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Keeill Moirrey

Period: Early Medieval

NGR Easting: 220830

NGR Northing: 468060

Description: Medieval chapel and burial ground, holy well.

The Ordnance Survey First Edition 1:2500 map records 'Chapel Gate, Site of St Mary's Chapel & Burial Ground (Keeill Moirrey) at SC20836806, without a marker defining the site. The chapel dedication gives its name to the moden settlement of Port St Mary. The Manx Archaeologyical Survey (1968) notes that Speed's map of the Isle of Man, publised in 1605 (surveyed by Durham in 1595) includes a conventional pictogram labelled 'Chappell' on the shore of 'Portell Morrey' which would appear to indicate the keeill-site. The Survey draws a comparison with Keeill Catreeney (PRN 0028), suggesting that the chapel must have stood close to the shore; no physical remains, however, have ever been recorded.

A description of the site by Prof Sir John Rhys recorded in 1894 states that stones from graves were used as flagstones in the construction of a house: this would appear to be the property 'Chapel Gate' at SC2091568054. Rhys was told that 'The inscribed side of the tombstones is said to be mostly undermost; in any case there is no doubt about the burial ground, seeing that plenty of men still living remember the bones exposed on the declivity.' The Survey records that no inscriptions were found when the stones were lifted and re-used in 1964.

The Survey also examined a photograph dated c1882 which showed 'Chapel Gate' under construction and stones visible on the slope below at c SC20946806, and draws the conclusion that these must be exposed lintel graves. A photograph in the Manx National Heritage collections (MNH/PG/10288) taken a few years later likewise shows stones on the slope centred c SC2094568025. Development in the 1920s resulted in the remodelling and landscaping of the slope below Bay View Road, since when no graves have been observed. A major landslip in 2010, and subsequent engineering works to stabilise the slope, likewise did not result in any graves being noted. Graves have, however, been observed during drainage works under Bay View Road itself, adjacent to 'Chapel Gate' cottage at c SC20916804 in c1930, and during the development in c1910 of buildings at the lower end of Victoria Road, c SC20886805.

A well, variously known as Chibbyr Moirrey and the Lady's Well, issued from near the foot of the slope of Castle Bay a little to the east of the Chapel Gate area, and was marked by the OS at SC2095068100. Its name establishes a clear connection with the chapel and burial ground. It has now been piped under a footpath and forms a wishing well around 10m to the east.

View map location on Archaeology Data Service

Site & Monument Type: chapel; burial ground; holy well

Category: National Monuments Record: Archaeological Sites [multi-site]

Site ID number: 0025.00

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