Jersey Heritage is celebrating a house-warming with a difference this week with the official opening of the Neolithic Longhouse at La Hougue Bie.
The 20-metre-long, replica Longhouse has been built by a team of volunteers – inspired and supervised by UK ancient technology expert Luke Winter – using traditional tools and authentic Neolithic techniques, including mud daubing, thatching, bark-stripping and making cordage from stinging nettles and brambles.
The Longhouse will be officially opened at 10am on Thursday (21st) by Deputy Montfort Tadier, Assistant Minister for Economic Development, Tourism, Sport and Culture, and provides an exciting new attraction for visitors to La Hougue Bie, as well as an educational resource for Jersey’s schoolchildren to learn hands-on about the Neolithic period.
Olga Finch, Jersey Heritage’s Curator of Archaeology, said: “This unique project brings to life Jersey’s Stone Age past. It will help us learn more about the daily lives of our Neolithic ancestors and allow schoolchildren and visitors to see, and feel, what life was like nearly 6,000 years ago.”
Paying tribute to the volunteers who built the timber-frame Longhouse, Olga said: “Over the last two years, more than 140 volunteers have given their time, including a core team of 18 committed individuals, primary schoolchildren and corporate volunteers. It took them more than 8,500 hours to build the Longhouse over two years, and in all weathers. Without their dedication and hard work, the Neolithic Longhouse project would not have been possible and we are hugely grateful for all of their efforts.”
Volunteers will continue to maintain the Neolithic Longhouse, interpreting it for visitors and demonstrating craft skills, such as pottery, weaving and woodwork.
The official opening
- In keeping with the building, Deputy Tadier will use cordage and a replica stone axe, rather than the usual scissors and ribbon, to open the Longhouse
- Also present will be Luke Winter, who is returning to the Island for the official launch and will be reunited with his team of volunteers
- Volunteers will be demonstrating some of the Neolithic skills they have learnt, including spinning, weaving, spindle-making and log splitting.
- Students from Springfield School – which uses La Hougue Bie as an educational resource to study Prehistoric Jersey – will be trying their hand at the Neolithic activities
- The launch coincides with the Spring Equinox, which is a special time for La Hougue Bie. The 6,000-year-old tomb under the mound was set up perfectly so that every spring and autumn, the sun rises and shines all the way to the back of the tomb to mark the beginning of the new season.
Just like any other new building in Jersey, the Longhouse had to be officially signed off by Building Control Officers. It will open to the general public on Friday, 29 March, when all of Jersey Heritage’s sites reopen for the summer season.
Image thanks to Philippa Kergozou.