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Braddan Camp

Period: Unclassified

NGR Easting: 236300

NGR Northing: 476860

Description: Earthwork complex. The site occupies steeply sloping ground falling eastwards towards the old and new parish churches of Braddan, and is characterised by substantial earthworks containing large, earth-fast boulders. The earthworks would appear once to have been more extensive, but are now curtailed on all sides by development or improved agricultural land.

Nineteenth century descriptions of the site suggested a defensive origin, drawing attention to a double rampart, and also claimed the existence of cup-mark motifs on some of the exposed boulders. Antiquarian interest in the Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles led to a suggestion that the site was a late 11th century fortification by the Norwegian king Magnus Barelegs. The Ordnance Survey (1869) annotated the site as ‘Camp’ and noted three groups of ‘Inscribed Stones’. The site appears to have suffered damage during the First World War as a result of tree-felling and extraction.

Subsequent reassessment has shown that the site is not naturally defensible because of its topography, and that the earthworks themselves are not of a defensive character. The alleged double rampart is considered more likely a sunken trackway bounded by field banks.

The so-called cup-marks have proved elusive, only one having been found in recent times, and the boulders have generally been shown to be prey to more recent carving and inscription. These probably result from the use of the site for seasonal open-air church services which, during the early 20th century, drew large numbers of holidaymakers from the nearby capital of Douglas.

A small excavation in 1966, on the southern edge of the site ahead of the construction of a new vicarage, found a 13th century boundary and traces of slight structures and iron-working. Associated finds included 13th and 14th century locally-produced pottery and a silver penny of Edward III from the 1350s.

The industrial activity ceased after this time and a bank, part of the complex visible on the ground, was built over the deposits; it has been suggested that this small sample would imply that the visible earthworks are perhaps of later medieval date, and relate to the management and division of land associated with agriculture and possibly with a small community.

View map location on Archaeology Data Service

Site & Monument Type: settlement

Category: National Monuments Record: Statutory Ancient Monuments

Site ID number: 0687.00

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