Crossroads Trail 1 – Jurby to Ballaugh
A Pilgrimage by car
Visit the former parish church, known as both Ballaugh Old Church and St Mary de Ballaugh [SC341958]
Parking is on the unclassified road to the south of the church site.
The site is typical of an ancient church being roughly circular and rising mound-like above the surrounding land.
The present building has been both extended and reduced in size over the years. Inside there is one carved stone MM106 in the Norse style standing next to a window which has the font set into its cill. The font has an inscription in the Manx language which translates as:
There is one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, One God and Father of all.
Drive along the A10 road to Jurby West passing the Old Vicarage to the corner at The Cronk where John Wesley preached on his visit in 1781. Follow the A10 to turn left at Jurby West on to the unclassified road up to Jurby Parish Church [SC349985]
Park alongside the boundary wall of the modern graveyard extension.
The church was built in the early 1800s to replace one just to the north of the present. The first church on this site had been erected in 1213. Close to the gates and immediately inside the burial ground is a mound almost certainly marking the burial place of a Viking chieftain. There are similar mounds on each land -holding along this part of the coast.
The church is dedicated to St Patrick.
Before entering the church note the view to the West which includes the Mountains of Mourne in Ireland with Downpatrick close to the northern edge of the hills. Patrick, Brigid, and Columba are all said to be buried there, at perhaps the most important early Christian site in Ireland.
The view to the North takes in part of the Solway coast in Scotland ending with the Mull of Galloway and Whithorn. Whithorn’s original monastic establishment Candida Casa (White House) is said to have been founded by St Ninian and its church dedicated to St Martin in 397.
Inside the church porch are a number of carved stones of which MM19, 125, and 127 are perhaps the most important which depict scenes from Norse mythology. In the church, and burial ground, note the connections with RAF Jurby and also the decorated glass in the doors of the church including those under the (leaning ) tower.
There are often displays in the church giving information about the church, the parish and RAF Jurby.
Returning to the A10 turn left and travel along the edge of the former RAF Station part of the site of which is now occupied by the Isle of Man Prison.
Some of the original RAF Jurby buildings still exist especially near the A14. The Guardhouse is now a café and two newer buildings contain transport museums.
Continue along the A10 and at the top of the rise after the Lhen bridge, fork right onto the A19 where keeills once existed alongside the road at Ballagunnell and Ballakelly but for which no physical evidence is now visible.
At Andreas continue past the school (on your left) and turn right up the private road to the parish church. Andreas Parish Church [SC415993] is dedicated to St Andrew and stands on an adjacent burial site, alongside the site of its predecessor.
Within the church is a display of carved stones which includes MM128, Thorwalds’s Cross showing “back to back” the end of the old Norse gods and the coming of Christianity. MM121 has a very clear depiction of a scene from the Sigurd Saga. M131 is a slab carved with a decorated cross flanked by decorative animals and birds and one edge bears an inscription in runes which translates as Sandulf the black erected this cross in memory of Arinbiaurk his wife. A very prominent horse at the foot of one side carries a figure riding side saddle – presumably Arinbiaurk herself.
In the main east window the patron saint, Andrew, is shown joined by James carrying his staff and pouch and with a scallop shell, the badge of the pilgrim, attached to his hat.
Above the main window is a rose window depicting the signs of the zodiac together with the sun and the moon. Like Jurby this church and its burial ground display evidence of its connection with a wartime RAF station – this time RAF Andreas.
Leaving the church by the other private road turn left onto the A9, pass the former Ballakermeen Methodist Chapel (now a house) and return to the school and turn right onto the A17 and follow this to Bride Village. At the junction with the A10 turn left and then right at the first roundabout onto the A16 and then almost immediately right again into the public car park where public toilets are available.
Walk back to the gate leading to Bride Parish Church [NX449012] dedicated to St Brigit, Brigid or Bridget (in Manx Breeshey or Vreeshey) according to whichever version you favour.
The church contains a small but important collection of carved stones housed at the back of the church just to the left of the door. There is lighting provided for them with its switch to the side of the door opening.
MM52 is not a memorial stone but an altar frontal from the keeill site at Ballavarkish (the farm of St Mark). This keeill, of which there is now no visual evidence, was said to be the last place visited by pilgrims going to Whithorn which was the favoured pilgrim site from the Isle of Man in the medieval years. Most importantly the stone bears graffiti left by the pilgrims.
MM118 Druian’s Cross discovered during the demolition of the previous church building carries a runic inscription using the Norse language but memorialising people with Celtic names.
MM124 has a complicated design of interlaced figures and animals. It is thought to depict a scene from the Scandinavian stories including Thor himself.
MM147 is quite different to the other in that it is sandstone and shows Adam and Eve with the tree of knowledge. It was mounted above the door of the former church building and a cast made in the early 1900s shows how it has deteriorated ever since then, It is thought to date to the 11th or 12th century.
The windows at the rear of the church show St Brigit and St Patrick. St Brigit is accompanied by one of her “chickens” as an Oyster Catcher.
As you leave the church note the Tower Staircase rising from the porch.
If time allows continue along the A16 to visit the Point of Ayre [NX468049] turning right just before the lighthouse to the car park right on the coast. From here there are magnificent views (weather permitting!) of both Scotland, along the Solway coast to the Mull of Galloway and also of the English Lake District. The shingle banks and surrounding area are a haven for wildlife and gannets can usually be seen diving for fish in the disturbed water where the tidal currents meet.
Return to Bride and then turn left onto the A10 and continue along this to join the A9 on the edge of Ramsey. Turn left and pass (or visit) The Grove Museum of Victorian Life and then St Olave’s Church [SC446952] which is a relatively modern building with some very interesting stained glass windows. It is used as the chapel and prayer room for the nearby Ramsey Cottage Hospital.
On leaving St Olave’s take the A13 (directly opposite the church) to take you back to Ballaugh Cronk.
Crossroads Pilgrimage devised by Frank Cowin