibiorg the Honourable, was ipso facto naturally brought into the position of holding St. Magnus in like honour. It was during this precise period that Maughold Church (circa 1125) was built. At that period, assuming Olaf the builder, it is to St. Magnus that he would certainly dedicate his church. But there is a circumstance of additional significance in this connection. We find in the account of the Bishops in the "Chronicle of Mann" that the first, Roolwer, is buried at Maughold. He was in Godred Crovan’s days. After Roolwer, the Bishop was William. It is most probably the same William of Orkney. His connection with Mann was evidently brought about by Olafs having married Injibiorg. To what Saint William would have a church dedicated, if he had any voice in it, is without question. It would be Magnus. Did William, there-upon, as the great Bishop and friend of the Orkney family come in ; and obtain authority from Olaf and Injibiorg ? That William had something to do with Mann as Bishop, as long as Olaf remained in alliance with the Orkney family, is certain. It is not too much to associate him in this way with the church at Maughold, and to associate the church at Maughold with him ! But there is another circumstance curiously in accord with this general view. There is, in Islay, an ancient church, roofless, but in good preservation, and quite certainly of the XII. century. It is so like Maughold in general design that to see it is to start with a shock of recognition, as seeing the face of an entire stranger singularly like a beloved old friend. This church is called Ardmone. Magnus in the Isles took the form Manus, or Maunus ; and this name is probably nothing else than Ardmagnus. It belongs to the period when, according to the Orkney Saga, Injibiorg was the wife of Olaf, King of the South Isles. Islay, in fact, was at that time as much a part of Olaf’s realm as Mann itself. The circumstances, the period, everything points to this church of Ardmone as probably what our Maughold was, when first built ; the Islay church having apparently never been altered ; and this from the fact that at the Reformation the same continuity of usage of the old churches obtained to a less extent there than in Mann. It is probable that Kilmun Church, on Holy Loch, where the Dukes of Argyle have their burial place, is also a St. Magnus dedication ; since the Argyle family have inherited from Somerled, the Scandinavian lord of Argyle of the XII. century. Somerled married Olaf’s daughter. Whether this lady was Injibiorg’s daughter or not is uncertain. If so, the Argyle family would hold Magnus as their family Saint. But, in any case, in discussing the name of Maughold, it will appear that Somerleci himself certainly held St, Magnus in honour,

IX.—Can Maughold be derived from Magnus ? And what of Machutus ? And what of Machaldus ? This is the last point to be dealt with. In the " Grey Friars Chronicle " (London) the invariable name for St. Magnus Church, near London Bridge, is " Maggols," and " Maggoles." This was the medkeval form of the Saint’s name as used of his churches. It was probably from the diminutive form, used as term of endearment or respect, both in Latin, Celtic, and other languages, viz., Magnolus, which would at once become Magnols, Maggols. At a very early date this form Magnol would become Mag’ol ; and the next step, of its taking a final " d," and becoming Mag’old, was in common use inevitable. The " Chronicle of Mann " comes on the ground very late in the XIII. century, and finds Mag’old, or Mag’ald, as the every-day name of the church. It at once puts it down in writing, Machald— with the Latin termination—us ; and we get the Machaldus of the Chronicle. But now about Machutus, or Macutus. The Cistercian chronicler, a Catholic, knows at that time very little of an extraneous Saint Machaldus, takes it to really mean a well known Celtic Saint recognised in the Catholic list, and honestly, so far as intention goes, makes the proper correction. It is, he believes, the Church of St. Machutus. But, going upon the curiously circumstantial account of the projected attack on the church by Gilcolm, one of Somerled’s chiefs, we find this. Gilcolm mentions the matter to Somerled, saying, to begin with, as a thing that would be made an objection, and wishing to anticipate it, that it would be no breach of the peace of St. Machutus to raid up to the dyke about the precincts of the church. Somerled at once forbids the whole business, saying that on no account can he allow the peace of Machutus to be violated. Still Gilcolm urged his request. Somerled answered : " Between thyself and St. Machutus let it be ! I and my army shall be innocent ! We do not care to have any share in your booty ! " Now, why all this ? How did Gilcolm know beforehand that Somerled would object ? Why did Somerled object as he did ? It more than a century later the Rushen chronicler had not heard of a Machaldus, except as a name of a church, certainly at that time Somerled had never heard of St. Machutus ! Somerled knew nothing about Machutus, and, probably, would himself have readily enough raided a church if it had only been of Machutus, and taken the lion’s share, if such had been indeed the Saint. But a Church of St. Magnus was another matter. He knew of St. Magnus. He was connected with the north, where St. Magnus’ name was a name to conjure with. He was a son-in-law of Olaf. Possibly his wife was the daughter of Injibiorg. In that case St. Magnus was a family Saint to him. Possibly the Church of Kilmun, on Holy Loch, was already a St. Magnus Church. It was, at least, to become the hallowed burial place of the Thanes of Argyle. If in the Chronicle we substitute Magnus for Machutus, the whole story becomes intelligible, palpitates with reality. Till we do this is a mere dessicated and lifeless tale

