Stone people: monuments and identities in the Channel Islands

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Chris Scarre


This paper deals with two intersecting issues of identity: the special identity of communities living on the Channel Islands off the coast of northwest France in the 5th and 4th millennium BC, as expressed through monuments; and the identity that seems to have been attributed to the megalithic blocks of stone themselves. Insular identity is a well-worn theme but in the case of the Channel Island monuments leads directly to questions concerning the particular character of blocks shaped or carved with human characteristics. The Câtel statue-menhir of Guernsey provides the starting point for consideration of the relationship of this unequivocally anthropomorphic representation to the disembodied female breasts found in chambered tombs of mainland France. The paper also discusses how the megalithic monuments of the Channel Islands are both comparable to yet different from those of adjacent regions, a circumstance that emphasises how these and similar island groups may have been places of encounter but also of communities expressing specific  social and cultural identities.

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Scarre 2010: C. Scarre, Stone people: monuments and identities in the Channel Islands. JNA 12, 2, 2010. DOI: