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Studying the stone

The sculpture present at these sites varies upon looking at the peripheral surface. Carlisle, Brigham, Heysham, Workington, Jurby, Maughold, Braddan, and St Patrick’s Isle all have sculpture that pre-date the ninth century as well as sculpture that is concurrent with Viking-Age settlement.34 Aside from Jurby, all of these sites were either monasteries or ecclesiastical complexes of some kind, meaning they had the religious and social standing to attract financial interest and funerary monuments prior to Viking-Age settlement.35 It is not known whether a church was present at Jurby prior to the ninth century, but it may have become a keeill with multiple sculptures in contrast to the three other furnished burials in the area (Ballachrink, Ballateare, and Cronk Moar) that are distinctively non-ecclesiastically-afliliated and date to the late ninth to early tenth centuries.36 By becoming a conspicuous feature in the landscape, contemporary sculpture could have served as a visual display of alliance, at least socially and financially with clerics and the pre-existing population. Michael, Malew, and St John’s have sculpture that date from the tenth to the eleventh centuries at the earliest, and these sites may have become established during Viking-Age settlement with the first two as keeills and the latter as a keeill with political ties.37 However, the status of the sites or the need to express socio-political standing through sculpture appears to have varied depending upon the site at this time.

Almost all of the sites include designs derived locally and/or from Scandinavia. The spiral-scroll school (including Carlisle 03 and 04, Brigham 03 and 10, Workington 02, and Workington Excavated Fragments 1 and 5), the Cumbrian school (including Workington 05 and 06), the Solway style (including Brigham 05, 06, and 07), and the Beckermet school (including Brigham 04, Workington 04, Workington Excavated Fragments 6, 8, and 20, Maughold 98, and Braddan 146) were all collections of similar sculpture.38 Based on particular styles locally derived, some of them (Carlisle 04, Brigham 07, Workington 05, and Workington Excavated Fragments 6 and 8) also contain Scandinavian elements.3'’ Works related to the Beckermet school are located on both sides of the eastern Irish Sea area, as seen through the use of the Statford knot, emphasising the interaction between people during the ninth to eleventh centuries.4" In the case of Gaut, a sculptor, several Manx-Scandinavian pieces can be associated with him, due to his runic self-attribution (including Michael 101 and 129) and similarities between pieces (including Jurby 103, 104, 105, and 134; Michael 117 and 129; Maughold 108; and Braddan 135).41 Gaut cannot be attributed though to any works in the northwest English ecclesiastical sites where Scandinavian patterns appear.42 Originating from Scandinavia, the Borre style (850-950 CE; including Michael 101 and 126; Maughold 91 and 108; Jurby 125; Workington Excavated Fragments 13 to 18), the Jellinge style (900-975 CE; including Brigham 03 and 09, Malew 120, and Workington Excavated Fragments 7 and 9), the Mammen style (960-1000/25 CE; including Workington 03; Braddan 138; Maughold 114; Michael 129 and 132), the Ringerike style (1000-1075 CE; including Michael 116 and 117), and combinations of them (Jellinge and Mammen on Braddan 135 and 136 and St Patrick’s Isle 115; Borre, Jellinge, and Mammen on Workington Excavated Fragment 2, which is associated with Fragments 3, 4, and 5) can be seen on various sculptures.43 Construction was also adapted in a few cases with some crosses featuring a hammer-style head (Carlisle 04, Workington 05, Workington Excavated Fragment 1, Heysham, 08, and Brigham 06) and with the creation of the hogback (Brigham 10, Heysham 05, and two at Workington [Excavated Fragments 13 to 18 being one, Excavated Fragment 19 being another, and Excavated Fragments 9 and 21 as other tentative pieces]).44 Thor’s hammers and crosses have been known to have symbolic parallels which may explain the shaping of the crosses, and hogbacks were an entirely new creation during Viking-Age settlement in the British Isles.43 Other sculptural fragments shared traits with other sculptures, highlighting further contact in the tenth and eleventh centuries and across the Irish Sea (Workington Excavated Fragments 10, 11, and 12).46 In all of these cases, they show Scandinavian influences with art, but are not indicative of belief systems specifically. However, they do underscore the degree to which the commissioner or the sculptor were permitted freedom to make their own decisions in the ornamentation of a monument.

