The Bollan Cross

The Bollan Cross - What do you know about the Bollan Cross?

To me it is something parculiarly Manx, if not Kissack. - The Bollan Cross is one of the sets of teeth belonging to a fish called the Bollan Wrasse (or Ballan Wrasse).

This fish is prolific in the Isle of Man and can be caught, from the rocks, all around the Island. Look in it's mouth and be suprised to see thick white teeth of the sort you might expect to see in a human mouth. The bollan wrasse feed on limpets and mussels, so require strong, chisel-like teeth to prise their prey off rocks and deal with the shells. They grow quite large on this diet, males reaching around 60cm and 3.5kg in weight. The Bollan Cross is part of that formidable crushing machine.

Here's a picture:

But what is this Bollan Cross all about?

Well, I understand that is was often removed from the fish (before eating), and kept a safeguard against drowning. On the Island where the the sea played such a major part in daily life and ecomony, it was a good luck charm for sailors and fishermen alike.

This particular Bollan Cross (above) is mine!

Proud captor with donor of Bollan Cross

It belonged to a fish caught off Langness Beg that fought well and, later on, was enjoyed as tea by Karen and I (cooked by my Uncle and Aunt - experts in fish dishes!).


You can also get Bollan Cross as a charm for a charm bracelet - but only in the Isle of Man have I seen or come across it.

(The internet search engines are very quite on the topic. Although an Italian site records... "The wrasse feed on mussels and on crustaceans, including crabs and barnacles. For this purpose they have crushing teeth in their throats in addition to their normal teeth. The lower set of throat teeth are in the form of a cross and these teeth used to be carried by fishermen as a charm against drowning." )

Further details about the Bollan Cross here

Next page: Poetry