Guernsey Press

Image of ‘dolmen’ should not appear on the new Guernsey banknote

RECENTLY the States archaeologist proposed the idea of putting an image of what he called ‘Dehus Dolmen’, on a new Guernsey banknote. I appeal to any authority with jurisdiction to veto this plan at once, before we become the laughing stock of every competent archaeologist in western Europe.


And why? I have the words of renowned experts to explain. Sir Thomas Kendrick gives this definition of a dolmen in The Archaeology of the Channel Islands, Vol.1, P65. ‘A polygonal or circular sepulchral chamber of the late stone age, constructed of huge blocks of stone and roofed with a single capstone. The true dolmen does not occur in Guernsey’.

It was the opinion of Professor Glyn Daniel in Antiquity, Vol. XLIV, no.176, ‘Away with dolmens....’ he makes the observation that in western Europe, three main varieties of megalithic tombs occur – the single chamber tomb (polygonal, rectangular or rectangular with a portal), the chamber and passage tomb and the long tomb. This was reiterated by J Stevens Cox in Prehistoric Monuments of Guernsey.

It is therefore clear that the term dolmen is about as appropriate when applied to the megalithic tombs of Guernsey, as was the term druids’ altars from centuries ago. By all means let us be proud of our prehistoric history and why not use an image of the tomb Le Dehus on a new Guernsey banknote? But we cannot and must not use the legend, dolmen.

Perhaps we should honour the words of Sir Thomas Kendrick and Professor Glyn Daniel, above. However, should we persist in our use of dolmen, perhaps we could simplify things even more by calling all of our megalithic monuments druids’ altars.

Richard Allen


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