Jersey is famous for its dolmens, Neolithic stone monuments made from huge slabs of granite arranged into passageways and chambers. Early settlers built these structures in Jersey between c.4500-2250 BC, and many survive today.
In December 2017 the Société Jersiaise applied to the Council of Europe to join their European Route of Megalithic Culture, a network of organisations responsible for similar monuments across Europe. Jersey is now officially on the Route, sharing a common heritage of megalithic culture, and benefitting from exchanging information and research, and publicity to encourage appreciation of our cultural heritage.
Dolmens were focal points for past societies, where people would gather to mark the changing of the seasons, celebrate the harvests and honour and bury their dead. Each was originally covered with a great mound of earth, and subsequent generations of farmers would try in vain to plough them flat, only to find at their centre was the giant construction of granite boulders. They were also viewed with suspicion by those who thought them places where witches and fairies gathered, ready to cause mischief and bad luck to anyone who disturbed them.
Our dolmens are now protected and celebrated as sites of great archaeological importance and are visited by people from all over the world. Other member countries of the Megalithic Route are England, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Spain and The Netherlands.
In joining this project, the Société is committed to improving the way our dolmen sites are presented and accessed. We hope to raise the international profile of Jersey’s megalithic culture, find new ways to interpret the prehistoric landscape, make better connections between our heritage and tourism industries, improve our online presence and update the gallery display of dolmen finds at La Hougue Bie museum.
We hope that our membership to the European Route of Megalithic Culture will spark a renewed enthusiasm for Jersey’s wonderful dolmen sites by locals and visitors alike.