Manx Museum Queried About Removed Antiquities

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The Celtic League have written to the Manx Museum and National Trust asking what antiquities were removed from the Island in the period before the Trust was established and a Manx Museum was opened.

The League cite a specific example of an item removed as ‘treasure trove’ by the British Museum in the nineteenth century and ask if this and other antiquities removed to overseas institutions have been returned.

The Celtic League also asks if an audit of removed antiquities has been undertaken in the almost 100 years since the Manx Museum opened.

A copy of the letter to Museum Director Edmund Southworth is set out below:

“The Director
Edmund Southworth
The Manx Museum and National Trust
Kingswood Grove
Douglas
Isle of Man
IM1 3LY

12th October 2015

Dear Sir,

Whilst looking through a copy of ‘THE MANX NOTE BOOK Number 2 1885 (Edited by A W Moore MA)’ recently I came across the following entry on page 71:

{NOTES and QUERIES

TREASURE TROVE (p.40) – The ‘Necklet and Bracelet’ in the British Museum, labelled “Isle of Mann,” enquired about by Mr Faragher in the January number of THE MANX NOTE BOOK were found in a marl pit on Ballacamaish in the Parish of Andreas, in 1868 by some labouring men, who handed them over to Mr C H E Cowle. I had no hesitation in pronouncing them to be an ancient “torque” and “armlet,” the distinctive ornaments of some early chieftain, and recommended Mr Cowle, before parting with them, to have them photographed and carefully described. This, unfortunately was not done. He was obliged to deliver them up as “Treasure Trove,” and they were sent to the British Museum. Had there been a museum in the island they might have been kept here.

Ballaugh Rectory W Kermode}

Although Museum and National Monuments Trustees were appointed in 1886 I understand that the Manx Museum did not open until November 1922 I wondered therefore if artefacts such as the one listed and others removed were subsequently returned by the British Museum (or other overseas institutions)?

Obviously the period from the mid/early 1800s until the 1920s would I should imagine have been a rich period for the discovery of ancient artefacts on the Island.

Has the Museum since in the all most 100 years since inception carried out any audit to establish what antiquities were removed from the Island prior to the establishment of the National Museum? If an audit has occurred is a list of removed antiquities available?

Further to this is there a list or antiquities which have been returned?

Yours sincerely

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information”

THE MANX NOTE BOOKS referred to, which were produced in the latter part of the nineteenth century, are a rich repository of knowledge about general history, antiquities and folklore on the Isle of Mann. A W Moore who edited them was a distinguished antiquarian, historian, linguist, folklorist, and former Speaker of the House of Keys. He wrote the two volume ‘A History of the Isle of Man’ and many other works (link):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_William_Moore

BERNARD MOFFATT

Issued by: The Celtic News

12/10/15

THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE

The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues

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