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Crosses in the Isle of Man

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Christianity arrived early on the Isle of Man with the arrival of Irish missionaries known as “Culdees” who first arrived around AD447. They began converting the Manx population and built tiny chapels known as Keeils, across the Island.

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These were very simple stone buildings with a thatched roof and surrounded by a turf or stone wall. They were used to shelter the monks rather than to hold a congregation and there was often a preaching altar outside where the monk could be seen and heard by the congregation.

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They baptised Christians in holy wells like St Maughold’s Well on Maughold Head and buried them with graves marked by a simple stone cross, either laid flat on top of the grave, or upright at the end.

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Later crosses were more elaborate with a wheel head and carved shaft decorated with Celtic spirals.

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When the Vikings arrived in the C9th, they brought their Norse gods with them. Images of Norse gods and mythology appeared on the crosses, along with Christian symbolism.

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Many had Runic inscriptions.

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It wasn’t until the C10th that Christianity was re-established as the official religion.

St Patrick’s Isle in Peel became an important early Christian site and a monastery was founded here. The remains of a C10th round tower and St Patrick’s church with its herring bone masonry still survive.

By the C12th Christianity was flourishing with the building of Rushen Abbey and St German’s Cathedral on St Patrick’s Isle. The island was divided into into 17 parishes, each with its own parish church. Each parish covered an area of disperse settlementwith the church in the centre of the parish. Many were built on the site of an early keeil, and can be recognised by Gaelic rather than Roman saint's names. Other keills gradually fell into disuse, and their remains can be seen in many places across the island, often well away from currtent settlement.
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By the C19th, many of the parish churches were in poor condition. The population was growing rapidly and many of the original parish churches were a long walk for the congregation, particularly in the winter months. . New churches were built in the growing towns and villages, with the more common Roman saint names.

Churches like Lonan Old Church were left to fall into ruin. Ballaugh Old Church and St Runius survive as examples of simple ancient churches. Braddan Old Church is next to the New Church but is no longer used.

Many of the crosses survived around the original keeils and are displayed in the old parish churches. (Only the parishes of Arbory and Rushen don’t have crosses.) The beautiful wheel cross at Lonam Old Church still stands in its original position in the graveyard. Most crosses have been moved into the church or specially built cross house to protect them from the effects of weathering.

The Isle of Man has the most carved crosses in the British Isles, with over 200 crosses. They range from simple grave markers carved using basic tools, to highly carved crosses produced by professional sculptors, like Gaut. Each cross has a tiny bronze plate with a number. This identification system is based on the work done by PMC Kermode at the start of the C20th.

Some of the best crosses are to be seen at Andreas, Bradan, Jurby, Lonan and Michael.

List of Parishes and churches with crosses

Andreas - St Andrew's Church #2
Ballaugh - Old Church of St Mary #3
Braddan - Old Kirk #4
Bride - Kirk Bride (St Brigid or St Bridget) #5
German - St John the Baptist #6
Jurby - St Patrick's Church #7
Lezayre - Kirk Christ (Holy Trinity Church)
Lonan - Old Church of St Adamnan #8
Malew - St Lupus #9
Marown - Old Church of St Runius #10
Maughold - Kirk Maughold #11
Michael - Kirk Michael (St Michael and All Saints) #13
Onchan - St Peter's Church #14
Santon - St Sanctain's Church #15


Crosses not attached to a church

Ballaqueeney Cross near Port St Mary #16

cont...
 
Last edited:

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Andreas - St Andrew’s Church

St Andrews church is one of the largest on the island and the current church was built in 1802, replacing an earlier church. It serves the disperse parish of Andreas in the north of the island.

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Crosses found from the surrounding area are displayed in the baptistry at the back of the church. They date from the C7th to the C11th.

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The earliest crosses are number 36 which has a simple cross on one side and number 37 which has a cross set inside a circle.

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Only the top of cross number 60 survives. This has a small ring in the centre of the cross.

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Gaut’s Cross, number 99, is now badly eroded but an engraved cross can be seen on both sides. It is typical of the work of Gaut who was responsible for many of the crosses found across the island. The runic inscription down the side reads ‘... erected this cross to the memory of Ofeig his father. But Gaut son of Bjorn of Cooiley made it'.

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Only part of the shaft survives of cross number No. 111 with its typical intertwined design. The inscription down the side has not been deciphered.