In comparison, fewer than half of the ecclesiastical sites have dual iconography that could be Norse and Christian. Heysham and Malew both have singular examples, while Jurby and Michael have several pieces of sculpture featuring iconography. On the Heysham hogback (05), Sigurd, Ragnarök, Garden of Eden, and/or Christian iconographies have been suggested.47 At Malew, a cross slab features possibly Sigurd and Fafnir on one ofits faces (120).48 Jurby contains three pieces of sculpture: a crosshead with possibly Heimdall, Ragnarök, and a woman (127); a cross slab with multiple scenes related to the story' of Sigurd (103); and a cross-shaft fragment with potentially Sigurd, Fafnir, Loki, Odin, Jörmungandr, and/or a woman (125).49 Michael also has four sculptural pieces: a cross slab feasibly decorated with Fenrir and Christ (126); a cross slab perhaps containing King David, Odin, and/or Bragi (130); a cross slab with images tentatively identified as Odin, the tree of life, and other figures (132); and a cross slab depicting a woman or vqlur, ‘seeress’ (123).50 An element also included into designs is the hunt (including Heysham 05; Jurby 125 and 134; Maughold 97 and 98; and Michael 126, 130, and 132), which is composed of deer, boars, dogs, horses, and/ or humans, but this is a motif used prior to Viking-Age settlement throughout the British Isles and has differing connotations (religious vs. non-religious).51 The iconography of these pieces remains ambiguous, as is the intention of their inclusion, but influences of the past and figures associated with power and status can be perceived.52 An example of this is Sigurd and Christ, who are depicted on a piece at Heysham (05) as well as later in Scandinavia.53 Ships, birds, and bridges also have been known to fit in this category.’’4 A number of pieces of sculpture feature various birds (including Michael 129), but only one piece of sculpture at Maughold features a Viking-Age ship (142). ’ The ship indicates Scandinavian design, but not necessarily of religious beliefs, being more akin to the graffito present on the slabs of St Patrick’s Isle (195, 196, 197, and 198).56 Rather than being a central aspect to the aesthetic appearance of the slab, it is an addendum. Other sites including iconography are at Brigham, where a crosshead (05) displays a Crucifixion scene with Christ appearing to struggle with a snake interwoven in the interlace; at Michael, where a cross slab may depict the Crucifixion, an angel, and a cock, a man, a serpent, and a bird of prey (129); at Maughold, where one cross slab (98) depicts the Virgin and Child, a bishop or abbot, and the Crucifixion; and at Braddan (72), where a large circle-headed cross may feature the motif of Daniel in the lion’s den.57 In these cases, they are more Christian in nature, but could hold ambiguity or more widely-held connotations.

The pieces of sculpture with Scandinavian and/or Christian iconography mainly have them as central figures along with the cross. Dating to the tenth to eleventh centuries, they overlap with the burials in the case of Heysham and Michael.58 Therefore, they represent variations upon early medieval monument practices. The furnished grave at Malew can only be ambiguously dated and therefore cannot be compared, while the grave at Jurby dates to the mid-ninth century, pre-dating the sculpture.5 ’ However, as noted before, the three burials in the parish of Jurby are closer in date and may have been influential in the dual expression of the iconography. One expression of wealth and power possibly transitioned to another more closely tied with pre-existing Manx and Irish Sea practices. Ambiguity does remain as to whether the iconography represents dual beliefs or whether they are entirely secular.60 Yet, the iconography does appear to emphasise assorted burial practices.

Some pieces of sculpture from these sites feature runic inscriptions, which could be perceived as a means of establishing power and status by describing relationships between people. In most cases, runic inscriptions are composed of a dedication to a relative and then potentially the name of the person who carved the runes (including Jurby 127; Michael 101, 102, 126, 129, 130 and 132; Maughold 142; St John’s 107; St Patrick’s Isle 140; and Braddan 112, 135, and 136).61 There are exceptions to this: Braddan 138 states that ‘Hrossketill betrayed his sworn friend in a mice [i iry^gw]’; Michael 130 contains the Ogam alphabet in addition to the inscription; Michael 110 uses the word, ‘runes’, which may have been part of a longer inscription; and St Patrick’s Isle 196 has the name, ‘Thor’.62 In the case of the sculpture at Braddan and Michael, these may have been considered permissible, as they were at keeills. At St Patrick’s Isle, it may represent an establishment of dual beliefs, but it is more likely an example of later graffito, as the writing is crude in nature and other designs are also made.63 While runic inscriptions appear to have been acceptable in different contexts, most sites appear to have required only dedications.

 
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