[From Manx Soc vol 5, 1860]
It is out of the question to name the people or races, or the eras to whom the remains of the ages of hillocks are referable. Doubtless they were constructed in successive ages, but there is a uniformity of character in the majority of them, from which I conclude they are principally referable to a particular origin; most probably a portion of them were constructed by the aborigines of the Island, from Druidial times to the middle ages, whilst another portion belongs to the Scandinavian invaders, whether they were Saxon, Danes, or Norwegians, and many of them to the primitive Christians, who mingled with the heathen and habitually imitated their architecture in the construction of their domestic places in ante-historic periods. Miserable huts of mud, &c., were the abodes of the mass of mankind in the first ages, and altars of unhewn stones and monuments of earth heaped up were recognized and commanded to be forms of monumental architecture during the commonwealth of the Jews, whose history is duly recorded in the Old Testament from before, the time to which the Manx remains we are attempting to describe are probably referable. There can be little doubt that the forms of idolatry described in the Bible and by the prophets were in those ages common to the heathen both in Europe and Asia, and that in an island like ours we may look upon many of the pre-historic monuments which we see around us facsimile resemblances of those alluded to in the sacred volume with so much prophetic warning. It may be replied that it is gratuitous to refer any of those remains to the Druids, because we have no record of these priests ever having used any temple but groves of trees, or it may be asserted on the other hand, that all circles, cairn altars, and mounds of earth are veritable Scandinavian antiquities because the circle was the recorded temple of their god Thor; but in reply to these assertions I would enquire, how are we then to explain the occurrence of these altars in other nations (?) in Anglesea, for instance, which was never permanently conquered and settled by the Scandinavians; and how are we to account for the circle having been emblematic of Divinity amongst nations who were beyond the influence of Scandinavian custom and religion. The absence of written evidence in this ease is partly owing to the prohibition of letters enforced by the tyrannical but patriarchal Druids. This absence, however, by no means falsifies the evidence afforded us by an examination of the monumental remains still to be found in these Islands, which are admitted in history to have been one principal retreat of the Druidical priests of Europe. Such absence tends to confirm the assumption that they really are Druidical, and have not therefore been recorded.1 By Druidical I would be understood as belonging to the heathen or idolatrous age, when man had not attained to that degree of civilization which enables them to cultivate religion as a purely spiritual revelation, unincumbered by the corruptions of an eye service or worship.
The Barrow occurs in every part of the Island, single or in groups of two or three or more. They must have been once very numerous, if we take into account those that have been obliterated. The single hillocks or cronks are for the most part the largest in size, whilst the grouped are of a smaller description. They are often simply sepulchral, but many of them bear indications of their narrow summits having been used as places of worship, shelter, or defence, or as places where watch and ward were kept, but these are readily distinguishable from the true or sepulchral barrow. Many of the single barrows, as well as those in groups, are composed entirely of mould, and are of low elevation, worn down from the effects of time, or of artificial levelling, but they have been generally respected by the inhabitants.. Such as have been opened and examined, contain from one to eight or ten urns. Feltham (p. 180,) mentions one in the parish of Andreas in which were "found fourteen rotten urns or earthen pots, with their mouths downwards, with one greater than the others in a bed of white sand, containing a few brittle bones as having passed the fire, but no ashes left discernible." These urns are composed of a kind of coarse terra-cotta., not exceeding one foot in height, neatly formed, with a beading outside round the brim. But there is a third kind of carnaen, made up of large stones and mould, more in the form of a cairn, standing solitary and deserted in a field, and often containing the kist vaen of antiquaries. The names which the natives give them are for the most part casual and general, such as a "cronk," or "knock," a "hillock," "cairn," "carnaen" or "heap of stones." A few examples will best explain these varieties. The larger ones are often denominated "broogh" or "burroughs" of which no etymon is attempted, except we admit the word barrow to be a corruption of it, or the Saxon word berick to be synonymous. Broogh, in Manx signifies a precipice. A few of them have names in some degree descriptive of the functions they discharged, as the Cronk ny-Myrrhiow, the Hill of the Dead; the Cronk-na-yrey-laa, the Hill of the Watch by Day; Cronk-na-Keeil-ayn, the Hill of our own Church. Of those simply sepulchral, numerous and tolerably perfect specimens remain in the northern parishes of the Island, especially in the neighbourhood of Bishop's Court. But many of the best specimens contained in the northern parishes have been levelled. In one near Ballaugh, about ten feet high, which I opened about forty-five years ago, I found three small urns, about twelve inches high, of unbaked clay, and having a narrow beading encircling their margins. They lay inverted, and separate, and near them were small chips of charcoal. The earth they contained was loaded with carbonaceous substances and other signs of cremation. The stony cairns containing the stone grave or kist vaen are for the most part found on high grounds or elevations, in the central parts of the