La Hougue Bie

>>  Wednesday, October 23, 2019

HWMBO and I were in Jersey recently, we booked it on a whim a while ago and didn't do any research into what to do when we were there we just rocked up and drove around.  One of the museums we stopped at was La Hougue Bie, which turns out to be one of the 10 oldest buildings in the world - yes the world!!!
There are a number of buildings at this site, some like this one are very pretty.

The full scale replica of a Neolithic Longhouse is absolutely amazing. It has been built to scale by volunteers using the methods that would have been used originally.  It is a masterpiece in lashing.   I spent a long time talking to a volunteer about wattle and daub! This sort of history is my calling, I could have spent forever asking questions and I think I did.  The volunteer was about to go home when I arrived - poor fellow.

The world war II command bunker (there are a lot of those in Jersey) on the site has been turned into a memorial for the slave workers.

The Germans used a lot of slave workers in Jersey, some, like the Russians, were treated dreadfully.  many died.

The memorial, like a lot of the war history in Jersey, is very relatable.   It focuses on real people, real situations and brings the gravity of how the slave workers were treated by the occupying forces and how some Jersey residents helped them, and died because of it. 

 There is a medieval church on top of 'the' mound.  14th century and has story enough of it's own. 

Including 14th Century paintings, some of the oldest known, rediscovered after being painted over by the Victorians.
 And underneath the chapel is the Dolmen.    The original entrance rediscovered only early this century.

First, just look at the chapel window though, misaligned from the cross - this is very unusual. It actually aligned with the Dolmen entrance and yet the 14th century builders didn't know it was there.
 The passage to get in is low and quite long.

 It opens up to a chambered area inside which actually has a layout very much like a church with a step up to a higher level like an altar and an area hidden behind the altar like a vestry almost.  This was built 6000 years ago.

Initially I went in with a guide, HWMBO and another couple.  But we were lucky enough to be there out of season and on a wet day.  So after our 'tour' I went back in and stood there on my own for a while.  Just me and the ghosts of my neolithic ancestors.  It was incredibly moving.

Twice a year the entrance is perfectly aligned to the Equinox. Sunlight travels up the passageway to the inside chamber.

 At the back in the corner is a pile of stones and just twice a year the light moves up them like a clock.

It's incredible and such a feat of engineering for so long ago.  Which takes us back to the medieval chapel window also being aligned to the equinox not the cross.

The way sacred buildings have been built across thousands of years seems to have followed an almost unchanging form.  Quite fascinating to imagine how it has come down inherently through the years.

And if that is not enough for this museum, it also houses the Grouville Celtic Coin Hoard.  Which is one of the largest ever found.   There is a film showing all about how it was found and how there are evidencing and cleaning it.

La Hougue Bie is so many things and all of them quite incredible.

But who knew I would stand in a building older than the pyramids on my own and understanding my own insignificance in the passage of time.

Jersey is a lovely place and I liked all of it but La Hougue Bie would be the reason I go back.


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