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Howstrake
Prehistory

 

During the Ice Age the whole of the Island, including the summit of Snaefell, was covered by the ice sheet, and when the glacial period ended in the Irish Sea basin about 12,000 years ago, it left behind boulders and other glacier-borne debris which had been carried within the icecap from lands to the North. Some of these boulders were deposited on Bank's Howe and can be seen there to this day. One of these, which was formerly at the base of the War Memorial when it was on Main Road at the top of the Butt, has been set on display at the top of Summerhill Road and has been given the name of the Onchan Heritage Stone in commemoration of the Manx Heritage Year of 1986. A further stone is displayed behind the Golf and Country Club on Groudle Road, and a third forms a base to a road name-plate at Manor Park. Yet another may be seen in St. Peter's churchyard. This was fashioned by a Norse craftsman during the 10th century into a circular base, measuring around a metre in diameter, into which a groove was cut. A Norse cross-slab which depicts a pair of monstrous dog-like animals was formerly set upright into this groove. The slab is now in the church porch.

The Isle of Man appears not to have been inhabited during the Palaeolithic, or old stone age, of prior to perhaps 5,000 B.C. There is, however, abundant evidence of man's presence from the Mesolithic period, of about 5,000 B.C. to 2,500 B.C., onwards. An example of the prehistoric habitation of Howstrake may be seen in the monolith incorporated into the churchyard wall of St. Peter's Church, known locally as "the whipping post", but which the late Neil Mathieson, F.S.A. Scot., suggested is the sole survivor of a semi-circle of similar stones associated with a prehistoric tomb like that at Cashtal yn Ard. P.M.C. Kermode recorded in his "List of Manx Antiquities" published in 1930 that a polished stone axe head of eleven inches in length was found on the Casha field near the church at Onchan but noted that it had been sent off the Island. Other finds of flints and arrowheads have been found at a site across the road from the former Douglas Bay Hotel. In 1987, more recent finds at Majestic Drive, at the home of the compiler, included arrowheads and a highly polished oval-shaped stone, identified by Dr. Freke, of the Peel Castle excavations, as being used for rubbing flax in the manufacture of linen cloth. It seems probable that Howstrake has been inhabited for at least 4,500 years!