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Vale has a rich history, with martello towers and a neolithic tomb. It is mainly made up of flat common land but it also has stretches of long sandy beaches as well as fishing harbours. It is Guernsey's most northern parish and it has two sections which are not connected. The Vale is Guernsey's second most populated parish with a population of around 9,500. It has an area of 8.8 km².

Did you know that the northern part of the Vale used to be cut off by the tide. The separate island was called the Clos du Valle. Imagine if you had to wait for high tide before you could go home! The tidal channel was called La Braye du Valle. The eastern end of the old channel is now the harbour at St. Sampson's, the western end of La Braye is now Le Grand Havre bay. We call the roadway where the two parts of Guernsey used to be linked together at high tide 'the Bridge.' In around 1805 the local government ordered for the channel to be filled in to make Guernsey easier to defend.

Over looking Grand Havre is the Vale parish Church or St. Michel du Valle. It is thought that the church was built on a pagan site because there are the remains of a dolmen outside and a partly demolished Neolithic tomb shrine. Up until 1806 it had to be accessed by crossing over at low tide as it was on Le Clos du Valle. The oldest part of the current Church dates from the mid 12th century.

In the late eighteenth century the relationship between England and France was not good so the British Governnment decided to build 15 towers around the coast of Guernsey to protect it from the French. Most of these were in the north of the island over looking the Clos Du Valle, which was especially vulnerable to attack. The Rousse and Chouet towers were built on the headlands commanding the entrance to Grand Havre Bay. Rousse Tower, magazine and battery have been fully restored and are open to the public.

The islands major golf course covers the majority of L'ancresse common. The common is also home to cattle, donkeys and goats. It is also a popular place for walking if you don't mind dodging golf balls! The common is surrounded by wide sandy beaches including Ladies bay, Chouet, Les Amarreurs, Pembroke and L’Ancresse which are popular for watersports. The common is also home to fortifications, a shooting range and ancient burial sites.

Vale has one of Guernsey's earliest historic sites, a Neolithic stone tomb called Les Fouillages. This burial site was discovered in the 1970s. Archaeologists have found evidence of human activity there by early hunters between 6500 and 6000 years ago. Although it used to be quite a large building archaeologists do not think it was lived in. No bones have survived but pottery suggests that that the larger chamber was a burial tomb. Click here to see Les Fouillages on a map.

Le Déhus Dolmen is Guernsey's most spectacular tomb. From the outside it looks like a grassy mound surrounded by stones but when you go inside you see four chambers branching off a tunnel. The tomb is about ten metres long and can be accessed through a tiny entrance on the road. On one of the capstones in the main chamber, there is a famous carved figure called 'Le Gardien du Tombeau' (custodian of the tomb). It was discovered in 1916 and is thought to be prehistoric in origin.
Click here to see Le Dehus on a map

Vale Castle stands on a hill on the island's east coast near St Sampson’s harbour. It used to look out over the separate island of the Clos du Valle. It was once an important part of coastal defences. It used to be known as as Le Chateau St Michel. Archaelogists believe that an Iron age fought used to stand on this site in around 500-600 BC. Evidence suggests that the castle itself was built around 1370-1400. The castle was demolished by the Germans in World War 2 and built over with concrete. The building is little more than a shell today. It is now home to the some open air concerts.

Vale is also home to the picturesque Beaucette Marina. On the north-east point of Guernsey, the marina was created when the British army blasted an entrance between a quarry and the sea. Boats can go in and out three hours either side of high tide. The marina holds up to 115 boats throughout the year.

Do you live in the Vale?
What do you like about your parish?

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  94k v. 1 16 Feb 2011, 13:38 katie Beavan