The four-tiered hill is one of the Island’s most distinctive landmarks.
The Vikings settled the Isle of Man from the C9th and brought their system of government with them. Known as Tynwald, this is the oldest parliament in the World.
The word is Norse and means ‘assembly field’. Meetings were originally held in the open air to discuss matters affecting the community. Several small Tynwald sites can still be found around the island. These were small raised mounds where the chieftain and local population would meet to discuss matters affecting the community and administer justice.
St John’s, with its central location became established as the main site from 1417. The ‘Hill’ is of unknown date and is an artificial four tiered mound about 250’ in diameter and 12’ high. It is connected to the C19th “Church of St John the Baptist”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/churchesandcrosses/churches/churches_two/st_johns/index.html by a ceremonial pathway lined with flagpoles.
Tynwald was important as laws passed were read out and this was the only way to let the common people know what the law was. Every family would make sure that at least one member was present. Anyone could present a petition about a grievance which was handed to the clerk to be presented to Tynwald.
Although Tynwald now meets regularly in Douglas, there is a ceremonial meeting of Tynwald every year on July 5th. Following a church service, the sword bearer, Lieutenant General and Lord Bishop, followed by Legislative Council and Members of the House of Keys process to Tynwald. The two chairs on the top tier are for the Lord Lieutenant and Bishop, with the Legislative council grouped round them. The Members of the House of Keys are on the middle tier. The title and brief summary of all the laws passed is read out. There is time for people to present petitions and public officials are sworn in before the procession returns to the church.
In many ways there isn’t a lot to see here, you can see it through the car window while passing. It’s significance is its place in the history and culture of the Island.
There is lots more about Tynwald “here.”:http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/man/page_three/index.html