Friday, August 19, 2016

Day 50 -- Peel

Peel is an ancient port and fishing town on Man’s west coast, about 12 miles north of Port Erin. With a heavy rain falling, and forecasts for even worse weather to come, today seemed like the perfect day to visit two of Peel’s national heritage sites, Peel Castle and the House of Manannan. Seemed like.

Unlike the well-preserved Rushen Castle, where even the roofs were intact, Peel Castle is reduced to remains, with nowhere to get cover from the rain. Of course, I’m no stranger to rain, and brought with me adequate gear. The Manx are also accustomed to rain, because the audio devices for the self-guided tour were sheathed with plastic.

Peel was settled by Celts about 500 BC. Originally a place of worship, successive invasions by Vikings, English, monks and tourists turned Peel into a government center worth defending. It wasn’t long before it became a military post, and even the small church was surrounded by fortress walls thick enough to fend off future invaders. Eventually, the government moved to Castletown into a bigger and better fortress, and Peel Castle was left to suffer the fate of most castles whose usefulness expired. Still, it’s a picturesque stop, even in the rain.

Peel Harbour and Peel, viewed from castle

Adequately soaked, I then moved on to the House of Manannan, a three story building through which an indoor trail threads through the isle’s history. Interactive story boards, dioramas, and videos present Man history from early settlement to modern times, as seen through the eyes of legendary sea god, Manannan.  Although the museum covered far more history than I can absorb, it had a roof and a coffee bar.

Depiction of Vikings landing

When I returned to Douglas, high, wind-blown tides were crashing heavily on the shore. At least one store had placed sandbags at its front door. More heavy weather is forecast, but I’ll be inside.