The Vikings settled the island from the C9th and brought their system of government with them. Known as Tynwald, this is the oldest parliament in the World.
The word is Norse and means ‘assembly field’. Meetings were originally held in the open air to discuss matters affecting the community. Several small Tynwald sites
can still be found around the island. These were small raised mounds were the chieftain and local population would meet to discuss matters affecting the community and administer justice.
St John’s, with its central location became established as the main site from 1417. The ‘Hill’ is of unknown date and is an artificial four tiered mound about 250’ in diameter and 12’ high. It may have been built on the site of an old tumulus or barrow.
Although Tynwald now meets regularly in Douglas, there is a ceremonial meeting of Tynwald every year on July 5th. Following a church service, the sword bearer, Lieutenant General and Lord Bishop, followed by Legislative Council and Members of the House of Keys process to Tynwald. The two chairs on the top tier are for the Lord Lieutenant and Bishop, with the Legislative council grouped round them. The Members of the House of Keys are on the middle tier. The title and brief summary of all the laws passed is read out. There is time for people to present petitions and public officials are sworn in before the procession returns to the church.
Cronk Howe Mooar - Port Erin
This is the remains of an C11/12th motte that was possibly one of the three castles built by Magnus Barelegs.
The motte stands about 35’ above the flat landscape and is surrounded by the remains of a ditch. It is on private land but can be glimpsed from Ballafesson Road but is best seen from the public footpath running from Ballafesson Road to Honna Road.
- Castletown. #3
in the ancient capital of the Isle of Man, was once the residence of the Kings and Lords of Mann.It is still one of the best preserved medieval castles in Europe.
Monk’s Bridge - Ballasalla
This is a narrow pack horse bridge built around 1350 by the monks of nearby Rushen Abbey to cross the Silverburn. It is still paved with quartz cobbles and one of the best preserved examples in the British Isles.
Derby Fort - St Michael's Isle near Castletown
St Michael’s Isle is a small rocky island off the Langness peninsula and reached by a causeway. A circular fort was built here in 1540 by the 3rd Earl of Derby as part of Henry VIII’s system of coastal defences against invasion by the Scots or French. It provided a secure base for a garrison of six. It had thick walls with a rampart walk, a single entrance and 8 gun points.
The fort was refurbished by James, 7th Duke of Derby during English Civil War as part of his upgrading of the island defences by increasing the defences on the west and north to protect Castle Rushen and the safe anchorage of Derby Haven from Parliamentary troops.
By the C18th, the fort was no longer needed and became a lighthouse and was used by the herring fleet.
Kerroogaroo (Ballachurry) Civil War Fort - near St Judes
is a star-shaped earthwork, erected in 1640 by the 7th Earl of Derby and Lord of Mann as part of the Isle of Man's civil war defences. It would have been the stronghold for the north of the island, defending an important route between Ramsey and Peel.
It consists of thick earth walls with a bastion in each of the four corners and is surrounded by a ditch. There would have been a wooden stockade around the top of the walls. The fort was surrendered to
parliamentary forces in 1651.
A video about the fort can be watched here
Set in fields, the fort is signed off the A17 about a mile North east of the St Jude’s crossroads.
Quaker Burial Ground - between Ballajora and Cornaa
A small group of Friends arrived on the Isle of Man around 1650 and quickly made many converts. They were persecuted for their beliefs. They were imprisoned, their property confiscated and they were expelled from the island.
The Quakers were not allowed burial in consecrated ground, so William Callow, a farmer and person of some importance, set aside a small plot of land near a ruined keeil on his land for the burial of himself and his Quaker friends.
William's wife and family were deported, although William managed to stay on the island. He was buried here on his death in 1676.
This is a lonely and isolated site, surrounded by a wall with a few trees. A stone stile leads into the burial ground with its single grave stone. The inscription is modern.
Few people find the graveyard and there is little information available about it. It is on the unclassified road between Cornaa and Ballajora, opposite Ballafayle Cairn.
Lead, zinc, copper, silver and iron have all been mined
on the Isle of Man.
The earliest mines were at Bradda Head
and copper was mined here in the Bronze Age with large scale workings from the middle of the C17th. Ore was taken out by boat. The veins were worked out by the late C19th.. The remains of the old buildings
can be seen at the base of the cliffs. The headland was honeycombed with mine workings and the remains of old adits can still be seen .
Lead was mined around Foxdale
from the early C17th but many of the mines were short lived and all mining had finished by the early C20th. Little can be seen of the mining heritage in the village although there is a small heritage centre
The remains of Cross Vein Mine and Beckwith Mine
surrounded by mining waste, stand on the bare hillside to the west of Foxdale, overlooking the A36.
The Great Laxey Mines
flourished from the C19th and were a major source of zinc as well as lead. They are covered in more detail in this travel article.
Other sites of imterest
St Patrick’s Isle (monastic site and castle)