Celtic and Norse

Filing some transcripts recently I came across this piece by Canon John Quine:

Quine, Canon John. Handbook en Route. Isle of Man. Souvenir of Coast & Mountain Electric Railways. n.p. [but Douglas]: n. pub. [but Isle of Man Tramways and Electric Power Co. Ltd], n.d.

[4] “Manx life is touched still with the glamour, it has still the form, of olden times. The people are a blend of Celtic and Scandinavian. The Norse tongue has left its traces in local names; the Celtic in vernacular speech. The people in the south are more Celtic, more smooth-spoken and of average mould. In the north more Scandinavian, of finer than average figure, broad in speech, brusque in manner, with all the qualities that wear best. In the north are found most choice types of manhood and womanhood, the most distinctive physique and beauty of the Manx race.”

Whilst a familiar comment by this period, it would be interesting to gather together similar comments and trace the development of this notion.



7 thoughts on “Celtic and Norse

  1. There have been a few research papers looking at Viking traits in the Manx population suggesting that there is evidence of more in the north of the island

    • I take this to be a reference to the work that was being carried out in the 1970s at the University of Durham where they were looking at various genetic markers in the Manx population. I remember the team coming to the school and the criteria was to have four Manx-born grandparents if you wished to take part and even then as one of the 1950s born generation in the Island there were not that many who had all four grandparents born there.

  2. “Whether there be any decided difference between the southern and the northern men, taken en masse, I am not prepared to say” (Beddoe 1887: 28 [Manx Note Book III]). Later he seemed more convinced of a racial difference contending “generally speaking, they distinctly confirm Dr. Beddoe’s conclusions that the population of the Isle of Man is Scandio-Gaelic, and that there is no very great difference in the proportionate distribution of Norsemen and Gaels in the north and south” (1898: 117 [Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland]), Despite these observations they were able to identify a series of distinct regional differences. Their research was rather crude, based upon details from the records of the Manx Fencibles, and of course restricted to physical traits.

    • Those references fully for those interested in following up are:

      Beddoe, John. “The Physical Anthropology of the Isle of Mann.” Manx Note Book iii.1 (1887): 23–37.

      Moore, A.W., and John Beddoe. “Physical Anthropology of the Isle of Man.” Journal of the Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland xvii (1898): 104–30.

  3. This is the article (and research) I was referring to earlier (there are follow-up refs in the bibliography).

    Mitchell, R.J., and E. Sunderland. “ABO and Rh Blood Groups in the Isle of Man.” Man 13.4 (1978): 580–90.

    They indicate uniformity across the Island. Whether or not they have done any further work since this piece I have not looked into the matter.

  4. Hall Caine. The Little Manx Nation. London: Heinemann, 1891.

    [143] “[…] the two great racial qualities of the Manx people—the Celtic and the Norse […].”

    [147] “I have rambled on too long about my eccentric Manx characters, and left myself little space for a summary of the soberer Manx characteristics. These are independence, modesty, a degree of sloth, a non-sanguine temperament, pride, and some covetousness. This uncanny combination of characteristics is perhaps due to our mixed Celtic and Norse blood. Our independence is pure Norse.”

    [149] “There is nothing that more broadly indicates the Norse strain in the Manx character than the non-sanguine temperament of the Manxmen. Where the Celt will hope anything and promise everything, the Manxman will hope not at all and promise nothing.”

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