The Island is beginning to rediscover its ancient pilgrimage paths and to unlock the richest of Christian landscapes with its vast range of Celtic and Norse crosses, scores of ancient keeills (chapels) and key Christian historic sites from Maughold in the North, to Rushen Abbey in the South, from the ancient Cathedral of Peel on St Patrick’s Isle in the West to Lonan in the East.
The Cathedral’s new gardens tell the story of Christianity’s impact on Manx culture century by century and aims to unlock these sometimes hidden treasures. Each of the 17 gardens with their particular focus will indicate where the original site and treasures can be located.
The tenth and eleventh century cross garden, for example, shows the transition from the Celtic crosses to the Norse crosses as the Island is conquered by the overseas invaders. At the same time it shows the transition from Christianity to the syncretistic crosses which portray Odin and other Norse deities, to the final cross which indicates the victory of Christianity over paganism with the magnificent Thorwald’s cross of which only a fragment remains. These five crosses located across the Island are carved as if newly created, so the best available research has been used to suggest what the originals might have been like.