Tynwald – An Early Medieval Assembly Place and its Life History

Archaeodeath

Recently, I finally got to visit Tynwald Hill (Cronk Keeill Eoin), St John’s, on the Isle of Man. Located at the north-westerly end of the central valley running across the island from Peel to Douglas, this is the only open-air assembly site still operable in northern Europe. Each year, it is the focus of the Manx parliament’s ceremonial gatherings on Tynwald Day – 5th July.

dsc00467Historical evidence dates the use of the site back to the early 13th century, but the name – Thingvollr (parliament field)suggests its origins stretch back to perhaps the 10th century if not earlier. Historically, the practices on the site relate to swearing allegiance, declaring new laws and administering justice.

There are 5 dimensions to the site, as discussed in a succinct and superbly executed archaeological review by Tim Darvill (2004):

  1. A 25m-diameter, 3.6m-high four-stepped grassed mound. It has a central post…

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