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Cross number 113 is also in poor condition and has been broken down its length. With the eye of faith it is possible to make out the outline of a cross on one side and a ring chain pattern and plait on the other.

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Later crosses depict a mix of Christian and Norse mythology. Only the shaft of Sigurd's Cross, number 121, survives. It is late C10th, and one of several found on the Isle of Man that tell the story of Sigurd, a popular Norse folk tale. Sigurd kills the dragon Fafnir with his sword. He roasts the dragon’s heart over a fire. When he tries to cool his burnt fingers in his mouth, he is able to understand the language of the birds and animals who warn him of the treachery of the dwarf, Regin.

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There is only a broken fragment from the top of Thorwald’s Cross-Slab, number 128, identified by the runes down the side which ranslate as ‘Thorwald raised this cross’.

On one side a scene from Ragnarok, the final battle before the end of the world when the gods and the heros fight the forces of evil. Odin who has a raven on his shoulder, plunges his spear into Fenris the wolf, who seizes him in its jaws. He is rescued by his son, Vidar who manages to prise the jaws open.

The other side has a figure with a cross in one hand and a gospel in the other. The fish is a traditional Christian symbol. The knotted serpents witness the triumph of Christ over the devil. next to a fish and a defeated serpent.

The runes down the side translate as ‘Thorwald raised this cross’.

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Sandulf's Cross-Slab, number 131, dates from the mid C10th. Both sides have a cross with an interlaced design on the shaft. Above the arms of the cross are small birds. On either side of the shaft are Viking style carvings which include a hart being chased by a hound, a hunter on horseback, a stag with antlers, a boar and a wolf. The runic inscription down the side records that ‘Sandulf the Black raised this cross to the memory of Arinnbjorb his wife’.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Ballaugh - Old Church of St Mary

The Old Church of St Mary was built on the site of an early keill in the centre of the newly established parish. The exact date of the building is uncertain although there is a record in 1717 of the church being extended.and a bell cote added.

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By the C19th the church was in very poor condition and too small for the congregation of the parish, and a new and more convenient church was built in Ballaugh, a mile away. The old church became redundant until it was ‘rescued’ by Rev T Howard who reroofed it and restored the inside.

At the back of the old church is an C11th Runic cross which was found in the churchyard, possibly on the site of the original keill in the C19th. It is the only cross to have been found in the parish.

It is a wheel head cross surrounded by Celtic ring chain and plait decorations. The style suggests it could have been the work of Gaut, who carved many Manx crosses. The runic inscription reads from bottom to top and translates ‘Olaf Liotulfson erected this cross to the memory of Ulf his son’

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Braddan - Old Kirk

A church was built here in the C12th after the division of the island into parishes. Being just two miles from Douglas, it was the parish church for the town until 1876 when a new church
was built next to it. As Douglas continued to grow in size, new churches were built in Douglas to serve the townsfolk.

The present building dates from 1773, following complaints that the previous building was too small and that the roof and gable were unsafe. It is thought that much of the walls of the early church were incorporated into present stonework.

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Fortunately the old church was preserved and is a wonderful example of an unspoilt Georgian interior with its box pews, three decker pulpit and small chancel.

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The church also contains one of the best displays of early Christian crosses on the island. This includes complete crosses as well as fragments and two cross bases. The earliest dates from around 600AD but the majority date from the C9th or C10th.

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The best and most famous is the lovely Braddan Wheel Cross (Cross 72) dating from the C9th. The cross is covered with interlacing although the shaft and rear are undecorated. At the top is a depiction of Daniel in the lion’s den (although only Daniel’s head with large moustache is visible). This was a symbol of the resurrection, with the lion’s jaws represent the jaws of Hell.

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Number 65 is a tall but badly weathered cross slab, with a simple raised cross. It was found in a local field.

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Only half of Cross 63 with a raised ring cross carved on it survives. It was found in the west wall of the church tower.

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This wheelhead cross (number 78) is cruder and less well carved with pierced circles in the head. It had been used as a dividing stone in a style.

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Thorstien’s Cross, number 112, is missing part of its top. The runes cut down the side read ‘’Thorstein erected this cross to the memory of Ofeig son of Krina’. It was used as a door step in the church and the front still has its locely celtic carving. The back is now very eroded with little detail visible.

