Round Mounds of the Isle of Man

Posted by ap507 at Oct 10, 2016 03:19 PM |
An archaeological project led by the universities of Leicester and Newcastle is delving into ancient history on the Isle of Man

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 10 October 2016

Images from the Isle of Man archaeological project available here:

Dr Rachel Crellin (University of Leicester) and Dr Chris Fowler (Newcastle University) aim to investigate what the round mounds of the Isle of Man, and associated burials, people and artefacts, can tell us about life on the island and interaction with other communities across Britain and Ireland (and potentially beyond) in the Neolithic and Bronze Age. 

The Isle of Man is home to over 160 round mounds but very few have been excavated using techniques that have left a detailed and reliable record. Recent research has highlighted regional diversity in different pulses of round mound construction and use during the Neolithic and Early Bronze Age (c. 4000-1500 BC) across Britain, Ireland and the near continent, and there has been growing interest in tracing changing connections over time between regions. However, it is currently unclear when many of the round mounds of the Isle of Man were built and what kinds of burial and other practices they were associated with.

The 2016-17 research will include osteological analyses of Neolithic and Early Bronze Age human remains from historic excavations in the Manx Museum collections, radiocarbon dating, isotopic analyses and a DNA analyses of a sample of these, a new assessment of Neolithic and Bronze Age mortuary evidence from the island, new geophysical surveys of Manx round mounds, and landscape analyses using LiDAR imagery and other map data.

Dr Rachel Crellin said: “It is great to be starting this exciting project funded by both Manx National Heritage and Culture Vannin. Many of the sites we are investigating will be familiar to island residents and they are sites that I grew up visiting with my family. It is wonderful to have this chance to try and reveal some new aspects of our island’s prehistory.”

Allison Fox, Curator for Archaeology at Manx National Heritage said: “This is a great opportunity to work with academic colleagues and specialists to improve our understanding of this period of Manx prehistory. Around 4000 years ago there were great changes in technology with the introduction of metalworking, but there also seems to be continuity in the way people buried and commemorated their dead. 

“One of the most exciting aspects of the project is the prospect of exploring the information that is held within the collections here at the Manx Museum. Some sites were excavated as far back as the late 1800s, but remains have been preserved in the Museum since then. With modern scientific techniques now available, we are hoping to get to know more about not only the people who built these round mounds, but also the people who were buried beneath them.”

The 2016-17 season is funded by Manx National Heritage and Culture Vannin. As well as Dr Rachel Crellin and Dr Chris Fowler, contributors include Dr Francesco Carrer (LiDAR analysis: McCord Centre for Landscape), Kate Chapman (geophysics: Northern Archaeological Associates), Dr Michelle Gamble (osteology), Prof. David Reich (aDNA: Harvard Medical School), and Alex Turner (ground penetrating radar: McCord Centre for Landscape).


Notes to editors:

For more information contact Dr Rachel Crellin on

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