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■were included Colonsay, Oransay, Jura, Islay, Arran, Bute, the Cumbr Islands, and likewise the Peninsula of Cantire) are, strictly speaking, far from being so numerous as the northern islands; but in general they are distinguished from these by a richer and more fertile soil, which is the result of their more southern and more protected situation. This remark applies particularly to the charming islands of Arran ("Hersey"), Bute ("Bot"). and the Cumbr Isles (Kumreyar), which lie eastwards of the Peninsula of Cantire (" Satiri"), at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde; and which, together with the rocks, heaths, and moors of the Highlands, possess the woods and corn-fields of the Lowlands. They also enjoy a fine climate.
But although these last-mentioned islands were often under the dominion of Norwegian kings and jarls, they do not appear to have been inhabited by a settled Norwegian population; at all events, Norwegian names of places have disappeared from them. It is probable that they lay somewhat too near the hostile coasts of Scotland, and somewhat too far from the larger Norwegian colonies, for Norwegian settlers steadily to maintain upon them a position against the Gaels; nay, the Norwegian name, "Kumreyar," the Cumbr Islands, seems to indicate that Cimri or Gaels dwelt upon them.
Names of places on the Peninsula of Cantire, on the contrary, where we find Smerbys (from by), Killipol (from bol), Torrisdale, and the pure Norwegian Skipness, but more particularly on the islands outside the Peninsula, near the west coast of Argyle, indicate a very considerable Norwegian colonization. Not only have several of the small islands Norwegian names, as Scarba (" Skarpey ") and Lunga (" Langey "), but the largest and most fertile of them, Islay (the "II" of the Sagas), which Dean Monro as early as 1594 found to be fruitful, full of good pastures, abounding with large deer, having many forests, excellent hunting, and a river called Laxay (the pure Old N. "Laxa") in which many salmon were caught (" with arte water callit Laxay, whereupon maney salmon are slaine "), still exhibits various traces of decidedly Norwegian settlements. On its east coast, as is usually the case with the Hebrides lying nearest to Scotland, few or no Norwegian names of places are found; but in the middle of the island is Nerby; by Loch Indal, Lyrabolls, Scarabolls, Conisby, Nerabolls, and Elister; and by a rivulet, Skeba (" Skipa;" Dan., " Skibeaaen," or the ship rivulet); whilst on the west side of the island we find Olista, Culaboll, &c. This agrees very well with the accounts that the kings and jarls of the Sudreyjar of Norwegian descent had one of their chief residences in Islay; for it was quite natural that they should surround themselves with countrymen on whose courage and fidelity they could rely. The island abounds, moreover, in traditions and pretended memorials of "the Danes." Near the bay of Knoch are two large upright stones, called "the two stones of Islay," under which it is said that the Danish princess, Yula, after whom the island is named, lies buried. In various parts of the island are shown what are called "Danish " castles, encampments, and fortifications. It is also stated (see Anderson's Guide), that there is a circular mound of earth on the island, with terrace-formed steps, which may possibly have once been used by the Norwegians as a Thing place, like a similar one in the Isle of Man.
The chief seat of the Norwegian power on the islands was, however, still more southward than Islay, namely, the Isle of Man (the "M6n " of the Sagas), which lies in the Irish Channel, to the south-west of Solway Firth, about midway between the coasts of Cumberland and Ireland. A peculiar dialect of the Gaelic tongue, called Manx, is spoken throughout this island, and the inhabitants have in general the same appearance as their Gaelic neighbours in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. But no other of the western islands affords so many and such incontestible proofs of its having once had a very wide-spread Norwegian or Scandinavian population, who spoke their own language, and who, through a long series of years, must have been the predominant race.
The highest mountain in the island, ■which is about 2000 feet high, is called " Sneafell" (Norw., Sneefjeld; Eng., Snow-mountain). On the east side is the rivulet and town of "Laxey " (Laxaa); in the south-east is the long naze, "Langness." To these may be added the bay called Derby Haven, which the Norwegians called "Rognvaldsvagr," whence the neighbouring Ronaldsway derived its name. There are also the inlets of Perwick and Fleawick; the islands Calf of Man, Eye (Oe), and Holm, near the town of Peel; and, lastly, the villages Colby, Greenaby, Dalby, Kirby (Kirkeby), Sulby, and Iurby (formerly "Ivorby "—Ivarsby?), &c. The proportionately large number of names of places ending in "by," which suddenly appear in Man, in contrast to the more northern islands, with their pure Norwegian names of places ending in " bol " and "bolsta^r,"—which, it must be observed, are not to be found on Man,—is a sort of proof that it received some colonists from the neighbouring old Danish Cumberland, by which means a mixed Norwegian-Danish population arose in the island.
The antiquary is much surprised to find on Man not merely one, but several of those ruuic stones, with genuine Scandinavian inscriptions, which he may have sought for in vain in England and Scotland. The different districts of the island contain altogether about thirty ancient sculptured monuments or sepulchral crosses; and of these at least thirteen have once had runic inscriptions, which in great part are still preserved. It is remarkable enough that these runic inscriptions are found exclusively in the more northern half of the island (at Kirk Andreas, two; at Kirk Michael, four; at Kirk Braddan, one; and at Kirk Onchan, five); whence we may, with some degree of probability, conclude that, at the time when these runic stones were erected, the Scandinavian language was the most prevalent one in the northern part of the island. The chronicles, indeed, state that the Norwegian, Godred Crovan, who conquered Man in the year 1077, retained the southern part of the island for himself and his followers; but the before-mentioned runic stones are certainly older than Godred's conquest. The inscriptions on the stones have hitherto been copied and explained only in a very imperfect manner; but since casts in plaster have been taken of them, their interpretation has become incomparably easier and more simple. I have myself closely examined and compared them in two places (at Edinburgh, in the Museum of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, and at Canons Ashby, in England, the seat of Sir Henry Dryden, Bart.); and I have since had an opportunity to renew my examination of all of them, in conjunction with the learned Norwegian professor, P. A. Munch, to whom I am indebted for several very important hints relative to their correct interpretation (amongst others that the rune ^, which in most inscriptions signifies o, must in these always be read as 6).
The annexed cut, after a plaster cast, represents one of the finest and best preserved runic stones in Man, namely, at Kirk Braddan, about the middle of the island.
The stone is fifty-seven inches high, eight inches broad at the base, and when the cross was whole, had a breadth of twelve inches at the top. Both its broad and one of its narrow sides are ornamented with serpents ingeniously interwoven, whilst the fourth side has the following runic inscription:
"Thurlabr Neaki risti krus thana aft Fiaks . . . bruthur sun Jabrs." (" Thorlaf Neaki erected this cross to Fiak . . brother, a son of Jabr.")
Another extremely well-preserved monumental cross, on which are carved various scrolls, animals, birds, and other things, such as horses, a stag, cows (?), swine, &c., stands in Andreas churchyard, and has the following inscription :—
"Sandulf ein suarti raisti krus thana aftir Arin Biaurg kuimi sina." (i. «., *' Sandulf the Swarthy erected this cross to his wife Arnbjorg.")