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Thorleif’s Cross, number 135, is one of the later crosses dating from the late C10th or early C11th and was broken in two when discovered in the churchyard. It is a tapering pillar with a small pierced ring at top and the design typically used for war memorials around the island. There are Viking dragons carved on shaft. It has a runic inscription that reads ‘Thorleif hnakki erected this cross to the memory of Fiac his son, brother's son to Hafr’. Fiac is a Celtic name and may be a first generation Manxman with Norse father and Celtic mother. Beneath the cross head, and probably carved later by a different person, is the word Ihsus (Jesus).

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Only the shaft base of Odd’s Cross, number 136, survives with its intertwined dragons similar to those found on Thorleif’s Cross. On the other side is an intertwined design. It is thought to be late C10th and the carving is remarkably unweathered as it had been used as a door lintel. The runic inscription translates as ‘Odd raised this cross to the memory of his father Frakki. But Thor ....’ but the rest has been lost. This was found as a lintel over a doorway in the church tower.

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Number 64 is described as a cross patee as the arms are narrower at the centre than the ends. It was discovered in a wall near the church.

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Only a fragment of Cross 138 survives with its interwined design and runes. The inscription has been translates as 'Hross-Ketill betrayed in a truce his own oath fellow.'

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Number 146 is carved from sandstone and was found in the churchyard wall. It now thought to have been part of the decorative masonry from the C12th church, rather than a cross.

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Also on display are two of the stone bases that would have held the crosses upright in their original positions.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Bride - Kirk Bride

Bride is most northerly parish on the island serving a very disperse population with justthe one church. Know as either St Brigid or St Bridget’s Church, the present building is late C19th. It was built using stone from the original church a short distance to the west, which may have been built on the site on an earlier keill. Inside the church is a list of rectors since 1188 until the present incumbent.

At the back of the church is a collection of crosses and carved stones collected from the parish.

The most impressive is Thor’s Cross dating from around 950 and possibly one of the most complex designs found on the island. It is a mix of Christian and Norse mythology, with scenes from the Battle of Ragnarok between the gods and the forcers of evil carved on the shaft.

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Druian’s Cross was discovered when the old church was demolished and had been used as building material. Only the shaft survivers with its Celtic ring chain on one sdide and plait design on the other. A runic inscription down on edge translates ‘Druian son of Dugald raised this cross to the memory of Cathmaoill his wife’.

The Ballavarkish stone is thought to be C7th or C8th and is a replica as the original is now very fragile and in the Manx Museum. With is carved cross, it is thought to be part of the front panel of an altar.

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The Adam and Eve Stone is a very eroded red sandstone carving depicting Adam and Eve with the Tree of Knowledge. It is thought to have been part of the architectural carving from the original C12th church. Near it is a plaster cast made soon after the stone was discovered.

cont...
 
Last edited:

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
German - Parish Church of St John the Baptist

The parish of German covers Peel and St John’s. The only church in the parish to have a cross is that in St John’s.

The Parish Church of St John the Baptist, or to give it its official title of The Royal Chapel of St John the Baptist, with its close proximity to Tynwald, plays a unique role in the relationship between Church and State.

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There is evidence of an early keill here and a chapel in the C16th, although this also functioned as a court house. The present church dates from the the mid C19th.

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The members of the House of Keys and Legislative Council still meet in the church on Tynwald Day, and their massive stalls are placed below the crossing.

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On either side of the chancel are the chairs for the Bishop and the Lord of Mann.

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Osruth’s stone is found in the south porch. Only the shaft of the C10th cross remains which was found when the earlier chapel was demolished. It has the typical ring chain design on the shaft. The Runic inscription down the side translates as ‘But Osruth carved these runes’ The upper part carrying the name of the person has been lost.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Jurby - St Patrick's Church

Jurby is a small isolated parish in the north west of the island with just the one church. The area has been settled for 8000 years and there is an unexcavated Viking burial mound in the churchyard. There was a tiny keeill here in the C8th. When the island was divided into parishes, a small church was built over the site of the keill. By the end of the C18th this was in very poor condition and unable to accommodate the growing population of the parish. Work began on a new church in 1818 and stones of the old church were used in its foundations.

The population of Jurby declined during the C19th and many started to attend the Wesleyan chapel in Sandygate. By 1931, the population had fallen from over 1000 to just under 400. By 1937, the church was in bad condition. The roof had been condemned by the church surveyor and the tower was in danger of collapse.

