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Itinerary: Isle of Man

Cronk ny Merriu

EMAS Study Isle-of-Man: Isle of Man

4 to 11 April 2018


Wednesday, 4 April Coach pick up at London Embankment

Breedon on the Hill

The church of St Mary and St Hardulph at Breedon on the Hill was founded as a monastery by Aethelred, third son of Penda, c. AD 676 on the site of the Bulwarks hill. In c. 1120, the church was refounded as an Augustinian monastery.

The church houses a superb collection of Anglo-Saxon sculpture which comes from the original seventh century church.


In 653 AD, Elfleda, the new bride of Paeda, son of King Penda of Mercia, introduced Christianity to Mercia at Repton.

The earliest surviving part of the church is the famous 8th century crypt. This was perhaps first constructed as a baptistry, and then became a royal mausoleum. Finally, it became a place of pilgrimage to St Wystan.

Overnight in Lancaster

Thursday, 5 April Lancaster Roman Bath House

The Roman bath-house in Vicarage Field, Lancaster, was discovered and excavated in 1973/4. It formed one end of a large courtyard house, probably the home of a Roman official.

The bath-house was demolished c. AD 340 to make way for a new and massive stone fort. Part of the fort wall, known as the 'Wery Wall', can also be seen.

St Patrick's Chapel, Heysham

St Patrick's Chapel possibly dates back to the mid-eighth century, or a little later. The rectangular chapel is constructed of sandstone and measures roughly 7 meters by 2.2 meters. One of the best architectural features is the curved Anglo-Saxon style doorway. The existing chapel is thought to have been built to encourage the act of pilgrimage.

Around St Patrick's Chapel are the remains of eight rock-cut graves, several of which are body shaped and have rock-cut sockets, possibly for wooden crosses or markers. The graves were probably created during the 11th century.

St Peter's Church, Heysham

St Peter's Church may have been built in the 7th or 8th century. A documentary reference of 1080 recorded that it was the site of an old Saxon church.

There is a fine Viking hogback stone in the south chancel aisle, and a decorated Anglo-Saxon cross shaft in the churchyard.

Ferry to Douglas, IoM

Friday, 6 April Meayll Hill Stone Circle

Meayll Circle is on a flat area just off the brow of the hill, at the top of which is a neolithic hut-village much despoiled by recent military activity.

The form of the cyst circle is unique, being six pairs of coffin-sized cysts curved around the circle, each pair separated by an antechamber radiating outwards. No stone is very high, but all are well preserved. There are wider spacings at south and north.

Lag Ny Keeilly

The 1st Archaeological report carries a detailed description but the introductory remarks are worth quoting

This most interesting of our ancient keeills, set on a ledge forming a small natural platform near the foot of a lag or hollow torn out of the almost perpendicular western face of Cronk- ny-Irree-laa, can be reached by boat, but the landing - a mile and three-quarters south of Dalby beach - can only be effected within about an hour of high water on a calm day, and the upward climb of about 200 ft. is steep and not easy. The proper mode of access is by the old pack-horse road through Eary Cushlin, which passes onto the Sloc by foot tracks, and so to the south of the Island.

Spooyt Vane Keeill

Spooyt Vane Keeill (Cabbal Pherick or St Patrick's Chapel) is the ruins of an early Christian Chapel 8th - 10th century with boundary wall of surrounding graveyard. Traces of a priest's cell remain against the southwest boundary.

Simple cross slabs were found here; they are now at Kirk Michael Parish Church.

Saturday, 7 April The Braaid

The Braaid appears to have started as a stone circle site. Later it became a Norse farmstead set in a low valley, where good grazing land and climate was likely to have existed. The site consisted of a Celtic stone roundhouse and two rectangular constructs of Norse origins.

The two longhouses each had a different purpose. The first longhouse had curved walls made of turf with the ends made of timber. The roof was supported by two rows of posts standing on a large stone. The house measured about 20 by 9 metre.

