The Chief Minister Alfred Cannan has reiterated that an ancient Manx text will not be repatriated to the Isle of Man.
The ‘Chronicles of Mann’, a medieval manuscript written by the Monks of Rushen Abbey, has been held by the British Government for over 300 years. Considered as one of the most significant historical texts in Manx history, the Chronicles is a contemporaneous account of the Kings and Bishops of Mann.
The Chronicles forms part of the collection of the British Library, and under the British Museum Act 1753, the Chronicles became part of the ‘foundation collections’ of the British Museum, governed by trustees under an act of the UK parliament for public use.
John Wannenburgh, MHK for Douglas North, asked the Chief Minister through a written question: ‘Are you of the opinion that the Chronicles of Mann are safe? And what has been done about having them repatriated?’
Mr Cannan responded: ‘The current British Library Board, formed from the Library of the British Museum in 1973, has the obligation to preserve every book, paper, pamphlet, parchment or other of the foundation collection in trust for the British nation, and to make them available for research purposes in the public reading room.
‘Manx National Heritage has successfully negotiated with the British Library on several occasions for the temporary loan of the Chronicles in 1979, 1997, 2007 and 2012 to 2013.
‘The Manx National Heritage library and archives holds a copy of the Chronicles which can be viewed in the public reading room from Wednesday to Saturday.’
Mr Cannan then reiterated that the Chronicles are not the possession of the Isle of Man, saying: ‘This document belongs to an internationally renowned government organisation which holds important archives representing cultural history from all over the world.
‘The operational and legal policy of the British Library currently prevents anything more than periodic loans of the Chronicles to the Isle of Man.’
Bernard Moffatt, a member of the Mannin branch of the ‘Celtic League’ (an organisation that aims to promote modern Celtic identity and culture) said: ‘The Celtic League has been calling for the return of the Chronicles since just after we ran the successful campaign to return the Calf of Man from English national trust ownership nearly four decades ago.
‘The question of how they ended up in the British Library is ambiguous, as Mr Cannan should know.
‘The Chronicles, which were held at Rushen Abbey until the dissolution of the abbey around the year 1540, were likely stolen at that time - as was a lot of Church property.
‘I suppose it needs some younger people to get out on the stump again and campaign if they really are serious about Manx identity and culture. As for me, I’ve done my bit shouting at the wind.
‘If Alf Cannan says the Chronicles are not ours, then shame on him.’