During World War 2, Jurby had an airfield and bomber training station, which brought jobs to the area. The white bell tower was a prominent land mark for the bomber crews. The beautiful pre-reformation Jurby silver chalice was sold to the Manx Museum and the money was used to repair the church.

In 2014, the church was again threatened with closure. The Friends of Jurby Church were set up as a registered charity to repair and keep the church open.

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Crosses from the surrounding area are displayed in the church porch.

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The oldest cross is a simple cross incised on a boulder found in a local keeill.

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The rest of the crosses are C10th and have a mix of Christian and Norse symbolism.

The most impressive is Sigurd’s Cross, number 119, which was too large to photograph. The carving is now well worn. It told the story of Sigurd who kills the dragon Fafnir in his search for the gold of Hreidmar. Regin, Sigurd’s companion wants him to die and advises Sigurd to roast and eat the dragon’s heart. When Sigurd tastes the dragon’s blood he can understand the language of he birds and animals and they warn him of Regin’s treachery.

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Heimdall’s Cross, number 127, originally stood 6’ tall but only the top part survives. This is the only cross at Jurby to have runes carved on it. One side has a cross. At the top of the other side is a man in a buttoned tunic holding an Alpine horn. This is Heimdall, Warder of the Gods, who lives at the foot of the rainbow leading from Earth to Asgard. He is in charge of the Gaillar Horn which is used to summon the gods to the last battle and the end of the world.

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Only part of the shaft of Odin’s Cross, number 125, survives, but this is the best preserved example of carving. It has been dated from 950-1000AD. Odin was Father of the God. The cross shaft is covered with interlaced designs. On one side of the shaft is a lovely carving of a boar, which was feasted on by the Norse gods and heros. Below is a stag which watches over Odin’s Hall. On the other side of the shaft is King Jormanreck who sacrificed his son to Odin, by hanging him.

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The final cross is number 134. Again only part of the cross survives and the carving on one side is very worn. On the other side, the figure of a stag can just be made out.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Lonan - Old Church of St Adamnan

This is one of the most isolated churches on the island. The site may have been used for pagan worship before one of the very early keills was built here in the C5th. It was a good site, close to a landing beach with running water and a well.

When the parishes were established in the C12th, this became the parish church for Lonan parish. Unlike other parishes where the parish church was at the centre, in Lonan the church was at the southern end of the parish, indicating there must have been some special significance to the site

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The original church was a small rectangular building. In 1733 the parishioners petitioned Bishop Wilson complaining the church was inconvenient as it was at the extreme south end of the parish. It was agreed to build a new church, All Saints’, in a more central position. This was eventually completed in 1833 and, although more central, was equally as isolated and unpopular. One critic complained “if the old church is stranded like a whale, the new church is stranded like Noah’s Ark’.

The Act of Tynwald permitting the building of the new church also ordered the destruction of St Adamnan’s. Fortunately this was ignored and the church was allowed to fall into disrepair.

St Adamnan’s has always held a special place in the Manx psysche and John Quinn, who was appointed as Vicar of All Saints Church Lonan in 1895, was horrified to find the east end being used as a hen house. He raised money to restore the old church. The eastern end has been restored and the interior is Victorian, apart from th4e Norman window on the north wall. The ruined west end wall was part of the C12th building.

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The church is still used and regular services are held there in the summer months. Its unpopular replacement is now closed ‘until further notice’ with electrical problems that pose a fire risk and also woodworm.

The Lonan wheel cross dates from the early days of the keill and is the only cross on the island still to be standing in its original position and its original base. It must rank as one of the most important and significant crosses on the island.

It stands 8’ high and is a wonderful example of interlaced Celtic knot and plait work. The back of the cross is uncarved. Even though it has been exposed to the elements for over 1500 years, the carving is still clear, even though the cross has begun to lean, giving it an attractive lop sided angle. It is similar to the wheel cross in Braddan Old Church and may have been carved by the same person.

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The other eight crosses from around the parish, are found in the small cross house in the bottom corner of the church yard and are much more worn. These are all Celtic era crosses with none of the Viking mythology seen in other crosses on the island.

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These include some of the oldest crosses on the island with just a simple cross carved on them.

Cross 23 is a broken slab that was found in a field to the west of the church and is very eroded. It has a simple cross set in a circle.

