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Cronk Howe Mooar

Artificial Mound


The members of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society have had a pleasant and interesting excursion to the South of the Island. [...] The weather was delightfully fine and the excursion on that account proved most enjoyable. [...]

Making their way with some little difficulty along rocky paths and muddy lanes, the party passed Bradda Mountain Fairy Hill, which rises abruptly from a flat and rather boggy piece of land between Port Erin and the Rushen parish church. The origin of this mound is a matter of dispute. Geologists and antiquarians both claim it as their own, and until the mound is properly explored it is difficult to say whether it falls within the province of the one or the other, though certainly the theory that it was artificially formed appears the more probable one.

[...] Dr. Tellet remarked that it had been said the mound had been put up to commemorate the death of Reginald, son of Olave the Black, King of Man, who was slain in 1249, - Mr. Kermode said he thought it was Cumming who had first suggested that, but so far as he (Mr. Kermode) knew there was no authority for it.

[...] Mr. Kelly, of Ballaquinnea, some months ago had given them a sort of fairy story about this hill, which was known as Cronk Howe Mooar, which meant "The Big Hill." Howe was simply the Scandinavian word for cronk or hill.

The story was to the effect that a man, wandering about at night, saw a brilliant light on the hill and came there, when he saw great festivities going on amongst the fairies. He was invited to drink some wine, but a friendly voice whispered to him not to do so. He threw the cup to the ground, and immediately the lights were extinguished and the fairies rushed at him. He dashed along in an easterly direction through the bog followed by the fairies, and made his way towards one of the farms in the neighbourhood. In crossing the water he purposely stepped in the water and not on the dry stones. The fairies were calling out to him to keep on the stones and not in the water, but he was careful not to obey them.

[...] Mr. Kermode went on to refer to the tradition of the mound having been opened early in the present century, and said that might account for the deepening of the hollow in the centre of the top of the mound, nevertheless it seemed probable that the place had been fortified by the erection of a rampart round about the mound. The mound (he said) was private property; and on that account great difficulty had beenexperienced in trying to obtain permission to explore it.

[...] It afterward transpired that the land belonged to Mr. Turnbull, of Port Erin. Mr. Turnbull is himself interested in archaeological research, and would raise no objection to the opening of the mound, but objections have been raised - ostensibly on the ground of the injury it would cause to the adjacent fields. There is reason to think, however, that some superstition may underlie the difficulty encountered in regard to the proposed exploration of this interesting mound. [...]
From the Isle of Man Times, Saturday 15th September 1894.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th January 2020ce

Comments (3)

Excellent stuff. I can attest to the bogginess, the "footpath" from the north is basically a narrow dyke and ditch. thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
18th January 2020ce
It looks weird and cool there! I've not yet been to the Isle of Man but you've provoked my interest. Bogs are pretty strange places in themselves, aren't they? People used to see will o the wisps on them, and I notice there's mention of lights in this story. I think there's a sort of will o the wisp / fairy crossover thing going on - both being out to trick you off the path. I recently noticed another connection too, that it's long been the status quo that no-one sees either any more (people were saying this 100 years ago). Which you can easily rationalise for fairies (many people, I understand, not believing in them), but with alleged burning gas from a marsh? Seems a bit peculiar. I know we have fewer bogs now but we surely hadn't destroyed so many a century ago? You can read various "explanations" of what the gases were etc but it seems that even now there's no particularly good scientific explanation for the phenomena. If it ever existed. Anyway apologies for waffle and extended absence, happy new year to you. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th January 2020ce
It's not that weird, it's a field with a golf course next to it! But you should definitely visit the Isle of Man, lots to see including a couple of fine castles, an anachronistic public transport system of stream- and electric trains, many-horned sheep and some lovely scenery.

The willow-the-wisp thing is fascinating, I always thought it was a thing (like, a scientifically explainable thing) but now I've looked things up it appears the "science" is actually quite tenuous, which means it must be something weirder, right?

Waffle is good and you being back is better, same to you :)
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
19th January 2020ce
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