parishes. The centres contain stone graves, which are very often square in form, having human bones laid promiscuously, or a skeleton with the thigh bones folded up towards the breast; but it is by no means un common to meet with calcined as well as uncalcined bones in them. Small groups of calcined chips of bones have been met with, carefully deposited in the cairn, without any urn and superincumbent to the central deposit. The kist vaen has also been met with without either of these remains, but merely enclosing an urn of the usual kind; an instance of which occurred near Crogga, in Santon, some years ago. Hence there is reason not only to conclude that the cairn, with the kist vaen, was not solely the grave of a single individual, but that interment in this fashion was used by the same people at the same period as incineration of the dead, which are good grounds for ascribing them to a very early era. The Cronk-na-Myrrhiow is a very good specimen of the barrow of the sepulchral kind, as we may presume from its name. It stands on the top of the sea-cliffs, on the left of the creek of Grainach, in the parish of Santon. It is an oblong and regularly-formed turfy mound, forty feet long, twenty feet broad, and twelve feet high, placed across the isthmus of a small insulated crag which overhangs the gravelly beach of the little estuary of Grainach, and occupies the approach to the edge of the cliff so completely as to leave only a narrow and precarious footpath on the south-eastern aspect. On the broogh behind it and inward, the mud foundations of a small oblong and frail tenement, covered with a luxuriant verdure, are very distinctly traceable, occupying nearly all the flat summit of the precipice, and combining with its simple solitude a degree of security rarely aimed at in such structures; this could only have been used as a religious retreat of no very ostentatious kind, - perhaps the cell of a hermit. It has withstood the effects of time better than if it had been composed of more imposing materials; partly, perhaps, from being placed beyond the precincts of agricultural improvements; and to disturb its repose of ages, out of mere idle curiosity, would surely be considered little short of sacrilege in the neighbourhood. On the neighbouring farm of Kintraa, a gold ear-ring was found in 1860, a delineation of which is given in Plate ii, fig. 4, exactly resembling the ear rings delineated in the vol. of antiquities entitled Old England, as Druidical ornaments.2
About a mile up the country, especially near Kirk Santon Church, the remains of the Druidical age were once numerous, and several barrows, flanked by rough but erect stones, as well as some circles of stones, are still to be found there. A large stone near the river is traditionally said to be a sacrificial one.
As another instance of the barrows, of a somewhat different construction from the hillock of the dead, the Cronk-moar, or the "large hillock," in the parish of Christ Rushen, is well worthy of notice. It stands a few hundred yards north of the Parish Church, in a morass or meadow, in a defile or low valley which opens into Port Erin Bay. It is generally known by the name of the "Fairy Hill," as being traditionally the favourite resort of those elfin people. It is a large truncated cone of mould, between thirty-five and forty feet high, and 450 feet in circumference at the base. On its summit there is an area upwards of twenty- five feet in diameter, surrounded by elevated edges in the form of a parapet five feet high. Its base is encircled by the remains of a deep and wide ditch, more particularly distinct towards the east and south. On the north the ditch divides the cronk or broogh from a raised embankment, which occupies the margin of the meadow on that side. Opposite to this terrace the ascent to the summit of the hill is much less precipitous than on the other sides, and is in some measure divided into lodgements or platforms, apparently of original formation. More in advance in the morass a second small and low barrow stands. It is worthy of remark that all the large specimens, like the one under con sideration, have an attendant of this kind, and those that appear fortified are placed convenient for water, and otherwise in situa tions of a defensive nature.
The Fairy Hill is composed, as far as can be observed, of the gravelly soil from the adjoining banks of the morass, but when or by whom thrown up is totally unknown. It is said to have been raised over the body of King Reginald, who was slain near this place by the knight Suam or Ivar on the 6th of May, 1249. I am inclined to conclude that it was built for a far different purpose from that of a sepulchral monument. Its structure bears every evidence of its having been a fortified position for twelve or twenty men, and, excepting against missile weapons, it must have been a redoubt of no mean pretensions, in ages when, even in England, a hundred men were considered an army of a formidable description. It somewhat resembles the fortified hills which occur in Ireland, and is not unlike the moat hills in England. It is situated so as to oppose the advance of men landing at Port Erin on the west, or at Port-le-Moirey Bay on the east, which are the only landing places at this part of the Island. There are some tall erect stones near here, to the south, which are said to mark the place where a fight took place ages ago. Reginald being slain, was interred in the church of St. Mary of Rushen; but it is by no means unlikely that, according to the tradition, this barrow or the small one adjacent, may have been used as a place of interment for the dead. For it appears, from sections of the mounds which occupy the internal area of Peel Castle, where human bones have been frequently dug up, that it was one of the customs of the early ages to bury their dead in the defensive embankments of fortified places. There is another barrow of the same name on the farm of West Nappin, in Jurby, which, instead of having a flat summit, is terminated by a large grey stone.
