[From Manx Soc vol 5, 1860]


On the 2nd of November, 1860, accompanied by Dr. Oliver and Mr. Harrison, of Rock Mount, I visited this cemetery (so often alluded to in the foregoing pages,) and opened two of the kist vaens with a view of ascertaining their construction, in a particular manner. It is situated on the Kirk Michael Road, about half-way between Rock Mount and Peel; the road is cut through the cemetery eastward of the small keelll or barrow, which forms its middle, and all around for many yards the ground has been found to contain stone graves so near the surface that the plough reaches them. It looks like the cemetery of a large population which has become extinct, were it not in the neighbourhood of Peel, and of the glebe land of the Parish of German, and several other keeils and barrows in the neighbourhood. The barrow-looking keeill is a prominent ohject and occupies a remarkable position on a low sandy spur or ridge of cultivated land which abuts into a small lake or mere on the west; at one time there were foundations of stone walls on it, which have been removed. On the swell of this ridge graves exist for upwards of fifty yards all around the barrow. When the road was formed, some cartloads of human bones were exhumed, and again buried in the hollows at the foot of the ridge. We discovered that a carved stone of a flat shape had once occupied a place here, but had been buried in an adjoining field, from superstitious motives, within a few years. We could not learn that runes were inscribed on this stone, nor could we ascertain the forms represented by the carving, although we made particualar enquiry of many who had seen it. All the graves, without an exception, were arranged parallel to each other,- from E.S.E. to W.N.W. or thereabouts, and were of various sizes.

Some flat stones of the kist vaens, which projected from the earthy bank, indicated two graves which we selected for examination. They were quite contiguous to the eastern base of the harrow, and near each other. We found the first to be imperfect, having been broken into (some of the flat stones displaced) and filled again with a mixture of surface vegetable mould amongst which some portions of the jaw-bones of the human head and other parts of the decayed skeleton were mixed. On exhuming the second grave we found it quite entire about eighteen inches below the surface. The lid was formed by five thick slaty rag stones flatly laid, in a slating manner, from the foot to the head of the stone chest. These having been removed, a stone chest, regularly formed with flags of red sand stone, from the Crag Mallin, in Peel Bay, was found, six feet two inches long, two feet wide at the head, more narrow at the foot, and about one foot deep, and it was almost quite filled up with very fine sand, which had percolated through the slating that covered it. On carefully removing the envelope of sand, the remains of three human bodies were discovered, two of the skeletons being in a wonderful state of preservation, - every bone was firm and entire, excepting its cartilaginous portions, and the teeth were complete in number and as perfect as the day they were buried. The first and tallest skeleton reposed in a natural manner on its back, but slightly turned to the left; the lower extremities slightly bent at the knees; and the mouth quite open, the lower jaw-bone having dropped on the neck, and the mouth, of course, quite filled with fine sand. In this position it measured about four feet ten inches in length. The second skeleton was much shorter, and lay with the back upwards, on the left arm, shoulder, and neck, with its face underneath as it were the left ear of the first skeleton, and having one foot over its pelvis, as if it had been a child nursed; but though so short in stature, its mouth was quite full of perfect teeth, and the sutures of the cranium were completed - those named the sagittal and parietal sutures having become ossified, - which was sufficient evidence of its having long passed the adult age; and to our view it must have been a dwarf or pigmy. On carefully examining the cranium we discovered grey or white hairs in the surface. We also discovered a fracture on the head of the smaller skeleton an inch and a half long, at the anterior part of the left parietal bone, evidently caused by a cutting weapon, the force of which had also depressed the edges of the cut, shewing that the fracture did not take place from the natural decay of the bone since interment. From all these circumstances it is most probable that this dwarf suffered from violence antecedently to its death and interment. It is worth recording that the cerebral organ of philo-progenitiveness of the first skeleton was most uncommonly large. The wounded skull is now in the Museum of the Manx Society. The remains of a third skeleton were discovered underneath the head of the first. The bones of it found there were so much disintegrated that we could only distinguish them to be the bones of the skull of a much larger person than the other two, which had been interred at some subsequent period.

The inhabitants of this district of the Island understand the word Ain or Aan to signify a bell, a little or brass bell; but nothing is known in their traditions of this interesting cemetery itself or the people who formed it. Several harrows and cairns in the immediate neighbourhood have been examined by various persons.


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