La Hougue Bie

Entrance to the Neolithic burial chamber at La Hougue Bie, one of the largest and best-preserved passage graves in Europe, in the eastern half of Jersey, Channel Islands. The burial chamber dates from around 4,000 BC, and would also have served as a sacred or ritual site – crouching (almost crawling) to the far end of the 9m long, 1.4m high passage reveals a series of chambers which would have formed the focus of ritual activity, and the alignment of the passage is such that the chambers were illuminated by the sun’s rays at dawn on the equinox. Above the passage and chambers stands a 9m high burial mound faced with dry stone walling (which can still be seen around the entrance to the passage).

A small chapel was built on top of the mound in the 12th century, which was then converted into a Gothic tower in the late 18th century.

The Gothic tower was, unfortunately, demolished in the early 20th century, and the chapel restored to what may, or may not, have been its original state.

La Hougue Bie was also the site of a command bunker during the German occupation of Jersey in WWII, now converted into a Memorial Centre to the prisoners and forced labourers who worked (and frequently died) here during the occupation, often in appalling conditions. A walk down through the concrete cells of the former bunker, hung with photographs of those who worked here, and the words of those who witnessed the conditions, is a sobering experience indeed. A sculpture by Maurice Blik struggles out of the earth above the former command bunker. Blik was himself a survivor of the concentration camp at Belsen in Germany.
Photos © Rudolf Abraham. No unauthorized use.

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