HistoryThe Viking ship burial from around 850 AD to 950 AD was first excavated in 1945 by G Bersu, a German Refugee, along with a team from the intern camps. They were originally looking for an Iron Age hill fort and stumbled upon the Viking burial by accident. The Viking burial was excavated again in 1974 by JR Bruce.
The site contained a Viking ship, an adult male with his belongings, and an adult woman. The ship was about 36ft long and resembled the Skuldelev 3, built in the 1040's which could hold cargo of over 4 tons and took 5 men to sail. The male was a man of importance, due to the goods and size of boat he was buried with. Buried alongside him were many basic items, such as clothes, tools, horse riding equipment, etc. Also buried with him was a shield, though no weapon was found. It is unclear if this was due to grave robbing or just that it was decided not to bury him with one. The woman's remains were incomplete and she was without any goods of her own. She may have been a sacrificed victim, as seen in other sites on the island and in Europe. It is also possible that she was just an earlier burial, unrelated to the Viking burial.
The Viking burial lies within early Christian lintel graves. This fact may indicate the relationship early Vikings had with the Manx natives. Chapel was a difficult location to place a large and important burial. There are many theories as to why this location was chosen. Perhaps domination on the part of the Vikings, maybe a sign of acceptance as two cultures merged, or merely want of a good spot.
Chapel Hill is also the site of an ancient Keeill (chapel) from about 900 AD to 1000 AD, hence the name Chapel Hill. This site was excavated in 1918 and presumed to be a pre-Viking site. There is also a Bronze Age Grave on the hill from around 1000 BC.
LocationLocated in the south of the Island near Castletown, overlooking the Bay ny Carrickey.
Map Ref: SC 246 682
On the A5 between Castletown and Port St. Mary. Take side road off the A5, heading to Balladoole.
Bus routes no. 1, 1C, 2, and 2C stop along the A5 running from Douglas, Port St. Mary, and Port Erin. The stop is shortly after leaving Castletown, the bus driver should be some help. From the stop a short walk (about half a mile) is required to reach the site.
Take the Electric Railway to Douglas. Take the Steam Railway to Castletown. There is about a mile and a half walk from the rail station to the site or take the no. 1, 1C, 2 or 2C towards Port Erin from the main road near the station.
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