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These kinds of birds are about the Isle of Man (Great Auk)

Date made: late 19th century

Artist: King, Daniel

Description: A watercolour, thought to be the earliest illustration of the Great Auk made in the British Isles, by a copyist of Daniel King. It was produced in about 1652 as one of a number of pictures which were later used to illustrate James Chaloner's "A Short Treatise on the Isle of Man".

Great auks are thought to have been common in the Irish Sea, but persecution in various guises, from eggs being taken for food to being killed out of superstitious fear of witchcraft, led to extinction of the species in the 1840s. The watercolour shows the auk in breeding plumage and clearly on land, adding to the conviction that these birds once bred on the Manx coast. In 1969, archaeologists found further evidence of the presence of the species in the form of two bones from a two thousand year-old midden deposit discovered in a cave near Port St Mary. These bones are now in the Manx National Heritage archaeology collection.

Evidence also comes down to us through oral tradition. In "100 Years of Heritage" (ed. S. Harrison, 1986, Manx Museum and National Trust) the following is reported: "In 1895, Bill Corlett told the young John Gawne of Fistard that the 'Big Uig' used to come in summer to the flat rocks south of the Point at Port St Mary". 'Big Uig' was the local name for great auk.

Measurements: h 6 1/4 in w 10 1/2 in

Materials: paper : monochrome wash

Object name: painting

Collection: Art Collection

ID number: 1957-0099


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