Excavation at Le Trépied passage grave, Guernsey 2017
Le Trépied is an impressive burial monument in a very attractive setting on the western edge of Guernsey. We had the chance of examining it in 2017 after carrying out an assessment and survey the previous year. It’s one of the smaller passage graves and has sometimes been likened to the entrance graves seen on the Isles of Scilly. To see it now, only the skeletal stone structure remains, its covering mound has long since been eroded or plundered for any cairn within it. Gone too, were any remnants of what may have been placed inside the chamber. An investigation in 1840 is the only record of what had been deposited which consisted of a few bones (now lost), pottery, fragments and arrowheads.
There was clearly not much in prospect to examine inside the chamber, so we concentrated out efforts in looking at the structure and the area immediately surrounding, where the mound had once been. We were hoping to find dating evidence and traces of stone kerbing. In this we were doubly successful, finding traces of the original cairn material extending to the point where kerbing would have retained it. We found stone sockets where kerb stones had been, matching the line suggested by the three that still remain, Neolithic pottery sherds and a lot of worked flint waste.
Perhaps topping this though, was the find of charcoal in an undisturbed context that related to a prepared land surface beneath the cairn. This gave us a radiocarbon date of 4447–4267 cal BC, the earliest date yet for a passage grave in the Channel Islands.
It was valuable work at a very interesting site for us and we were well rewarded with new information to add to what is known about the chronology of Neolithic monuments of the north-west Atlantic.