On July 5 on Tynwald Hill, St. John’s, Isle of Man, the people gather to celebrate an old Norse assembly system established more than 1,000 years ago. The ceremony still takes place on the old Norse field of assembly at St. John’s, near the center of the island, where there stands the ancient circular Tynwald Hill, 12 feet high and surrounded by four concentric steps or platforms. It is believed that the hill is atop an old burial mound that made it a place of Celtic gatherings where the Old Midsummer rites (July 5) were held during Pagan times.
From the chapel nearby, the queen’s Lieutenant Governor leads the Tynwald’s procession to the hill, on a path strewn with green rushes, a survival of offerings to the sea God, Manannan. Once at the hill, there is the reading of old laws as new ones are presented. As each new law is read, it is followed by loud shouts and cheers. This custom prevails today. Before the lieutenant governor can sign a law into effect, he must wait for the assent of the people.