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Jersey’s Dolmen de Mont Ubé under siege by vandals. Unless otherwise stated text and images © Roy Goutté.

Graffiti on the Dolmen de Mont Ubé, St Clement, Jersey
Source Jersey Evening Post. Image credit: Jon Guean

Just three months ago, after taking a track-way off the La Rue de la Blinerie in the parish of St Clements in Jersey, I reached the tree covered summit of rising ground where I was to find the Dolmen de Mont Ubé, the 6,000 year old (c. 4000-3250bce) remains of a Passage Grave. I was accompanied by my son Oliver and cousin Barry Roche who lives locally.

Even in its ‘naked’ state (it was partly destroyed by quarrymen) it still looked a remarkable sight. That was, until a few days ago, when, in a wanton act of vandalism, painted graffiti was scrawled over some of its stones! Why on earth do people continue to carry out these assaults on our ancient monuments even after years of us educating them into the foolishness and illegality of it. Have they no conscience or pride in what our great ancestors left behind for us to marvel at? It never ends does it! One could argue that previous deliberate acts haven’t helped the cause as unfortunately the monument was badly damaged and partly destroyed by the aforementioned quarrymen before it was excavated in 1848. The capstones were removed along with divisional stones from the internal cells.

On first build it consisted of a passage leading into an oval chamber with four internal cells. There is an unproven belief that there may have been an outer ring of stones and a low mound over the site. Modern records have shown it to have been used as a rubbish dump and a pigsty, yet more evidence of our lack of respect of our ancient ancestor’s last resting place! Finds from the site include burnt bone from the internal cells, fragments of decorated pottery, polished stone axes, stone pendants and a much later Roman gaming piece.

The dolmen as photographed by myself in September 2015
The far end of the passage grave prior to the desecration taking place
Dr Matt Pope, the UK expert leading Jersey’s Ice Age archaeological project at La Hougue Bie museum, has been consulted to advise on the clean-up procedure. In addition to seeking Dr Pope’s advice, the Société Jersiaise, which owns the historic site, will also be consulting Historic England before deciding how best to remove the spray paint without damaging the historic fabric of the site. The graffiti, which includes the words ‘death’ and ‘kill’ and a series of first names, was daubed on three granite and diorite standing stones at the end of the Neolithic passage grave, which is listed on the Island’s historic buildings register as a grade 1 National Monument. The chairman of the Société’s archaeology section visited the site and revealed that one of the culprits had owned up after the vandalism was reported on the organisation’s Facebook page. However, until staff and volunteers have had the opportunity to meet and discuss the matter, he was not able to say what action, if any, might be taken. ‘We are going to take expert advice before deciding on the best method to remove the paint, so that we do as little damage as possible to the wildlife, lichens and plants on the stones,’ he said. ‘Each stone will need to be cleaned and then checked by a geologist, once we have taken advice from national bodies, but the granite will survive. Jersey granite tends to look after itself in the long term.’
One of the four inner ‘cells’ where burnt bone was found during the 1848 excavation


June 2022
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