[From Manx Soc Vol 15]






IT was remarked in the previous essay on the "Ornamentation of the Runic Monuments in the Isle of Man", that "the preservation of so many crosses in the Isle of Man, belonging to the period in which the island was under the rule of the Northmen, is chiefly owing to the circumstance of their having been subsequently built into the walls of the Parish churches, Peel Cathedral, and Treen chapels". Many of these have been brought to light in the restoration or rebuilding of Manx churches in the present century.

Those discovered prior to 1857 were figured and described in my Runic and other Monumental Remains of the Isle of Man, published in that year. The present memoir is supplementary to that work, and is an account of subsequent discoveries up to the present date, and of crosses, the drawings of which were exhibited at the Douglas Meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in the year 1865.

Braddan Cross (click for full image)

Maughold Cross (click for full image)

Maughold Cross (click for full image)

Maughold  Crosses (click for full image)

Fig 1

Figs 2 & 3

Fig 4

Figs 5 & 6

i. Woodcut number 1 is the figure of a Runic cross, with inscription, carved on a slab of dark blue schist, three feet six inches in length by one foot ten inches in width, which formed a door-step in the church of Kirk Braddan. It is now placed in the centre of the churchyard, on a mound, along with the two so-called dragon crosses. It commemorates Ufeig Klinai son, and was erected by Thorketil, or at least by some person whose name began with Thor, the terminal runes of the name not being very distinct. In other respects the inscription is very plain and is read Thurketil Raisti : Crus Thano : Aft: Ufaig : Sun Klinais; and translated "Thorketil erected this cross to Ufeig Klinaison". From the general style of the ornamentation I am disposed to think that this cross may be the workmanship of Gaut Bjornson, who appears to have been a noted cross-maker in the Isle of Man in the tenth century.

It exhibits, as a prominent feature in the ornamentation, that beautiful development of knot-work which I have termed "chain ring-work", not occurring, as far as I am aware, on any but Manx crosses, but displayed on the Malbrigd cross at Kirk Michael, which from the inscription we know to have been of Gaut's manufacture. Like the crosses which we know to have been Gaut's, it is also remarkable for the absence of the figures of men and animals so rudely carved on many crosses in the Isle of Man. On the other hand, the inscription might lead us to a different conclusion; for it is placed at one side of the face of the cross, and not running up the edge, as in the two crosses which bear Gaut's name. Yet it may be noted that in the Malbrigd cross at Kirk Michael, which was carved by Gaut, the latter part of the inscription, for want of more room on the edge, is carried into the face of the upper portion of the cross. Also in the Thorlaf cross at Ballaugh, which is not improbably of Gaut's workmanship, we have the inscription on one side of the face.

In some alterations and repairs which were made within the last twelve years in the old parish church of Kirk Maughold, the very singular crosses nnmbered 2, 3, 4, and 5, together with fragments of others, were discovered in the west gable, and as lintels in the chancel.

ii. The cross, of which the opposite sides are given in cuts 2 and 3, is a small one taken from the bell-turret of Kirk Maughold Church, to which attention was directed at the visit of the Cambrian Archaeological Association in August 1865.

It contains an intricate development of knot-work on both faces, and that knot-work is contained in panels more after the Irish and Scotch method than is usual in the Manx crosses. An ornamental display of beautiful chain ring-work is seen on the fust of the face represented in cut 2; whilst on the suiface of the glory about the head of the cross, on the face represented in cut 3, we have a species of fret similar to that on the Oter cross at Kirk Braddan (the work of Thorburn), on the large Joalf cross at Kirk Michael, probably also his work, and at the left hand corner of the top of the large cross at the en trance to Kirk Maughold churchyard. All these appearances lead me to the presumption that this cross may be of eleventh century date, and somewhat earlier than those numbered 4, 5, 6, in the accompanying cuts. Length, one foot nine inches; breadth, nine inches. There are traces of an inscription on the edge.

It may be remarked that as yet no inscribed cross, besides the last, has been found in Kirk Maughoid parish, and that with the exception of the cross (cuts 2 and 3) which has just been considered, all yet found in that parish differ much from the generality of crosses found elsewhere in the Isle of Man. The Kirk Maughold crosses, as I have before pointed out, approach more than any others to the Scotch type.

It was observed in the previous essay on the "Ornamentation of the Runic Monuments in the Isle of Man", that the church and churchyard of Kirk Maughold, covering three acres, were set apart in ancient times as a Sanctuary.

