(LA HOUGUE BIE)
The second longest passage grave in Europe containing at least 70 huge stones built some time about 4000-3500 BC. Only New Grange in Ireland is longer. The main chamber is in a cruciform shape with burial chambers to the South, West and North. There was a pavement of maroon pebbles, and smashed Jersey bowls on supporting pottery stands. This site attracted others. Two medieval chapels were built possibly as a way of Christianising a pagan site. A crypt was added on in the sixteenth century. A rather twee well (still there) was added in the l920s and even lavatory (removed in excavation). The Nazis added a bunker during World War 2. The grave itself was in l924 disturbed when a shaft was dug into the hill. The concrete pillar inside dates from then. The entrance, with its dry stone walling, was uncovered in the l990s by Dr George Nash. It had been closed and covered, possibly with soil from the top of the hill, in Bronze age times. In the same way Cotswold long barrows are closed up around this time. The mound is now 12 m high but may have been 19 m in Neolithic uncovered times.
Dr George Nash says: “If you are looking at the magnitude of a site’s importance, La Houge Bie is the equivalent of Stonehenge.” At the spring equinox, the rising sun shines into the tomb.
One of those entries that took waaaaaay to long. The art held it up. There is a real lack of tasteful historic/mythic art that is readily available. Some of it borders on penny-dreadful. So, we have Passage Graves, Dolmens and the like from The Isle Of Jersey instead. La Hougue Bie is the second largest passage grave in Europe after New Grange. You can see that the early Church was quick to capitalize on the sacredness of the site. This is one of the most blatant examples of this that I’ve witnessed. Jersey is a very strange place. It’s been a hotbed for millenia, invaded, settled, cleared, resettled time and again. You can hardly walk through the island without stumbling on remnants of the past. Full of Ghost. So check these photos out. More of this later on…
Off to work, been doing the 10-12 hour thingy lately. Hopefully time for a day or two at the beach sometime in late October.
Have a great day! Cloudy here, but beautiful. You know there are almost an infinite variety of the shades of grey? True.
On The Menu:
Bran The Blessed
Early Cymric Poetry
Photos: Dolmens/Passage Graves of The Isle Of Jersey
Bran The Blessed…
The mighty king Bran, a being of gigantic size, sat one day on the cliffs of his island in the Atlantic Ocean, near to Hades and the Gates of Night, when he saw ships sailing towards him and sent men to ask what they were. They were a fleet sent by Matholweh, the king of Ireland, who had sent to ask for Branwen, Bran’s sister, as his wife. Without moving from his rock Bran bid the monarch land, and sent Branwen back with him as queen.
But there came a time when Branwen was ill-treated at the palace; they sent her into the kitchen and made her cook for the court, and they caused the butcher to come every day (after he had cut up the meat) and give her a blow on the ear. They also drew up all their boats on the shore for three years, that she might not send for her brother. But she reared a starling in the cover of the kneading-trough, taught it to speak, and told it how to find her brother; and then she wrote a letter describing her sorrows and bound it to the bird’s wing, and it flew to the island and alighted on Bran’s shoulder, “ruffling its feathers” (says the Welsh legend) “so that the letter was seen, and they knew that the bird had been reared in a domestic manner.” Then Bran resolved to cross the sea, but he had to wade through the water, as no ship had yet been built large enough to hold him; and he carried all his musicians (pipers) on his shoulders. As he approached the Irish shore, men ran to the king, saying that they had seen a forest on the sea, where there never before had been a tree, and that they had also seen a mountain which moved. Then the king asked Branwen, the queen, what it could be. She answered, “These are the men of the Island of the Mighty, who have come hither to protect me.” “What is the forest?” they asked. “The yards and masts of ships.” “What mountain is that by the side of the ships?” “It is Bran my brother, coming to the
shoal water and rising.” “What is the lofty ridge with the lake on each side?” “That is his nose,” she said, “and the two lakes are his fierce eyes.”
Then the people were terrified: there was yet a river for Bran to pass, and they broke down the bridge which crossed it, but Bran laid himself down and said, “Who will be a chief, let him be a bridge.” Then his men laid hurdles on his back, and the whole army crossed over; and that saying of his became afterwards a proverb. Then the Irish resolved, in order to appease the mighty visitor, to build him a house, because he had never before had one that would hold him; and they decided to make the house large enough to contain the two armies, one on each side. They accordingly built this house, and there were a hundred pillars, and the builders treacherously hung a leathern bag on each side of each pillar and put an armed man inside of each, so that they could all rise by night and kill the sleepers. But Bran’s brother, who was a suspicious man, asked the builders what was in the first bag. “Meal, good soul,” they answered; and he, putting his hand in, felt a man’s head and crushed it with his mighty fingers, and so with the next and the next and with the whole two hundred. After this it did not take long to bring on a quarrel between the two armies, and they fought all day.