The second longhouse was used for cattle or other animals. This was based on the many stone stalls along the north wall. The roof was low and lightweight and did not have the curved walls like the other longhouse. The building measured 18 by 8 metres.


Tynwald Hill at St John's is the traditional ancient meeting place of the Manx parliamentary assembly; it dates to the late first millennium AD, although there is some evidence of earlier usage.

The hill itself is an artificial mound, approximately 25m in diameter at the base, and 3.6m high. Its earliest phase dates to later prehistory, when the first evidence of communal assemblies appears. Later, the development of a royal centre focused in the nearby upper Neb valley allowed the site to increase in importance, and by the early 2nd millennium AD Tynwald Hill was in use as a national meeting place.

Peel Castle

Peel Castle is situated on St Patrick's Isle and is linked to the mainland by a causeway. This naturally defended site began as a Celtic monastery - the round tower was part of this monastery; the battlements being added later.

In the 11th century, the site was turned into a fortification, under the rule of Magnus Barefoot, King of Norway from 1093 to 1103. However, earlier Viking presence included the grave known as 'The Pagan Lady' which dated to c. 1030.

Kirk Michael

The Isle of Man has an important collection of Viking Period decorated stone crosses, which for the most part are housed in various parish churches.

Kirk Michael Parish holds the largest collection of crosses on the island, including a pre-Viking cross found in the Cabbal Keeill Pherie, Ballacarnane, which may date to the 6th century.

Among the Viking Period crosses is Gaut's Cross, which gives its name to Gaut's Interlace, an important insular variant of the Borre Style decoration.

The picture on the right shows the 'Dragon Cross' - a large well carved wheel-headed cross.

Sunday, 8 April King Orry's Grave

King Orry's Grave is largest known megalithic tomb on the island. It lies in the garden of a private cottage. This Cairn grave is made of coloured sandstone with a forecourt of 12 metres across and 4 metres deep. It contains three chambers once filled with burials. When excavated only one burial survived.

Cashtal yn Ard

Cashtal yn Ard, or the Castle of the Heights, is a well preserved chambered tomb situated on raised land overlooking the parish of Maughold.

The monument was originally a megalithic chambered cairn holding five chambers and it dates to c. 2000 BC. Cashtal yn Ard very well preserved and is one of the largest of its kind in the British Isles.


Maughold parish church started life as a monastic keeill and contains traces of later 12th century construction, possibly commissioned by the Viking King Olaf 1 (1114-1154).

There are three extant keeills in the large monastic enclosure (now the graveyard), together with a large collection of Celtic and Viking crosses.


Bride church houses the 'Thor Stone' - an important Norse cross with pierced sections and a great deal of elaborate carving of Norse mythology. It is called the Thor cross because one of the scenes shows a man carrying a large object in one hand though to be the head of an ox which Thor used as fishing-bait to catch a huge serpent (a scene depicted on the Thor fishing slab in Gosforth Church). The cross was found when the old church was demolished in 1869.

return to Douglas with Manx Electric Railway

Monday, 9 April Knock-e-Dooney Ship Burial

Viking Age ship burial. The prominent, grass-covered burial mound at Knock e Dooney was excavated by Philip Kermode in 1927. The mound was 15.5m in diameter and 2.4m high. It proved to contain a Viking boat burial of 900-950 AD, the boat being defined by about 300 iron rivets, most having decayed wood attached to them. The positions of the rivets showed that the boat was 8.5-9m long and 1.8-2.4m wide.

The body had been laid in the boat wrapped in a cloak, and accompanied by a sword, shield and spear. Domestic articles such as fishing gear, tools including a hammer and tongs, knives and harness links were laid in the stern. A horse and a dog also accompanied the burial.

Knock-e-Dooney Keeill

Although Knock-e-Dhooney was surveyed by P. M. C. Kermode for the third report in 1909, the survey was restricted to the keeill itself and not the surrounding area. This is what generally happened in the Manx Archaeolgical Survey due to time constraints and financial limitations. In 1945/46 when digging a pipe to bring water to the farm, human remains were found quite far away from the keeill at the far side of the field, they were not examined and were reinterred under the pipe.

