Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, has produced a ‘Statement of Significance’ on the Island’s Medieval crosses and carved stones. This is part of a consultation and review to highlight their importance and to focus attention on developing a policy for their care and presentation.
There are over 200 crosses and carved stones, and many of them are on display around the Island at the parish churches. Some of the stones are carved with letters of the Ogham, Latin and Runic alphabets, while others include personal and place names, Old and New Testament scenes and images from Scandinavian mythology.
The crosses range from simple grave-markers to intricately decorated memorials. They were carved during a pivotal period stretching from the Island’s conversion to Christianity 1500 years ago to the reorganisation of the Church along European lines from the 12th and 13th centuries. They are protected Ancient Monuments under the terms of the Manx Museum and National Trust Act and attract significant international academic interest.
The Statement assesses and summarises the collection, its heritage value, cultural significance and explains relevance and connection to the modern day. The statement is summarised under four headings: Evidential Values, Historical Values, Aesthetic Values and Communal Values. It is the first time that the crosses have been studied and analysed in this way.
The Statement of Significance has been summarised in a 12 page booklet that has been circulated to relevant stakeholders and organisations including representatives from the Church and other heritage organisations to generate further feedback as part of the ongoing consultation process.
These groups and individuals met at the Manx Museum earlier in the year to further review the statement.
Edmund Southworth, Director, Manx National Heritage, commented:
“This is the first time that the crosses have been the subject of this kind of exercise, resulting in a statement of their importance from a number of perspectives rather than simply their historical interest. This statement also marks a point in time in terms of what we know, and value, about the crosses, and acknowledges that there is still more to do to realise their potential.”
“The statement is an important study in helping us to consult with relevant groups and organisations to determine what is best for the crosses so that they can be preserved, understood and enjoyed by the Isle of Man’s residents and visitors.”
Waveney Jenkins, a warden at Kirk Andreas who attended the stakeholder meeting, commented:
“The Manx Crosses and Carved Stones are one of the Isle of Man’s truly great cultural and historic assets and I welcome Manx National Heritage’s initiative in documenting their importance to the Isle of Man which will not only help us to understand and promote their importance but also to protect them for future generations to experience.”
Image caption: A Victorian photograph showing several 10th and 11th century crosses as they were once displayed in the open air at Braddan.
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