Of the same description are the barrows denominated by the natives Broogh or Burrough. They invariably appear to have been fortified hills, single, or attended only by a barrow of a small size, being generally situated convenient to water, and surrounded by a ditch. On the southern acclivity of Cronk Glass or Mount Murray Hill, - on the Clannagh road leading to St. Mark's Chapel, half-way between the Santon river and the main road from Douglas to Castletown, - we find another example of the fortified broogh. Instead of being excavated or enclosed, it is fiat on its summit, and besides the ditch surrounding it there are evident remains of circumvallation by two walls. This station is only known by the name of "The Broogh"; at a little distance westward there is a small barrow. Another example of this kind of station occurs on a low rocky precipice, on the shore, near the old chapel on the Island of St Michael, at the eastern point of the peninsula of Langness, Derbyhaven, which, upon enquiry, I found to be known to some of the neighbours by the name of Ango or Hango Broogh. It is situated on a rock in the narrow channel between the Island of St. Michael's and the main land, and consists of ill-defined mounds of rubbish, of low elevation, but evidently artificial, and of considerable magnitude. It rises somewhat higher than the surrounding rocky shore, and forms an islet when the highest spring tides rise. From the land side a broad ascent or path is cut out of the rock, with grooves formed across instead of steps, which leads in a sweep to the Broogh. A few hundred yards from this place, on the southern limb of Derbyhaven Bay, and not far from the edge of the water, there are some small and low barrows, and also some indistinct traces of miserable obliterated looking foundations. They have been a good deal encroached upon by cultivation; and, like many others of the same kind, would be passed unnoticed by a person not observant of such things. An ancient coin was found at this place many years ago.
These appearances of ancient habitations on this coast favour some superstitions of the natives, which I have heard expressed in the form of tradition, regarding the existence, in former ages, of a slendid city at Langness, which is supposed to be still sometimes seen from the hills, raising its gilded turrets and bristling battlements above the surface of the waves, and which would ultimately be realized in future times. I heard this legend from some of the inhabitants of the hills inland, when attending protracted professional business. These ruins are curious, and favour in some degree the etymology of the title of Sodor given by Buchanan, and, I think, Spottiswoode or Hector Boethius, as being derived from the phrase Ecclesia Soterensis, the Soterense fanam, built by the first Christian settlers, on an Island near Castletown, in honour of the Saviour,-.a derivation which their opponents deny, partly because there is no such island and no traces of such a church ever having existed, but principally because they prefer their explanation of the title Sodor, from the Norwegian word Sudor, signifying "southern," in contradistinction to the word Norder, two ecclesiastical divisions of territory in the time of the Norwegians.3 The seat of the latter of which being at Drontheim, in Norway, the former is alleged to have originated when the Norwegians acquired the sovereignty of this Island. It ought to be observed that this latter etymology is an opinion of very modern date, notwithstanding its ingenuity, whilst the other, however questionable its authors may be, is certainly a matter of history, though related at a time when historians could not be quite certain about the truth of the facts of their case. Can this broogh, then, this round redoubt of earth, be the Soterense fanum? It stands on an Island. The name Hango Broogh is much against the argument, and is more calculated to lead into speculations regarding the original condition of those modern burghs or towns which are now so numerous, than to confirm the above suggestion.4
The Tynwald Hill, with St. John's Chapel annexed, is a variety of the artificial hillock, the summit of which is the post of honour, just as defences on the summit of brooghs were the parts of greatest importance, when earthworks were in vogue on the Island as its principal means of war. The Tynwald Hill continues to be used for its original functions even to this very day. Tradition affirms that it was constructed of earth contributed by the inhabitants from every district. From its summit every new Legislative Act must be promulgated, according to ancient custom, before it is binding upon the people; hence it gives its name to that court of law where the entire Legislature meets the population of the Island in social compact. The name of this Cronk is a compound of two Celtic words, Ting and Val, signifying the "fenced" or "guarded judicial Court," and from it any assemblage of the entire Legislature is called the Tynwald Court. There are instances recorded of such. meetings of the Legislature and the people having taken place at Reneurling, or Cronk Urleigh, or Eagle Hill, near Kirk Michael, as early as the fifteenth century; and also at a Cronk above the old Treen chapel called Keeil Albin, which stands on the acclivity of the mountain Ben-y-pot, in Baldwin; and they are also frequently held at Castle Rushen. In modern times the meeting of the Legislature and the people is uniformly held