Jurby Mound Burial

A Viking burial mound remains in Jurby Churchyard and from it can be seen another mound Cronk-ny-Arrey Lhaa, which could be a Viking mound or may date back to late Neolithic times. As well as some simple Early Christian Manx Crosses in the church porch there are also cross slabs from the 10th Century, including the beautiful Heimdall Cross.


Among the important collection of crosses in Andreas Parish church is 'Thorwald's Cross'. One side of this cross shows the Norse god Odin (recognised by the raven on his shoulder, and with his spear) being devoured by Fenris the wolf at the Battle of Ragnorok.. The other side is filled with Christian symbolism - a figure with a book and a cross, by a fish and a defeated serpent.

Old Tynwald Site, Baldwin

The site of the early assembley site of Killabane. Early written statutes record a parliamentary assembly, or 'thing' at "Killabane" in 1428. The actual site is believed to have been at SC 36158252, now the site of a quarry from which stone was extracted for the construction of the nearby St Luke's Church, which was consecrated in 1836. The site had until then appeared as a rocky eminence.

A fair was held there until circa 1770 and 'seats' or tiers are said to have survived until at least the same time. The site was commemorated by an annual procession around it until about 1871.


There are twelve crosses at Braddon, including 'Thorlief's Cross'. This cross dates from 900AD - 1000AD and is a tapering pillar with pieced cross head ring. The shaft is decorated with Scandinavian dragons in Mammen style, their tails and limbs interlaced. The inscription has been translated as 'Thorleif erected this cross to the memory of Fiac his son, brother's son to Hair'.

Tuesday, 10 April Cronk ny Merriu

The site is a coastal promontory fort with a defensive ditch and rampart. It is situated high on the cliffs, with good views of the surrounding coast. The cliffs overlook a small sandy bay to the west which would have provided a natural harbourage.

Owing to its small size, and the lack of a source of water, the fort could not have held out for long in the event of a raid.

The site is believed to have been constructed during the Celtic Iron Age and then to have been reoccupied during the Viking Period. Within the fort is a rectangular building with three doorways and a central hearth, or langeld.


An Iron Age hillfort. In the centre of the fort is a small Bronze Age cist; at the western end of the enclosure are the ruins of Keeill Vael; and at the eastern side a Viking ship burial.

The ship burial dates from 850 AD to 950 AD was first excavated in 1945 by G Bersu, and again in 1974 by J. R. Bruce. The site contained a Viking ship, an adult male with his belongings, and an adult woman. The male was a man of importance, due to the goods and size of boat he was buried with. Buried alongside him were many basic items, such as clothes, tools, horse riding equipment, etc. Also buried with him was a shield, though no weapon was found. The woman's remains were incomplete and she was without any goods of her own.

Burroo Ned Fort

This Iron Age promontory fort contains of a group of structures, both round and rectangular. At least 40 cup markings in 12 different locations have been found within the the enclosure, and others found on the outcropping rocks in the vicinity.

Railway Museum, Port Erin

The Port Erin Railway Museum is located quite literally at the end of the line - on the platform of the most southerly stop on the Isle of Man Steam Railway.

The museum charts the history of the steam powered railway from its inception in 1873 to the present day including the now defunct lines which used to serve Peel, Ramsey and Foxdale.

Inside are steam engines and carriages including the royal carriages which carried The Queen and Queen Mother in 1963 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1972. The museum is home to a fine collection of locomotives, the Royal Train, rolling stock, memorabilia, posters and interpretive displays.

return to Douglas with Manx Steam Railway

Wednesday, 11 April Ferry to Heysham

The Whalley Crosses

In the churchyard of St Mary & All Saints parish church, off King Street, Whalley, in the Ribble Valley are three late Anglo-Saxon (10th - 11th centuries) sandstone crosses, one in particular is richly carved, but the other two are now showing signs of erosion and, even damage.

Nearby is a 14th century Cistercian Abbey Gatehouse.

Arrive London Embankment


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