Isle of Man — History and Culture
The Isle of Man has a diverse culture and fascinating history which stretches back thousands of years. The island’s name is steeped in mystery, many believing it came from the Celtic sea God Manannan Mac Lir who protected the island from invaders by shrouding it in a cloak of fog. It is these legends, intertwined with the area’s well documented past, which combine to give it a charm and character that entices culture and history enthusiasts back to its shores year after year.
The original inhabitants of the Isle of Man were the Neolithic and Mesolithic tribes, followed by Bronze Age dwellers and the Celts - whose civilization is the basis of Manx culture. Christianity was introduced during the fifth and sixth centuries. Vikings invaded more than 1,000 years ago and Norse rule lasted on the Kingdom of Man from 979 to 1266 AD. The Vikings founded the Tynwald Parliament - the oldest continuous parliament in the world, which has been in existence for 1,000 years.
After a period of Scottish rule, the Kingdom of Man passed to the English Crown, and then to Sir John Stanley in 1403. Stanley’s descendants were Lords of Mann for 362 years before it fell under English rule when the crown bought it back in 1765.
The island has historically been reliant on mining, fishing, farming and tourism, but in recent times the Isle of Man’s independent status has allowed it to build a thriving offshore banking and financial sector. Another major success came after the movie industry started to use it’s beauty as a backdrop for film sets. Today, the Isle of Man is not part of the UK, but is a crown dependency, with the Queen holding the title - The Lord of Mann. Its law is not English law, but is based on the same system, and the island’s parliament will often consider recent English laws for introduction.
The Isle of Man has a strong, independent identity within the British Isles mainly due to its self-governing status, proud maritime history and ancient Celtic heritage. It has the oldest continuous parliament in the world, Tynwald, which dates back over 1,000 years, and its mother tongue, Manx Gaelic, although not as widely spoken today, still defines the speech patterns of many islanders, giving them a distinctive accent more akin to Irish/Scots than English.