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Trip to Isle of Man 2003-09-05—14 with Archaeology on the Way

To see the photos, click at the index to the left.

Some connected links:
Official information about Isle of Man
Arkeologi on the Way

Kionslieu farm in Foxdale where we stayed

Friday 5th of September  
The day started already at 3:30 am when woke up. We left just after 4:00 for Landvetter airport, where we ate breakfast. Although we had slept less than 4 hours, we felt quite fresh. The other arrived just after 5 am. Mari Wickerts will be our tour guide during the trip as usual and including her we were 11 persons.  

Our flight departed 7 am to Copenhagen, where we spent an hour before the flight to Dublin. We got our luggage around 11 am and as we had several hours to spend we wanted to go to the city centre. The taxi drivers we talked to didn't recommend it, as the road work would make a one way trip to take at least 45 minutes instead of 20 minutes. Instead they suggested a round-trip towards the north instead, including a lunch stop, which we accepted.

The first stop at the round-trip was by a hotel and golf course, where we had a fantastic view over Lambey, a beautiful island with a guard tower at one end. We had good luck with the weather, as it was warm and sunny. We continued to the village Howth and our chauffeur continuously told us about different aspects of the Irish daily life, as house prices, social life, popular sports etc. Howth has a nice harbour, which we looked around before we continued to Malahide, where we made a lunch stop at Island View Hotel. We got really good choices of standard pub food. Me myself took a shepherd's pie.

Afterwards we continued to Malahide castle, with some exhibitions and shops. Unfortunately it had become a bit cloudy with some drizzling. It was a nice place, although the castle wasn't extraordinary. On the way back to the airport we made a short stop at the church of Dolough, which is an old protestant church.

At the airport we had a quite quick check-in. Meanwhile we had an irritating fire alarm in our ears, that everybody seemed to ignore, even the people behind the counter. Finally we were on the way to Isle of Man. The flight was merely up before we landed at Ronaldsway airport just outside Castletown.

 It took a while before we had got the three rented cars and checked them. It felt a bit odd to change gear with the left hand and as it had a diesel engine you had to give it more gas to avoid stops.

When we arrived at the hotel in Douglas, it was messy to unload the luggage at a narrow street and than find a parking place along the main road. "The Hydro" is a bit shabby, although the room prices are comparable with better hotels in Stockholm. The stairs together with all glassed fire doors made the hotel seems like a maze. In the restaurant was there a wedding and several children ran around the place. Our room was really small and I must admit that I've been in better one-star hotels in France... We were as usual astonished by the carpet on the bathroom floor, which gave everything a humid smell. Anyway  we didn't feel or see any mould, which some of our friends did.

Afterwards we went out to find a place to eat and we ended up at a simple but quite nice fish and chips. Christina went with the other to the hotel pub, but I was too tired after the long day so I went straight to bed.

Saturday 6th of September  
At the breakfast it turned out that our waitress was a young woman from Lahtis in Finland. We had a quite good breakfast. In the reception we met Gunvor who had taken a walk and noticed that someone had taken of the hub-caps of one of the cars. I went and checked it, meanwhile Christina moved our luggage to Henrik's room, which had been appointed to be the cloakroom. The hub-caps laid just beside the car and I could easily put them back on again. On the way back I took a photo on a couple of cow statues, which were lovely painted. It turned out that they had been in a cow parade during the current year. Later we saw other cows around the island. Mari reported the damage on the car to a police officer before we took the horse tram along the long road to the Manx museum.

As the museum is situated quite high up, we took an elevator in a parking garage to reach the right level. The Manx museum is quite nice and open. First we saw a film about the island and a gallery with paintings with local motives from the island. Some geology information and a skeleton of "the Great Deer". A small department of from the Stone Age and a much larger one about the Vikings and findings from them. Christina was particularly interested in some textile findings. Then the travel through the ages continued with life and society until current days. Especially the part of the tourist boom was interesting with some old advertisement films, which are over 50 years old. Also the stories about the trams and railways were interesting. Of course there is a small department about the history of the TT races on motorcycles, which started 1907, although I was less interested. We ended the visit with a light lunch in the museum cafe.

We went back by the horse tram to the hotel to pick up the luggage and continue to the Tesco store for shopping. Then we headed for Foxdale and the Kionslieu farm, where we would live during the week. We were quite early at the apartments, which are a part of the farm. The farm owners Tony and Fiona works about 80% with this and with the farm for the rest of the time. We shared our apartment with Henrik, Lars and Anna-Lena and during this trip it was Lars who took the command in the kitchen. After the dinner we were all quite tired so we stayed at home chatting, but some of the other went to the local pub. We went to bed early that night.