It is also well known, from Manx history, that there were two Scottish invasions of the Isle of Man under Somerled or Shomhairle Mac Gilbert, Thane of Argyle at the middle of the twelfth century. In the first of these a naval fight occurred in Ramsey Bay on the eve of the Epiphany 1156, with doubtful success, but which led to a compromise between Somerled and Godred Olaveson, king of Man and the Isles. In the second, Somerled, with a fleet of fifty-three ships, came to the Isle of Man in 1158, defeated Godred, and forced him to flee to the court of Norway to crave assistance. On this second approach of Somerled, the people in the northern part of the Isle of Man conveyed their money and valuables to the Sanctuary of Kirk Maughold, and thither also drove their cattle. According to the Chronicon Manniae, Gil Colum, one of the leaders of the Scotch, planned a nocturnal attack upon this Sanctuary, but was intercepted by a vision of St. Maughold himself, the patron saint of the church, who appeared in Gil Colum's tent, and smote him thrice on the heart with his pastoral staff, so that he expired in great misery and torture.

It is not impossible to connect these crosses with that period, in our endeavour to account for their foreign and Scottish aspect.

iii. The cross number 4 is a much worn and partly defaced slab of whinstone, in length four feet six inches, and breadth twenty-two inches. Though Scottish in appearance, the rude manner of treatment of the figures is thoroughly Manx. It is not always easy to determine for what the figures on the Manx crosses were intended. There is, indeed, no mistaking the boar at the sinister side of the base of the fust, as we face it; but we can but conjecture that the figure at the dexter side is intended for a sheep. We have next, above these, on either side, a horse with his rider; one of the horsemen being decked with a helmet or cap, the other bareheaded, as is almost always the case with the human figure on the Manx monuments. The two figures above them, but separated from them on either side by an ornament of knot-work, are undoubtedly monks with their cowls, and seated in antique chairs. We may well compare them with the similar figures on the upper part of the cross at Dunfaldy in Scotland, as given in the Sculptured Stones of Scotland, printed for the Spalding Club.

Though the circle or glory about the head of the cross is ornamented with knot-work, it is difficult to make out whether such was the case with the cross itself, though this appears not improbable. A good cast might determine this. The cross is the most prominent part of the slab, and is much roughened by weathering; but it is not easy to decide whether the roughness upon it is due to the weathering alone, or whether it is the remains of some knot-work originally carved thereon, and the outline of which has disappeared. It is, therefore, in the cut left blank.

iv. The appearance of the cross, or rather carved slab, number 5 (in length five feet, and one foot one inch in greatest breadth), is indeed most singular. It is more than usually difficult to determine the objects engraved on it. Probably the figure and the base is meant for a horse, whilst the singular figure in the centre, with large eyes and long tapering ears, most corresponds in form with a hare; though, as compared with the horse beneath, it is manifestly excessive in size. Yet we may well take into consideration that the human figure above is also too large, as compared with the horse; indeed, it is generally manifest that the Manx artists in their carvings had more regard to the space to be filled up than to the relative magnitude of the objects which they intended to represent.

This animal appears to be caught upon the head by a lasso, or some such instrument, as it is in the act of issuing from a hole in a rock after the manner of the mountain hares in the Isle of Man.

As to the man represented at the head of the slab, we can only make out that he appears to be bearing a shield in his left hand rather than upon the left arm, and that his right hand grasps something which we may conjecture to be a sword. The shield has upon it a reversed figure of Z, which is the Manx later Runic symbol for "S", and may be put as the initial letter of the word "skidllar", a shield. If it be simply an ornament it may be compared with the ornamentation on the upper part of one of the edges of the large cross at the en trance to Kirk Maughold churchyard; this large cross bearing on the face of it also two naked human figures.

v. The sixth woodcut represents a cross which is to be seen in a Treen chapel in Kirk Maughold parish, not far from Ballaglass Waterfall. In length it is five feet, in width eighteen inches. I exhibited a rubbing from it at the Douglas Meeting of the Cambrian Archaeological Association; and during the excursion of the Society to the north of the Isle of Man, Mr. Blight made the accompanying admirable sketch of it. The nude human figure on the lower portion, or fust of the cross, allies it with the Kirk Maughold and Scottish types; whilst the knot-work in the head of the cross differs considerably in arrangement from that on any other of the Manx crosses, the work being of a more open character, and presenting an absence of continuity in the knot-work. The nearest approach to it is the Niel Lurugun cross at Kirk Michael, which I have pointed out as of a more foreign character and later date than the generality of the inscribed crosses. The human figure on this cross is not unlike that at the upper part of the eastern edge of the Joalf cross at Kirk Michael, though the latter bears a shield. The long pointed beard assimilates it with the figures on the remarkable slab found in the old chapel of the Calf of Man, and now in possession of the Clerk of the Rolls at Castletown. It appears to be truly Scandinavian, and of the twelfth century.

As this present memoir was called forth by the visit of the Cambrian Archaeological Association to the Isle of Man, it is an evidence of the value of the Society's labours in directing the attention of local antiquaries to the deeper study of the antiquarian reniains in the places which are from time to time visited.


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