on Midsummer Day, the 5th of July, at the Judicial Hill of St. John's, which is also known to the people by the name of Cronk-na-Keeillown, probably a corruption of the Cronk of Keeil John. The Tynwald Hill is a grass-covered obtruncated cone, about -12 feet high, 240 in circumference at the base, and 21 at the summit. Its acclivity is cut into three circular terraces, rising above each other, and all approached by a flight of wide steps made in the grassy sod, on the eastern side, towards the Chapel, for the accommodation of the authorities during the ceremony of promulgating the laws. It would be foreign to my subject to enter into a detail of this ceremony, which has been already often recorded; suffice it say that by tracing the history of judicial hills, we may be enabled in some degree to suggest the era of similar structures as they are found in this Island. The denomination is met with in Scotland, in the name of the parish of Tinwald, Dumfrieshire, where the ruins of an ancient castellan existed, and numerous warlike weapons of the Dalraed Scots have been found in the bogs of the vicinity. I believe that neither the Danes or Norwegians, nor any of the Northmen ever established themselves in that part of Scotland, although they may have done so at Dingwall, on the Moray Firth. Early writers, I think Orosius for one, tell us that the Scots were the principal inhabitants of the Isle of Man and the north of Ireland in the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries, and the language of those primitive Celts of that name continues to prevail, as well as many of their customs, amongst our peasantry to this day. But whether the Tynwald existed at the time of Orosius, must remain unknown. Insular tradition, however, and the records of the fifteenth century, inform us that this mode of promulgating the laws had continued since the days of the Orrys; and we are farther informed that when the Western Islands were divided by Somerled, a Scotsman, and his descen dants, into baronies, the chief men held courts, "sub Deo," on the tops of hills called "Knocks ;" and it is probable that several of those just mentioned were used for purposes of this kind. But from the foregoing pages we have much reason to conclude that these judicial and other hillocks existed long anterior to the days of Somerled; that th'ey were common to all the tribes of the Celtic nations, and in all probability were in existence before the introduction of Christianity: at any rate, the foregoing con siderations give the Tynwald Hill, and the barrows of a similar construction, a very high antiquity.5
The following graphic description on the subject of barrows we find in the parochial report of the Rev. W. Kermode, of Ramsey : - " In a field on the estate of Ballastole, not far from the ancient Treen Chapel of Ballure, there was a mound of considerable dimensions, which, from feelings of respect for places sacred to the dead, or other causes, had been spared by the plough till about ten years ago, when it was broken up (as would appear) for the first time, and added to the field. I inspected it at the time, and from its general appearance had no doubt it was one of those barrows or mounds of sepulture, at one period so numerous on the Island. It had on the top the usual kist vaen, - a rude stone grave, consisting of a few upright stones with a large heavy slab resting on the top; within were found some very small pieces of unbaked pottery, with a black substance which was probably charred human bones. From the fact of the grave standing south and north, I should consider it of a date anterior to the introduction of Christianity, probably marking the resting place of some old Scandinavian warrior. Frequent ploughings and cultivation have now almost obliterated it."
At this point of my observations, and before proceeding to enumerate other remarkable earthworks, I shall notice some individual carnaens and barrow-like structures, not referable to the class of sepulchral altars or fortified hillocks, in order to avoid confusion in my narrative as much as possible. I mean the grouped barrows, the watch and ward stations, and the carnaens that mark the extreme boundaries of parishes. Examples of the grouped barrows occur in various parts. A number of small low barrows may be seen on the mountain of Archollagan, near Old Foxdale, on a level part of the hill which has never been under cultivation, and just the place for a pitched fight on a small scale, being on the ancient line of mountain road from Douglas to Peel, by the district of the Cooil, and from Castletown by St. Mark's Chapel. On the estate of Ballanicholas, near this group, are some small fortified hills. Groups of two or three harrows used to be seen also adjacent to St. John's, as if part of the establishment of the Tynwald, or relics of the fights that took place there. One of them immediately north of it, on the opposite side of the road, was bisected within twenty years last past, in widening the road, and was found to enclose a stone coffin and other mementos of the dead. Groups also existed near Bishop's Court, and in the parishes of Ballaugh and Andreas; where often one of them was larger, as if of more importance than the others.
As an example of the boundary cairn, there is the Carnaen Ben or Bedn, where the parishes of Braddan and Onchan meet, on the mountain called Monacur, at the head of East Baldwin, towards Snafield. It is unnecessary to notice more of these.