Sunday 7th of September  
It was quite okay weather when we departed for Peel. Christina, Lars, Anna-Lena and Mari put on their Viking clothes today. We took a group photo of them with some Viking statues outside the House of Manannan, which we then entered. This is a real audiovisual experience with small movies and real storytellers in several rooms, which described the history and life of Isle of Man. In some rooms they had computer touch screens. The museum had cost 6 million pounds to construct, but it really gives an interesting experience. When we finally had come through the shop, we were running behind schedule.

The lunch on the local inn felt a bit stressed, as we had an appointment a guide. Roy Barker should guide us at Peel Castle on St Patrick’s Isle at the end of the harbour of the small town. It had become cloudy and there were even a few drizzling. It was interesting walking around the old ruins of the island where the old stories tells that St Patrick had arrived to invade Isle of Man. The rain came and it was quite cold for the persons with Viking dresses. as their shoes are only thin leather. The guiding took than anticipated, so it was after closing time when we left Foxdale.

After a large dinner in our apartment we saw a couple of films. One about Vikings and another about myths and legends of Manx. It was heavy rain outside so we were happy to stay inside, although everyone seemed to have difficult to keep their eyes open during the films.

Monday 8th of September  
The intention this day was to start with a nature experience, but it was quite wet because of the rain during the night so we started with Kirk Michael to see the largest collection of stone crosses. Some of the stones had impressing Celtic patterns, but the most interesting of them had images carved into them from the Nordic mythology. Some even had Nordic runes on them. Christina is especially fascinated by the clothes, which the human figures are wearing. One of the figures seems to have buttons on the coat, several hundred years before they are told to have been invented... Otherwise is the church quite new and uninteresting.

The next stop was at the church of Jurby, which is situated in the middle of the beautiful countryside. There are nine crosses of different interest. This church is also quite modern and we can be happy that they nowadays have protected the stones in a special room of the church. On the churchyard are many Polish men from the World War II buried.

We continued to Jurby Junk Store, which is an amazing collection of junks, more or less dusty. Christina found some animal skins, probably of squirrels, which she hoped to sell on a Viking market next year. There is also a large separate department of used books, although I didn't find anything it was funny to look around.

Next stop was in the church of Bride, which is a much better preserved and more beautiful church than the other two, although it is contemporary. Here is the cross of Thor. Most crosses are named after either a name in the inscription or a figure.

Afterwards we ate a lunch at Grosvenor Country Inn in Andreas and as the weather was really nice and sunny, we went out to the lighthouse of Point of Ayre. From this Northern point of the island, we could see the English and Scottish coastlines far away, although it was a bit hazy. The lighthouse was privately owned and announced as military property, although it is owned by a society. They had even the German World War II flag on a flag pole to tease people.

We went back to Andreas to visit its church, where there are several interesting crosses from the Norse period. The church is lovely with beautiful lead windows. A group of windows were painted with Zodiac symbols and a couple of small one contained the three-legged symbol of Isle of Man. When we had exit the church Mari discovered that she had locked in some of her papers and had to find someone with a key. We could enjoy the nice weather when she went to the priest house.

We finished the day by driving to then glen of Spooyt Vane, a nice waterfall and the Keill Patrick nearby, which is the ruins of one of the original old small churches. It was a lovely walk in the countryside, as the sun started to go down. We made a short stop for a look at Ireland at the horizon when the sun still was up, before we went back to Foxdale.

After we had dinner it was quite late and we went to bed after some chatting.

Tuesday 9th of September  
It had been a bit rainy during the night. I woke up early and felt a bit ill, so after breakfast I gave the car keys to Anna-Lena. This also gave me a better chance to enjoy the landscape.

It still was a bit wet so we decided to start with the thing place of Tynwald. I was happy to photograph a couple of painted cow statues again before we looked around the place. We visited an exhibition of their history of the parliament and laws. We also entered the Royal  Chapel of St John.

We continued to the Woollen Mill Craft Centre, but this was a real disappointment for Christina and myself. This is really an uninteresting tourist trap with a lot of expensive shops. Anyway we had a light lunch and everyone agreed to leave earlier than decided to our next goal.

