Manx National Heritage, the organisation responsible for protecting and promoting the Isle of Man’s heritage and culture, has opened a new ‘Kingdom of Man’ gallery at the House of Manannan in Peel.
Designed by a local architect and executed by talented local builders and crafts people demonstrating their skills in woodwork and metal work, the newly refurbished gallery echoes the grandeur of a Viking royal court.
The gallery tells the story of one of the most significant periods of the Island’s history between AD 1000 and 1300. The Isle of Man was the seat of power of a sea kingdom formed of the Outer and Inner Hebrides, Skye and Argyll, strongly influenced by Norway. From the Island, the kings of Man and the Isles ruled both the lands and the vital sea route that ran through the heart of what we now know as the British Isles. This trade route brought riches to and from the Kingdom.
With information taken from the manuscript “Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles” the gallery highlights the significant events recorded in Manx history during the 300 year period. The main part of the Chronicles is believed to have been written around AD 1260 at Rushen Abbey in Ballasalla and is now in the British Library.
Many artefacts have been brought out of the collection stores and onto display including 200 coins from the Glenfaba and Kilkenny hoards found on the Island, one from the start of the rule of the kings of Man and one from the end.
The new gallery also provides an insight into everyday life of the Manx people who lived in the midst of the power struggles of the kings of Man. The Isle of Man was a community of farmers and fishermen, far removed socially from the kings of Man, but close enough to have known them by sight. Gaming boards and gaming pieces, tweezers and local pottery – one shard from Peel Castle is decorated with thumb prints – are all on display to illustrate daily life.
The adjacent outside area has been transformed into a Scandinavian-inspired courtyard with a covered walkway that allows visitors to get a breath of air and in the future will be used for special events.
The gallery is open daily from 10am to 5pm, standard entry charges to the House of Manannan apply.