History


 
Who were the first humans to live in Guernsey and where did they come from?  Can you name any famous people from Guernsey? 
What was it like to live in Guernsey in the past?  
Find resources about Guernsey's history.  Hear stories from local people with first hand experience of World War Two.  Learn about invaders and settlers that came to Guernsey.  Learn about local celebrities from the past.  

 




All over the island there are ancient burial tombs, forts and monuments which can tell us about different periods of Guernsey history.  The earliest local site was found on Lihou island and archaeologists believe people lived there at around 7,500 BC.  There are many dolmens left behind by the Neolithic people.  The earliest burial mound is called Les Fouaillages on L'Ancresse Common.   It is thought to be older than Stonehenge.  Standing stones (menhirs) like the Gran'Mere outside St Martin's church are some of the oldest sculptures in the Brisith Isles.



Guernsey has some celebrities from the past who distinguished themselves in the Royal Navy.  Guernseymen Phillip and Thomas Saumarez were brothers who had important roles in the Royal Navy.  They took part in Admiral Anson's voyage around the world 20 years before Captain Cook.  They had many adventures including surviving storms and capturing  the worlds richest treasure ship.  Phillip also invented the naval uniform.  His life was tragically cut short when he was hit by a French cannon ball. Their nephew Admiral James Saumarez was victor in many important Naval battles and he was second in command to Nelson at the Battle of the Nile. He became the holder of the highest rank in the Royal Navy.                                                  
                                                                                                                                 

Victor Hugo was one of the most famous people to live in Guernsey.  He was a French poet and novelist and he was very involved in politics and human rights.  Les Misérables and the Hunchback of Notredame are two of his most famous works.  He spent thirteen years in Guernsey while he was exiled from his homeland.  He wrote some of his most famous works while he was in Guernsey and he fell in love with the island.  His house in Hauteville is now open as a museum and visitors can look around at the rooms that he decorated in his own style.  





There are many stories about witches, fairies, ghosts and mythical beings from Guernsey's past.  Some people believe that this stone circle in Torteval makes wishes come true if you walk around it three times.  Nearby Neolithic passage Le Creux es Faies was believed to be the entrance to fairyland.  There are also legends of bread baking fairies, black and white witches, little people, mad dogs and the devil.  The stones, dolmens and menhirs around the island are steeped in stories and superstition.


The Channel Islands were occupied by Germans forces during World War Two from 1940 until 1945.  They were the only place in the British Isles to be invaded and occupied during the war.  Many school children were evacuated and spent years away from their parents.  The people who were left behind lived alongside German forces.  They found it difficult to get contact with the outside world and they had a shortage of food.  German defences, forts, bunkers and watchtowers are still visible all around the coast and many are open to the public.  Four concentration camps were built in Alderney and people were kept as prisoners and forced to work.  Guernsey was liberated on 9th May 1945.  Local people still celebrate Liberation Day today with a bank holiday, a parade and activities and parties in town.

Weblinks About Guernsey's History:


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