Megalithic refers to prehistoric cultures characterized by the erection of monuments made of large stones. Jersey has no shortage of these!
This Dolmen can be found just off a small country lane overlooking the east coast above Gorey. It dates back some 6000 years (about 2000 years before Stonehenge and the Pyramids!) and in its excavated form, you can wonder how Jersey’s first residents who had adopted agriculture rather than being hunter-gatherers, moved stones weighing up to 25 tonnes up to this high spot from the beaches. It aligns with the rising sun on the equinoxes reinforcing the importance of the sun and growing season to these farming people.
Grantez Dolmen is a relatively compact dolmen on high ground overlooking St Ouen’s Bay from the north. Stand next to it and get an idea of the views our Neolithic ancestors would have had out towards the ever-changing Atlantic Ocean. Unusually, when this dolmen was excavated, eight complete bodies were found with associated grave goods. There is also a network of fabulous walks nearby over adjacent National Trust land.
LA HOUGUE BIE
What must be Jersey’s No. 1 man-made structure, this Neolithic dolmen is covered by a huge mound and is about 6000 years old. Dolmens were an integral part of the ritual and commemoration of death in this period. Apart from the engineering feat of its construction, with massive stones being transported across the Island, the dolmen is aligned with the rising sun on the spring and autumn equinoxes, whose rays only twice a year penetrate the interior deep underground. You can still enter and explore this subterranean world and if you think ancient civilisations were primitive, think again!
This majestic natural granite stack rises from the cliffs of the northwest coast. Look closely from your cliff top vantage point and you will notice that there are patterns to the array of ancient stones at its base. These are the remains of structures spanning the Neolithic, Iron Age and Gallo-Roman periods when this was an extremely important place of ritual, as well as being a stone axe making site. Axes from here have been found all over the island as well as in France, being an early export and evidence of trade. Whilst you can climb down the steep path to the base of Le Pinacle, it is not recommended unless you are fit and agile, and it can be dangerous.
SAND DUNES AT ST OUEN’S BAY
Stretching some 5 miles along the western coast of the Island, St Ouen’s Bay is undoubtedly scenic with its blue sea, crashing surf and incredible sunsets. What is less apparent is that this beautiful bay was home to successive settlements in prehistoric times with its proximity of the sea and sources of food, fresh water (St Ouen’s pond is a reminder of this) and fertile low-lying ground which could be farmed. Unfortunately for these people, sand dunes later inundated the land and settlements were abandoned, but if you walk among the dunes, you will see Neolithic standing stones and alignments reminding us of their past presence.