Book Review:- ‘A Mighty Fleet and the King’s Power: The Isle of Man, AD 400 to 1265’ by T. Clarkson, John Donald

By Alex Woolf, published December 2023


ver the last 15 years Tim Clarkson, who holds a PhD in early medieval history from the University of Manchester, has produced a steady stream of affordable books introducing the lay reader to the latest research and thinking on a series of topics mostly related to early medieval northern Britain. His most recent offering, under review here, deals with the history of the Isle of Man from the ending of Roman rule in Britain to the annexation of the island by Scotland in 1265 (though there is an interesting epilogue bringing the story up to modern times). The publisher’s blurb, together with Clarkson’s own introduction, emphasizes the fact that this book includes the pre-Viking Age period which is usually eschewed by those who locate Manx history within the paradigm of the Kingdom of the Isles. Including the introduction and epilogue the book comprises 11 chapters, evenly divided by the arrival of the Vikings. This is quite impressive given the paucity of early material, largely confined to a few inscribed or sculptured stones, but Clarkson makes up for this by padding out these chapters with a potted narrative of the wider conte…

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Filed under: Prehistory | Late Middle Ages | Antiquity | Irish Sea
Subjects include: Miscellaneous | Strategy & Diplomacy

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