The Braaid Circle on the Isle of Man

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The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Halfway between the capital Douglas and Foxdale in the south stands the Braaid Circle, the remains of a Celtic settlement. Lying in open countryside in the parish of Marown, it commands a view over Glen Vine.

The Isle of Man is a self-governing British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea between England and Ireland. Halfway between the capital Douglas and Foxdale in the south stands the Braaid Circle, the remains of a Celtic settlement. Lying in open countryside in the parish of Marown, it commands a view over Glen Vine.

The Braaid Circle is described as a Glendarragh sub-megalithic circle, after similar structures in Glendarragh in Ireland. For a long time the upright stones were thought to be the ruins of a prehistoric stone circle with two ceremonial avenues. Later excavations have revealed that the remains are in fact a combination of a Celtic stone round-house dating from the Iron Age and two later Norwegian-style long-houses from around 950 AD. It is thought that these were added by the Vikings in the period when they controlled the island. The excavations were carried out by Fleure and Dunlop in 1942 and later by Gelling in 1964.

The fact that both elements of the ruins are in a similar state suggests that they were inhabited at the same time and used as a single farmstead. In other words, the original Celtic farm was later re-used by the Vikings.

The Celtic roundhouse was about 16 metres in diameter and was probably supported by large standing stones. The walls were probably originally made of stone filled in with earth. The roof was made of grass or thatch laid on timber rafters. The two Viking long-houses seem to have consisted of one large hall (probably with external curved walls and the roof supported on posts) and a smaller rectangular building. This was probably used for sheep and cattle.

it is believed that the site was inhabited until the 11th or 12th century. Today little can be seen of the structures except for the stone circular perimeter of the round-house and the foundations of the two Viking long- houses. The Braaid Circle is the best-preserved settlement from the Iron Age on the Isle of Man.

Text Aaldert Slot

Translation Alun Harvey

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