18 August 2008
Following the success of last year’s event, Jersey Heritage is organising another Fête des Dolmens taking place on Saturday 20 September, during the autumn equinox. A special ‘dolmen bus’ will leave La Hougue Bie at 9am for a day trip back in time 6,000 years to the days of the dolmen builders.
This is an Island tour with a difference – stopping at dolmens from east to west. The morning will be spent in the eastern parishes visiting Le Couperon, La Pouquelaye de Faldouët and Mont Ubé. After a picnic lunch on route, the time travellers will head west to explore Ville és Nouaux, La Sergenté, Les Mont de Grantez and the Great, Little and Broken menhirs in the sand dunes. Jersey Heritage Curator of Archaeology, Olga Finch, will act as guide.
As well as visiting dolmens the travellers will discover:
- What a Dolmen is
- Who built them and when
- Why they were built
- What were the rituals that took place inside
- Where did the stones come from
- What did the landscape looked like
They will also be able to:
- See and handle some of the 6,000 year old objects found at the sites
- Take home a souvenir folder
- Paint your face Neolithic style
- Dressing up clothes for the kids
- Kids quiz and puzzles
Ms Finch said: ‘The event will give a rare opportunity to explore Jersey’s network of dolmens and to learn their importance – not just for the Island’s history but to the people who built them 6,000 years ago. The great dolmens with which we are all familiar are one of the few achievements of prehistoric people which have left such a permanent mark on the landscape and are without doubt the most impressive aspect Jersey’s archaeology.’
Tickets for the guided tour – which cost £5 for adults (children under six travel free) - must be bought in advance and are available from La Hougue Bie from today.
However, those who wish to make their own way or to visit selected sites can also obtain an itinerary from La Hougue Bie or be emailing Ms Finch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lunch is not included in the price and those who board the bus are advised to bring a picnic.
For further information contact:
Olga Finch, Curator of Archaeology for Jersey Heritage on 853823 or email@example.com
Notes for editors:
The great dolmens with which we are all familiar are one of the few achievements of prehistoric people which have left such a permanent mark on the landscape and are without doubt the most impressive aspect of Jersey’s archaeology. However, they have meant different things to different people, both to those who built and used them almost 6,000 years ago and to successive generations who have attempted to understand and explain their true meaning and purpose.
The one thing that has always been a certainty about life has been the fact that one day it will end. How different societies have coped with death has varied with that society’s culture and traditions. It wasn’t until the Neolithic period that a great deal of social effort was actually devoted to it. Dolmens first appeared in this period when society was transformed away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods to a more settled and, therefore, more stable existence of a farming community with its need for organisation. It also saw the comparatively rapid growth of the population due to this more settled existence.
It would appear that constant contact with the dead played an important role in Neolithic culture, and the construction of these great stone monuments was their way of sustaining a direct link with the clan ancestors, acting as a powerful expression of grief, love and remembrance. Although we refer to these sites as ‘tombs’ they must really be seen as monuments with a religious significance associated with burial custom, worship and a variety of rituals, similar in many ways to a modern-day church.