Isle of Man
The island has been inhabited by humans since before 6500 BC. Gaelic cultural influence began in the 5th century AD, and the Manx language, a branch of the Gaelic languages, gradually emerged.
In 627, Edwin of Northumbria conquered the Isle of Man along with most of Mercia. In the 9th century, the Norse began to settle there.
Norse people from Scotland then established the Kingdom of the Isles.
The King’s title would then carry the suffix, “and the Isles”.
Magnus III, the King of Norway, was also known as “King of Mann and the Isles” as part of the Hebrides civilization between 1099 and 1103.
A Norse-Gaelic culture arose and the island came under Norse control.
In 1266, the island became part of Scotland, as formalised by the Treaty of Perth. After a period of alternating rule by the kings of Scotland and England, the island came under the feudal lordship of the English Crown in 1399.
The lordship revested into the British Crown in 1765, though the island never became part of the Kingdom of Great Britain or its successor the United Kingdom, retaining its status as an internally self-governing Crown dependency.
Origins of the name
The Manx name of the Isle of Man is Ellan Vannin: ellan is a Manx word meaning island. The earliest recorded Manx form of the name is Manu or Mana, which appears in the genitive case as Vaninn, with initial consonant mutation, hence Ellan Vannin “Island of Man”.
The Old Irish form of the name is Manau or Mano, also reflected in Manaw Gododdin, the Welsh name for an ancient district in north Britain along the lower Firth of Forth.
The oldest known reference to the island names it Mona (Julius Caesar, 54 BC); in the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder records it as Monapia or Monabia, and Ptolemy (2nd century) as Monœda (Mοναοιδα, Monaoida) or Mοναρινα (Monarina). Later references have Mevania or Mænavia (Orosius, AD 416), and Eubonia or Eumonia by Irish writers. Welsh records it as Manaw, and in the Sagas of Icelanders it is Mön.
The name is probably identical with the Welsh name of the island of Anglesey, Ynys Môn, usually derived from the Celtic word for “mountain” (reflected in Welsh mynydd, Breton menez, and Scottish Gaelic monadh), from a Proto-Celtic moniyos.
The name was at least secondarily associated with that of Manandán in Irish mythology (corresponding to Welsh Manawydan). In the earliest Irish mythological texts, Manannan is a king of the otherworld, but the 9th-century Sanas Cormaic identifies an euhemerized Manannan as “a famous merchant who resided in, and gave name to, the Isle of Man”. Later, Manannan is recorded as the first king of Mann in an Manx poem (dated 1504).
History of the Isle of Man
Rising water levels cut the island off from the surrounding islands around 8000 BC. Evidence suggests that colonisation of the island took place by sea some time before 6500 BC.
The first residents lived in small huts, hunting, fishing and gathering their food. They used small tools made of flint or bone, examples of which have been found near the coast. Representatives of these artefacts are kept at the Manx Museum.
The Neolithic Period marked the coming of knowledge of farming, better stone tools and pottery. It was during this period that megalithic monuments began to appear around the island. Examples from this period can be found at Cashtal yn Ard near Maughold, King Orry’s Grave at Laxey, Meayll Circle near Cregneash, and Ballaharra Stones at St John’s.
This was not the only Neolithic culture: there were also the local Ronaldsway and Bann cultures.
During the Bronze Age, the large communal tombs of the megalith builders were replaced with smaller burial mounds. Bodies were put in stone-lined graves along with ornamental containers. The Bronze Age burial mounds created long-lasting markers around the countryside.
The Iron Age marked the beginning of Celtic cultural influence. Large hill forts appeared on hill summits, and smaller promontory forts along the coastal cliffs, while large timber-framed roundhouses were built. It is likely that the first Celts to inhabit the island were Britons speaking Common Brittonic.
Around the 5th century AD, cultural influence from Ireland and migration precipitated a process of Gaelicisation evidenced by Ogham inscriptions, giving rise to the Manx language, which is a Goidelic language closely related to Irish and Scottish Gaelic.
