Context 153 - March 2018

20 C O N T E X T 1 5 3 : M A R C H 2 0 1 8 and language under a new Norse dynasty which con- trolled not just Mann but the western Scottish isles, and whose trading interests are reflected in substantial evidence for economic activity, and the presence of coins and silver bullion. Several churches have their origins in this period, as do the castles at Peel and Rushen. Rushen Abbey was founded in 1134 – by a king who was technically a Norseman, but with allegiance split between Norway and England. Unfortunately, we have almost no evidence of domestic settlement such as the generic Viking longhouse – which are found in settlements of similar periods in Iceland.There are no towns likeYorvik. The uplands do have shielings, which are evidence for substantial animal husbandry in summer months, but dating is once again problematic. The period from about 1300 to 1700 saw a largely rural and agricultural economy heavily influenced by England, with farmsteads and small villages being the norm. The striking difference was the significant strategic role of the island in English conflicts with Wales, Ireland and Scotland. Under the various English Lords of Man and at the behest of the English monarch, the island was fortified with the latest technology. Peel Castle expanded to fill the whole of St Patrick’s Isle and Castle Rushen was massively rebuilt after being taken by Robert the Bruce in 1313. A network of forts was established during the Tudor period and the island’s defences were renewed in preparation for the English civil war. The driver for urbanisation (albeit on a limited scale) was the development of trade by Britain with the Caribbean in the 18th century. Douglas in particular grew rapidly alongside ports such as Whitehaven, Lancaster and later Liverpool. This new infrastructure of ports, harbours, bridges and roads was soon well placed to serve a series of mineral mining developments. There is no coal to be found here, but water power was fully exploited with the world’s largest surviving waterwheel being constructed in 1854 to pump out the lead and zinc mines at Laxey. Tourism developed as a major part of the island’s economy from the middle of the 19th century and has left its mark. Not only does the townscape still include hotels, boarding houses, gardens and promenades, but large parts of the river valley system were extensively landscaped as walks and entertainment complexes. Other industrial technology was employed to move visitors around, with the electric tramway from Douglas to Ramsey and an electric tram to the top of Snaefell still surviving. The remains of other systems such as chairlifts and funicular railways can still be traced, and to the delight of modern visitors one steam railway line still operates. In recent years the archaeology of recent conflict has achieved recognition. On the island this includes the remains of the first-world-war internment camp at Knockaloe, which housed 25,000 mainly German inmates.The seaside hotels and boarding houses in five coastal settlements were converted to internment camps in the second world war; there are also the remains of three second-world-war airfields, four second-world- war Chain Home Radar stations and various military training facilities. Depending on your definition of archaeology, there is the world-famous TT course stretching for 37.75 miles around the centre of the island. At over 100 years old it is increasingly studied and acknowledged as a unique part of the island’s heritage. Edmund Southworth is director of Manx National Heritage, Eiraght AshoonaghVannin A big dipper at Douglas Head, undated (Photo: Manx National Heritage) An undated photograph of South Quay, Douglas (Photo: Manx National Heritage) North Quay, Douglas, undated (Photo: Manx National Heritage) Imperial Buildings, Douglas, being demolished in 1970 (Photo: Manx National Heritage)

RkJQdWJsaXNoZXIy MjgyMjA=