This was South Barrule Hill Fort. We parked on a small road and started to walk up the windy path along beautiful purple heather. It took nearly half an hour before everyone was at the top. The archaeologists are not really sure about the dating, but it probably is from around 500 BC. It is a bit difficult to think someone have lived in any of the 86 huts found. Very few are yet excavated. Anyway we had a great view over the countryside and could see something that looked like the coastline of both England in the East and Ireland in the West. Some thought it became to cold in the wind and went down before the rest. We felt more of the wind as we walked downwards.

The last stop of the day was at Glen Maye with another beautiful waterfall. Most of us felt this short walk was quite tiresome after the hill walk.

Finally we made a shopping stop in Peel to re-supply food and other things. At home we ate another large dinner and afterwards we saw an archaeological TV program at BBC about a new finding of a large gold hoard in England. We became quite tired and lazy again, after another intense day.

Wednesday 10th of September  
After a real English breakfast that Lars had fixed we departed at 9 am as usual. It was cloudy with some drizzling, so none took their Vikings clothes as suggested for the day. 

The first stop was at a view in Port Erin to see the coastline and some Victorian style houses. At Meayl Circle burial ground we made the next stop in light rain. After a steep and slippery climb we reached the top where six Neolithic tombs lay in a circle.

We continued to Cregneash, a folklore village, which showed how people lived mainly on the 18th and 19th century. The last village inhabitant Harry Kelly lived there until he died 1935 and the village became a museum already 1938. First we saw a short film about the daily life and then we walked around. In a cottage an old English lady showed her dyed yarn and how to use a metal ring to separate buckets when you carried water. In a barn we saw a self-binder and a decimal balance and in another cottage they showed how to spin yarn. There is also a smithy.

As it was time for lunch we continued to Calf Sound, where we had a view over Calf of Man, but the restaurant had changed owner and had no warm food anymore, so we decided to eat lunch in Castletown instead. We had a big lunch with dessert at Castle Arms pub. In town at the castle entrance I found another nice painted cow to photograph and at the exit of the town we found a painted cow, which looked like a TT race motorcycle.

We continued to Balladole and a Viking ship burial ground nearby the Keeill Vael. It is a bit strange that the Viking tomb is on the Christian churchyard. Finally, the sun broke through the clouds. As the weather was so nice now we voted for going to Langness and out to St Michael Isle with Derby Fort and St Michael's chapel. The fort is from the 16th century and built to protect the harbour of Derby, which is the secondary harbour of Castletown.

We finished the day by going to a nursery as some in the group wanted to buy seed. Then we went up to Magnetic Hill with a view over South Barrule and we wanted to test the illusion that we were rolling uphill.

Back on the farm we sat outside drinking together with Tony and Fiona, our hosts, as it was quite nice and sunny weather. When it had become dark we could admire the nice rising full moon before we went in for a lighter evening meal with tea and sandwiches. All the drinking during the evening made me and Christina go to bed quite early. We had got sad news from Sweden that our Foreign Minister Anna Lindh had been stabbed by a knife in central Stockholm and that it was quite critical for her.

Thursday 11th of September  
The first news we got in the morning was that Anna Lindh was diseased. It was a rainy departure, but it had changed to drizzling when we arrived at Lonan church. The old church had the double size, but the restored church has been rebuilt on half of the ruins and the entrance is actually through the ruins. The main attraction is the wheel-cross stone, which probably is on its original fundament. In a shelter are there several other cross slabs.

We continued to Laxey woollen mill, where Christina and Mari immediately went to the upper floor with all the woollen fabrics. They managed to spend all of the available time there and at least Christina thought it wasn't enough and she came out with three different colours of fabric. Downstairs they sold lot of plaids, jumpers, pins and other stuff suitable for tourists...

Unfortunately it was to wet and misty to go up to the old Laxey Wheel, which disappointed me as this is one of the national symbols of the island. Instead we went to eat lunch in the middle of the town in a pub.

After lunch we went to King Orry's grave nearby, where Wendy Horn was our guide. This is a megalithic grave in two parts.

One of the most well-known sites for their crosses and keills is Maughold. It has quite a large churchyard and it took a while to go through all crosses in the shelter. A couple of Manx cats wanted to be caressed by us.

We made a short stop at the beach in Ramsey to get a view of the town. The weather didn't , permit any swiming for those who had planned to do that.

We also made a stop and walked to the bottom of Cronk Sumark, the Northern hill fort. Unfortunately it was too slippery to even think about climbing up on the paths, although finally the sun had come through the clouds.

The way back went through Sulby Glen with stop at Sulby reservoir with a great view over the landscape in the evening sun. Also a short stop by Murray’s motorcycle museum, which mainly is dedicated to the TT races with a statue of Joey Dunlop outside. He won 26 races before if was killed in a race accident in Estonia. We had a nice view of Snaefell from the place.

