Manx National Heritage is pleased to announce that the Isle of Man’s national Tynwald Day celebrations will be broadcast live in the Manx Museum on Thursday 5th July. The Manx Museum will be open from 9.30am and will screen live footage of the day’s proceedings in the Museum Lecture Theatre thanks to the support and kind permission of Greenlight Television and BBC Isle of Man.
Howard Parkin, Public Services Manager for Manx National Heritage said:
“For those who are unable to attend the ceremony in St Johns, the Manx Museum offers a privileged view of the Island’s national celebrations, from the service in the Royal Chapel to the procession and ceremony taking place on Tynwald Hill. The museum galleries will also be open providing the historical background of the oldest continuous Parliament in the world, whilst the museum shop will be stocking a special range of Manx themed products to mark the occasion including Manx flags, three legs badges and Manx tartan brooches”.
Tynwald, the Government of the Isle of Man, is a continuing example of the Norse tradition of law making and has the essential features of the Old Norse Thing-vollr. Before our Parliaments, before the High Courts – there were ‘Things’. Things – from the Old Norse word þing, meaning assembly – were an early system of justice and administration.
When the Vikings and early Norse settlers arrived in a new place they brought with them their customs and legal systems. Things were where political decisions were made, laws upheld and disputes settled. They acted as meeting places and were often the focus for trade and religious activity.
The name “Tynwald” is derived from the Old Norse for “Assembly Field” and the activities would take place on a low hill joined by a pathway on the east to a courthouse (which is also a place of worship). All of this area would be enclosed and surrounded by a green. This is the form that the Manx Tynwald retains to this day. Strong links are held with other places of major assembly, such as Thingvellir in Iceland and the Logting in the Faroe Islands, as well as a number of smaller regional “Thing” sites.
The Tynwald ceremony takes place annually on July 5th, (Midsummer Day by the old calendar). Festivals to celebrate midsummer were common traditions in both Celtic and Norse societies. This has been perpetuated in the Tynwald assembly and the traditional fair which is held on the green. An echo of ancient custom may be seen in the rushes which by tradition are spread on the processional way between the church and the hill recalling a pagan tribute to the Celtic sea god, Manannan.
The live broadcast of this year’s ceremony will commence at 9.30am until 4.30pm on 5th July 2012, with the museum galleries closing at 5pm. Admission is free.
Further information on the origins of Tynwald can be found on www.thingsites.com, a new website designed to promote the history and legacy of Norse parliamentary sites across Northern Europe.
Dr Andew Foxon, Head of Professional Services for Manx National Heritage said:
“Over the last three years we have been working with partners from Norway, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Shetland, Orkney and Highland Scotland in this EU Northern Periphery sponsored ‘Thing project’. It has involved colleagues in the Clerk of Tynwald’s Office as well as Manx National Heritage in exploring the origins, history, connections and differences between the main assembly sites.
These sites are known to have been used in Viking and Norse times, but may have earlier origins and certainly have later and continuing uses – which we see at Tynwald Hill on 5th July.”
The project has thrown up all sorts of connections, and spurred a whole range of research and information which is now beginning to be made publicly available through the ‘Thing Project’.
Photo caption - Tynwald ceremony showing spectators watching the procession from Tynwald Hill to St John's Church, 1941 (PG/7381/19)