Viking settlement of the Isle of Man began at the end of the 8th century. The Vikings established Tynwald and introduced many land divisions that still exist.
in 1266 King Magnus VI of Norway ceded the islands, including Mann, to Scotland in the Treaty of Perth but Scotland’s rule over Mann did not become firmly established until 1275, when the Manx suffered defeat in the decisive Battle of Ronaldsway, near Castletown.
In 1290 King Edward I of England sent Walter de Huntercombe to take possession of Mann, and it remained in English hands until 1313, when Robert Bruce took it after besieging Castle Rushen for five weeks. A confused period followed when Mann sometimes experienced English rule and sometimes Scottish, until 1346, when the Battle of Neville’s Cross decided the long struggle between England and Scotland in England’s favour.
English rule was delegated to a series of lords and magnates. The Tynwald passed laws concerning the government of the island in all respects and had control over its finances, though was subject to the approval of the Lord of Mann.
In 1866, the Isle of Man obtained a nominal measure of Home Rule.
The Isle of Man is located in the middle of the northern Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland (closest), and Wales (furthest).
It is 52 kilometres (32 mi) long and, at its widest point, 22 kilometres (14 mi) wide. It has an area of around 572 square kilometres (221 sq mi).
Besides the island of Mann itself, the political unit of the Isle of Man includes some nearby small islands: the seasonally inhabited Calf of Man, Chicken Rock on which stands an unmanned lighthouse, St Patrick’s Isle and St Michael’s Isle. Both of the latter are connected to the mainland by permanent roads/causeways.
Hills in the north and south are separated by a central valley. The northern plain, by contrast, is relatively flat, consisting mainly of deposits from glacial advances from western Scotland during colder times. There are more recently deposited shingle beaches at the Point of Ayre. The island has one mountain higher than 600 metres (2,000 ft), Snaefell, with a height of 620 metres (2,034 ft).
According to an old saying, from the summit one can see six kingdoms: those of the Mann, Scotland, England, Ireland, Wales, and Heaven. Some versions add a seventh kingdom, that of the Sea, or Neptune.
The Isle of Man has a temperate climate with cool summers and mild winters. Average rainfall is higher than that of the British Isles, because the Isle of Man is far enough from Ireland for the prevailing south-westerly winds to accumulate moisture.
Average rainfall is highest at Snaefell, where it is around 1,900 millimetres (75 in) a year. At lower levels it can be around 800 millimetres (31 in) a year. Temperatures remain fairly cool with the recorded maximum being 28.9 °C (84.0 °F) at Ronaldsway on 12 July 1983.
At the 2011 census, the Isle of Man was home to 84,497 people, of whom 27,938 resided in the island’s capital, Douglas and 9,273 in the adjoining village of Onchan.
The population rose 5.5% between the 2006 and 2011 censuses. By country of birth, those born in the Isle of Man were the largest group (48.1%), while those born in the United Kingdom were the next largest group at 42.2% (35.9% in England, 3.2% in Scotland, 2% in Northern Ireland and 1.1% in Wales), 1.9% in the Republic of Ireland and 0.2% in the Channel Islands.
The remaining 7.5% were born elsewhere in the world, with 2.4% coming from EU countries (other than the UK and Ireland). The census also reported 1,823 people who claim a knowledge of the Manx language.
The United Kingdom is responsible for the island’s defence and ultimately for good governance, and for representing the island in international forums, while the island’s own parliament and government have competence over all domestic matters.
The island’s parliament, Tynwald, has been in continuous existence since AD 979 or earlier, making it the oldest continuously governing body in the world.
Tynwald is a bicameral or tricameral legislature, comprising the House of Keys (directly elected by universal suffrage with a voting age of 16 years old) and the Legislative Council (consisting of indirectly elected and ex-officio members). These two bodies meet together in joint session as Tynwald.
The executive branch of government is the Council of Ministers, which is composed of members of Tynwald. It is headed by the Chief Minister, currently Allan Bell MHK.
The Council of Ministers comprises the greater part of the House of Keys. Vice-regal functions of the Head of State are performed by a Lieutenant Governor.
Most Manx politicians stand for election as independents rather than as representatives of political parties. Though political parties do exist, their influence is not nearly as strong as in the United Kingdom.