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Cross 27 was found in the churchyard and has a simple incised cross set in a semi circular frame.

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Cross 160 was used as building stone in a wall in Laxey village. It is a small rounded boulder with a deeply incised cross carved into the surface.

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Cross 77 was found in the churchyard wall but only the head survives. It shows the beginning of the development of the wheel headed cross.

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Cross 75 was also found in the churchyard, but only the central section survives. It is a simple Celtic ring cross.

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Cross 76 was found in the churchyard and the shaft has been broken. Like Cross 75, it is a simple wheelhead cross, lacking any intricate carving.

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Cross 71, consists of two fragments found at a ruined upland farm in Glen Roy, where it was being used as a door lintel of a cow shed. When intact, this formed a wheel cross with an extended lower arm forming the shaft ending in two spirals. The cross is framed with bead moulding There is a carved spoon like object at the head of the shaft which may represent the ladle used during the Eucharist.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Malew - St Lupius Church

In the Middle Ages, St Lupus was one of the most important churches on the island serving both Castletown and Ballasalla along with many smaller villages.

It is a small traditional Manx church, typical of churches before the Victorians started restoring or building new churches. The nave is the oldest part of the church. However, it has been rebuilt and altered many times over the years.

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The chancel dates from 1781 when it was rebuilt and enlarged. A north transept or ‘wing ‘ was added at the same time as more space was needed in the church. It was paid for by the people of Castletown and offered them seating in perpetuity providing they funded future maintenance of it. They felt an extension there was preferable to extending at the west end of the nave, as they would be closer to the focal point of the services.

The church avoided the Victorian restorations and retains its box pews and gallery.

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It still has its original C12th font.

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The crosses are found tucked away upstairs in the gallery.

There are two granite boulders found from keills at Karrowkeeil and Ballabeg. They could date from some time from the C8th to C12th. Few other stones like this have been found. One has
a simple incised cross.

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The other has a small incised cross set in a double ring, with shallow round hollows between the arms.

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The larger stone is the Sigurd Stone, and was found in the graveyard. Only the shaft of this C10th cross survives with its interlaced design. It is now difficult to make out the details of the carving. To the right is Sigurd killing the dragon with his sword. Above he is roasting the dragon’s heart over the fire and sucking his burnt fingers. On the reverse there is supposed to be an image of a dragon in the interlaced design.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Marown - Old Church of St Runius

When parishes were established, the original C7th keill was replaced by a simple rectangular stone building with very thick walls and a small bell cote. It was dedicated to St Runius, who was the third Bishop of Sodor and Mann. He is thought to be buried in the church yard along with Lonan and Connaghan.

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With the construction of a good road between Douglas and Peel, population growth shifted to along the central valley. St Runius was isolated and inconvenient and a new church was built between Glen Vine and Crosby on the main road. The old church was used as a mortuary chapel for surrounding graveyard.

By 1889 the church was in very poor condition. The windows were broken, the floor had fallen in and rabbits had scattered the bones of those buried under the church. The church was restored in the C20th when it was reroofed and rotting floorboards replaced.

Although the church is still used occasionally for services, has a very neglected feel to it with algae growing on the walls. It feels very different to other Manx Churches and much more akin to early Celtic churches found elsewhere in Britain.

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Next to the altar are two crosses which were discovered being used as door lintels.

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One is very weathered with little carving still visible. The other is C7th and has a carving of a simple wheel cross on the stone slab. This is considered as unique as nothing similar has been found on the island.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Maughold - Kirk Maughold

Maughold was the site of an important Celtic monastery and has possibly the best display of crosses on the island.

St Maughold arrived here in the C5th after being expelled from Ireland by St Patrick and lived in a small cave in the cliffs. St Maughold’s Well set on the hillside just below the north west corner of the churchyard was probably used for baptisms.

An important monastery was established here sometime between 500-600AD with three keeils and their remains can still be found in the churchyard.

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The present church dates from the C12th although it has been enlarged over the years and was restored by the Victorians.

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The Pillar Cross at the back of the church dates from around 1300. Originally every parish church had a cross near the churchyard gate. This is the only one to survive and has been moved into the church to prevent further weathering. Each of the four sides is carved. There is the Virgin and Child, a kneeling knight and the Crucifixion with the Three Legs of Man below, the oldest carved symbol of this.

