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Norwegian Vikings on the Isle of Man
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Though in theory the rulers of Man owed allegiance to the kings in Norway, this was more often than not a very 'loose' arrangement and, to all intents and purposes, Man was an independent kingdom. 
 

Isle of Man 1983. Bicentennial of the Manx Post Office, at the same time commemorating the Viking Landing on Man in 938

The Isle of Man was, from the first, seen by Norwegian Vikings as an attractive, strategic location from which they could dominate the Irish Sea. Consequently, there was heavy Scandinavian settlement of the island. and at one point it was part of a Manx-Hebridean realm. 

  • Isle of Man 1983. Bicentennial of the Manx Post Office, at the same time commemorating the Viking Landing on Man in 938 - an Erik Bloodaxe figure on the background of two Vikings ships, and armed with a two-bladed battle axe. 

The Millennium of Tynwald (Isle of Man's parliament) and the first settlement of the Vikings was celebrated by issuance of five stamps, of which the shown on the left is not part of the set shown immediately below. 

On 5th July, Tynwald Day, the quiet, rustic scene is transformed into one of colour and pageantry as Manx residents and visiting tourists alike join together at St. John's to celebrate the Island's national day. The word Tynwald stems from the Norse Thing-Vollr meaning an assembly field. It has counterparts throughout the Scandinavian world and the lands which they settled. There were two grades of "Thing", an Al-thing being a meeting of a whole nation and a Hus-thing being an assembly of a town or community. The Icelandic assembly has the name Althing and the place where it originated is called Thingvellir. In the Faeroes it is known as the Lagting, or Law Assembly. The Norwegian parliament is the Storting, and the Danish parliament is the Folketing (People's Assembly). The town of Dingwall on the Moray Firth in Scotland has the same origin as Tynwald.

Isle of Man 1979. The Millennium of Tynwald. Viking Raid at Garwick. Isle of Man 1979. The Millennium of Tynwald. 10th century meeting of Tynwald.
Isle of Man 1979. The Millennium of Tynwald. Tynwald Hill and St. John's Church. Isle of Man 1979. The Millennium of Tynwald. Procession at the Millennium of Tynwald.
  • Isle of Man 1979. The Millennium of Tynwald. Isle of Man's national day is 5th July. 

    • 6p. Viking Raid at Garwick. 

    • 7p. 10th Century Meeting of Tynwald. 

    • 11p. Tynwald Hill and St. John's Church. 

    • 13p. Procession at the Millennium of Tynwald. 

Two races -- the Celts and the Vikings -- have been the defining elements in the forging of the Manx identity. The well-preserved historical landscape of the Isle of Man still contains many of their relics, and provides a constant reminder of the antecedents of the Manx national character. 

At the end of the eighth century the first of the raiders from Scandinavia came to the Irish Sea. Despite almost 500 years of Scandinavian trade and migration, Norse influence did not entirely prevail. The Celtic language survived, and the Viking invaders were converted to Christianity. The Viking Heritage throughout Isle of Man is very extensive. 

Isle of Man 1986. Centenary of the Manx Museum. Necklace found at Peel Castle.
  • Isle of Man 1986. Centenary of the Manx Museum. Necklace found at Peel Castle. 

  • Isle of Man 1986. Centenary of the Manx Museum. Norwegian Viking Longship. 

Isle of Man 1986. Centenary of the Manx Museum. Norwegian Viking Longship.

The integration of Viking and Celt in the Isle of Man is confirmed by carved stone memorials bearing runic inscriptions which record both Scandinavian and native Gaelic names. Equally eloquent are the art and iconography of the crosses; images from pagan mythology give way to those of Christianity, and the art forms of the Scandinavians meld with those of the Celtic west to form a style unique to the Island.

Isle of Man 1986. The Viking Heritage. Celtic Cross. Isle of Man 1986. The Viking Heritage. Bow of a Viking Longship.
  • Isle of Man 1986. The Viking Heritage. Celtic Cross. 

  • Isle of Man 1986. The Viking Heritage. Bow of a Viking Longship. 

The Isle of Man was part of the Norwegian Kingdom of the Hebrides until the 13th century when it was ceded to Scotland. The isle came under the British crown in 1765. Current concerns include reviving the almost extinct Manx Gaelic language. Isle of Man is a British crown dependency, but is not part of the United Kingdom. At the occasion of the Norwegian king Olav V's visit to Isle of Man in 1970, and the Norwegian stamp exhibition NORWEX '80 in 1980, the ancient links between the two nations were renewed by the issuance of the below souvenir sheet of two stamps. showing King Olav, and a model of the Viking ship "Odin's Raven". 

Other than the Norwegian Coat of Arms, the emblem of the Isle of Man "The Three Legs of Mann" is shown in two varieties on the sheet: the official emblem in the Coat of Arms, and a more "graphic" rendering on the ship's sail. 

Isle of Man 1980. Souvenir sheet of the Norwegian King Olav V on official visit to Isle of Man, and the commemoration of the century of the voyage of the Viking ship "Odin's Raven".

Isle of Man 1979. Close-up of the stamp of the ship "Odin's Raven".

  • Isle of Man 1980. Souvenir sheet of the Norwegian King Olav V on official visit to Isle of Man, and the commemoration of the century of the voyage of the Viking ship "Odin's Raven". 
  • Isle of Man 1979. Close-up of the stamp of the ship "Odin's Raven". 

Nobody knows the origin of this symbol, but is has a long history stretching back into pagan times and represents the sun and its daily passage across the heavens. It was derived from a design which showed the spokes of a wheel and which, in turn, represented the rays of the sun. Because of this it has been described as a solar wheel and was a symbol of pagan sun worship. Related symbols are the cross and the fylfot, or four-legged swastika. 

  • Isle of Man 1979. Coat of Arms and The Three Legs of Mann. Face value (hardly legible) 4p. 

Isle of Man 1979. Coat of Arms and The Three Legs of Mann.

Although the Manx people loathe to admit the fact, it does seem that Sicily had the Three Legs at a much earlier period than did the Isle of Man. The Sicilian legs were always naked and often had the head of Medusa at the central point. They usually had wings attached to the heels and this would link them with the god Mercury or Hermes. The Manx legs are normally encased in armour and have spurs on the heels. Read more about the emblem on the link given below. 

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Copyrighted 14th January 2007. All Rights Reserved
Revised 15-feb-2007

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Contact me: Ann Mette Heindorff