After this great fight between the men of Ireland and the men of the Isles of the Mighty there were but seven of these last who escaped, besides their king Bran, who was wounded in the foot with a poisoned dart. Then he knew that he should soon die, but he bade the seven men to cut off his head and told them that they must always carry it with them–that it would never decay and would always be able to speak and be pleasant company for them. “A long time will you be on the road,” he said. “In Harlech you will feast seven years, the birds of Rhiannon singing to you all the while. And at the Island of Gwales you will dwell for fourscore years, and you may remain there, bearing the head with you uncorrupted, until you open the door that looks towards the mainland; and after you have once opened that door you can stay no longer, but must set forth to London to bury the head, leaving it there to look toward France.”
So they went on to Harlech and there stopped to rest, and sat down to eat and drink. And there came three birds, which began singing a certain song, and all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared with it; and the songs seemed to them to be at a great distance from them, over the sea, yet the notes were heard as distinctly as if they were close by; and it is said that at this repast they continued seven years. At the close of this time they went forth to an island in the sea called Gwales. There they found a fair and regal spot overlooking the ocean and a spacious hall built for them. They went into it and found two of its doors open, but the third door, looking toward Cornwall, was closed. “See yonder,” said their leader Manawydan; “that is the door we may not open.” And that night they regaled themselves and were joyful. And of all they had seen of food laid before them, and of all they had heard said, they remembered nothing; neither of that, nor of any sorrow whatsoever. There they remained fourscore years, unconscious of having ever spent a time more joyous and mirthful. And they were not more weary than when first they came, neither did they, any of them, know the time they had been there. It was not more irksome for them to have the head with them, than if Bran the Blessed had been with them himself. And because of these fourscore years, it was called “The Entertaining of the Noble Head.”
One day said Heilwyn the son of Gwyn, “Evil betide me, if I do not open the door to know if that is true which is said concerning it.” So he opened the door and looked towards Cornwall. And when they had looked they were as conscious of all the evils they had ever sustained, and of all the friends and companions they had ever lost, and of all the misery that had befallen them, as if all had happened in that very spot; and especially of the fate of their lord. And because of their perturbation they could not rest, but journeyed forth with the head towards London. And they buried the head in the White Mount.
The island called Gwales is supposed to be that now named Gresholm, eight or ten miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire; and to this day the Welsh sailors on that coast talk of the Green Meadows of Enchantment lying out at sea west of them, and of men who had either landed on them or seen them suddenly vanishing. Some of the people of Milford used to declare that they could sometimes see the Green Islands of the fairies quite distinctly; and they believed that the fairies went to and fro between their islands and the shore through a subterranean gallery under the sea. They used, indeed, to make purchases in the markets of Milford or Langhorne, and this they did sometimes without being seen and always without speaking, for they seemed to know the prices of the things they wished to buy and always laid down the exact sum of money needed. And indeed, how could the seven companions of the Enchanted Head have spent eighty years of incessant feasting on an island of the sea, without sometimes purchasing supplies from the mainland?
(LE DOLMEN DES MONTS GRANTEZ )
Early Cymric Poetry…
(From “The Black Book of Caermarthen.”)
Soul, since I was made in necessity blameless
True it is, woe is me that thou shouldst have come to
Neither for my own sake, nor for death, nor for end,
nor for beginning.
It was with seven faculties that I was thus blessed,
With seven created beings I was placed for purification;
I was gleaming fire when I was caused to exist;
I was dust of the earth, and grief could not reach me;
I was a high wind, being less evil than good;
I was a mist on a mountain seeking supplies of stags;
I was blossoms of trees on the face of the earth.
If the Lord had blessed me, He would have placed me
Soul, since I was made–
The tops of the ash glisten, that are white and stately,
When growing on the top of the dingle:
The breast rackt with pain, longing is its complaint.
Brightly glitters the top of the cliff at the long midnight hour;
Every ingenious person will be honoured:
‘Tis the duty of the fair, to afford sleep to him that is in pain.
Brightly glistens the willow tops; the fish are merry in the lakes,
Blustering is the wind over the tops of the small branches:
Nature over learning doth prevail.
Brightly glisten the tops of the furze; have confidence with the wise,
But from the unwise tear thyself afar;
Besides God there is none that sees futurity.
Brightly glisten the clover tops: the timid has no heart;
Wearied out are the jealous ones:
Cares attend the weak.
Brightly glisten the tops of reed-grass; furious is the jealous,
If any should perchance offend him:
‘Tis the maxim of the prudent to love with sincerity.
Brightly glare the tops of the mountains from the blustering of winter,
Full are the stalks of reeds; heavy is oppression:
Against famine bashfulness will vanish.