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The crosses are displayed in a specially built cross house in the church yard.

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The crosses span a period from the C7th to C11th showing a progression from a simple engraved cross on a slab of stone to cross 114 with its wheel head and shaft covered with intricate designs.

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cont...
 
Last edited:

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Kirk Maughold cont...

One of the simplest crosses is cross 90. Of unknown date, this seemingly simple crossd, this would have taken effort to carve away the background to leave the elevated cross.

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One of the earliest crosses but one of the more elaborately carved crosses is Irneit's Cross, number 47, which dates from the C7th and from the inscription around the border, commemorates Irneit, a priest, bishop and abbot. It has a six sided daisy style cross set in a circle. There is a simple cross carved on the shaft.

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Cross 70 is just the head with a simple cross set in a circle.

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Cross 96 has a simple cross set in a circular ring carved on a stone slab. The two seated figures on either side of the shaft. are thought to be St Paul and St Anthony. Below are two very eroded figures on horseback with a hound below them.

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Cross 91 is the only example of a double cross sharing one shaft.

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Cross 68 is described as an Irish style cross as the top limb extends outside the circle and the lower limb extends down to form the shaft.

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Guriat's Cross, number 69, is a large, simply carved cross with five bosses, dating from the C9th. There is a short inscription in Hiberno-Saxon reading 'Crux Guriat'. Gwriad was a Welsh Prince who may have sought refuge on the Isle Man when dispossessed by his brother. The back of the cross is uncarved.

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Near it is Roolwer’s Cross, number 98, a large rectangular slab with a carved Celtic cross and intertwined design. Roolwer was Bishop of Man and thought to be buried in the churchyard. He is commemorated by a window in the church.

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Hedin Cross, number 142, had been used as a lintel and is a broken slab and the carving is now badly eroded. Looking closely, there is a carving of a Viking long ship in the top right corner ship. The rune inscription reads 'Hedin set this cross in memory of his daughter, Hilf'. Another Runic inscription on the reverse reads 'Arni carved these runes'.

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There are more runes on the fragment of cross 115.

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Cross 79 has a cross infilled with knotwork. Below is a stylised human figure.

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Cross 97 is one of the most beautiful crosses although it has been broken and part of it is missing. It has a Celtic cross covered with scroll work. At the bottom, a stag is being attacked by hounds.

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Sigurd’s Cross, number 122 is one of the latest crosses dating from around 1150 and is pure Norse with no Christian symbolism. It is one of four Sigurd crosses found on the Isle of Man. The detail has been lost and it is difficult to make out the story.

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There are several fragments of crosses. Number 51 has part of a cross head.

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Number 133 has a wonderful carving of a boar's head.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Michael - Kirk Michael (St Michael and All Angels Church)

This has been a Christian site since Christianity first arrived on the island in the C6th. The present church is thought to be the fourth church built on this site and dates from 1837. It is a big church, designed to hold 650 worshippers and set in an even larger burial ground.

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The church has a very large lychgate which was built to hold the crosses found in the parish or as building stones of the demolished earlier church. These have now been moved into the north aisle of the church.

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The oldest cross, number 12, dates from the C6th and is a simple slab of stone with a plain cross carved on it.
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The remainder of the crosses date from the C10th or C11th and are show a mix of Christian cross and Norse mythology. Several have runes explaining who was responsible for the cross.

Gaut’s Cross, number 101, is possibly the most important cross of the collection. Dating from between 930-950AD, the Runic inscription on the side reads ‘Gaut made it and all in Man’. Gaut is thought to be responsible for carving many crosses found on the Isle of Man, and his design of closely interlaced patterns has been widely copied on other crosses. The carving is some of the finest examples of interlace motifs found on the island.

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Number 132 is the tallest cross on display and is either late C10th or early C11th. It stood in the centre of the village until the late 1880s. Both sides are carved with a wheel head cross crosses set in a circular rim, covered with intricate carving. On either side of the shaft are carved figures, stags and hounds. The runes down the side proclaim ‘Joalf son of Thorolf the Red erected this cross to the memory of Frida his mother’.

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Number 117 is probably early C11th and the cross head is set in a circle decorated with plait work. Dragons are carved on either side of the shaft.

