Smuggling from the Isle of Man


My brother and sister and I were often sent down this vertical shaft when we were young. We have always known it as the ‘smugglers’ hole’. It lies above and behind the cottage and ruined stable. It opens out at a depth of about 6ft into a cavern with a sloping and very rough floor.


Further west along the coast is this narrow defile, half-way up a cliff-face, which is marked on the map as Dirk Hatteraick’s cave. It was made into legend by Walter Scott in Guy Mannering, but the stories that went into the novel had a factual base in the anecdotes about smuggling along the Solway that he largely picked up from his friend Joseph Traill, an excise officer.

This is a greatly simplified diagram of the various chains of supply involved in the ‘free trade’. There were many different intermediaries in these chains: for example, merchants, ships’ captains, local landowners and common folk.

The later 18th-century ‘tavern’ identified by the archaeologists has been connected in secondary literature with Laurie (Larry) Higgins, who with his wife lived on the Island “for forty or fifty years”.  His dates (1794-1867), however, render a direct connection improbable.


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