taking our culture forward

Folklore sites guide published

Wed, 06 Dec 2023

A new book offering ‘A Guide to the Folklore Sites of the Isle of Man’ has been released.

Published by Culture Vannin, the book is a comprehensive guide to the breadth and variety of the traditional folklore of the Isle of Man. Gathered from thousands of sources across hundreds of years of folklore collecting, its contents include medieval stories of vengeful saints through to ghostly figures still being seen today.

The book offers one of the richest sources of traditional tales from the Isle of Man, including fairies, bugganes, ghosts, giants, witches and more. A taste of this is offered by the questions posed on the book’s back cover: ‘Where is the Cursed Stone of Destiny?,’ ‘Which holy well offers a cure for baldness?’ and ‘What terrifying creature lurks on Ramsey promenade?’

As the book reveals, it is not just at St Trinian’s, Peel Castle, or Slieau Whallian that you might find a buggane, moddey doo or witch in the Island. Rather, the book details the many places all over the Island that these and other folklore figures have been reported.

Of course, the Fairy Bridge on the Old Castletown Road features, but this is not nearly as exciting as a bridge that’s very close by, or any of the wide choice of the other fairy bridges, hills or fields around the Island.

The book’s 312 pages are divided into the Island’s 17 parishes and offer a user-friendly guide to everyone interested in exploring the Island’s landscape in new ways and to those who will gain a fascination of the Island’s traditional folklore by using this book.

Written by James Franklin, Katie Newton and Sam Hudson, and published by Culture Vannin, the book is the conclusion of over five years’ work in researching and locating traditional tales that stretch from the Point of Ayre to the Calf of Man. There are many sites that have been visited that are not published in this volume; it is intended that stories continue to be collated and collected as part of a longer and ongoing project.

James Franklin, co-author and Online & Educational Resources Officer at Culture Vannin, says:

“Folklore is a part of the fabric of the Isle of Man, its people and landscape. Getting a better knowledge of these tales adds so much to the landscape around us and the lives we live here on this Island. It has been an enormous privilege to have been able to delve into such rich sources in order to share them through this beautiful new book.”

Katie Newton, co-author and a well-known figure in Manx antiquarian circles and through the blogs, ‘Keeills and Cake’ and ‘Renovating a Tholtan’:

“It has been a privilege to be involved in this project, to visit so many hidden corners of Mann and to meet so many lovely people, landowners, farmers and tenant farmers who take such great care of the Island’s landscape. We were able to hand back stories that had often been long lost to the landscape and in return we were given stories that had been both passed down and experienced. Our appreciation of the Island has been transformed through our research, and we are excited to share that with everyone.”

As well as the folktale at each site, each entry comes with a colour photograph, grid coordinates, accessibility notes, detailed directions for the sites that are publicly accessible, and references to sources. Nothing like this has ever been attempted before for the Isle of Man.

The Folklore Guide will make the perfect gift this Christmas – for anyone interested in or connected to the Isle of Man.

Sam Hudson, co-author and an experienced researcher who has been working on locating these sites for years says:

“Some of these stories and places have never been located or precisely situated before and it has been an adventure to compare written sources, plans, old maps and then visit each site. Many have only been mentioned in old books or with obscure references. We are excited to be able to offer something genuinely new and interesting. We know so many people will find the book inspiring: by using it to look for these places themselves as part of their own adventures.”

The book, ‘A Guide to the Folklore Sites of the Isle of Man,’ published by Culture Vannin, is available for £14.99 from any of the Isle of Man’s bookshops, including the Bridge Bookshop, the Manx National Heritage shops and The Book Company.

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