The Corvalley Cairn on the Isle of Man

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man
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I’ve finally found it. The quartz crystal ‘Cave’ and ancient mound on the Isle of Man.

When I first moved to the island I heard rumours of the ‘Crystal Cave’, a place that some people consider mystical. It is a small man-made space constructed of slabs of white quartz that could have been built 4000-5000 years ago near the Devil’s Elbow. Its real name is the Corvalley Cairn which would have been helpful knowing when I was trying to learn more about it. Google ‘crystal cave’ and you’ll find nothing.

Then while researching neolithic sites on the Isle of Man I came across this video. It shows the exact place I’d been looking for and with it we were able to find the site.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

The cairn as viewed from the east. The mound has a flat top and is surrounded by a circular ditch.

The Corvalley Cairn is a sacred mound built by people thousands of years ago.

To this day the site has not been excavated and sits in a field with views of the sunset and Irish Sea. Historians still do not know what the mound contains or its true purpose.

A cairn is a type of monument or tomb built by people who lived in the British Isles in the Neolithic. Usually large earthen mounds, they can include ditches and platforms that historians suspect made them ritualised spaces. They are often set in places where the sunset or sunrise can be viewed and can even be aligned to catch the light at the Solstices.

What makes the cairn at the Devil’s Elbow special is the tiny room that’s accessible from the side of the mound. It’s a space only large enough for a single person to fit inside. What it is and why it was built remains a mystery.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

As viewed from the north. Note the crystal quartz stone that marks the cave entrance on the far right.

Finding the quartz crystal cave

My friend Clare and I have a common interest in forgotten history and quirky places so I messaged her about trying to find the cave. We decided to set out yesterday, along with her couch-surfer Hitomi, to discover the elusive site. You can find more of the places we’ve discovered and shared on Lovely Greens over here.

We only had a vague idea of where it was though – the video and some obscure directions from a friend who’d been before were our only guides. After driving back and forth along the coastal road and then setting out on foot we finally found it. I’m unsure if the land has legal rights of passage though so the only directions I’ll share right now is that it sits at the top of a hill near the sharp bend in the coast road called the Devil’s Elbow.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

You have to squeeze yourself through that opening if you want to go inside.

You approach the mound by climbing up a steep hill and it isn’t visible until you’re nearly upon it. The cows that live in the field were extremely surprised to see us and took off to the east along a well worn path. Our friend that visited this same place probably came from that path and general direction but I’m unsure where it starts.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

The place catches your eye thanks to a white crystal landmark

The Corvalley Cairn can clearly be seen across the field thanks to a massive white quartz lintel stone set into the mound. The entrance is tiny and I squeezed inside brushing through a spiders web. It’s damp inside probably from rain running in through the entrance.

Inside, the space is small and created completely with white quartz blocks. The floor is dirt and covered with shards of shale and other debris and I wonder if under it is yet more quartz. It’s a strange space that does seem like a tomb.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

I plan on visiting the Manx Museum’s library to see if anyone there has any further information on this space. I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to know if plans to excavate it are on the table. I want to know more about the people who built it and to understand why.

Update on July 21st 2016: I’ve spoken with a few people about the site now including a former archaeologist from Manx National Heritage. The site does sit on private land and you would require permission from the landowner to visit it yourself – please don’t trespass especially since there are animals in the field that may be dangerous. The site is also called ‘The Giant’s Grave’ by people who live in the area.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

Here’s a map of more interesting places to visit on the Isle of Man and browse these posts to find out more about them.

Neolithic cairn and 'Crystal Cave' at the Devil's Elbow, Isle of Man

12 Discussion to this post

  1. Pia says:

    That’s amazing.. Its so exciting. Love your photos. I’d have dipped into the cave too. You couldn’t stop me. The white crystal is beautiful. I wonder where they got that from ? And the stones are huge.. now how did they transport that way back then? I’m interested to learn more.

  2. Your Island looks amazing and inviting. So nice you get to explore and enjoy a part of history. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  3. jo fitzpatrick says:

    how do you get to this crystal cave, it is quite a vast area has anyone any instructions as to get to it?

    • lovelygreens says:

      I’m not sure if there’s a public right-of-way but when I do and it’s alright for people to visit then I’ll post directions. I don’t want anyone to have an awkward trespassing moment 🙂

  4. Marlene says:

    I love it when you go exploring! To me the Isle of Mann was just knowing about the name, but thanks to you, I now know a lot more. It is so interesting. My forefathers came from the Isle of Skye and currently my niece, who recently emigrated to Britain, is looking into our history.

    • lovelygreens says:

      I’ve never been to the Isle of Skye but it also has a small population and I’m sure very interesting information about your family. Hopefully one day you’ll be able to visit BOTH islands!

  5. susan says:

    Such a gorgeous area. I would love to live there. One thing I didnt understand was, can you go inside the cairn or just that little space that you went into? So intriguing!!

  6. Sarah Hudson says:

    Could you please give me directions as to where I can find this? I live in Colby. It looks amazing.

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