Friday 25 March is the first day of the Easter school holidays on the Isle of Man and it also marks the first day of the 2016 Manx National Heritage season. All Manx National Heritage sites will open for their spring timetable, which sees most venues open daily from 10am to 4pm including Peel Castle, The Great Laxey Wheel, Cregneash, The Grove and The Nautical Museum.
Castle Rushen, Laxey Wheel and Rushen Abbey, which have been open weekends since February are also now open daily until 24 March 11am – 3pm to catch visitors on an early Easter break and 10am to 4pm from 25 March.
This week has also seen the new ACE Card distributed to all primary and secondary schools on the Isle of Man. The card, which can be used from this Easter, allows free access to all Manx National Heritage venues for all Isle of Man school children. The old cards will continue to be accepted over the Easter break.
A number of the Manx National Heritage sites have been refurbished during the closed winter period including Laxey Wheel, where work has been carried out to the pathways following spring floods. Conservation work continued at the Grove Museum where the upstairs landing and former Toy Room have been re-plastered, the latter is now being reinterpreted in line with its original function as the servant’s bedroom. Work is also taking place on the wall walks at Castle Rushen and to the floors at the Old Grammar School, which have been lifted for repair. A condition study of the Old Grammar School will be undertaken, with the building open for pre-booked groups, special events and educational workshop during the year.
Visitors to Rushen Abbey will notice a hole in the ground near the herb gardens where a small archaeological excavation has recently been completed. During previous excavations, human burials were found in this area – the remains of men, women and children. The cemetery is believed to date prior to 1134, when the Abbey was built. In the recent excavation, some more burials were found, along with some pottery and pieces of worked flint. The finds will be studied to find out more about who was buried at this important site and how they may have lived.
A packed programme of Easter holiday events for families at the Manx National Heritage sites include an Egg Rolling Competition at Cregneash on Monday 28 March 2016 (turn up with your decorated eggs) and Easter Cupcake decorating at the Grove Museum with Taylor Made Cakes on 6 and 7 April 2016 which is fully booked.
At the House of Manannan, visitors can enjoy prints by acknowledged Danish artist Susanne Thea inspired by the sagas and manuscripts detailing the Viking Battle of Clontarf in Ireland in April AD 1014, whilst at the Manx Museum Heroes, a fascinating touring exhibition from The Jorvik Group is on display. Supported by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company, ‘Heroes’ offers the opportunity to discover some of the real-life ‘celebrities’ of the Viking World. The new Geology Gallery at the Manx Museum is also scheduled to open later this April, featuring the Manx Museum’s iconic Giant Deer skeleton.
For more information on the events and site opening details visit www.manxnationalheritage.im/whats-on