Jersey has been fought over for many centuries, and after visiting you’ll see why, but as a result Jersey is littered with castles and forts. The Stone Age monuments from the Neolithic Period (c.4500-3000BC) are the oldest monuments in Jersey, older than Stonehenge and are some of the best examples in Europe. Burial chambers and stone monuments, often covered with a rubble mound, known as dolmens were common in Jersey.
Mount Orgueil Castle, known locally as Gorey Castle, this spectacular 13th Century castle is set on the east coast overlooking the harbour of Gorey. With more than 50 exhibits and plenty going on throughout the year you can watch the eagle-flying demonstration or talk to our wonderful Living History team, the Master Gunner, Master Stephen of Stratford or Lady de la Fontaine who bring history to life.
Elizabeth Castle – Jersey was defended from this fortress built on an islet in St. Aubin’s Bay for 300 years from the Civil War to the German Occupation. Experience a soldier’s life at Elizabeth Castle, join the Gunner’s parade and stand to attention as he fires the cannon each day between 10am and 3.30pm. Walk across the causeway from St Helier at low tide or catch one of the amphibious “Ducks” (extra charge).
Driving around the coast you will notice numerous round forts that were built to protect the island from French invaders. Most are privately owned and are even parts of people’s houses. One that is open to the public during the summer months is Kempt tower a Martello tower built in 1834, the tower is home to an exhibition on the adjacent Les Mielles conservation area and also facts regarding the tower.
There are also many ruins of forts that visitors can wander through at their leisure all year. One of the most impressive is. Grosnez Castle (ruin) and Le Pinacle, on the headland on the north west of the island, thought to have been built in the 14th century. Le Pinacle, a 200ft high rock which featured as an object of worship for thousands of years. There are also superb views from this area north to the other Channel Islands.
The Germans left a lasting mark on Jersey after Hitler invaded, occupied and demanded it was turned into Fortress Jersey. Many of the sea walls and coast roads we now rely on were built by the Germans. And there are some amazing fortifications around the Island including the world famous War Tunnels (formerly known as the Underground Hospital). Historians and locals have plenty of theories as to what the real purpose behind the building was. Russians, Poles and other nationalities were brought in as slave labour by the Nazis and worked and died here in appalling conditions. A thought provoking visit. There are too many fortifications to list here but as you tour the island you will come across many.