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Knockaloe Camp bone vase

Date made: 1914-1918

Description: A carved beef bone vase, without a wooden base, made in Knockaloe Civilian Internment Camp by an unknown internee. The whole surface of the bone is covered in a floral, foliate design (stylised peony-like flowers and foliage) hand carved in bas relief on the bone. The bone has a scalloped rim, is heavily textured on the inside (blood vessels in bone) and damaged on one part of the rim. The vase is unusual both in terms of its design (type of flowers) and in having been carved from the broadest part of the cow's leg bone. The still has the wooden pug in the base, held in position with plaster. The decorative mahogany would be screwed into this wooden plug.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. They were held in two camps, a requisitioned holiday camp in Douglas and a purpose built camp located at Knockaloe near Peel on the west coast of the Island. These held at their peaks over 4,000 and 23,000 men in some cases for nearly five years between opening in 1914 and final closure in 1919. Over 30,000 men passed through Knockaloe between 1914 and 1917, more than the population of Douglas. Other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp. The confinement of the prisoners led to specific behavioural issues known as ‘barbed wire disease’. Receiving its name from the aimless promenading of inmates up and down the barbed-wire boundary, other symptoms included moroseness and avoidance of others. It was decided that providing practical stimulation would help. The Friends’ Emergency Committee (a Quaker organisation) based in Great Britain was invited to the Island from 1915 onwards with the aim of providing books, tools, equipment and materials for the inmates to work and establish workshops.

Measurements: overall: 15.6 cm x 10 cm x 6.5 cm

Materials: mammal bone, wood

Object name: vase

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2008-0243



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