Stations for watch and ward occupy the heights along the coast in every direction, and all round the Island. These are especially remarkable on the western coast. From the Cronk ny Erey Lhaa, or the Hill of the Watch by Day, on the coast of Jurby, they extend westward to Peel Castle, where there is a round tower and very distinct barrow-like mounds, and thence eastward across the Island, and south-westward by the Cronk ny Erey Lhaa, in Arbory, the name of a peak in the mountain range, which has a cairn of stones on its top, and is also an excellent landmark at sea. The watch and ward has been set on these within the memory of man, and the burning faggot passed from parish to parish; but of course little attention is now paid to the accompaniment of the cronk or carnaen, which is principally deserving of notice now as pointing out the great antiquity of many of the internal regulations in reference to the defence of the country. It is recorded in history that the Manx were in early times brave and warlike as a nation, defending themselves successfully and assisting the Celtic tribes around them against their enemies, or making incursions into their territories by turns; but for many centuries they have lost much of that character, and the necessity of defending their lands against a foreign enemy is lost and forgotten. This change, doubtless, is to be ascribed in a great measure to the peaceable state of the Island in modern times, for they are now content to remain quiet under the paramount protection of England.
The earthworks, apparently fortified, and also the small encampments called castles by the Manx, are found all along the coast in various stages of ruin. It is remarkable that they occur most frequently on the eastern and southern parts of the Island; on the sea coast, near the estuaries of rivers and creeks and streams of water, with their strongest fronts facing the sea shore; whether for the purposes of resisting invasion or as positions of strength of a people already in possession of the country it is uncertain to conjecture. It may be remarked that I have been unable to find out any such specimens on the north-western coast excepting Peel Castle, and, perhaps, the Bishop's Court, of which more hereafter.
As instances of the small positions of defence, and of enclosures to which the inhabitants might retreat, I may point out one on the north bank of Port-e-chee Claddagh, on the right of the road to Peel; one at Castle Ward, above the village of Tromode; one on the broogh near the estnary of Santon river; one on the Ballaquayle stream, near Douglas, about 150 yards from its estuary, now made into a garden; one in Gloin Gawne, Laxey bay, near the Cloven Stones, which is constructed on a natural hillock; and one in a plantation near the Dhoon bridge, Maughold; and the foundations of others which have been erased and mined .6
On the highest summit of the mountain South Barrool there are remains of a formidable enclosure, in the form of a dry wall of stones, which surrounds a space of a circular form of one hundred and fifty yards in diameter. The approach to this encamp ment on the north side is an easy ascent, and the ruins here are above nine yards wide, forming a mound of foundations of no mean dimensions. On the southern aspect the wall has been much narrower and weaker, and perpendicular to the brow of the cliff there which is inaccessible, and is filled up inside so as to form a raised way and a parapet. The mountain stretches away to the north-east in the form of an extensive table land, 1,500 feet above the level of the sea. There can be little doubt that this large enclosure or encampment has been constructed for safety and defence against depredators invading the surrounding districts of the Island. South Barrool is the only Manx mountain concerning which we have legends, except Snaefeld. It was anciently called Wardfell, or Warfell, or, as the Norwegian chroniclers have it, Worzefell. The country people talk also of the Wolf of Barrool, and about a giant that inhabited it, of which it is useless to repeat, There can be little doubt, however, that this enclosure constituted a place of safe retreat in time of danger for the neighbouring inhabitants, and I men tion it here as an instance of the singularly inhospitable sites selected for such retreats.
The cairns and stone altars met with in the interior are merely a rude heap of low elevation, variously constructed, and frequently appear to have undergone the action of fire, the mould in their base being black and ashes-like. Sometimes they very much resemble the single barrow; sometimes they have large stones variously placed; sometimes one large and solitary block of white quartz stands at the southern base; sometimes several stones placed on end, like remnants of a circle, or as entrance posts; and some times the whole arrangement remains so complete as to appear like a stone circle or an altar of the Druids. These vary from four to ten yards in diameter, and from two to five feet in height, lower and more obscure looking than the fortified position or judicial hill.
As an example of this kind of artificial collection of stones, is that called the Cloven Stones, (from one of the tall erect stones on it being cleft longitudinally,) on the right side of the road leading from Douglas to Laxey, about six miles from the former place. Tradition says that this cairn is the grave of a Welsh Prince who invaded the Island, and landed at the south angle of Laxey Bay, near which it stands, and who was slain in his first engagement with the natives. But this appears to be a suppositious notion, and it is much more probable that the cairn of Cloven Stones was the sepulchre of the inhabitants of the broogh up the gill, named Gloin Gawne, already mentioned, and also was used as their temple of worship. It was entire when Feltham wrote his Tour in the Island, and he has given a good delineation of it, but since his time it was broken up by the Laxey miners, in hopes of finding hidden treasure, instead of which they found only the gloomy remains of decayed and oblivious mortality, carefully deposited in a stone chest. On the quarterland of Ballachrink, in the parish of Kirk Onchan, there is a ruin somewhat of the same kind, with a circle of stones at its base. About a hundred yards towards the west its attendant tumulus stands, and not far distant the indistinct remains of a circular encampment. On the neighbouring farm of Ballacottier is seen a cairn composed principally of stones that seem to have undergone the action of fire. There is, also, near to the mountain gate of the Cronk-na-Mona Road, a group of barrows, and at two or three points on the estate of Ballanard decided signs of cremation of the soil are pointed out. The Cronk-na-Bullen, in Kirk Bride, has also something of the structure of the cairn, but the mound of earth is much larger than that of those in the interior of the country. Many others exist in various parts of the Island, some of which I will have occasion to notice as I proceed.
