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Cronk Howe Mooar

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Fairy Hill; Cronk Mooar; Cronk y Mur

In the parish of Rushen.
On the Isle of Man.

OS Map Grid Reference: SC20506968
Latitude 54.09174° Longitude -4.74611°

Cronk Howe Mooar has been described as a certain Timber Castle.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a archaeological monument protected by law.


'Cronk Mooar' is a motte and bailey castle of late 11th to early 12th century date. Steep sided, flat topped and grass covered, 30 to 35 feet high, diameter about 140 feet, surrounded by a well marked ditch which, on the east, cuts across a low spur projecting in that direction. There are faint traces of earthbanks in the wet ground east of the mound. Partly excavated in 1914.
(SC 20506968) Cronk Mooar (NR) or Fairy Hill (OS 6" 1868).
Cronk Y Mur (Cronk Moar on modern maps), a flat-topped grassy mound, 30 ft high, surrounded by a wide ditch, now silted up. Excavations have shown that the mound base is natural, but did not determine the character of its top, save that on it rests a rectangular stone building of unknown date. There are faint traces of a possible baileybank to the east of the ditch. Certainly a motte of typical character, well sited and probably the predecessor of Castle Rushen.
Magnus, King of Norway and overlord of Man visited that Island soon after 1098, and according to a record of c. 1260, erected forts there and imported timber for the purpose. 'It is natural, therefore, to suggest that Magnus was in actual fact erecting mottes of normal late 11th or early 12th C. character' (O'Neil 1951).
In boggy ground. Excavated 1914 - a natural feature artificially treated. The small level space on top was surrounded by an earthen embankment lined inside with rather large slabs set on end and having walling in courses between them (Kermode 1930).
Cronk Howe Mooar, Cronk Mooar, Cronk Y Mur etc. Steep sided, flat topped and grass covered. 30-35 ft high. Diam. at base about 140 ft. Surrounded by a well marked ditch which, on the east, cuts across a low spur projecting in that direction, there are faint traces of earthbanks in the wet ground east of the mound. The low embankment that formerly surrounded it is obscured by levelling operations - the result of a golf-course. On the summit was a sunken rectangular area 18 ft by 10 ft revetted with dry walling and some large upright stones.
Reminiscent of a Motte & Bailey of Norman type it may have been altered for that purpose at the end of the 11th C. though Dr Bersu thinks the rectangular construction is later - possibly a defended granary (Bruce 1955).
Norman type Motte (Rigby 1909).
Cronk Mooar appears as a high natural mound with probably scarped steep slopes. It is set in a plain with no other similar mounds in the vicinity.
It is fern and gorse covered and its flat top is 17.0m across. It hasa fragmentary periphery bank which may result from the excavation referred to in 2 but it now bears no visible trace of a building. At its base is a surrounding ditch whose outer lip is occupied by a modern hedge bank in the West and South West. In the Northern half the ditch is weak and its strongest portions are in the East where it averages 6.0m wide and 1.0m deep.
At 'A' & 'B' are two causeways 'A' is 6.0m wide and 0.6m high and 'B'is 4.0m wide and 0.6m high. Extending from the causeways to the East is a natural spur which appears as if it may have been scarped. It iswidest and highest near the Motte where it averages 2.5m high. Towards its present eastern extremity it fades to nothing. It may be the remains of a bailey bank (F1 JR 7 12 55).
SC 205697. Cronk Howe Mooar; "Large natural hillock cut into a motte, some kind of defence with stone revetment on top. No sign of bailey." (King 1983). (PastScape)

Videns autem insulam pulcherrimam, placuit in oculis ejus, eamque sibi in habitationem elegit, munitiones in ea construxit, quae usque7 hodie ex ejus nomine nuncupantur. Galwedienses ita con striuxit, nt cogeret cos materias lignorum caedere et ad litus portare ad munitiones construendas.
When he had observed the beauty of the island, he was much pleased; and chose it for his abode, erecting forts which to this day bear his name. He compelled the men of Galloway to cut timber and bring it to the shore for the construction of the forts. ( Chronica regnum Manniae et insularum about actions of Magnus, King of Norway c. 1100)

Comments (by Philip Davis)

King suggests this was one of three timber fortification built by Magnus Barelegs (Barefoot) c.1100. He considered Peel as an almost certain site for one of these munitiones and Castle Rushen and Santon Broogh as other possibilities. This site would have overlooked the landing beaches of Port Erin and Port St Mary as is certainly a reasonable possibility as the site of one of Magnus's forts.
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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017