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Durham University

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Island of the dead? The buried Neolithic landscape of Herm (Channel Islands)

A research project of the Department of Archaeology.


This ongoing project, which was funded by the AHRC between 2008 and 2010 and led by Prof Chris Scarre, seeks to study the relationship between the cluster of megalithic tombs (5th-3rd millennium BC) at the northern end of the small Channel Island of Herm, in the Guernsey archipelago. The tombs came to light during quarrying activity in the 19th century, and several of them were excavated at that period. Those excavations made clear that the tombs had been built on a land surface that was subsequently covered by a metre or more of blown sand. That sand has protected the Neolithic surface from later disturbance, and in 2008 we began a programme of exploratory excavation beneath the sand cover to examine the buried prehistoric land surface. Our aim is to determine whether evidence of settlement or agricultural activity exists around the megalithic tombs, or whether this was an exclusively ‘sacred’ landscape.

Project Details & Outcomes

For details of the project, including methodology, results, and publications please see the Herm project website


From the Department of Archaeology