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Bronze Age burial mounds remain on the top of Peel Hill.

Follow the path up the ridge of Peel Hill towards the summit. About 100m up the footpath, on the right, is an earthwork which protected an artillery battery built in 1648 during the Civil War as an additional defence for Peel Castle and the harbour. Follow the footpath to the summit of the hill, rather than taking the track leading to the right. Near the summit lies, to either side, a series of small quarries opened to exploit rock used to build the quaysides and breakwaters forming the adjacent harbour towards the end of the 1800s.

Just beyond, the burial mounds are visible to either side of the path. Up to seven mounds have been recorded on the hill but now only four low mounds ranging from 0.5 – 1m high can be picked out with reasonable certainty, the largest about 11min diameter.

Local tradition holds that the mounds contain the remains of those killed in the Battle of Santwat, recorded in the Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles in an entry for 1098, but their occupants are much older. The burials had already been disturbed prior to investigation in 1878, but enough of the archaeology survived to indicate that the mounds were constructed during the Bronze Age.

Four mounds were investigated; beneath each was a stone cist containing cremated human remains, sometimes placed in, or protected by, a pottery vessel. In one cist, the cremation may have been deposited in a leather bag. The base of one of the cists was also filled with round white quartz pebbles probably gathered from the seashore. one cremation was accompanied by a bronze spearhead, the others by pieces of worked flint. All of the finds were subsequently lost. Cremation urns similar to those found on Peel Hill can be seen in the Manx Museum (Douglas).

Barrow cemeteries - clusters of burial mounds - may represent the graveyard of a family or kin group. Their placement in prominent locations may have served to legitimise claims over visible surrounding land and resources, or to mark the limits of a group’s property or interest. In either scenario, the extensive views from the site must have been significant to the deceased and their relatives. There may have been another group of burials further along the hill, closer to Corrin’s Folly, but the excavation account is equivocal at this point. Certainly no remains have been positively identified more recently.

Large quantities of Mesolithic flint tools and debris have been found on Peel Hill, suggesting that the hill had long been used prior to the creation of the Bronze Age cemetery.



Text from 'A Guide to the Archaeological Sites of the Isle of Man' by Andrew Johnson and Allison Fox.