There are two political parties in the Isle of Man. The Liberal Vannin Party (established 2006) with two seats in the House of Keys; they promote greater Manx independence and more accountability in Government. The Manx Labour Party is the other, they hold one seat.
A number of pressure groups also exist on the island. Mec Vannin advocate the establishment of a sovereign republic. The Positive Action Group campaign for three key elements to be introduced into the governance of the island: open accountable government, rigorous control of public finances, and a fairer society.
Local government on the Isle of Man is based partly on the island’s 17 ancient parishes. There are two types of local authorities: a corporation for the Borough of Douglas, and bodies of commissioners for the town districts of Castletown, Peel and Ramsey, the village districts of Kirk Michael, Laxey, Onchan, Port Erin and Port St Mary, and the 15 “parish districts” (those parishes or parts of parishes which do not fall within the districts previously mentioned). Local authorities are under the supervision of the Isle of Man Government’s Department of Local Government and the Environment (DOLGE).
External Relations & Security
Under British law, the Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom. However, the UK takes care of its external and defence affairs, and retains paramount power to legislate for the island.
There are no independent military forces on the Isle of Man although HMS Ramsey is affiliated with the town of the same name.
From 1938 to 1955 there was the Manx Regiment of the British Territorial Army, which saw extensive action during the Second World War.
In 1779, the Manx Fencible Corps, a fencible regiment of three companies, was raised and disbanded in 1783 at the end of the American War of Independence.
Later, the Royal Manx Fencibles was raised at the time of the French Revolutionary Wars and Napoleonic Wars. The 1st Battalion (of 3 companies) was raised in 1793. A 2nd Battalion (of 10 companies) was raised in 1795, and it saw action during the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The regiment was disbanded in 1802.
A third body of Manx Fencibles was raised in 1803 to defend the Island during the Napoleonic Wars and to assist the Revenue. It was disbanded in 1811.
The Isle of Man Government maintains five emergency services:
Isle of Man Constabulary (police)
Isle of Man Coastguard
Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service
Isle of Man Ambulance Service
Isle of Man Civil Defence Corps
All of these services are controlled directly by the Isle of Man Government, and are independent of the United Kingdom. Nonetheless, the Isle of Man Constabulary voluntarily submits to inspection by the British inspectorate of police, and the Isle of Man Coastguard contracts Her Majesty’s Coastguard (UK) for air-sea rescue operations.
Citizenship in the Isle of Man is governed by British law. Passports issued by the Isle of Man Passport Office say “British Islands – Isle of Man” on the cover though the nationality status stated on the passport is simply “British Citizen”.
Although Manx passport holders are British citizens, because the Isle of Man is not part of the European Union, people born on the Island without a parent or grandparent either born or resident for more than five consecutive years in the United Kingdom do not have the same rights as other British citizens with regard to employment and establishment in the EU.
Isle of Man passports can be issued to any British citizen in the Isle of Man (whether or not that person has “Manx status” as an Isle of Man worker under the local Isle of Man employment laws). They can also be issued to Manx-connected British citizens residing in Britain or either of the other Crown Dependencies.
The Isle of Man holds neither membership nor associate membership of the European Union. Protocol 3 of the UK’s Act of Accession to the Treaty of Rome included the Isle of Man within the EU’s customs area, allowing for the trade for Manx goods without tariffs throughout the EU. However, there are still limitations on the movement of capital and services.
EU citizens are entitled to travel and reside, though not work, in the island without restriction. And Manx citizens—without the hereditary qualification outlined above—are similarly restricted from working in the EU.
Commonwealth of Nations
The Isle of Man is not itself a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. By virtue of its relationship with the United Kingdom, it takes part in several Commonwealth institutions, including the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Games.
The Government of the Isle of Man has made calls for a more integrated relationship with the Commonwealth, including more direct representation and enhanced participation in Commonwealth organisations and meetings, including Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings.
The Chief Minister of the Isle of Man has said: “A closer connection with the Commonwealth itself would be a welcome further development of the Island’s international relationships”.