Albeit a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man is home to many historic, medieval and cultural National Heritage sites.
On World Heritage Day, we want to celebrate our Island’s heritage and share with you some of our favourite sites from around the Island.
Step into the House of Mannanan, the home of the Island’s mythological sea god, and be guided through the Isle of Man’s rich Celtic, Viking and maritime past.
The House of Mannanan is a journey from past to present, where visitors come face to face with characters telling stories and superstitions from the Island’s past.
Bursting with artefacts and treasures unique to the Isle of Man, the Manx Museum presents a 10,000 year history through film, galleries and interactive displays, including:
Located in the Islands capital of Douglas, the Manx Museum is the perfect starting point on a journey to discover the Isle of Man and its Viking and Celtic past.
Castletown is the ancient capital of the Isle of Man and home to Castle Rushen, one of the best preserved medieval castles in the world.
Built in around 1200AD and made of limestone, Castle Rushen was once home to the Kings and Lords of Mann.
Indulge in the history of this impressive fortress by hearing from some of its inhabitants, including the Kings and Lords of Mann, Bishop Wilson in his cell and the castle guards in their vaulted rooms. You can also enjoy panoramic views of Castletown and beyond from its roof.
Set on St. Patrick’s Isle in the West of Mann, Peel Castle overlooks Peel Marina.
Dating back to the 11th Century, it was originally a place for Christian worship and a former home of the Viking King of Mann, Magnus Barelegs.
Peel Castle is also home to the Moddhey Dhoo, a Manx mythological black dog-like creature, said to have haunted the castle for many, many years.
Within its magnificent walls, you will find layer on layer of Manx history as you stroll through its extensive groups, climb to the top of the Gatehouse Tower, and enter the 16th century Great Garrison Hall.
King Olaf I gifted one of the most important medieval religious sites on the Isle of Man, Rushen Abbey to the Abbot of Furness Abbey in Cumbria for use as a monastery, becoming a home for monks of the Sauvignac Order.
Home to many wonderful events over the years, visitors can learn about Abbey life through the ages, from the 1180’s strawberry tea dancing to the days of 1980’s disco. The Abbey Gardens still houses remains of the medieval buildings, blossom trees and herbs and flowers.
Visitors can also have a go at archaeology in the outdoor sandpit or enjoy delicious food or afternoon tea in the Abbey restaurant.
Home to the earliest surviving schooner and the only surviving shallop, the Island’s Nautical Museum tells the personal story of the late Captain George Quayle, his eccentric boathouse and his most significant surviving creation, ‘The Peggy’.
Find out why the Peggy remained undisturbed for over 100 years, learn about Quayle’s inventions, the Georgian era and George Quayle’s many guises and discover the cabin room, built in the form of a naval warship of Nelson’s day, secret trap doors, hidey-holes, panels, and architectural jokes.
Extensive archaeological investigations in the boatyard revealed new information on the Peggy story and an 18th century private dock. The Peggy has since been temporarily removed to a specialist building for a long-term programme of stabilisation, conservation and study.
A village where the past has been kept alive, Cregneash is a living illustration of a farming and crofting community in the 19th and early 20th century.
It was set up as a living museum in 1938 when Harry Kelly’s Cottage was restored and opened to the public. Since then, the village has seen many of its Manx thatched cottages join the conservation.
The people living in Cregneash today play an important role in preserving an old and important way of life. Living in traditional cottages and houses, village life continues as it has for hundreds of years. Farms are maintained with horsepower and much of the livestock roam free. Traditional crafts and trades are also practised and used in everyday life.
To experience and understand more about the Manx people and their past way of life, a visit to this village is a must.
The Grove Museum is a blast from the past that shows modern day individuals what life was really like during the Island’s Victorian and Edwardian eras.
The house and its land tells the story of the Gibbs family, a wealthy merchant family from Liverpool who made what started as a summer retreat, their permanent family home.
The house, its outbuildings and country garden have been beautifully preserved and feature Victorian furniture, fashion and fineries, farm equipment, a game of croquet on the lawns, ducks, Loughtan sheep and beehives. It offers an experience where you truly can step back in time.
The Great Laxey Wheel is the largest working waterwheel in the world!
Originally built in 1854, this brilliant example of Victoria engineering was used to pump water from the Great Laxey Mines industrial complex.
The 22m diameter structure is located in Laxey and is one of the Island’s biggest tourist attractions, which offers panoramic views across the Laxey valley from its top.
Visitors can learn stories of the Laxey miners, go into the old mine adit and enjoy a walk through the stunning Glen Mooar valley as they witness her magnificence and workings up close.
The Old House of Keys is the former centre of 19th century political life on the Isle of Man and the former home of the Manx Parliament, the oldest continuous Parliament in the world.
Located in the ancient capital of Castletown, the museum features animated portraits of Keys members and a simulated model of Mr Speaker to bring the debating chamber to life. Take a seat in the finely restored chamber and join an active debate on setting the laws of the Island.
As south as you can get on the Island, The Sound is home to a café offering panoramic views across to Kitterland and the Calf of Man, and is a popular tourist destination on the Island.
Between the Sound and Cregneash, you can discover a chambered tomb on Meayll Hill and a nearby radar defence station from World War II.
The Chasms, Spanish head and Black Head show intricate rock formations, which also provide nesting spaces for many sea birds. The water between The Sound and The Calf of Man also offers visitors the chance to see much of the Island’s wildlife including an array of sea birds, whales and seals.
The Calf of Man is a small island off the south west coast of the Island, which is home to a nature reserve and bird observatory. Their preservation work has been successful in welcoming back a colony of puffins for the first time in 30 years.
King Orry’s Grave – Neolithic chambered long cairns. The site is one of the most complete of the Island’s megaliths.
The Curraghs – Home to an array of wildlife, the Curraghs is formed of willow and bog, open water and flower rich hayfields. It provides a communal winter roost for hen harriers and a breeding habitat for highly endangered migratory bird, the Corncake. It is also home to the Island’s wild wallaby population following the escape of some of the nearby wildlife park’s inhabitants.
Hango Hill – A Bronze Age burial mound and post-medieval summerhouse, Hango Hill is also famous for the hanging of the most iconic figure in Manx political history.
Maughold and Gob Ny Rona – Home to an Iron Age fort, from which iron ore was taken for smelting in the 5th and 6th centuries. It was also home to a monastery. Today, it is home to an active 20th century lighthouse which continues to light up the Irish sea to protect nearby vessels from foundering. Nearby, some of the earliest stones that carry Celtic designs and inscriptions using an early Celtic script called Ogham, can be found in a shelter at Kirk Maughold.
The Ayres – is internationally important for its wildlife and is home to a number of the Island’s nature reserves, set up to protect and support the growth of its bird population
To find out more about any of the above or any other national heritage sites in the Isle of Man, visit www.manxnationalheritage.com or www.visitisleofman.com.