MARS/HIST 3F51: The Viking and Medieval Isle of Man

The southern tip of the Isle of Man from the air. All photos courtesy of Andrew McDonald.

The Isle of Man is a small island in the middle of the Irish Sea with a rich history and heritage from the Viking and Medieval eras.  

In this course we have the opportunity to experience the unique history and heritage of the Isle of Man at first hand with Professor Andrew McDonald.

Beginning with intensive course work at Brock in early May of 2024, we then travel to the Island for ten days packed with site visits that augment our course work with immersive experiences.

Applications are now open until November 30, 2023

Important Course Details for MARS/HIST 3F51

On location with Professor McDonald

Study Travel Itinerary

Sigurd Cross Viking Age Sculpture
Cross slab from Jurby with scene from the Sigurd legend

Our visit begins at the Manx Museum in Douglas (the capital), where we’ll tour the galleries, meet curators, and get special behind-the-scenes access.

Then, we’ll journey through the countryside to visit heritage sites from the Viking and Medieval eras, including castles, cathedrals, churches, monasteries, and fortifications.

St German's Cathedral, St Patrick's Isle

We’ll get up close to magnificent Viking Age sculptures and learn how to decode their iconography, and we’ll visit Tynwald Hill, where Vikings held assemblies, kings were made, and where the modern Manx parliament continues to hold an outdoor meeting every year on 5 July.

Cross-shelter at Maughold, home to the largest collection of early medieval and medieval sculptured stones on the Island
Tynwald Hill

Free time provides plenty of opportunity to enjoy the Island’s scenic beauty and more modern history and heritage, including the Douglas Promenade, Electric and Steam Railways, Laxey Wheel, and Snaefell. 

The Douglas Promenade
The Isle of Man Steam Railway
The Great Laxey Wheel
picture of the Manx Museum in Douglas, the capital city of the Isle of Man
The Manx Museum, Douglas

Important things to note

There are extra costs associated with this course. The travel portion of the course will involve walking for as much as 1km over uneven terrain to visit heritage sites; participants must be physically able to do so. 

Meet the professor

Professor McDonald standing next to a Viking age sculpture
Professor McDonald with one of the famous Viking Age sculptures at Kirk Andreas

Dr. Andrew McDonald (B.A. Trent, M.A. McMaster, Ph.D. Guelph) is an historian of the medieval British Isles, with particular interests in medieval Scotland and the Isle of Man, as well as Late Norse maritime empires of the British Isles. His current research delves into the fascinating and neglected topic of the medieval Norse sea kings of the Isle of Man between 1079 and 1265, and his book The Sea Kings: The Late Norse Kingdoms of Man and the Isles, 1066-1275 was published in June 2019 by John Donald (Edinburgh). Further work on the topic is in progress, with a particular focus on gender, power and historical writing in the Kingdoms of Man and the Isles.

Coat of arms of the Isle of Man (Latin motto translates "Wherever you throw it, it will stand"). Source: Wikipedia