Peel Castle

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Peel Castle
Manx: Cashtal Purt-ny-Hinshey

Isle of Man

Isle of Man Peel Castle.jpg
Peel Castle from the entrance to Peel Harbour
Grid reference: SC24078457
Location: 54°13’35"N, 4°41’57"W
Town: St Patrick's Isle, Peel
Built 11th century - 1860
Condition: Internally ruined
Owned by: Manx National Heritage
Website: Peel Castle

Peel Castle is a castle in Peel on the Isle of Man, originally built by the Norse rulers of the island. The castle stands on St Patrick's Isle which is connected to the town by a causeway. It is now owned by Manx National Heritage and is open to visitors during the summer.


The castle illuminated at night
Peel Castle from the town

The castle was built in the 11th century by the Norse Kings of Mann and the Islands, under the rule of King Magnus Barefoot. While there were older, stone monastic buildings on the island, the first Norse fortifications were built of wood. The prominent round tower was originally part of the Gaelic monastery, but has had battlements added at a later date. In the early 14th century, the majority of the walls and towers were built primarily from local red sandstone, which is found abundantly in the area.

Original Peel cathedral in the castle

After the rule of the Norse kings, the castle continued to be used by the Church since Peel Cathedral was built there – the cathedral of the Diocese of Sodor and Man – but was eventually abandoned in the 18th century.

The castle remained fortified, and new defensive positions were added as late as 1860. The buildings within the castle are now mostly ruined, but the outer walls remain intact.

Excavations in 1982-87 revealed an extensive graveyard as well as the remains of Magnus Barefoot's original wooden fort. The most spectacular finds were the 10th century grave of "The Pagan Lady" which included a fine example of a Norse necklace and a cache of silver coins dating from about 1030. The Castle's most famous "resident" is the so-called Moddey Dhoo or "Black Dog" ghost.

Peel Castle features today on the reverse side of the £10 notes issued by the Isle of Man Government.[1]

Ruined Cathedral of St German

Chancel of the Cathedral of St German
The round tower with later battlements

The cathedral ruins located within the walls of Peel Castle are those of the former Cathedral of St. German.[2] Like the structures throughout the castle grounds, the cathedral's roof is completely missing. An examination by Robert Anderson to determine what repairs were required to restore the cathedral was completed and reported to the island's lieutenant governor in 1877.[3] However, none of the suggested repairs were carried out.

A pointed barrel-vaulted crypt exists below the chancel measuring 34 feet by 16 feet by 9 feet high at the west end, sloping to the entrance at the east.[3]

In the middle of the transept is the tomb where Samuel Rutter, Bishop of Sodor and Man was interred in 1661.[3] A cemetery exists too in what was once the cathedral's nave.

In 1980 the parish of German, part of the Church of England’s Diocese of Sodor and Man, was officially transferred to the newer Cathedral Church of St German on Albany Road in Peel.


Peel Castle is occasionally confused with Piel Castle in Lancashire, which stands on Piel Island, around 30 miles to the east in the Irish Sea. This confusion particularly occurs in reference to William Wordsworth’s poem describing Piel, in which the poet spells its name 'Peele': commentaries on the work have muddled the castles on occasion, especially as Wordsworth is documented as having visited the Manx Peel Castle, and wrote several times about the Isle of Man.[4]

Peel Castle is once of an endless list of places which have been proposed as a possible location of the Arthurian Avalon.[5]

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Peel Castle)


  1. "Isle of Man". Ron Wise's Banknoteworld. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  2. Coakley, Frances (2007). "The Ruined Cathedral of St. German, Peel, Isle of Man". A Manx Note Book: An Electronic Compendium of Matters Past and Present Connected with the Isle of Man. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Anderson, Robert (1877). "Scheme for an Extensive Reparation of the Ruins of Peel Castle and St. German's Cathedral, Isle of Man". A Manx Note Book: An Electronic Compendium of Matters Past and Present Connected with the Isle of Man. Archived from [archiveurl= the original] on 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2009. 
  4. William Wordsworth - Itinerary Poems of 1833; accessed April 2007; Wordsworth's lines on ‘Peele Castle’
  5. Avalon's Location