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Examples of Manx Knots

I visited the Isle of Man in 1997, and enjoyed looking at the stone crosses in the Manx National Museum in Douglas. The earlier crosses had many Celtic knots on them, which were abstract weaving patterns. The later Viking crosses had more elaborate fantastical entangled animals. Although I love the animals, I find them difficult to copy, so I concentrated on the more abstract designs. I've shown these patterns in grey since this is how they appear in stone. But I've also coloured them to show the relationship of the strings and strands better. I'm afraid I can't guarantee that the proportions are right, and they are not to scale. I copied what I enjoyed - the relationship of the strings to each other.
knot To draw this example, I used the double strand technique. The Isle of Man stone carvings seem to use double strands quite often. I suspect that this is because they can be easier than single strands. You mark out the central line where you wish the line to go, then put the outer edges on both sides. knot

knot knot This design is unique to the Isle of Man. It's interesting to work out the overlapping shapes. The colouring to the right gives one possibility - three strings with loops in - a very complex pattern. But if you look at the part that gets repeated (see right), you'll see that it's very short! The pattern appears on several crosses, Gaut's cross-slab from Michael, Olaf Liotulfson's cross at Ballaugh and Sandulf's cross-slab at Andreas. knot

knot For this motif, I used the colour technique. The small 'ears' on this design give a pleasant flourish. It is a little similar to the previous pattern. It comes from the Kirk Michael Dragon Cross. knot

knot knot Here are two patterns using the same idea, but handled in different ways. The design on the left is loose, and double stranded. Each ring goes under and over the same way. The design on the right is single stranded and has close rings. One string is always on top of the other, which means that rings go different directions. It shows there isn't a right way of doing a Celtic knot! The knot on the right is on Sandulf's Cross and Joalf's Cross. knot knot

knot knot This pattern could have inspired the Isle of Man's legs. legs

knot This elaborate knot is repeated, and could be continued indefinitely. Each part is the same, not a mirror image. It is made up of loops rather than continuous string. knot

knot Some of these designs are just part of a larger pattern, like this one, an elegant top. knot

knot This splendid circular knot is on the Calf of Man cross. knot

knot knot These designs come from carved stones in Kirk Orchan porch. knot knot

knot knot These are from the Mal Lumkun cross at Kirk Michael.
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Simple plaits are common.
These are from the Kirk Lonan wheel-headed cross-slab.

Links to other websites

Manx National Museum
Isle of Man guide - scroll down for stone crosses.
The Manx crosses illuminated by Mayreen Costain Richards

Return to Knots index.

© Jo Edkins 2003