The Kindgom of the Isles and Man

These islands stretch from the Welsh Coast to the northern waters off Scotland. Ruled by the Norse for hundreds of years and, they are slowly falling into the political spheres of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The Manx inhabitants are a mixture of Celtic and Norse people. Mostly, the Norse are the wealthier landowners, and the Celts are the peasants — but there are many exceptions to this rule, especially in the South, which was given to the Celts to rule by King Orrey. Manx Gaelic, as spoken by the Celtic peoples on Man, is a mixture of heavily-accented Scots/Irish Gaelic (Goidaelic) with some Norwegian (western) Norse. In game terms, it is not a separate language in itself — and anyone speaking either Goidaelic or Norse will be able to get by on the island, as the landowners still speak Norse for political and legal matters, and almost everyone on the island is bilingual anyway.

The Isle of Man (“Eillan Vannin”) is a small island, 33 miles long and 13 wide, with a total area of 150,400 acres. It has a population around 7,000 in 1220 AD. It is, however, both unusually fertile (both agriculturally and magically), and militarily significant (being in a commanding position in the Irish Sea). Indeed Man is not more than 30 miles from any of the surrounding countries:

• 27 miles from Cumberland, England;
• 15 miles from Galloway, Scotland;
• 29 miles from the Irish coast;
• 23 miles from Anglesey, Wales

Physically, the island is composed of two mountainous highland regions of over 1,000 ft — one to the north, and one to the south — with a swampy region (curragh mooar — “the great bog”) between the two, straddling the parishes of German and Braddan. This misty bog, dotted with lichen-strewn and gnarled willows, is the haunt of Sgoagh, a malevolent wyrm. Great King Orrey’s Road, the only real road on Man, marks the only known safe route through the bog, without detouring around it; this road was built by Godred Crovan (“Great King Orrey”) and stretches from Ramsay at the north to Castletown at the south.

Travel on and Around Man Traveling on Man is fairly straightforward; one simply needs to decide whether one is traveling overland, or by sea around the coast. Journeying from north to south overland is typically done on Great King Orrey’s road. King Orrey’s road is approximately 30 miles long, so by this route, a traveler can make almost the entire length of the island in less than two days by foot or horse. Journeying from east to west is slightly more problematic, as one either has to navigate through the central curragh mooar, known as a difficult proposition, even without the threat of Sgoagh, or take the more indirect routes over the mountainous regions (either of these routes might take over a day), or around the coast, likely taking two days.

Traveling by sea is generally easier: barring mishap, the average ship can circumnavigate Man completely in three-to-four days (a distance of 75-80 miles. Unless one is manning one’s own boat, one will not become fatigued by the journey, and the sailing weather on the Irish Sea is usually good in summer and winter (but watch out if you have angered Mannannan).

The Tynwald

The Tynwald is a parliament held on the midsummer eve (June 21st). At this time, all the hersar and all the other freemen of the islands meet and discuss legal disputes, and hear the king’s new laws. First held in 979 AD, during the reign of King Godred Haraldsson, it meets in the open at the Tynwald hill, near the town of Peel, and is officiated over by the king (holding his sword, point-up before him), and the high priest of Odin, seated at the top of the hill under a white canopy. Below them are the two lagmen; below them the hersar; and all the other freemen arrange themselves at the foot of the hill. Rushes are strewn over the path from the nearby St. John’s Chapel to the Tynwald hill, for the attendees to walk upon (this symbolizes the rent owed to Mannannan, though few understand this).

The meeting is a combination Hus-thing (“domestic-parliament”), Lög-thing (“law-parliament”), and as needed the Leidar-thing (“warparliament”). When a new king is to be chosen, the Tynwald convenes in special session, and decides who to elect; often, the previous king’s choice of heir would be selected — but occasionally, it has chosen a different regent (such as when they chose King Reginald over his younger brother Olaf. The festival of the midsummer blöt is also celebrated on this day, with sacrifices to Baldur, and feasting and merrymaking after the Tynwald itself is over; a fair and market are also common occurrences.

The Kindgom of the Isles and Man

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