This is a picture of Peel Island just off western coast of the Isle of Man, where I was on holiday last week with my friend Rex. It is a place of ruins, and remains of past times. On visiting it we found a round peel tower, with a small ‘keill’ (monk’s dwelling); the roofless remains of a 13C cathedral church; fortified buildings with a curtain wall, a gatehouse and other coastal defences – the remains of a mediaeval castle. And much more! Originally the island was a burial site, and some famous remains have been found there, the remains of a ‘pagan lady’ so-called because it seems she was a healer and wise-woman long before Christianity arrived, being buried with a necklace of semi-precious stones, a substantial iron rod, a pestle and mortar and decorated knives (all currently part of an exhibition at Yorvik Viking museum in York). But the earliest remains found on the island are chips of stone used as harpoons and arrows around 6000BC. Amazing! It is truly an island with a history. There is also said to be a ghostly black dog, or Moddey Doo.
No wonder the site is closed every day at 3 pm and no one returns until 11 am the next morning! It must be full of ghosts of different kinds. Apparently the island is also inhabited by rabbits and we heard that Manx National Heritage has tried without success to eliminate them. 🙁 But I like to think of the rabbits being the descendants of many many generations of rabbits who have inhabited the island for all that time. What an amazing collective memory they must have of all the different kinds of human activity they have encountered there.
Here is a quote from the Peel Castle Manx National Heritage Visitor Guide:
As long ago as 1726, the English poet and topographer, George Waldron, was awed by the place, writing, ‘This castle, for its situation, antiquity, strength and beauty, might justly come in for one of the wonders of the world’. Today, Peel Castle stands as the jewel in the crown of this island’s heritage sites, and (we) can marvel at its intricate history, its atmospheric ruins, and its former splendour.
The picture above was taken from the window of the apartment we rented for our week’s holiday. Both slightly insomniac, it seems almost as though we “took turns” in the middle of the night to sit looking out across the moonlit sea to the island, listening to the lapping waves, contemplating, and tuning in to the atmosphere and the deep mystery of human life and death that is almost tangible on the island, and seemed to envelop us too, gazing out of the window across the sea…