Visit to Ronaldsway

In January, Andrew Johnson, Field Archaeologist for Manx National Heritage, gave us a talk entitled, Flight into Pre-history. This dealt with the remarkable effort made by Andrew and his team to monitor the runway extension. It is an important requirement for all works involving digging, to call in M.N.H. to check for archaeology before and during works.

Even before the construction of the airfield and its rapid growth as a WW2 operational station, many finds had been made. Unfortunately, partly due to the unavoidable haste of the times and previous efforts, knowledge of the site was rather haphazard. The science and methodology we now enjoy was not available.

Amongst the finds Andrew referred to was a Viking longhouse, 1000 years old, a 700 year-old lead smelting site for the monks of Rushen Abbey and incredibly, given the wartime airfield, help from a German archaeologist internee identifying a 4000year-old Neolithic house, possibly the first found in Britain. Evidence of 8000 year- old flint tools had been found along with supporting evidence of human occupation.

Armed with this evidence and splendid co-operation from the airport and runway contractors, the stage was set for another mass of exciting finds. These included a Bronze Age murder victim, a tricky one even for New tricks and the unsolved crimes squad!

Andrew’s illustrated talk was so well received and aroused so much interest that he kindly agreed to lead a walk around the site bringing maps, pictures and descriptions to life. This he did, most ably in increasingly brisk conditions. Such was the continuing interest that the large group of more than thirty hardy souls loved every minute, winding up on the promontory fort. Our ancient ancestors would have approved, even if a little puzzled by the arrival and departure of aircraft!  

After two bravura performances, Andrew will certainly be on the ‘most wanted ‘ list for future speakers.

Next year should be a ‘ Peel’s Secret Gardens’ year. This has grown into such a popular event that we are already being asked by tour groups, from across, for the dates. Now, this is where you can help. We are looking for someone to lead the organising team. They do not have to be a wondrous gardener any more than the twenty odd gardeners poised to take part in this strictly non-competitive social event.

If anyone, member or not, lurking in a potting shed somewhere can be enticed out, this will help to save this hugely enjoyable feast of gardens and exploration of the secret byways of this ancient city. To find out more, just telephone our chairman, Bill Quine on 844938 or me on 842541. There’s loads of willing help available, so please don’t hesitate.

Our next meeting is in the Centenary Centre at 7.30pm on Wednesday 21st September. Dr David Moore’s talk is entitled, Confessions of a Faded Politician.  Good grief, who could miss this one!