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Page last updated at 08:35 GMT, Monday, 18 January 2010
A History of the World comes to the Isle of Man
Ariane Barua

Manx National Heritage
Cross belt plate from a Marine on HMS Racehorse which went down off the South coast of Mann

A History of the World is a unique partnership between the BBC, the British Museum and other museums up and down the country.

It is based on the premise that even the most ordinary things can have extraordinary stories.

That was the starting point for curators at Manx National Heritage when they were asked to find the 10 most significant objects held on the Island.

You may agree with the choices or you may have some ideas of your own.

It is a daunting task to ask of any museum curator but Manx National Heritage, in association with the BBC, have come up with what they think are the 10 of the most significant and evocative objects held locally in the Isle of Man.

The task of choosing just 10 objects

Each object tells a story, some of those stories have a global resonance and some speak so loudly of the soul of Mann that they are difficult to ignore.

Allison Fox, Curator at Manx National Heritage said choosing just ten was one of the most difficult things she has ever had to do professionally.

"When you work every day with such incredible historical objects, it is very difficult to pick out just 10. I think all my colleagues at Manx National Heritage would agree.

The Isle of Man on a world stage

"The criteria set required that the objects have a global resonance and should have had an affect on the world. Natural history was excluded as was documentation and manuscripts. As we started thinking more in depth about the objects we have over here, we realised that our small Island has played a significant part in world history.

"The Isle of Man sits in the middle of one of the main trading and shipping routes and this means that our 10 objects are significant in the course of many international historical events".

After a lot of deliberation, strong conversations among the curators at the Manx Museum and some consultation with the BBC, a final list of 10 objects was drawn up. Some were chosen for their standing in world history and some for their significance to the Isle of Man said Ms. Fox.

Viking women

"The earliest piece is a necklace from the female burial site found at Peel Castle. This has become known as 'The Pagan Lady's necklace'. There were lots of reasons to choose this object and it was one of the objects that we all agreed on".

"This had to go in because it shows that women in the Viking world could achieve a high status in the community. It also shows that important people were actually living here on the Isle of Man - the quality of the beads used to make the necklace are impressive."

The beginning of the RNLI

Another object which many are drawn to is the Crossbelt plate found on the wreckage of HMS Racehorse, a Naval ship lost off the south coast of the Isle of Man.

This artefact tells the story of a tragedy which prompted William Hillary to form the Royal National Lifeboat Institution- an event which has impacted the lives of sea-faring communities all over the British Isles.

"The other object I love" continued Ms Fox, "Is the wooden transportation crate which for me, symbolises so much about the Manx cultural identity. This crate made its journey to the Isle of Man in 1949, sent by the Irish Folklore Commission in Dublin.

Manx National Heritage
Wooden transportation crate sent to the Isle of Man by the Irish Folklore Commission in Dublin

"It contained two sets of fragile 12-inch acetate discs which held over five hours of rare recordings of the voices of some of the last native Manx speakers.

"It's such a humble object but it says so much about the Manx identity that it simply had to have a place in the final ten.

All ten objects will feature on this website to coincide with the launch of the BBC Radio 4 series - A History of the World in 100 Objects.

You are invited to suggest your own items that have a local or global story to tell and you will be able to upload images and details of these objects. Together we can build one of the biggest online museums in the world. To find out more about this exciting project visit bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld.




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