Ancient Burial Sites On The Isle Of Man

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I have written elsewhere about the early Christian heritage of the Isle of Man. But I was surprised to discover that the island also has lots of prehistoric sites, including one of the largest neolithic sites in the British Isles. I set out to investigate the ancient burial sites on the Isle of Man. And, in keeping with the island’s mysterious history, I had a ghostly encounter at one of them…

Early History Of The Isle Of Man

People first came to the Isle of Man in the Mesolithic era (Middle Stone Age), but the sites you can see today date from a second wave of settlement in the Neolithic period. The new arrivals introuced new farming techniques and sophisticated stone tools, as well as elaborate burial plots. Typically these sites would be chambered tombs housing the bodies of important leaders and their families.

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Burial Sites On The Isle Of Man

These are a few of the ancient monuments where you can see evidence of Neolithic burials.

Cashtal Yn Ard

One of the most famous burial chambers on the Isle of Man is Cashtal Yn Ard, a Neolithic chambered tomb, the largest of its type in Britain. Built in 2000 BCE, the stones are arranged with a semi-circular forecourt and two rows of stones. These form five burial chambers and the whole structure is 130 feet long.

Cashtal Yn Ard means “Castle of the Heights”. You can see why – it has a hilltop location with enviable views (on a clear day you can see across the sea to the Cumbrian Hills in England). The site is close to Maughold, between Laxey and Ramsey. The easiest way to get there is by car.

Standing stones at Cashtal yn Ard.
Cashtal yn Ard has an enviable hilltop location

King Orry’s Grave

Easily accessible by bus or car, King Orry’s Grave is just outside the village of Laxey. Despite the name, this tomb is nothing to do with King Orry, who was an 11th century Viking monarch. Almost 5,000 years old, it is a communal grave with several chambers. The tomb is in two sections (on either side of the road); they may have been connected in the past.

Information boards at the site give more information about the tomb and about King Orry.

Neolithic tomb surrounded by stones and with a standing stone at the end.
King Orry’s Grave

Ballaharra Stones

A Neolithic burial chamber was discovered at Ballaharra in 1971, and artefacts from the site, including some remarkable pottery, were taken to the Manx Museum. The stones themselves, dating from 2300 BCE, had been badly disturbed and were later relocated to a site in the parish of St John’s, close to Tynwald Hill. You can reach the site by bus or car.

Meayll Stone Circle… And A Ghostly Encounter

If you don’t mind the short but steep uphill climb from Port Erin, the Mull Stone Circle is an atmospheric site. Also known as the Meayll Circle, this is a group of twelve stone graves in an isolated location. It was built around 3500 BCE, but there is evidence of later occupation and even the remains of a World War II RAF station.

Hill with grass and meadow flowers, with a group of neolithic standing stones. Further hills are visible in the distance.
The isolated – and atmospheric – site of the Meayll Stone Circle

With so much history and its isolated location, it is perhaps not surprising that the Isle of Man is rich in legend and folklore, and Meayll is full of stories about ghosts and unexplained phenomena. It was here that I had an unsettling experience. We had the place to ourselves, but my husband and I both heard children’s voices approaching us. We looked to see where they were coming from but no-one appeared. It was only later that we learnt that many visitors to Meayll had reported hearing unexplained and spooky sounds. I really don’t believe in ghosts, but I did start to wonder…

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4 thoughts on “Ancient Burial Sites On The Isle Of Man”

  1. I met a couple on an AmaWaterways river cruise from the Isle of Man. Their descriptions made it sound so remote and romantic. I really enjoyed learning more from you about its history and the grave yards. It’s pretty awesome you heard the children too. Very interesting article.

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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