The Burial Mounds of Peel Hill – Where Did The Grave Urns Go!

Item from the Mannin Branch of the Celtic League:
Speaking to some local folk recently it became clear that many folk are not aware as they trudge the paths of Peel Hill that there are a number of burial sites there. I don’t mean the famous Corrins Tower but rather much older early bronze age sites.

There is an interesting article here on four of the mounds and the contents found in them:

https://roundmounds.wordpress.com/…/exploring-round-mounds…/

You see the sites were ‘excavated’ which is a polite word for plundered by an Englishman called Richard Wood from Lancashire almost a century and a half ago in 1878. This was the period when droves of amateur archaeologists from England were investigating sites throughout the British Isles and beyond using methods that today would be considered more of a smash and grab than serious research. Evidence of Mr Woods possible ‘dig to the middle technique’ (which you will see in the concluding paras of the article) suggests he was after ‘trophies’ rather than an understanding of ancient people and their ritual.

The aim as well as finding what was in the site was to remove the contents for your own personal collection. You will see in the wordpress article that it records:

‘Sadly none of the finds from Peel Hill ever made it to the Manx Museum – it may well have been that Mr Woods took them home with him, as was common at the time.’

It may as the article says have been ‘common at the time’ but any artefacts taken in this manner should be returned to the Manx people and those who have them – if they are aware – have a moral responsibility to do so.

I personally find it offensive that were essentially graves were disturbed in this way but I suppose even present day archaeologists would argue that great knowledge accrues from such ‘finds’. I any case these days there are strict controls in place on such activity thank goodness.

It does make you wonder though just how much material was looted out of the Island by entrepreneurial archaeologists and shipped ‘east’. It also makes me wonder if the famous Chronicles which turned up as part of ‘the Cotton collection’ and were then ‘gifted to’ the British library were not also originally ‘nicked’ as well!

Images: Map of Peel Hill shows three of the sites (you will get a better image from the linked article) – also a grave urn of a similar type to those ‘carted off’ to Lancashire and other points East.

Bernard Moffatt
pp Celtic League

21/03/18

 

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