During the time of the later Norse
Kings, the Isle of Man formed the centre of a large maritime kingdom,
together with the Scottish Hebrides (the sudr-eyjar or Southern
Isles), called the Kingdom of Man and the Isles. This kingdom was
ruled by a Tynwald with 32 members: 16 from the Isle of Man and
16 from the Isles of Lewis, Skye, Mull and Islay. During the 12th
century, the Isles of Mull and Islay (and their 8 representatives)
were lost to Argyll, and Tynwald was reduced from 32 to 24 members.
The modern Tynwald continues the Norse tradition as an open-air
assembly by holding one meeting each year outdoors at St Johns,
on 5 July (Old Midsummer's Day), where in the ancient form, new
laws are read aloud, both in English and Manx Gaelic.
In the past Tynwald has also met at various other locations on
the Island including Castle Rushen, Peel Castle, Kirk Michael and
Little is known about the early Tynwald ceremonies; a reference
in the Chronicles of the Kings of Man and the Isles for 1077,
'...a convention of all the Manx people took place
The ancient chronicle also provides details of considerable violence
which occurred at the open-air Tynwald.
Photograph of a crowded and relatively informal
Tynwald Day 1900.