Top historic sites in Isle of Man

Manx Museum

The Manx Museum is bursting with artefacts and treasures unique to the Isle of Man. The Island’s 10,000 year history is presented through film, galleries and interactive displays. The perfect starting point on your journey of discovery around our Island and its Viking and Celtic past. The museum opened in 1922, in a building that was formerly Noble"s Old Hospital. It was expanded and remodeled during 1986-89.
Founded: 1922 | Location: Douglas, United Kingdom

Rushen Abbey

Originally home for monks of the Savignac order, Rushen Abbey soon came under Cistercian control and remained so until its dissolution. The abbey is located two miles from Castle Rushen, the politically most important site on the island in medieval times. The abbey was founded in 1134, under Óláfr Guðrøðarson's control. He granted the land to Savignac monks from Furness Abbey. In 1147 the abbey came under ...
Founded: 1134 | Location: Ballasalla, United Kingdom

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre. The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Castletown, United Kingdom

Peel Castle

Peel Castle was originally constructed by Vikings. The castle stands on St Patrick's Isle which is connected to the town by a causeway. It is open to visitors during the summer. The castle was built in the 11th century by the Vikings, under the rule of King Magnus Barefoot. While there were older stone Celtic monastic buildings on the island, the first Viking fortifications were built of wood. The prominent round ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Peel, United Kingdom

St Michael's Isle

St Michael"s Isle, popularly referred to as Fort Island, is noted for its attractive ruins. There is evidence for human activity on the island from the Mesolithic period onwards and there are two ancient buildings on the island. Both are in a state of ruin and closed to the public, though there are a number of walks which allow visitors to explore the surroundings. St Michael"s Chapel, a 12th-century chapel, ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Derbyhaven, United Kingdom

Mull Hill

Mull Hill (also called Meayll Hill) is a small hill at the southern end of the Isle of Man, just outside the village of Cregneash. It is the site of a chambered cairn called Meayll Circle. Near the summit of the hill also lie the remains of a World War II Chain Home Low RDF station. Mull Hill Stone Circle is a unique archaeological monument. It consists of 12 burial chambers placed in a ring, with 6 entrance pass ...
Founded: 3500 BC | Location: Cregneash, United Kingdom

St. German's Cathedral Ruins

The ruins located within the walls of Peel Castle are those of the former Cathedral of St German. Like the structures throughout the castle grounds, the cathedral's roof is completely missing. Robert Anderson examined the ruins to determine what repairs were required to restore the cathedral, and he reported to the island's Lieutenant Governor in 1877. However, none of the suggested repairs were carried out. There is ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Peel, United Kingdom

St. Adamnan's Church

St Adamnan"s Church is situated in an isolated position, surrounded by open farmland on the eastern coast of the island, between Groudle Glen and Baldrine. The eastern (and oldest) part of the church has been restored, but it is otherwise in a ruinous, though well-tended, condition. St Adamnan was the Abbot of Iona between 679 and 704. The site on which the church stands is of ancient religious significance. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Douglas, United Kingdom

Balladoole

Just outside of Castletown, Balladoole is one of the Isle of Man’s most impressive ancient monuments. Balladoole has been the site of many excavations that have revealed a number of significant finds including prehistoric flints, Bronze Age burials, Iron Age earthworks and early Christian lintel graves. A Viking boat burial which dates back to between 850-950 AD was discovered in 1945 by a German refugee and a team ...
Founded: 850-950 AD | Location: Castletown, United Kingdom

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Castle Rushen

Castle Rushen is located in the Isle of Man"s historic capital, Castletown. The castle is amongst the best examples of medieval castles in the British Isles, and is still in use as a court house, museum and educational centre.

The exact date of castle is unknown, although construction is thought to have taken place during the reigns of the late 12th century and early 13th century rulers of the Isle of Man – the Kings of Mann and the Isles. The original Castle Rushen consisted of a central square stone tower, or keep. The site was also fortified to guard the entrance to the Silver Burn. From its early beginnings, the castle was continually developed by successive rulers of Mann between the 13th and 16th century. The limestone walls dominated much of the surrounding landscape, serving as a point of dominance for the various rulers of the Isle of Man. By 1313, the original keep had been reinforced with towers to the west and south. In the 14th century, an east tower, gatehouses, and curtain wall were added.

After several more changes of hands the English and their supporters eventually prevailed. The English king Edward I Longshanks claimed that the island had belonged to the Kings of England for generations and he was merely reasserting their rightful claim to the Isle of Man.

The 18th century saw the castle in steady decay. By the end of the century it was converted into a prison. Even though the castle was in continuous use as a prison, the decline continued until the turn of the 20th century, when it was restored under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor, George Somerset, 3rd Baron Raglan. Following the restoration work, and the completion of the purpose-built Victoria Road Prison in 1891, the castle was transferred from the British Crown to the Isle of Man Government in 1929.

Today it is run as a museum by Manx National Heritage, depicting the history of the Kings and Lords of Mann. Most rooms are open to the public during the opening season (March to October), and all open rooms have signs telling their stories. The exhibitions include a working medieval kitchen where authentic period food is prepared on special occasions and re-enactments of various aspects of medieval life are held on a regular basis, with particular emphasis on educating the local children about their history. Archaeological finds made during excavations in the 1980s are displayed and used as learning tools for visitors.