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One side of number 130 has a carved cross set in a circle with badly weathered carving. It is difficult to make out details of the carving on either side of the cross. The reverse side is covered with runes which translate as ‘Mael Lomchon raised this cross to the memory of Mal Mura his foster mother daughter of Dugald the wife whom Athisl married’ On the bottom left it says ‘Better is it to leave a good foster son than a bad son’.

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Only the head of number 122, the Crucifixion Cross survives. The figure is thought to be the risen Christ with his arms outstretched. On the top left is a carving of a cockerel; top right is an angel. The reverse has celtic scrolls with a carving of a snake or dragon in the top left hand corner.

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Only the shaft of number 102 survives with its ring chain pattern.

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Number 116 is part of a fragment of an C11th cross of typical Viking design.

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The shaft of number 126 has been broken and rejoined. One side has a ring chain design. The other side has an elaborately carved double twist design. On the sides are scenes from Norse mythology.

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There is only a small fragment of the beautifully carved cross number 123. The robed bird like figure with braided hair holding a staff is thought to be the wise woman Hyndla. Below her is a horse carrying the gold Sigurd won from the dragon.

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Displayed with the crosses is a skull and cross bones grave marker dated 1699, which was carved from the upside down broken shaft of a cross slab. Part of the original carving can just be made out at the base.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Onchan - St Peter’s Church

Onchan predates Douglas as a settlement, and was one of the original parishes. There has been a church here since the C12th, possibly built on the site of an earlier keeil. This was origainally a small simple church but with the rapid growth of population in the C19th, became too small to house the congregation. The building was also in poor condition and it was decided to build a new and larger church which would seat 500. The church was completed in 1833 and in 1897 was the first church on the island to be lit by electricity, installed to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

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The crosses are displayed at the back of the church. Dating from the from the C7th-C12th, these were originally grave markers but were later used as building materials for lintels or gateposts.

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The earliest, number 25, is a very simple stone with two inscribed crosses.

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Cross number 74 is probably C9th and has plaitwork carving on the head. Below is a dog like carving, with two heads.

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Cross number 92 is thought to be C10th and has a beautifully carved cross infilled with plaitwork. Down the sides and at the bottom are scrolls. Two very stylised dogs are carved on either side of the shaft.

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Cross nuber 85 is a massive cross and was probably taller as part of the base of the shaft has been lost.The largest of the Onchan crosses, it has very different designs on each side.

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Thurith’s Cross, number 141, is probably C11th-C12th and has runic inscriptions carved on either side of the cross, stating that Thurith carved them.

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The final ‘cross’ is Medieval and was the gable cross of the earlier church.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Santon - St Sanctain’s Church

St Sanctain was built on the site of one of a C5th keeils overlooking the sea. It is named after the Irish missionary St Sanctain, a disciple of St Patrick. Over the years, the place name has been corrupted to Santon.

When the parishes were established, St Sanctain became the parish church, serving a disperse settlement.The church was rebuilt between 1720-30 and again in 1774. It is a typical small Manx church with whitewashed walls and a bell cote. The church is well away from the village and surrounded by farmland with a few farms.

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The church was restored in the early C20th when the roof and box pews were replaced. The pulpit is the original three decker pulpit which has been cut down.

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It still retains its gallery and the crosses are displayed on the wall beneath it. Unfortunately there is little information about any of the crosses.

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There are two very simple cross slabs, one with a simple incised cross and another has a larger raised cross carved on it.

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There is the remains of part of a geometric carved cross head.

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The fourth stone is noit a cross, but of interest as it is possible Roman with an inscription declaring it to be the tomb of Avitus. if so, it is the only Roman remains to have been found on the island . It was discovered when the foundations for the new church were dug but nothing is known about its origins or history.

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cont...
 

Eleanor

1000+ Posts
Crosses not attached to a church - Ballaqueeney Cross

This is the only cross not attached to a church. Standing at Four Roads, the cross roads of the A5 and A29, this is is a familiar landmark to anyone travelling between Port St Mary and Port Erin. It is the only cross to have been found in the Parish of Rushen. It originally stood in a field on Ballaqueeney Farm which is thought to have been the site of an ancient keil. It was moved to its present position in 1951.

At nearly 4m tall, it is the tallest standing stone on the island and is thought to date from 900-950 AD. It would have originally have been covered with carvings and might have been carved by Gaut. The carvings are now so weathered that only faint traces remains. The two holes were added much later.

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