Keeill number nine.

With kind permission from Mr Cain.

There are ten known keeill sites in the Parish of Braddan and Knock Rule Keeill is one of only two with visible remains in 2016.  It was partially surveyed as part of the Fifth Report of the Manx Archaeological Survey, published in 1918.

We walked out to the Knock Rule Keeill, Mount Rule, on a wet day in March.  There were actually hail stones as we crossed the field but on the Isle of Man if you waited for a sunny day, you could be waiting a while.  Google Earth was useful as it isn’t shown on the map and no-one seemed to know much about it, the map reference showed it in a clump of trees at the top of a field and that was where we found it, hiding in the corner.

This little keeill was a pleasant surprise as it looked in good order but a little sad and unloved, it felt forgotten.  The tenant farmer didn’t even realise there was a keeill on the land.

From the cow pats inside it was obvious that animals have access to the keeill, however, the structure seems to still be intact and it doesn’t look too different to the photo of it that was taken in 1935.  The Archaeological Survey team were only able to make a partial observation of it as at the time as there were a number of trees growing up through it, these are shown in the photograph (taken from the archaeological survey).

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In the Fifth Report of the Manx Archaeological Survey (1918) they applied for removal of the trees so they could make further investigation but although the trees were removed, I couldn’t find any evidence of any other excavation.  What they found in the partial survey they did is below:

KNOCK RULE. O.S. X, 13 (1304). The walls of this Keeill are still standing in the little plantation about 250 vards north north-west of the house at a height of about 390 ft. above sea-level.

Three small trees, ash and sycamore, are growing within the Keeill, which prevent a complete examination and must endanger what remains of the building. It measures about 16 ft. by 8 ft. The walls, of which the north and east have settled inwards, are built of small surface stones in irregular courses; all four corners are rounded (above the surface), and this is probably caused by attempted repairs.

The east end is 3 ft. wide, the south wall 2 ft. 6 ins., the west 3 ft., and the north from 2 ft. 6 ins. to 3 ft. A little digging at the corners proved the foundation to be about 2 ft. below the present surface, giving the heights of the walls north and east 6 ft., south 4 ft. 8 ins., and west 3 ft. 6 ins. ‘There had been a skirting of upright stones as shown by two at the north-east corner, 16 ins. high by 7 ins. wide, and 14 ins. by 8 ins. ; and at the south-east one 22 ins. by 11 ins., and another 29 ins. by 16 ins. About 12 ins. from the north corner remains of the altar were met with, 2 ft. wide and 12 ins. high. The doorway was at the west end.

Application was made for the removal of the trees, without which, further examination was impossible. The aspect is south-east and the orientation (by compass) east-north-east.

This keeill has more visible remains than many of the sites we have visited and is well worth recognising as a good example although without the results of a full survey we cannot be sure exactly what is hiding in the undergrowth.

Update, 31st August 2016:

In a summary of the Fifth Report of the Manx Archaeological Survey, found in the uncatalogued Kermode papers (MS 08979 box 2 of 2), there is more information on the Knock Rule Keeill:

The walls of this keeill are still standing in the little plantation.  It measures about 16ft. by 8ft.  The walls are built of small surface stones.  The remains of the altar are present, 2ft. wide and 12ins. high.  There are three trees growing within the keeill which endanger what remains of the buildings. Endeavours were made by Mr Kermode to have the site made an Ancient Monument, but the condition of the owners that no digging be allowed, could not be agreed to. 

A few weeks ago I examined the site; and found that it is by far the best preserved in the parish of Kirk Braddan.  Another endeavour ought to be made to make it an Ancient Monument.  The trees should be destroyed at once.

The information given that the owners were reluctant to give permission for the excavation is an explanation of why there is no further information on Kermode re-visiting the site for further exploration.  What a pity!

Further in the summary it says:

The only two keeills in the parish worth protecting by rails are this one at Camlork and the one at Knoc Rule.  No delays should come in the way of their adequate preservation.

It is sad that these two keeills are the least protected in the parish in 2016 with Camlork being almost completely destroyed and Knock Rule very neglected.  It is a great pity that the recommendation to fence them both off was not followed up.

We rather liked the Knock Rule Keeill, even in the rain.  The worry is that the keeill will remain neglected and the structure will be damaged by the grazing animals.  Hopefully this will create some awareness of it, the ideal would be that it could be fenced off finally and come under the protection of the Manx Museum but this may be a bit optimistic.

Knock Rule Keeill is not quite forgotten, it’s just waiting to be found!

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More about our visits to the Manx keeills in 2016.

Please be aware that these sites are, unless noted as being otherwise, on private land and can only be accessed with permission from the landowner.

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