How did the three legs symbol become so associated with the Isle of Man? What are its origins? What does it mean?
The famous Three Legs of Mann appear to have been adopted in the Thirteenth Century as the royal coat of arms for three kings of the Isle of Man whose realm at the time also included the Hebrides in the Western Isles of Scotland.
The emblem was retained when control of the Island passed permanently to the English Crown. One of the earliest remaining depictions of the emblem is on the Manx Sword of State thought to have been made in 1300A.D. The Three Legs of Mann symbol also appeared on Manx coins from the 17th Century.
It is not known for sure why the emblem was adopted by the 13th Century kings but it may just have been that it was striking and distinctive.
The history of the Three Legs of Mann goes as far back as Pagan times and was originally a symbol of the sun and of power and life.
It has also been suggested that the Manx Three legs symbol may have been an adaptation of the “triskele” which appeared on coins of the 10th Century Norse King Analaf Cuaran whose dominion included Dublin and the Isle of Man.
Folk tales suggest a link with Manannan, the Celtic Sea God but there is no early evidence of this.
All the early examples of the Manx “Legs” show them running clockwise towards the sun.
The Three Legs of Mann motto has been associated with the symbol since about 1300 A.D. “Quocunque Jeceris Stabit” literally translates to “Whithersoever you throw it, it will stand.”