The semi-lunar form of placing erect stones is well exemplified in the parish of Arbory, about a mile up the mountain acclivity, west from Culby, by Bell Abbey. This crescent comprises four tall stones, standing about twelve feet distant from each other, each upward of eight feet high, massive in proportion, hoary with age, and grown over with bristling' moss. A few paces eastward from this there are two low tumuli similar to those that accompany the brooghs. It has been supposed that these crescent formed monuments of stone were dedicated to the Moon, whilst the entire circles were sacred to the Sun. In the immediate vicinity there is a Treen Chapel named Keeil Pherik, which is doubtless of a date subsequent to the Druidical stones and the barrows, and concerning which I shall enlarge under the proper head. Another cairn of considerable dimensions stands on the acclivity of Laxey Glen, on the farm of Critch-veg. This example comprises a series of stones on the east, placed in a semi-lunar or circular form, from which a flat terrace of loose stones leads west ward to the brow of a ravine, where it terminates in a large cairn of stones thirty feet in diameter, out of which rises a tall thin conical slab, to the height of ten feet and upwards, in a picturesque manner. These two objects - the broogh on the west and the semi-circle of stones on the east - are distant from each other up wards of forty yards. The terrace connecting them is bisected by the highroad, and on being opened was found to be made up of two rows of immense flat boulders placed edgeways, four feet apart, and inclining inwards towards each other, so as to form an arch. Was this a low passage between the two extremities, or was it a vault for the remains of the dead ?7 The popular opinion votes for the latter, for it has been christened "King Orry's Grave." I well remember, however, that before the terrace was opened, and the discovery of the immense slabs of stone on edge made, this ruin had no such appellation and was nameless.
The Druidical circles are not remarkable either for their number, magnitude, or state of preservation; some have disappeared altogether, owing to various causes. Two or three are however, worthy of notice. Like to the cairn altars, they often occupy the districts of the Island most difficult of access. That composed of blocks of white quartz on the brow of the hill of Ballewn, in the parish of Malew, about half-a-mile from the Church, before it was dilapidated by agricultural improvement, is an exception to this observation. The stones forming the circle of this temple enclosed an area of about ten yards in diameter. On the south, two were placed in the form of a portal, opposite to which, in the area, on the north side, stood formerly a large block of granite, which was removed by the father of the present proprietor, Thomas Moore, Esq. This ruin is curious principally because adjoining it two modes of interment are exemplified. Immediately in the rear stood a mound similar to an old fence, which, on being taken down many years ago, was found to contain a number of urns; and beyond this, on the top of the hill, there is an extensive cemetery of the dead, arranged in stone graves. This latter mode of interment is the same as that which has been in use at the old chapels so numerous on the Island, which I shall notice hereafter, and which we have reason to think are of a Christian origin. There are also rather extensive ruins, of a similar kind to the above, on Mr. Fitzsimmons' farm, half-a-mile on the mountain road; likewise, Runic stones in the burial-yard of the parochial Church. Another small circle of short grey pillars, having a mound adjoining it, in a manner similar to that at Ballewn, stood at one time on the declivity of Mount Murray. This circle has a fountain close by, but whether urns are enclosed in its embankments remains unascertained. Another very small one stands perched in a recess on the edge of the precipitous cliffs at Spanish Head, which are upwards of two hundred feet in perpendicular height above the surface of the water, and close to the well-known Chasms that traverse the face of that promontory. In itself, this is a small specimen of common place appearance, but it certainly is one which, from the wild and lonely spot that it occupies, could only have been resorted to by the hermit or pilgrim. Placed in a recess of this solitary cliff I cannot suppose that it is a tomb with no barrow or vestige of incineration near it. It is more probably a hermitage cell.
