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Knockaloe internee-made carved bone vase

Date made: 1916

Description: A hand-carved bone vase made by a civilian internee in the Knockaloe Internment Camp during the First World War. The vase has a stylised brick, stone wall around the base, a single rose stem bas relief carved on front with one open flower and two rose buds, partly back cut, and an inscription and shield on the back of the bone. The inscription is 'Remembrance of Isle of Man 1915-16' and the initials 'JK' or 'KJ' in a shield.

The donor was given the Knockaloe vase by an elderly neighbour in the 1980s, when helping to clear items to the tip. The neighbour did not know where it had come from, only that it had been in the cupboard under the sink for 40-50 years and had belonged to her mother. It is possible the neighbour's father was a guard or member of civilian staff at the camp.

During the First World War (1914-1918) the Isle of Man was used as an internment base for civilian ‘enemy aliens’. Its biggest camp was known as Knockaloe Camp, Patrick, situated in the west of the Island (other historic names referring to the camp include Knockaloe P.O.W. Camp, Knockaloe Prisoner of War Camp and Knockaloe Alien Detention Camp). Originally designed for 5,000 people, at its peak it housed up to 23,000 men and as many as 30,000 men may have been interned in total. 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: 24.5 cm x 8.5 cm x 9 cm

Materials: bone, wood

Object name: vase

Collection: Social History Collection

ID Number: 2009-0131



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