X.—To recapitulate, then : Olaf (1124-1154), King of Mann and the South Isles, had with him, possibly, for a time, old Bishop Roolwer, his father’s contemporary. When Roolwer died and was buried, goodness knows what was the name of the church, on the headland near Ramsey-though, no doubt, a place with time immemorial associations. Olaf marries Injibiorg the Honourable, of Orkney ; meets Bishop William, and finds that they are all devoted to St. Magnus, their new family Saint. He asks Bishop William to take charge of religion. It is to Bishop William an opportunity. New churches to St. Magnus, one in Islay, and one in Mann. They do not see the future ; they only see the present, and live in it. These churches are built ; but, in the course of years, the Orkney alliance ceases. Meanwhile, great things are going on under King David I. in Scotland. Olaf becomes connected with Galloway, marries Aufrica, gets new ideas, falls in with the spirit of the age, makes his kingdom a diocese, introduces the Cistercians, and plants them at Rushen. He becomes, in fact, a Catholic—some such system seeming all the better, as, in his youth in England, he had got vague ideas of it, and these ideas now, for many reasons, approving themselves to him. He was within the Catholic horizon ; his son-in-law, Somerled, to the end, quite out-side it.

I am no more wishful to disturb the " peace of St. Machutus" than Somerled was to disturb the peace of St. Magnus. But, in connection with Maughold, as to St. Machutus, I suggest that Maughold Church is not the Church of St. Machutus at all ; but, of St. Magnus, of Orkney.

Notes re Church built at Maughold, about say 1125, in reign of Olaf I of Man, in connection with contention that it was dedicated to St. Magnus.


       Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney, born 1008.
| +-------------+--------------------------------+ | | Paul Erling
| |
--++------+-----+---------+--------- ----+---------+------
| | | | | | [HAKON] Thora Ingivid Herbjorg Erling | ST. MAGNUS | (dau.) (dau.) marr. Olaf of Man
---+---------- | | Harold |Paul|
| Erling


(i) Hakon and Magnus were first cousins, born about 1070.

(ii) Hakon murdered Magnus (the Saint and Earl) ; repented ; went on pilgrimage. After his return honoured the Saint, about 1110-1120,

(iii) Whole family sought to honour the Saint, especialy Paul (Hakenson). The women of family also zealous that way.

(iv) Injibiorg’s mother first cousin to Saint ; and herself second cousin. Also, Injibiorg first cousin to Earl Paul, etc.

(v) Olaf, husband of Injibiorg, enlisted in family interest in Saint.

(vi) Bishop William, who, in Chronicle, is placed after Roolwer [very curious his being mentioned in the Chronicle] has his connection with Man thus explained, through Olaf I take it that his connection with Man ceased 1134, when Olaf appointed Hamund, son of Jol, son of MacMaras (one of Godred Crovan’s chiefs), first Bishop of Man. That Harnund caused trouble in Islay is perfectly likely, and his antecedents show him probably the terrible Wymund.

Another note of interest

Olaf was killed in 1154 at Ramsey. Now, Chronicle says that his son Godred had, just before that, gone to Norway to King Inge ; made himself his man ; and, next autumn, on his return, put in at ORKNEY, " and all the chiefs of the Isles, hearing that he had come, were delighted.’ He was in fact a connection. Godred from there came to Man, and turned out his cousins who had killed his father Olaf ; blinded two of them, killed the third This maintaining a connection with Orkney at that date I think in harmony with my general view of Olaf’s connection with the family of the Saint.

