Skancke and the Isle of Man

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This page is created based on a debate in the Geni discussion fora about the relationship (or lack of proof thereof) between the following historical persons:

The claim being made is that Harald was the father of Torlack, who was the father of Hallstein. The counterclaim is that there isn't enough evidence available to support either of those linkages.

The arguments being cited are:

  • Use of the Triskelion (three legs joined at the hip) by both the Skancke family and the kingdom of Man
  • Matching dates
  • Oral traditions

Timeline of the Isle of Man

Mostly from Wikipedia's Man history and Wikipedia's list of rulers of Man.

  • 1113: Olaf Godredsson rules Man
  • 1130s: First bishop appointed
  • 1152: End of Olaf's reign
  • 1153: Godred Olafsson takes the throne
  • 1158: End of Godred's rule
  • 1187: Ragnald takes the throne
  • 1229: End of Ragnald's rule
  • 1249: Harald Gudrødsson ursups the throne (from Harald's geni page) Alexander III takes the throne of Scotland at age 7.
  • 1250: Harald summoned to Norway, and returns with Magnus, who takes over.
  • 1252: Magnus Olafsson takes the throne
  • 1261: Alexander III negotiates for a takeover
  • 1263: Battle of Largs (inconclusive)
  • 1264: All islands but Mann surrendered to Alexander, Mann under homage
  • 1265: End of Magnus' rule (death)
  • 1266: Magnus "Lagabøter" of Norway cedes the islands at the Treaty of Perth
  • 1267: Alexander III sends an expedition against "the rebels of Mann"
  • 1275: Uprising under Gudrødr Magnusson. Ends in the Battle of Ronaldsway - Scottish rule established
  • 1290: Walter de Huntercombe sent by the English king to take possession of Mann
  • 1293: Two women, Aufrica de Connaught, a kinswoman of Magnus (possibly daughter), and Mary, niece of King of Magnus and wife of John Waldboef, separately petition the English king for the rulership of Man based on their kinship to Magnus.
  • 1313: Robert the Bruce conquers Mann
  • 1333: The English king Edward III declares Man an independent kingdom under the rule of the Earl of Salisbury
  • 1346: England defeats Scotland (not on Man). Rule becomes confused.
  • 1399: Henry IV, claiming Man by right of conquest, grants the title of "Lord of Man" to Henry Percy

Timeline of the Skanckes

  • 1295: Torlack Schenck is mentioned in Regesta Norvegica II, nr 790. This source does not contain a sigil. The exact transcription has been debated.
  • 1303: Purported date of the letter to Erling Amundsen from which Iver Hirtzholm copied the sigil.
  • 1303: Hallstein Torleifsson mentioned (DN b.III, no.53, 56). The name does not contain "Skanke" or "Schenk"; just "Hallstein Torleifsson". III #56 contains the triskelion sigil.
  • 1326: Hallstein Torleifson is "sysselmann" in Jämtland (DN b.IV, no.168)
  • 1345: Nils Hallsteinson pays two farms and a fishing right to atone for a murder (DN X 50, 51). X #51 contains the triskelion sigil.
  • 1348: Nils Hallsteinson fails to show up for a (civil) trial (seems to be a matter of a debt) (DN III #254)
  • 1397: One-legged sigil used on Ønd Pederson's grave
  • 1474: One-legged sigil with feathers used by Ørjan Karlson

Reference for the sigils: (only accessible from Norwegian IPs)

There is no reference mentioning the inferred link (presumably a Peder Nilsson) between Ønd Pederson and Nils Hallsteinson.

Evidence of the Legged Triskelion

On the Isle of Man

  • The flag of the Isle of Man features a triskelion; it was adopted in 1932.
  • The Coat of Arms of the Isle of Man appears in multiple rolls including the Camden roll believed to have been created ca 1280.
  • The "Manx sword" has the triskelion in its pommel, and has traditionally been connected to Olaf the Black, but analysis of the sword indicates that it's a 15h century design.

In the Skancke family

The name "Skancke" means "leg" or "shank". Whether it's singular or plural is debatable; in contemporary Danish, it's a plural. In Swedish the common definite form is "Skanka".

Skanke in heraldry is used as a description for any heraldry containing a foot. (David Widerberg Holden).

The most commonly seen coat of arms for the Skancke family has a single leg, often wearing armor (as quoted from the Norwegian Wikipedia). The examples seen with three legs are:

  • Iver Hirtzholm's book of arms (1670ish), claiming as its source a letter from 1303 related to Erling Amundsen. The legs here are bare. (shield #46)
  • The two letters from Diplomentarum Norvegicum cited above.


  • The Flag of Sicily has a triskelion of bare legs and a gorgon. Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) mentions this symbol and relates it to the shape of the island. (Source: English Wikipedia)
  • Jean "Baudrain" de La Heuze
  • William Montagu, Comte de Salisbury - titled king of Man 1344-1392

Evidence of traditions

"On Frøsøn in Jämtland from where the Skankes ruled the community, there is made a "historical trail" for pupils telling the story and pointing at the possible link to Isle of Man. This is part of basic education in primary school in Østersund." (Quote from Stein Aage Sørvig)

The Skanke foundation has an unsigned article repeating the story.

Authorities cited

G. V. C (Barney) Young (1921-2006)

George Vaughan Chichester Young (1921-2006) was born in Londonderry, educated in law in Belfast, served in the Royal Navy, qualified as a solicitor in 1946, and has worked in the Isle of Man in various legal posts since 1973. (Source: introduction to "From the Vikings to the Reformation: A Chronicle of the Faroe Islands up to 1538" - Google Books), obituary)

Quote from "Young, G.V.C.: A Brief History of the Isle of Man, The Mansk-Svenska Publishing Co. Ltd., Peel, Isle of Man, 2001: p. 12":

The rebellion {of 1275} was, however, abortive and resulted in some members of the royal family emigrating to Norway, where their descendants are still to be found in the Norwegian family of Skankes, the Swedish family of Skunck(e)s and the Danish family of Barfods. The emigrants took with them as their Arms "the three legs", which had been the Royal Arms of the Sudreyan Kings since about the middle of the thirteenth century. These Arms (a modification of the ancient Indo-Germanic sun symbol) were simplified in Norway and Sweden to one leg and in Denmark to three bare feet, and later to one bare foot

This has been cited by the Skanke Association.

P. A. Munch (1810-1863)

Wikipedia (Norwegian)

Nils Gabriel Ahnlund (1889-1957)

Biography (Swedish Wikipedia)

In "Jämtland og Härjedalens historia", he wrote that Hallsteins sigill was similar to both Isle of Man and Sicily. (Quoted by Remi)

Roger de Robelin

Rejects the relationship between the Skanckes and the Isle of Man on pages 10, 12 and 384 in his book about the Skanke family.

A review of his "Skanke-ätten" (1995) in quotes him as saying that "as far as he has had time to research this, he has not found sources that can document a connection between the Skankes of Jämtland and the old royal house of the Isle of Man".

Lars Løberg (born 1960)

Genealogist and diplomat. Chair of the Norwegian Genealogical Society (NSF) 1999-2007. Biography

In a discussion on NSF-forum (in English), he says that the Man theory is "not genealogically sustainable", and says "This isn't even fanciful speculations. It is science fiction."

Stewart Baldwin

His material on the kings of Man is hosted at Rootsweb.

Popular sources

These are non-authoritative; the interesting part is where they claim to have information from.

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