Keeill number thirteen.
Keeill Vreeshey has an access agreement in place with the Manx Museum and National Trust. Even with this in place, people should respect the farmer and use discretion: if there’s a standing crop approaching harvest, stay away. If there’s a single path through the crop, use it and don’t beat down any more. Sometimes it rotates to pasture, so people should respect any livestock, close gates etc. Keeill Vreeshey is situated on the Mount Rule back road at the junction with the Eyreton Road and is marked on the map.
This keeill and burial ground, dedicated to St Bridget, sit fenced off in the middle of a vast field overlooking Crosby. The keeill has a good structure still with walls that are over four feet high in places. Judging from the number of times that it is referred to in the Manx press over the years, Keeill Vreeshey seems to have been one of the most frequently visited keeills by antiquarian societies and similar, probably because it is also one of the most visible and easily accessible. There was mention of a well, Chibbyr Vreeshey, in the field below, that had an association with the keeill and until the twentieth century used to draw people from all over the Island on account of its healing properties. I found this information from a newspaper article in the Isle of Man Times from 1937 about a visit to the keeill by an antiquarian society (www.imuseum.im) but I haven’t been able to find any further information on it and it seems doubtful that it still exists.
The chapel was surveyed in 1908 in the First Report of the Manx Archaeological Survey, they found it in a comparatively good state of preservation and that is the same today.
FIG. 3. — Plan of Keeill Vreeshey, Marown.
In the survey by Kermode and his team, they mention that the keeill is in ‘The Chapel Field’ which, according to Paul Bridson (Yn Lioar Manninagh,” VOL III, p. 433), as in 1861 known as Garey Keeill Vreeshey. The name was forgotten by the time of the survey but they found one man who knew the fied as ‘the Breesh’. They found the keeill to measure 16ft. by between 9 and 10ft., the wall was as high as 5ft. in places and the doorway was between 18 and 24in. wide, situated in the south wall. The sides of the doorway were found to be of large stones with a stone on edge at the threshold of the doorway from which the pavement sloped outwards. The position of the altar at the east end is marked by some small stones, the sill of a window 18in. wide remained in the east wall. Directly behind the altar was a stone set on edge to cover a recess in the wall that was 18in. deep, 16in. high and 12in. wide, this is thought to have been perhaps a reliquary that may have contained the remains of the priest responsible for creating the site or perhaps as a safe place for holy items during Viking raids, this feature was also found at the nearby Cabbal Druiacht, Glen Lough.
On the outside of the walls, there was the familiar bank of earth and large stones up to the height of about 2ft. and about 3ft. wide at the base. The irregular stones that paved the floor were still in existence.
The keeill sat in the north west of an oval shaped enclosure that measured around 58ft. by 40ft., the embankment was of earth and stones and was between 4 and 6ft. wide with an absence of stones opposite the doorway of the keeill and the remains of a pavement leading half way down to it which would suggest that it was the entrance of the enclosure.
The surrounding wall of the enclosure has long been ploughed over in 2016 but the keeill remains in excellent condition. Keeill Vreeshey may not be as much of a ‘hidden place’ as many of these sites are, but it is an interesting place to visit and a good example of a well looked after keeill, the views across Marown are also lovely on a good day.
There are many good walks from here over the Millennium Way or along the Mount Rule back road to Baldwin, it would make a good spot for some tea and cake (of course) as part of a longer walk.