Land of legend and mystery

Land of legend and mystery

The Isle of Man is notable for it’s many legends and tales of ghosts, fairies and mythical creatures.  It is said that the Isle of Man was first

King Arthur_Nuremberg chronicles
King Arthur Nuremberg chronicles

ruled by the sea god Manannán Mac Lir who wrapped his cloak of mist around the island as a protection from hostile invaders. The island seems to have also inherited a cloak of mystery and superstition.  It is a common theory that the Isle of Man is in fact, the location of King Arthur’s Avalon, Camelot, the “grail Castle” and the battle field where Arthur died. This has been a frequent claim by many, notably prominent British historian Sir John Rhys (1840-1915), professor of Celtic studies at Oxford, whose work of translating and studying Celtic texts form the basis of his theory.

Burne-Jones Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon
Burne-Jones Last Sleep of Arthur in Avalon

Peel Castle

Peel Castle Photo by: giborn_134 CC BY-ND 2.0
Peel Castle Photo by: giborn_134 CC BY-ND 2.0

Located on St. Patrick’s Isle and reached by a causeway, Peel Castle is perhaps the location most surrounded by ghosts and legends. It’s location was originally a sacred place of worship and then in the 11th century became the  fortress of the Viking King Magnus Barefoot. Additionally, it is associated with King Arthur’s Avalon. Books have been written, such as King Arthur by Norma Goodrich and The Road to Avalon by Tony Whiston, supporting the thesis that St. Patrick’s Isle  was Avalon and the seat of the Holy Grail.


Another legend about Peel Castle is that of the black dog, or “Moddey Dhoo” that haunts the castle. The story goes that the apparition of a black dog would consistently come sit in front of the fire when the guards would gather at night. At first terrified, the guards eventually became accustomed to his presence. Then, one night, a drunken guard of the castle decided to follow him alone to determine whether the

dog was in fact the devil. Upon his return, he appeared shaken to the point that he could not speak. Three days later he died.

Some say that that was the last time he was seen, and the passage that he would return to each night was sealed up. Some claim sightings of the Moddey Dhoo both at Peel and in other parts of the island.

The Fairy Bridge

One legend is that the original folk of the island were the faeries, or ‘little folk’.  They are smaller than ordinary people and appear beautiful from a distance, but sometimes old and haggard when seen up close. They tend to wear blue or green and have little red caps.

 Fairy Bridge Stamp Source: Cuentos, Illustradores y Filafelia CC BY-SA 3.0
Fairy Bridge Stamp Source: Cuentos, Illustradores y Filafelia CC BY-SA 3.0

Fairies can be benevolent and helpful, or they can be mean enough to steal children or even the occasional adult.

A favorite destination on the Isle of Man is the Fairy Bridge. It is considered bad luck to cross it without acknowledging the fairies by saying “Hello fairies”, or at least “Good day!”- “Laa Mie” in Manx.

Fairy Bridge, Isle of Man Photo by: Phil Catterall CC BY-SA 2.0
Fairy Bridge, Isle of Man Photo by: Phil Catterall CC BY-SA 2.0
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6 thoughts on “Land of legend and mystery

  1. Wow I thought that you did an excellent job breaking down the history and lore that surrounds the Isle of Man. I knew that the island had some historical significance but I never knew just how much!

    To be the claimed location of almost everything that surrounds the legend of King Arthur is really something to be preserved and studied for future generations.

    Thanks for this excellent and captivating post!

    1. Thanks Alec. I was surprised by all of the connections to Avalon and the Arthurian legends when researching this post. I had heard of Glastonbury in England being favored as the location of Avalon, but there seems to be increasing interest and scholarship regarding the IOM as the location. Fun stuff!

  2. Thank you very much for this fascinating and quite intriguing post on the Isle of Man. I was unaware of the many legends that surround this island. Being linked with King Arthur and Camelot will certainly give the Isle of Man an air of mystery. I really appreciate your sharing this information. Nice job!

  3. This is great! I’ve always had a fascination with islands. I lived on Maui for a couple of years and have settled on Oahu. I find the self contained nature of an island fascinating. They are their own worlds with their own Eco-systems. I’ve known people who feel confined living on an island, but I feel the opposite. I feel empowered. The Isle of Man is definitely on my list of places to visit.

    1. Hi Joe! Glad you enjoyed visiting the site. I agree with your comment about feeling empowered. I remember once in the Caribbean being able to just laugh at all the things that troubled me in real life back home and being able to just enjoy myself and the simple things. Always happy when I can get close to that place.

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