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'Crosh Cuirn' used to protect the house at May Eve

Date made: 1979

Maker: unknown

Description: A crosh cuirn is a traditional Manx protective charm, often hung above doorways to prevent evil spirits from entering homes on May eve. This 'crosh cuirn' was presented to the crew of the Odin's Raven in 1979, to protect the vessel on its voyage from Norway to the Isle of Man. Fishermen would hide a 'crosh cuirn' somewhere in their boat to protect them from ill-luck, so it was appropriate for the replica Viking longship Odin's Raven to have a crosh cuirn as a Manx good luck charm on its voyage.

The crosh cuirn is a wooden cross, made from twigs of mountain ash (Rowan) bound together with sheep's wool gathered from the hedgerows. The Rowan tree was seen as having magical powers which made it a powerful charm against evil spirits, but only if broken by hand and not cut with a knife.

Traditionally at May eve (the beginning of summer and end of winter), primroses would be strewn across the threshold of cottages and crosh cuirns would be placed over the doors of cottages and cowsheds to stop evil spirits from entering. They would also be tied to the tails of cattle, to stop the cattle being bewitched. Most people no longer believe in ill-spirits and witches being about on May eve, but many still put up crosh cuirns every year. It is probably fair to say that they are now seen as a symbol of Manx cultural identity, rather than anything else.

Measurements: overall: 8.5 x 3 cm

Materials: wood

Object name: charm

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 1995-0056

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