Vikings on the Isle of Man: Background information when reading Merrow

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith X
Merrow by Ananda Braxton-Smith
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Nov 2016, 240 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
Buy This Book

About this Book

Vikings on the Isle of Man

This article relates to Merrow

Print Review

Godred CrovanOne of the main storylines of Merrow involves the arrival of a man, Ulf, who Auntie Ushag, using her native Manx language, calls a "wiggynagh," or what we'd call a Viking. Like many elements of the novel, this has a basis in historical fact, since the Isle of Man has a significant history of Viking exploration and settlement.

Viking CastleAccording to historian and archaeologist David Griffiths, the Isle of Man's central location in the Irish Sea – nearly equidistant from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – made it an attractive and strategic destination for the many sea-faring raiders from Scandinavia (known today as Vikings) who raided, traded and settled their way across most of Europe and much of Russia for the best part of three centuries starting in the late eighth century. Griffiths notes that during the time of Viking settlement, the Isle of Man was the locus of much cultural cross-pollination among the Norse traditions, the traditional beliefs of the island's original inhabitants, and the new influences of Christianity.

Viking helmetViking elements can still be seen all over the Isle of Man, from numerous runic crosses and Viking gravesites, to Norse influences on the traditional Manx language to, according to some, vestiges of Viking political beliefs and structures that persisted even after the island became (for a while, anyway) part of Scotland in the thirteenth century. Visitors to this remote and independent place can still see Viking castles, fortresses, and archaeological sites which would have been familiar to young Neen Marrey, the protagonist in Merrow, more than a thousand years ago.

Godred Crovan, a Norse-Gaelic ruler of the kingdoms of Dublin and the Isles from approximately 1081-1094.
Viking Castle, courtesy of
Viking Helmet, courtesy of

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

Article by Norah Piehl

This article relates to Merrow. It first ran in the February 15, 2017 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Lost Wife
    The Lost Wife
    by Susanna Moore
    The Lost Wife is a hard-hitting novella based in part on a white settler named Sarah Wakefield's ...
  • Book Jacket
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...
  • Book Jacket: Hello Beautiful
    Hello Beautiful
    by Ann Napolitano
    Ann Napolitano's much-anticipated Hello Beautiful pulls the reader into a warm, loving familial ...
  • Book Jacket: The West
    The West
    by Naoíse Mac Sweeney
    It's become common for history books and courses to reconsider the emphasis on "Western Civilization...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.