Traditional Buildings of Mann is a new initiative that has been set up by members of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society together with various other interested groups and individuals on the Island. All of us share a love of the Island's traditional buildings and a desire to learn more about them. We believe that the traditional buildings of the Isle of Man represent an important part of the Island's heritage.
Much can be learnt from buildings and settlements about the lives of the people who lived in them and who built them. Traditional buildings are often very closely connected to the local environment and are frequently built using locally available materials, including stone, turf, clay, mud and thatch. Different types of building materials were common in different parts of the Island and this is reflected in local styles of building.
Very little research has been done on the Island's traditional buildings, and we know relatively little about how these buildings developed over time. We feel that it's important to create a record of them, so that we can document regional building materials and building styles as well as the different types of building that are found in various parts of the Island.
Traditional buildings come in many shapes and sizes, from small cottages to large farmsteads, as well as urban townhouses. Agricultural buildings include barns, horse walks, corn mills and pigeon lofts, to name just a few.
Our project is based on a larger initiative that was set up in Scotland to investigate deserted rural settlements in the Scottish landscape. You can find out about that project by visiting the Scotland's Rural Past website at http://www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk/. We believe that it's also important to document the Island's urban landscape and as well as rural buildings, including those that have not been deserted, but have instead been adapted for a modern lifestyle.
What are the aims of the project?
The project aims to raise public awareness of the Island's traditional buildings and to encourage local groups and individuals to take a more active interest in the traditional buildings in their area. We want to encourage you to go out and have a look around your local community, or other parts of the Island that you're familiar with, and find buildings or settlements that interest you. The Society's role will be to facilitate independent local projects. Once you have a specific project in mind, we're here to help provide advice and training.
How can I take part?
There are a number of ways in which you can take part in researching and recording traditional buildings. These include taking photographs, collecting stories from local people, finding out the history of a building using the Manx Museum's library or by studying old maps. Or you can take measurements and draw up simple plans to document the existing appearance of a building. Whatever your area of interest or your level of expertise, there's something that you can do to help.
This summer, we will be running four excursions between May and September to explore buildings in different parts of the Island and to introduce people to different methods of researching and recording buildings.