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Tynwald Hill/Cronk-Y-Keeill Eoin
Tynwald Hill
It is believed the site was the burial place of a Bronze Age Chieftain

Tynwald Hill is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Isle of Man and symbolises the link between its past, its present and its future.

There are no records of when the Hill first appeared on the St Johns landscape but a reasonable assumption is sometime in the 13th century.

It is believed the site was the burial place of a Bronze Age Chieftain, going back hundreds of years before Christ.

The first records of a Tynwald ceremony taking place there goes back to 1417.

The first illustrations of Tynwald Hill appeared in the 1790's.

Ancient graves

Ancient graves have been uncovered near the Hill and a temple dedicated to the Norse god Thor was located near the site of St Johns Church.

Tynwald Hill
It is believed to contain earth from all 17 of the island's ancient parishes

It is thought the Hill is made of piles of stones bonded together with soil but again, without excavation, its interior retains its secrets.

The site at St Johns would most likely have been chosen for its location,( it is easily accessed from north and south, east and west) and the nature of the landscape which is ideal for games, competitions and trading.

It is also close to St. Patrick's Isle, the residence of the former Norse Kings and the mouth of the River Neb.

Highly distinctive

The 'Hill of St Johns Church' or Cronk-y-Keeill Eoin in Manx is a highly distinctive landmark of the island with its four circular platforms rising from the earth.

The late Robert Curphy said of the Hill: "It is not only the stage on which is annually set one of the most remarkable political survivals in the world: to the Manx it has always been a powerful and visible reminder that the Isle of Man is an ancient Kingdom.

Tynwald Hill has probably seen and heard more history than any other spot on the island
Thomas Kelly

"A Kingdom enjoying its own government, making its own laws and levying its own taxes and controlling its own expenditure; and the scene of a ceremony whose disappearance would mark their end as a nation."

There is a widespread belief that the hill contains earth from all 17 of the island's ancient parishes; but there is no record to confirm this to be true.

That said it is not unlikely that soil from each parish would have been added to the mound, in accordance with a known practice of the Norse settlers.

Tynwald Hill
The annual open air assembly was established by Norse Viking Settlers

The hill itself is twelve feet high with each of its four circular tiers rising three feet higher than the last. The diameter of the base is seventy-six feet.

For more than two centuries now the uppermost platform has been covered during the annual assembly. The early statutes show that Tynwalds were held at the castles and other sites which were probably the sites of local assemblies of their time.

Manx National Day

On the 5 July every year which is Manx National Day (formerly mid-summer day) the Manx laws are proclaimed from the hill.

If you have visited Tynwald yourself you may have noticed the pathway and platforms are covered with rushes. This is believed to have derived from the pagan Celtic custom of offering bundles of green bent-grass at the altar of the sea-god Manannan.

Tynwald Hill
Tynwald Day is celebrated annually on the 5 July

The annual open air assembly was established by Norse Viking Settlers over a thousand years ago; in fact the name 'Tynwald,' the governing body of the Isle of Man, is derived from the Old Norse Thing-völlr, meaning assembly field.

So perhaps next time you are passing through St. Johns you should stop and spare it a glance, perhaps even climb up its rough stone steps and have a think about its history best summed up by Thomas Kelly a humble local crofter.

"Tynwald Hill has probably seen and heard more history than any other spot on the island."




SEE ALSO
Tynwald Day: Live video streaming
10 Jul 10 |  People & Places
Proposals to protect Tynwald Hill
29 Apr 10 |  Isle of Man
In Pictures: Tynwald Hill
16 Nov 09 |  History
Crowds at traditional Tynwald Day
06 Jul 09 |  England


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