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Review: Chapel Hill

Attraction - Others

Nr Balladoole, Isle of Man, IM9 4PE, United Kingdom

Possibly the most important/significant archaeological site on the Isle of Man

  • By SilverTraveller ESW

    2191 reviews

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  • August 2019
  • On your own

4 people found this review helpful

Chapel Hill, a small hill overlooking the Bay of Carrickey between Castletown and Port St Mary is possibly the most important archaeological site on the island, with the remains of a Bronze Age grave, early Celtic fort, Viking ship burial and a keeil. It would have been visible from the sea and also surrounding countryside. Mown grass paths now lead round the site but much of it is hidden by long grass.

All that can be seen of the Bronze Age Cist are a few stones in the ground, which would have lined the cist. It is easily missed but for the sign. It would have been covered by a stone slab and may have contained an urn containing cremated remains and a small vessel of food.

In the first few centuries AD, the site was a Celtic hill fort surrounded by ramparts, which are best seen on the Castletown side but almost impossible to photograph.

The Viking boat burial dates from between 850AD and 950AD was discovered in 1945 by a German refugee from the internment camp based on the Island. All that is left are boat shaped stones in the grass. There is a model in the Manx Museum in Douglas showing what the burial would originally have looked like.

This was the burial site of a high ranking Viking who was buried in an oak ship about 35’ long, which would have been a trading vessel. Boulders were placed around the hull to hold it in position. His body was placed in this along with his belongings including riding equipment and shield.

A low mound of earth and boulders was placed on top of the boat along with the cremated remains of a horse, dog, pig, sheep or goat.The wood has rotted just leaving the nails used to hold the timbers which are displayed in the Manx Museum.

The remains of a woman were also found but she was without any grave goods. She might have been a sacrificial victim or it is possible she was part of an earlier burial as the Viking ship burial cut through earlier graves on the site.

Also on the site is a small keeil dating from the C10th or C11th, which may have been on the site of an even older building.

Chapel Hill is signed off the A5 down a farm track next to Balladoole Farm. After about quarter of a mile by a rough parking area at the side of the road and a bright red dog bin, there is another sign. It is a short walk from here. The nearest post code is probably IM9 4PE and the grid reference is SC246 682.

It is a lovely peaceful setting and few people actually find the place, which is a shame. It makes a very good and easy walk walk from Castletown via Scarlet Point.

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