The same kind of devotional feelings predominate, it would appear, in most religious beliefs; and we have not only reason to conclude that the solitary life led by the Druids of old became a precedent for the hermitage of the Christian ascetics of the middle ages, but we are also informed by historians that monastic institutions were by no means unknown to their system. Mela, who flourished in the first century, speaking of the Druidesses called "Sena," that is, venerable or aged women, who devoted their lives to virginity and lived in sisterhoods, describes a Druidical nunnery, situated in an island of the British Sea, which contained nine of these vestals, who pretended to raise storms and tempests, to transform themselves into all kinds of animals, to predict future events, and who were consulted by the people upon all important occasions as infallible oracles. Hence we see the origin of many of the superstitious delusions which beset the minds of the ignorant to this very day. Shenn, in Manx, signifies "old ;" chenndiaght, the "elder," or old person of the family. It is worthy of remark that four ancient cottages8 or huts adjoining Douglas on the north, but distinguished particularly from the town, were called "Shena," and give the same name to this suburb, which is a singular coincidence with the Sena of Mela. Those versed in the tradition of the neighbourhood say that these cottages constituted the most ancient part of Douglas, and still magnify them to the importance of "the anciein city of Sena." Although this by no means implies that what Mela tells us is referable to this Island, yet it has a tendency to confirm his story, and adds force to the proposition that many of the customs of the Christians of the middle ages were borrowed from the Druids.
Besides the simple circle, or that with tumuli adjacent, others are found having ruins of considerable magnitude attached to them. This conjunction, even of the most imperfect of them, is curious. I discovered one of this kind many years ago, remarkably well defined in outline. - (See Vol. ii;, part 2. in the Transactions of Ike Scottish Antiquaries, Plale M). It stands on the top of a cultivated low hill in the parish of Maughold, south from Cornah Bridge, in one of the most primitive arable districts in the Island, where things seem to have remained on the little farms in the same state for ages. I was directed to this ruin by the late Very Reverend Vicar-General Cubbon, who called it the Castle Ree Orry. When I first saw it, the circle of stones occupied the corner of a field, and the parallelogram contiguous to it appeared a platform about four feet high, of an uneven surface and covered with the green sod. The circle, composed of massive stones, stood on its southern end, seemingly an object of minor importance. Since that time the oblong platform has been erased for the sake of the stones it contained, when the proprietor was building a new dwelling house. The circle, however, remains untouched, and the general outline of the whole is sufficiently apparent. The circumference of the whole ruin is 90 yards, and the diameter of the circle 10 yards. This structure cannot be said to be merely a grave or burial place. The people living in the vicinity call it Castle-ree-Orry or King Orry's Castle, and an adjacent farm is named Balla gorry. Compounds of the name Orry - such as Orrysdale, Ballachorry, Gorry Keeil, - are met with in several parishes; and tradition still associates with the name of Orry the compilation of the Manx code and constitution. The ruin just described appears to have been a dwelling of some importance, having a Druidical circle or temple attached. Can it have been a residence of King Orry? At any rate, it is an example of some important structure existing in ages to which are ascribed the Temples of the Druids. We have no grounds of certainty for saying that King Orry, or those sovereigns of Mona to whom the Manx constitution of law and customs, and the consolidation of the royal prerogatives and regalities are ascribed, were Christians, though there can be no doubt that many of the population were so, for according to the statute-book the Deemster and the Elders of the Island gave this to be the traditional law on the accession of the Stanleys, 1419. Christians, as well as Pagans, from a very early age, had formed the groundwork of many customary usages. The Orrys are said to have been Danish, and were coeval with Danish government in England, and were driven from the sovereignty of Man in 1065.9 Denmark, we know, was not converted to Christianity till about this time, and the Saxon Chronicle contains many instances of conversions to Christianity and baptizings of the Danes who invaded England in succession. Cunte, the Danish king of England, whose coins have been found on the Island, saw it necessary, in the eleventh century, to enact a law or ordinance consisting of the following words : - " We strictly forbid all our subjects to worship the Gods of the Gentiles, that is to say, the sun, moon, fire, and rivers, fountains, hills, and trees, and woods of any kind." What, then, must have been the religious condi tion of this Island which had so much intercourse with the North- men? For these reasons, I think it is not altogether imaginary nor contradictory to history to suppose that this Castle-ree-Orry might have been the domicile of Pagans long antecedent to the eleventh century, and is a curious relic, illustrative of the ethnology and the civilization of the island in the dark ages.
The statement that St. Patrick, and the bishops he left in charge of the Manx bishopric from 444 downwards, had recourse to arms to drive out the Pagan inhabitants, would appear from these and other ruins of a similar kind, not to be entirely without foundation. If Spottiswood's opinion be correct, that this Island, and not Anglesea, was the residence of the President of the Druids, we may safely imagine that it was no easy matter to drive them out. That heathen priest hood ruled their subjects with despotic and sanguinary sway, and as, on the whole, they governed according to abstract justice and in a patriarchal manner, doubtless they saddled them with laws and customs calculated to make their govern ment steady and enduring. We know also from history that as the primitive Christians of England and others found it expedient to take shelter in parts remote from the power that oppressed them, so we will find that the ruins of places of Christian worship which possess an architecture ascribable to the earliest ages of civilization in Britain are more numerous than the places of worship even in modern times, which not only indicates the character of the ancient inhabitants of the Isle of Man to have been highly religious, but also that the population in these early ages was much more numerous than is supposed.
