This week Jenny Woodcock, one of the experts on the Bronze Age of the Isle of Man, generously sent me a copy of P.M.C. Kermode’s book ‘List of Manx Antiquities’. This is a book I’ve read many times before but I’ve never been lucky enough to own a copy – it is a beautiful and very useful gift.
Receiving this lovely little volume got me thinking about how often I mention the characters from the history of Manx archaeology in this blog and it struck me that it might be nice to do a few blog entries about some of these key figures. Character’s like Kermode, Megaw, Cubbon, Bersu and Cregeen not only play a key role in the history of Manx archaeology and in our understanding of the round mounds but they are also interesting people!
So who was P.M.C. Kermode? Philip Moore Callow Kermode was the first director of the Manx Museum and one of the founders of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society (abbreviated to IOMNHAS). He was born in Ramsey and educated as a lawyer. He formed the IOMNHAS in 1880 as a group of people who were interested in the study and investigation of the natural history and archaeology of the island and the first aim of the group was to establish a museum and a reference library on the island. When forming the group he stated:
“… in the Isle of Man where there are no museums, no library and where there are no experts or learned professors to be consulted, the only way forward is for those with an interest in natural history and antiquities to band together and to help each other…”
One of the key achievements of the IOMNHAS has been the regular publication of research about the Isle of Man and this was something Kermode established from the outset. Kermode advocated for the investigation of round mounds and other archaeological earthworks that were at risk of being damaged or destroyed. He firmly believed that part of the role of IOMNHAS was to protect the archaeology and heritage of the island. Today these are the values that we recognise as characteristic of good heritage protection policy.
Kermode’s dream of a Manx Museum was not achieved until 1922 but when the museum was established he had the honour of being its first director. Kermode carried out a wide range of research while he was director of the museum. He helped to shape the direction of travel for both the museum and IOMNHAS and as such played a key role in establishing the research tradition on the island, He is perhaps best known for his extensive work cataloguing and recording the Manx Crosses, his many illustrations of the crosses (as well as other archaeological finds) are all held by the museum.
You can find out more about the IOMNHAS using the link below. They are a great society who host regular lectures and field trips on all kinds of interesting topics. They also continue to publish a journal of Manx research – today the journal is called Isle of Man Studies.