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The Cloak of Manannán

Richard Bell’s nature diary Monday, 7th July 2008, Isle of Man, page 1 of 2

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We arrive as the princess leads the procession from the small church at St Johns to the grassy mound of Tynwald. The year’s new laws are read out and the Viking tradition was that you could stand at the foot of the mound and shout objections of there was a law you didn’t agree with. But, today, who’s going to object to the low, low income tax they enjoy on the island?


The Manx parliament has been meeting here continuously for over a thousand years. It’s said to be the oldest continuously held parliament in the world.


Yorkshire also has Viking roots and similar gatherings were held at Tingley, West Yorkshire. Tingley and Tynwald have the same meaning; the field where the ‘Thing’ (gathering of people) was held.


Today’s gathering and the accompanying fair gives me an impression of the Viking gatherings that might have been held on my home patch. They were often, as here on the Isle, associated with a mound and I suspect that Lawefield on the slopes of Lowe Hill in Wakefield’s Thornes Park might have been a local meeting place.


Link: Tynwald, the parliament of the Isle of Man

WE’LL HAVE TO blame Princess Anne for this morning’s weather: whenever there’s royalty here, Manannán, the Celtic sea god, throws a cloak over the island.