Archaeologists return to study Isle of Man’s prehistoric past


A group of archaeologists and students will return to the Isle of Man next week for a four-week excavation of a prehistoric round mound, with support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company. 

Led by Dr Chris Fowler, Head of Archaeology at Newcastle University, and Manx lecturer Dr Rachel Crellin from the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, the ongoing project aims to understand the history and construction of the ancient site, which is situated on the coast road between Kirk Michael and Peel.

The 37-strong party will also offer volunteering opportunities and site tours for members of the public during the four-week visit, as well as run an outreach programme for local primary school children, where they’ll teach pupils about archaeology and prehistory.

The Steam Packet Company is supporting the project once again by assisting with travel costs for the archaeologists, their vehicles and equipment.

Since launching in 2016, the team has unearthed a number of fascinating findings, including flint, charcoal, pottery and five burials to date. Last year saw the excavation of four new cremation burials, including two in upturned pottery vessels. It also discovered evidence of Late Neolithic activity, and at least three construction phases that date to the Early Bronze Age. 

This year the archaeologists will be on-island and investigating the excavation site between Monday 24th June and Friday 19th July. Once again they are seeking local volunteers to come along and try their hand at digging – whether they want to join in the whole four-weeks or just an afternoon.

They’ll also be operating afternoon site tours during the final two weeks of the project. During the sessions, visitors will be introduced to the site and find out how it is being researched, what has been found to date and what is happening on the day of their tour. There may also be an opportunity to take a look at some findings. 

Dr Crellin said: ‘The Isle of Man has a fascinating history and story to tell and we’re excited to return for our fourth digging season this summer. Our aim is to investigate what the round mounds and their associated burials, people and artefacts can tell us about life on the island and also about interaction with other communities across Britain, Ireland and beyond, in the Neolithic and Bronze Age.

‘We are incredibly grateful to the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company for its continued support, its generosity helps to make the dig possible year-on-year.’

Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘This research can present significant findings about the Isle of Man’s history, its people and prehistoric way of life, so we’re were pleased to support this project for a third consecutive year.

‘We hope local people take up the opportunity to visit the site, join in and learn more about our island’s ancient past.’

Site tours will run from Sunday 7th to Thursday 11th July and again from Sunday 14th to Wednesday 17th July, and booking is essential due to limited spaces. Anyone who would like to book a space on a tour or is interested in volunteering, should email: [email protected].

To find out more and see updates on the project, funded and supported by Manx National Heritage and the Universities of Leicester and Newcastle, visit: or follow @archaeojapery on Twitter.

Some of the archaeologists digging at the prehistoric round mound, situated on the coast road between Kirk Michael and Peel, in 2018
Some of the archaeologists digging at the prehistoric round mound, situated on the coast road between Kirk Michael and Peel, in 2018