I recently wrote about the Celtic and Norse 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. And, in keeping with the mysterious history of the Isle of Man, 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 period (Middle Stone Age), but the sites you can see today date from a second wave of settlement in the New Stone Age. The new arrivals introuced new farming techniques and sophisticated stone tools, as well as elaborate burial sites. Typically these sites would be chambered tombs housing the bodies of important leaders and their families.
One of the most famous burial chambers on the Isle of Man is Cashtal Yn Ard, the largest Neolithic tomb in Britain. Built in 2000 BC, 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).
Other Burial Sites on the Isle of Man
An easily accessible site is King Orry’s Grave, 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 5000 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.
If you don’t mind a short but steep uphill climb, the Mull Stone Circle, near Port Erin, is an atmospheric site. Also known as Meayll, this is a circle of twelve stone graves, in an isolated location. It was built around 3,500 BC.
A Ghostly Encounter
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 it was at Meayll 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…