After returning home we was sitting outdoors together with our hosts, drinking and chatting. We looked at a great moon rise before we went back to make dinner.

Friday 12th of September  
I didn't feel well, so Anna-Lena took over the driving again. Today it was sunny weather already in the morning. The first stop was beside Rushen Abbey, where we looked at the Monk Bridge, a stone bridge mainly used for packhorses. We crossed the ford nearby by the cars.  We avoided running over any of the many ducks and geese by the ford, by bribing them with bread.

Rushen Abbey is mostly ruins, which partially are restored.  The place is mostly known to be the place where the chronicles of the Kings and Lords of Mann was written. They had a nice exhibition, which was guided by Frank Cohen.

When we arrived at Castletown, we stopped at the railway station an had lunch while we were waiting for the steam train to Douglas. It was quite bumpy, but still a great trip through the landscape with a couple of stops on small stations. From Douglas we went back with a double-decker bus.

Castle Rushen was the next place to visit and they have really succeeded in doing an exhibition that told how the rooms had been used during the ages. Often a room was proceeded with a general introduction and then they had built a scene with i.e. a dinner table with some of its inhabitants or in a couple of rooms a figure started to speak when you came closer.

We spent quite a long time in the castle before we went out to the pretty dead town, as most shops were closed. I had felt nausea all the day and often had stopped to rest, so I was happy to spend the rest of the time in the cafe "the Garrison" just outside the castle. On the receipt it was written "service NOT included" and the word NOT was really correct at this place as they didn't bother to do anything correctly. Most of the other in the group joined us later at the café and they agreed upon the so-called service.

After this it was time to go back home and we were invited by our hosts on wine and cheese. As I felt ill I went straight to bed, while the other changed into their Viking dresses. They had a great time with the hosts and some other of their invited friends.

Saturday 13th of September  
Finally it was a warm day when we started by driving to the Norse and Celtic houses at Braaid. Unfortunately it hasn't been any extensive excavations there, so you mostly see the stones indicating the walls.

We made a short stop a the smallest keeill, Paddock Beg, which is about 5x3 meter.  Unfortunately it is situated by a quite dull place beside a camping site near Union Mill.

Next stop was by a busy road near Douglas, the old church of Braddan. The graveyard is in a really bad shape and gives a gloomy impression, but the crosses inside the church are really lovely.

We continued to the centre of Douglas, where we had time of or own for about 4 hours. We ate lunch at the restaurant "Capone" and then went up and down the main shopping street. After going into several of the shops we got tired of it and sat down at a cafe before if was time to go to the sea terminal where we had an appointment with Frank Cohen.

He guided us around the older parts of the town, including the harbour, the Douglas Hotel, the Market Halls and the Town Hall. The hour went quickly before it was time for a last shopping stop at Tesco and then back home.

Tonight it was Christina who was responsible for another great dinner, meanwhile I started to pack. After Henrik and I had made washed up, we looked at a video about the Spitfire from the pilots view. Henrik had bought this when he had spent the afternoon at the motorcycle museum near Snaefell plus at the Military history and Aviation museum near the airport. Before we went to bed, Christina made some packing too.

Sunday 14th of September  
We went up as early as usual and after a large breakfast with different leftovers we packed the last stuff and cleaned up the apartment. Afterwards the group had a cup of coffee together with Tony.

It was a bit cloudy when we departed to Peel. We took a photo of a garden filled with garden gnomes on the grass and artificial butterflies on the house walls. Then we stopped by Peel castle for those who wanted to collect stones and sea shells on the beach nearby.

We made a final stop in Billown, just at the Northern limit of Castletown to visit an archaeological site where they had found a lot of flint arrows and ceramics. There Mari discovered that she had forgotten her mobile, but when she called it, Tony answered and promised to drive with it to the airport.

At the airport we left the three rented cars and waited for the check-in. I also found a last cow from the cow-parade to photograph. After the check-in we went to the cafeteria to eat something before the departure. It was far from the delicious lunch in the apartment, but it filled the stomach anyway. It was quite nice to board from a small and calm airport and we departed 3:25 pm.  

Quite a short flight over the Irish Sea and in Dublin we needed to fetch our luggage and check-in again as the tickets weren't connected. It was a great deal more fuzzy and warm on this airport but finally we boarded the plane to Copenhagen where we changed further to Gothenburg. Finally we had returned home an hour after midnight.

Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson
Christina Arrindell


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Carl-Gustaf Samuelsson