Brightly glare the tops of mountains assail’d by winter cold;
Brittle are the reeds; the mead is incrusted over;
Playful is the heedless in banishment.
Bright are the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;
Before the duck, the dividing waves are seen:
Confident is deceit; care is deeply rooted in my heart.
Brightly glisten the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;
Sweet is the sheltering hedge; the wave is a noisy grinner;
The cheek cannot conceal the trouble of the heart.
Bright is the top of the eglantine; hardship dispenses with forms,
Let everyone keep his fire-side:
The greatest blemish is ill-manners.
Brightly glitters the top of the broom; may the lover have a home;
Very yellow seem the clustered branches;
Shallow is the ford; sleep visits the contented mind.
Brightly glitters the top of the apple-tree; the prosperous is circumspect.
In the long day the stagnant pool is warm;
Thick is the veil on the light of the blind prisoner.
Very glittering are the hazel-tops by the hill of Dig;
Every prudent one will be free from harm;
‘Tis the act of the mighty to keep a treaty.
Glittering are the tops of the reeds; the fat are drowsy
And the young imbibe instruction;
None but the foolish will break faith.
Glittering is the top of the lily; let every bold one be a drinker;
The word of a tribe is superior;
‘Tis usual for the unjust to break his word.
Bright are the tops of heath ; miscarriage attends the timid;
Boldly laves the water on its banks.
Tis the maxim of the just to keep his word.
The tops of the rushes glitter; the kine are gentle;
Running are my tears this day,
Social comfort from man there is not.
Glittering are the tops of fern, yellow is the wild marygold;
The sea is a fence for blind ones:
Swift and active are the young men.
Glittering are the tops of the service-tree; care attends the old;
The bees frequent the wilds;
Vengeance only to God belongs.
Brightly glitters the tops of the oak ; incessant is the tempest;
The bees are high in their flight, brittle is the charr’d brushwood,
The wanton is apt to laugh too frequently.
The hazel grove brightly glitters,even and uniform seem the brakes;
And with leaves the oaks envelop themselves;
Happy is he who sees the one he loves!
Glittering seems the top of the oak ; coolly purrs the stream;
I wish to obtain the top of the birchen grove;
Abruptly goes the arrow of the haughty to give pain.
Brightly glitters the top of the hard holly, that opens its golden leaves;
When all are asleep on the surrounding walls,
God slumbers not when He means to give deliverance.
Glittering are the tops of the willows, brittle and tender;
In the long day of summer the war-horse flags,
Those that have mutual friendships will not offend.
Glittering are the tops of rushes, the stems are full of prickles;
When drawn under the pillow;
The wanton mind will be haughty.
Bright is the top of the hawthorn; confident is the fight of the steed;
It behoves the dependent to be grateful;
May it be good what the speedy messenger brings.
Glittering are the tops of cresses; warlike is the steed;
Trees are fair ornaments of the ground;
Joyful is the soul with the one it loves.
Brightly glares the top of the bush, valuable is the steed;
Reason joined with strength is effectual;
Let the unskilful be void of strength.
Glittering are the tops of the brakes, birds are their fair jewels;
The long day is the gift of the radiant light,
Mercy was formed by God, the most beneficent.
Glittering are the elmwood tops, sweet the music of the grove;
Boisterous among the trees the wind doth whistle;
Interceding with the obdurate will not avail.
Glittering are the tops of elder-trees; bold is the solitary songster;
Accustomed is the violent to oppress;
By want of care the food in hand may be lost.
The Tercets of Llywarc’h
Entangling is the snare, clustered is the ash;
The ducks are in the pond; white breaks the wave;
More powerful than a hundred is the counsel of the heart.
Long the night, boisterous is the sea-shore;
Usual a tumult in a congregation;
The vicious will not agree with the good.
Long the night, boisterous is the mountain,
The wind whistles over the tops of trees;
Ill-nature will not deceive the discreet.
The saplings of the green-topped birch
Will extricate my foot from the shackle;
Disclose not thy secret to a youth.
The saplings of oaks in the grove
Will extricate my foot from the chain;
Disclose no secret to a maid.
The saplings of the leafy oaks
Will extricate my foot from the prison;
Divulge no secret to a babbler.
The saplings of bramble have berries on them;
The thrush is on her nest;
The liar will never be silent.
Rain without, the fern is drenched;
White the gravel of the sea; there is spray on the margin;
Reason is the fairest lamp for man.
Rain without, near is the shelter,
The furze yellow; the cow-parsnip withered and dry;
God the Creator! why hast thou made me a coward?
Rain without, my hair is drenched;
Full of complaint is the feeble; steep the cliff;
Pale white is the sea; salt is the brine.
Rain without, the ocean is drenched;
The wind whistles over the tops of the reeds;
After every feat, still without the genius.