Worsaae, in his Danes and Northmen, is of opinion that the cairns and stone circles we have been noticing are all places of sepulture and not Druidical circles, - that they were the graves of those warlike Northmen who had become Christians in the Isle of Man, before the Scandinavian nations had embraced that religion. On the contrary, other observers are of opinion that the position of the kist-vaen, north and south, and the evident symptoms of cremation found in them, are decisive of their being the remains of a heathen people and not of Christians. According to all recorded testimony lately published, the dynasty of Godred Cronan, from 1066 to 1265, were good Roman Catholics by whom urns and cremation had been abandoned. We cannot, therefore, assign to that Scandinavian race, or to their era, the altars bearing evident traces of bones, and stones, and earth that have undergone the action of fire; and these remains are so numerous and general all over the Island that we cannot ascribe them to a few individuals, but must of necessity look upon them as the remains of antiquity belonging to a numerous people who were in possession of the entire Island at a period antecedent to Christianity. Cremation of the dead is known to have prevailed amongst most eastern nations, and con tinued with their descendants after they had peopled the different parts of Europe. In fine, the civilization of the east appears to have been that which was planted in the west by the earliest Celtic peoples.
1 Barrows are found in Wales, and in the counties of the ancient Britons; in Pembroke- shire some of them are called Kyigen, and have inscriptions. Anglesea is known in the ancient British language as the Issis, or Ysc.ys DowyZ, the Dark Island, on account, it is supposed, of its groves and its shady places; and it is remarkable that on Salisbury Plain, in Wiltshire, the country of the Belgn of the Roman historians, an uncommon number of monumental remains are found, and the magnificent stone circle of Stonehenge of the pre-historic period which possess a character similar to the remains we are describing. Wiltshire was debateable ground, not dissimilar to the Isle of Man. The accession of the Earl of Salisbury to the sovereignty in the fourteenth century by his marrying the heiress of Magnus, the last of the Norwegian Dynasty, is another parallelism between Wiltshire and the Island, and is not unworthy of being mentioned. He married in obedience to the commands of the king of England at a time when unrecorded traditions of a Druidical nature must have been fresher than now, 600 years afterwards.
2 I have been informed that Mr. Curran, (1820,) of Knock Aaloe, in Glenfaba, has some similar ornaments and coins in his possession.
3 In the Norwegian Sagas the Orkneys are the Sudoreys.
4 See Peter Haylin's Help to History. I shall return to this period when I speak of the Christian remains of antiquity.
5 "The Bardic successors of the Druids preserved many of the ideas and usages of their predecessors, and have transmitted them in writing. Thus, according to Meagant, one of this race who lived in the seventh century, the Bards had their Hill of Legislation, or Sacred Mount, where the ancient judges of the land assembled to decide the cause of the people." - The Rev. W. Kermode, from Davis's Mythology of the Druids.
6 * As evidence of an intercourse between the Island and Britain in very early ages, I may state that Beda says that in his time it was peopled by about 300 families, and Anglesey contained 900. A gold coin of Athelred II. was found in the north of the Island, and another turned up at a mound of, earth on the farm of Gordon, in the parish of Kirk Patrick, a few years ago. There is, therefore, reason to conclude that the Saxons and Welch frequented the country before the settlement of the Danes in Britain, and may have left lasting traces of their warlike power. Worsaae states that the five burghs, or the fem burgane, viz., Stamford, Leicester, Derby, Nottingham, and Lincoln, belonged to the Danes as early as the reign of Alfred (872), but he does not say that the Danes constructed these hurghs and founded their cities, and it is well understood that similar burghs were very general in Saxon England and in the south of Scotland; in the latter country they never established themselves. It is most probable, therefore, that the fortified stations or broogbs of this Island belong to an age coeval with, if not antecedent to the Welch and Saxon invasions of the sixth and seventh centuries. Caesar, speaking of the Ancient Britons, says, "Oppidum vocant Britannicum cum silvas impeditas vallo atque fossa munierunt,"
7 A tooth and other remains of the horse were found in the vault, hut it was only excavated to a small extent. - See Appendix
8 These cottages were pulled down in 1830.
9 Among the last of the Orrys was Goddard, the son Sygtrig, king of the Isles, earl in the 11th century. His pedigree, given in Johnstones Celto Normanea, stands thus: - "Goddard, mac Iterig, mac Aulay, mac Iterig, mac Aulay, mac Iterig, king of Northumberland." It would, therefore, appear that the Orrys were of a Northumbrian connection.
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