Olaf’s daughter Ayla married Somerled. Possibly this Ayla was daughter of Injibiorg, and possibly Olaf’s second marriage with Aufrica of Galloway (mother of Godred), may account for the Somerled war against Godred, and the disruption of the Isles from him. But it is more easily accounted for by Godred’s conduct after his raid on Dublin when (isiblen was killed. After the return to Man, Godred quarrelled with his Isles men, allies or retainers and, one of them, THORFIN, went at once to Somerled. THORFIN was probably of the Orkney family. " Somerled greatly rejoiced.’ But, another chief, PAUL, came to Godred and told him of the coalition against him. PAUL is again a name in the Orkney family. After the disastrous battle, Somerled’s army lay at Ramsey ; and we have the affair of Maughold Church. Godred went to Norway for aid. Paul was evidently left in Man, as regent. Reginald, Godred’s brother, usurped rule ; and Paul, proving traitor, helped him. Godred very soon returned and resumed authority. The continued connection with Orkney and the family of Injibiorg is at least certain.

I place, birth of Olaf I., about 1090 (probably earlier).
accession ,, 1114.
death ,, 1154 (aged, say 64 to 70).

The description of his death, in parley at Ramsey, with his nephews.

(1) He is " seated."
(2) Reginald " called to come to the King."
(3) " Turned as if to salute him," &c.

Whole circumstances accord with theory of Olaf as NOT young man,

Cistercian Order.—.Abbey founded 1115 at Clairvaux (Olaf say 25) ; took some time to find its way to Furness ; founded 1127, when Olaf was 37. Rushen formed 1134 ; Olaf 44.

Now, by comparison of dates, Injibiorg was born, thus—
Thorfinn, born1008.
Paul, born, say 1040.

Manx Society, vol. iv. (Oliver Mon. vol. i.) p. 198. footnote—Olaf’s mothers name was Injibiorg, an uichcadian ; but Orkney Saga S~lyS Injibiorg, of Orkney ~as wife of Olaf,

Herbjorg (daughter), born, say 1070.

Injibiorg (daughter), born, say 1100 (or earlier).

Olaf succeeded to kingdom 1114 (when 24 or so). This I call Olaf’s first marriage. .

Injibidrg married (at 15 or so), say about 1115. Second marriage with Aufrica of Galloway, 1130.

Chronicle, 1164, speaks of Reginald (brother of Godred), son of Olaf attacking the Manx. I take it half.brother of Godred by earlier marriage, viz., possibly, son of Injihiorg, brother of Ayla, wife of Somerled. But there were half-brother and half-sister relationships of course In this connection a certain Paul, who had been left Regent of Man, betrayed trust and supported this Reginald. Paul, an Orkneyman ! One of the Injibiorg family.

The story of Olaf’s religious patronage seems to have been in brief, thus—

(I) First marriage with Injihiorg ; association with Bishop William, say about 1114 to 1125 ; time of Magnus sensation. founded Church at Maughold, etc.

Up to this time knew nothing of Cistercians, as Furness founded only 1127.

(2) Second marriage, abut 1130, with Aufrica, daughter of Fergus of Galloway.

David of Scotland was pushing the Church and the Cistercians.

Under David’s influence Fergus made Galloway a diocese about 1128 (Melrose founded, &c.). (Whithorn, St. Ninian’s restored, &c.)

Olaf now is brought into contact with the new movement, the Catholic movement from the South, as in contrast to the old Norse christianity.

Somerled was killed at Renfrew, 1164.

He had married a daughter of Olaf’s, viz , Ayla (born 1115 or so).

I take Somerled to have been born about 1120 or so.

The Somerled feud against Godred of Man was clearly that kind of family feud where children of one wife contended against the children of another wife, viz., advancing claims of right, rather than wanton and gratuitous conquest.

The very same kind of struggle took place between Reginald (Godredson) and Olaf (Godredson) II. Reginald elder, but declared illegitimate. Olaf, younger, claiming legitimate succession.

This principle I take it is the real and true key to most or all of the family feuds. I find in Chronicle all curiously harmonizing with this theory.



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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