[from Manx Note Book, vol 1, 1885] 

Recent Antiquarian Discoveries

AT THE BEGINNING OF THIS PAPER, it seems well to state that formerly, from near the north-west corner of the present Church-yard at Maughold, round by east to south-east, there ran a moat about 5 feet deep and some 15 feet wide, with an embankment on each side. The outer one, constituting the boundary fence between the Church-yard and adjoining land, on the east was higher than the inner, except at the very south-east end when the inner was highest. At the north-east side of the present burial-ground, the south and west boundaries of an older Cemetery can be traced, the ends of which crossed the moat before mentioned, the moat itself forming the boundary on the north and east. In a south-west corner of this enclosure the remains of an old Chapel were discovered. On removing the rubbish from the inside some pieces of coal and cinder were found, and other indications that it had been made use of in recent times. Towards the bottom a number of small slates with large peg-holes, two small flagstones, and pieces of chiselled freestone with one angle moulded, such as might have been used for a window. The walls appeared well built, chiefly with quarried stone, and mortar of coarse sand and lime, 2 feet 6 inches thick; the inside measurement was 18 feet by 9 feet broad. The doorway stands near the centre of the west gable: it is 2 feet wide and flagged at the bottom. The inner angles are built of freestone with incised groove, and a small buttress stands on each side without. It is conjectured that it may have been built at the end of the 11th or beginning of the 12th century. The graves in the surrounding ground were not lined with stone, but had the appearance as if the body had been laid in the earth, simply wrapped in a mortuary cloth.

The second place examined was the south-east corner of the Church-yard, where the inner enbankment of the former moat stood highest. The walls of a building were laid bare, standing east and west 23 feet by11 feet wide, the doorway in the west gable 2 feet wide below the level of the ground floor; at the cast end, down some 4 feet, were found large stones with black ash underneath as if burials had taken place below before the building had been ereded, And at the south end of this gable, distance some few feet, was found a built-up well, 6 feet wide; the lintels which covered the top had partly fallen in and were some feet lower than the level of the floor of the building. The well was nearly filled up with earth and stones. It stands between the line of the inner embankment of the moat and the building.

The third place in which excavations were made was on the south of the present Church. Attention was drawn by the Vicar to some large stones which had been taken up out of the ground in digging a grave. On looking at the place it was evident that a wall existed underneath and this we tried to trace by making holes in different places and succeeded in doing so for some yards. It runs parallel with the south side of the Church, distant about 35 feet. The wall is two or three feet thick, built of good-sized stones, without mortar. The top had evidently been broken down, as the remains are only 2 feet high, and are about 4 feet below the surface of the ground. On extending the search eastward, on a line with the east gable of the church, a GOLD COIN was found on a heap of small quartz pebbles, about two feet below the surface. As it proved an interesting find it may be well to give a more exact description of the digging made here. On the south side of the Church, from time to time, had been found a great many round quartz pebbles, especially outside of the line of the wall before mentioned. At this place several small heaps of these were dug through from 2 feet below the surface downwards; also some few pieces of pyriferous quartz. On the north side of these, 2 feet from the spot where the coin was found and lower down, was a stone-lined grave, very narrow and long, lying east and west, and within it some burnt bone.

Gold Coin of Louis le Debonnaire

Gold Coin of Louis le Debonnaire, found in Maughold Church-yard.

The coin," says Mr. Jewitt,* " which is in a magnificent state of preservation, is of gold, weighing 68 grains, is of Louis le Debonnaire (814-840), son of Charlemagne, and is a new and hitherto unpublished type. It bears on the obverse a well defined draped profile bust of Louis le Debonnaire, facing the right; the head laureate, with ends of bow hanging down behind; the drapery, folded over the chest, being fastened on the shoulder with a circular fibula. On the reverse, a full-length draped figure, with head in profile, somewhat elevated, looking to the right; both arms extended and holding behind the figure a cord or bow-like object, the ends of which extend above the hands; the feet wide apart, and standing upon a beaded line or other not very distinct object.

