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Chronicles of Mann return …… 29 June 2007

Manuscript page from the Chronicles of MannManx National Heritage has secured the return of the Isle of Man’s most significant medieval manuscript through a loan agreement with the British Library. The Chronicles of the Kings of Mann and the Isles will be on show at the Manx Museum, Douglas from 2pm on Thursday 5 July 2007, playing one of the starring roles in the new Viking and Medieval Galleries.

The main part of the manuscript is believed to have been composed and written at Rushen Abbey around 1257 A.D. as a look back, year by year, over significant events in Manx history. It celebrates the role of the Norse Kings of Mann and the Isles as well as Rushen Abbey itself – which was founded at the invitation of Olaf, one of the Norse kings.

Written in Latin, the Chronicles records the Island’s role as the centre of the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles and the influence of its Kings and religious leaders and contains notes on significant events from 1000 A.D. to 1316 A.D. The entries from 1000 A.D. to 1257 A.D. are believed to have been written in retrospect to tell the Island’s story at the dedication of the Church of St Mary at Rushen Abbey in 1257 A.D. and emphasise the role of the family of Godred Crovan – the Norse king who effectively established the Kingdom of Mann and the Isles. The monks then continued adding notes until the final entry for 1316 A.D.

Dr Arnold Hunt of the British Library with the ChroniclesWhen Rushen Abbey was dissolved in 1540 A.D. following the religious reforms brought in by Henry VIII, it is thought that the Chronicles passed through a number of private hands, coming eventually to Sir Robert Cotton, whose own collection of medieval manuscripts was one of the founding collections of the British Museum which are now cared for by the British Library.

Dr Andrew Foxon, Head of Professional Services at Manx National Heritage said:

“We are very grateful to the British Library for agreeing to lend the Chronicles of the Kings of Mann and the Isles for a number of months. It really is the Island’s most important medieval document and we are pleased to be able to display it again for the Island to see. It is 10 years since it was last on display here and we hope that Island residents and visitors will take this opportunity to see the Chronicles and our new presentations about the Island’s Viking and Medieval story.”

The Viking and Medieval galleries also offer visitors the unique opportunity of coming face to face with the Balladoole Viking, exploring the origins of Tynwald and viewing the original Act of Revestment, where the British Government bought the Island in 1765.

The new Viking and Medieval galleries open to the public on Tynwald Day, Thursday 5th July, at 2pm, then from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Admission to the Manx Museum and the opportunity to view these fascinating new galleries is free of charge.

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