The ’Battle of Pairk ny Earkan’ and the actions of the ’Sulby Cossacks’ may be the stuff of legends, but both tales are based on very real events that were bound up in the highly contentious subject of the removal of ancient grazing rights.
Paul Quayle, of East Narradale, Sulby, researched the topic for his MA dissertation and his subsequent article ’Common land enclosure and disafforestation in the Isle of Man: What happened to the Commoners’ Allotment after 1866?’ was published in the 2016 volume of Isle of Man Studies: Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society.
It then came to the attention of the British Association for Local History, which makes awards for excellence in research and publishing local history, and so impressed the judges that it was awarded a place in the ’long article’ category. Paul recently travelled to the annual Local History Day in London to receive his certificate.
Spokesman for the BALH, Alan Crosby said the award was ’richly deserved’.
He added: ’The reviews editor of the association receives numerous journals, magazines and newsletters published by local history societies throughout the British Isles - about 120 per year.
’These contain many articles, of all lengths and formats, and we in BALH estimate that there are maybe 600 every year. From these the reviews editor chooses two shortlists or eight articles each - one for "long" articles and one for "short". A panel then chooses a winner, a runner-up and two or three "highly commended" in each category.
’All the judges were really impressed with the quality of Paul’s work - it’s very carefully researched using a wide range of published and archival sources in the Manx National Heritage Library and the Isle of Man Public Record Office, and it is also extremely well written. It tells the story of a key episode in the 19th history of the island, one which has had a major impact on the present day upland landscapes of the interior.’
Mr Crosby praised the quality of the historical research being undertaken on the island - and noted that this was the second time a Manx paper has won an award (in 2010 Patricia Newton was the overall winner for her article titled ’And the Laxey River runs down to the Sea: the farming landscape of Lonan and the Laxey Valley’).
’These papers highlight the distinctive history and culture of Mann, and both of them reveal a love of the island’s beautiful rural landscapes and the historical processes which have contributed importantly to their present-day appearance’, he said.
From Paul Quayle’s winning article:
’The story of the Manx commons is one whose origins are lost in what might be called a "Medieval twilight" and could well stretch back much further in time.
’Indeed, the fact that the island’s earliest surviving Statutes do not mention the commons perhaps demonstrates just what a long-established customary practice their utilisation by the island’s inhabitants was.
’Such customary arrangements, which defined the very landscape in which the Manx people lived and worked, can be seen to have informed various episodes of civil disobedience, when large-scale intack licences threatened to change overnight what could be a delicate balance between land and people. These issues eventually culminated in the complete removal of public access to common grazing lands in 1882.’
Paul receiving his award from Professor Caroline Barron, president of the British Association for Local History