Mr. Jewitt submitted the coin to Mr. John Evans, F.R.S., President of the Numismatic Society, who described it as follows:-

Obv.-D.N. HLVDOVVICVS IMP. AVG. Laureate bust to the right, the shoulders draped.

Rev.-DDNNAVG-CTVIOTLN. Draped female figure standing with arms extended, and holding between them a kind of beaded cord. Wt. 68 grains.

The workmanship of the obverse though somewhat rude is forcible. The bust is narrow and upright, and somewhat resembles that on some of the pennies of Coenvulf of Mercia, who for many years at the end of his reign was a contemporary of Louis, whose own reign extended from A.D. 814 to 840, though he had been associated with his father Charlemagne as Emperor in 813, and had been King of Aquitaine from his birth in 778. The workmanship of the device on the reverse is of inferior execution, and it is difficult to understand the significance of the beaded cord, which, in combination with the two arms, has the appearance of a bow extended transversely across the standing figure.

"The gold coins of Louis le Debonnaire are by no means common, though specimens exist in the British Museum and in other cabinets. The best executed type may be described as follows:-

Obv.-D.N. HLVDOVVICVS IMP. AVG. Laureate and draped bust to left.

Rev.-MVNVS DIVINVM. A plain cross in the centre of a laurel wreath, with ribbons below, and a small circular ornament at the junction of the two branches forming the wreath.

Of this there are several more or less barbarous imitations on which the head frequently occurs to the right instead of the left, and the legends are sometimes almost unintelligible. It is somewhat remarkable that two coins of Louis should have been found in England at nearly the same time, but one of these barbarous coins were lately dug up near Lewes, in Sussex, I believe during the course of the present year. The head is to the right, and extremely rude in its execution. The legend on the obverse can hardly be recognised, and that on the reverse, besides being barbarous, has been abbreviated to HVIIDOVIIVI. The weight of this coin, which is now in my own collection, is 67 grains, that of the Isle of Mann coin being 68 grains, or very near the weight of the ordinary Byzantine solidi of the period.

"One is strongly tempted to assign some definite meaning to the legend on the reverse of the Kirk Maughold coin, so as in some manner to localise its issue. I fear, however, that the most probable interpretation of the legend is that it is merely a barbarous reproduction of VICTORIA DD. NN. AVGG, though the figure can hardly be that of Victory, but may be an original design of the chief engraver of the mint of Louis le Debonnaire.

" The presence of such a coin in the Isle of Mann must, I think, be attributed to its having been brought there by some of the Viking settlers. Coins of Louis have, ere now, been found in Norway."

It should be added that the Rev. W. Kermode, of Ballaugh Redory, who was one of the first to see the coin, at once appropriated it to Louis le Debonnaire.

* "Reliquary," January, 1885.-pp. 169-72.

The SEPULCHRAL URN (see Plate), which was discovered two-hundred yards N.N.W. of Port-e-Chee House by the plough on the 12th January last, is remarkable for its size,-being15 in. high, 12¾ in. in diameter, ½ in. thick, and 39½ in. in circumference at the base. Except for the three bands in relief, which run round it, there is no ornamentation. In colour it is brownish-buff, slightly reddish in places. It has evidently been wrought by hand, without the assistance of a wheel, from the clay in the locality, and has then been burnt in the fire. Llewellynn Jewitt, F.S.A., (Ceramic Art of Great Britain, P. 5,) writes:-"The urns were, there is reason to believe, fashioned, when death occurred, by the females of the tribe, from clay found near the spot, and baked on or by the funeral pyre." Within it were some minute fragments of partially calcined bone and a bronze weapon, 31/8 in. long, 1in. wide, 1/8 in. thick, and weighing about ½oz. It had evidently been longer and more pointed. It is, however, in excellent preservation, and exhibits beautiful gradations of colour, the light portion being bright golden, shading off to a dark grey, almost black, with specks of emerald and torquoise hue. It should be mentioned that the urn was found in the usual inverted position, that the furrow was not deeper than usual, while the land has been for some time under the ordinary rotation cropping.



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(see also later paper in IOMNHS & letter of 1860's

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