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Cronk ny Merriu

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Cronk ny Marroo; Cronk-na-Myrriow; Cronk y Merritt; Hill of the Dead

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

OS Map Grid Reference: SC31727048
Latitude 54.10252° Longitude -4.57501°

Cronk ny Merriu has been described as a Timber Castle although is doubtful that it was such.

There are earthwork remains.

This site is a archaeological monument protected by law.


very small promontory fort on coastal headland, capable of containing only a single dwelling, and thus coming within the normal definition of a castle, though their original data is Iron Age. reoccupied in the Viking period or even later (dates are uncertain) to form homesteads at least partly fortified (King 1983)

'Cronk ny Marroo'. Ord. Surv. particulars: 'A remarkable tumulus situated on the NE headland of Port Grenaugh; it is of oblong shape and on the SW side are traceable the foundations of a small oblong building. Major Becon, on whose land it stands, had the tumulus opened two years ago, but nothing was found. Tradition asserts it to be an ancient burial place (Original OS Object Name Book (1866-72) Destroyed 1940)
'The Cronk-na-Myrriow is a good specimen of the barrow of the sepulchral kind as we may presume from its name. It stands on the top of the sea cliffs, on the left of the creek of Grainich, in the Parish of Santan. It is an oblong and regularly formed turfy mound, 40 ft long, 20 ft broad and 12 ft high, placed across the isthmus of a small insulated crag, which overhangs the gravelly beach of the little estuary of Grainich, and occupies the approach to the edge of the cliff so completely as to leave only a narrow and precarious footpath on the SE aspect. On the broogh behind it and inward, the mud foundations of a small oblong and frail tenement covered with a luxuriant verdure are very distinctly traceable, occupying nearly all the flat summit of the precipice, and combining with its simple solitude a degree of security rarely aimed at in such structures, this could only have been used as a religious retreat of no very ostentatious kind, perhaps the cell of a hermit', Oswald's Vestigia. (Oswald 1860).
Cronk ny Merriu, marked as a 'Tumulus' but Kermode added that it "suggests a fortified position rather than a Tumulus" (Kermode 1935).
A chapel (Keeill)-site and burial ground is also suggested at this position. "The late Mr Bacon some years ago came across some lintel graves in a field close to Cronk ny Marroo", and the Keeill site is inferred by Oswald's description of 'mud foundations etc' (2) {later proved to be a Norse long house - see below} (Kermode 1930; Kermode 1935)
This site is similar to the 1-800 AD (Poss 5-6th C) Promontory Fort at Close ny Chollagh - SC 26 NW 1. It utilises a precipitous cliff face on three sides and across the open side in the north-east a strong bank with an inner height of 2.3m and an outer height of 3.0m has been constructed. There is an outer ditch the strongest portion of which is 5.0m wide and 1.0m deep from the outer lip. Both the bank and ditch have been eradicated west of their present western terminals, ifthey ever continued to the cliff edge. Excavated by P S Gelling 1950-52. Within the interior and orientated NW-SE are the turf capped dry-stone walls of a Viking Long house whose floor is below the level of the surrounding ground. The present internal max height is 1.2m. Outside the fort in the north is the model of the long house as a ruin. There is no internal periphery bank, such a bank being unnecessary. The so called tumulus is obviously the rampart of the fort.
A notice indicates that all features are protected monuments (F1 DE 05.12.55).
SC 317704. Cronk ny Merriu is a small Iron Age promontory fort, excavated in 1950-52 by P S Gelling. The dump rampart was faced on the inside by a vertical timber revetment set in a stone-lined trench,behind which was a row of five, deep, post-holes which could have supported a platform or raised walk. The rampart was preceded by either one or two palisade phases; there were two palisade trenches under it which could have either co-existed or succeeded one another. After the revetment had collapsed a long house of Norse type, was built roughly parallel to the rampart, (5)(6) with slightly bowed walls and benches along its sides. It was shorter than the average length for this type of house, in order to fit into the area of the promontory, and lacked the kitchen end. It has been interpreted as a lookout rather than a dwelling (7). No dating evidence was found during the excavations but in 1970, a halfpenny of Edward I, dating 1280-1, was found in the back-fill of the dig and presumably indicates some occupation of the site after the end of Norse rule on the Island (in 1265) (c.f. with Early Medieval long house at Cass ny Hawin - SC 26 NE 9) (Gelling 1971; Gelling 1952; Laing 1975). (PastScape)

Comments (by Philip Davis)

Called a 'possible' castle by King (1983) although he tended to use this term for sites for which he had significant doubts.
Isolated from obvious medieval settlement although settlement on the island is dispearsed. Clearly the pre-historic defenses were reused in the Viking period but there is no evidence that any such reuse was military or by a high status individual.
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This record last updated on Tuesday, April 18, 2017