Guernsey Woman Invokes Ancient Norman Ritual To Stop Roadworks

Guernsey Woman Invokes Ancient Norman Ritual To Stop Roadworks

A woman in Guernsey has used an ancient Norman rite, in an attempt to stop building works which would narrow a road on the island.

Rosie Henderson, a Douzainer (an elected official at the Parish Council), made the ancient chant over claims the plans would “endanger pedestrians and motorists alike”.

She added: “During high tides the sea dashes over the wall and currently motorists veer to the right – the new planting will restrict this, make the entrance to La Vallette even more difficult to negotiate, and affect traffic approaching St Peter Port.”

However, it’s yet to be seen if her efforts will successful, with several previous uses of the law failing.

‘Haro! Haro! Haro!’

Clameur de Haro is a feudual law in the Channel Islands which dates back to the 10th Century, when it was effectively a form of self-policing as there was no law enforcement.

The clameur effectively works as an injunction, whereby if completed in the presence of at least two witnesses, work must stop until the Royal Court has decided whether or not it has been correctly raised.

If the alleged ‘wrongdoer’ does not stop, they could be likely to end up with a fine – even if the clameur is found to have been raised incorrectly. Similarly, a clameur which is raised incorrectly could see the person who raised it in line for a fine.

And how does one raise a clameur we hear you ask? Well, this is where it gets fun.

According to legal advice from the Jersey Citizens’ Advice Bureau the aggrieved party, known as the “criant”, must go “down on one knee in the presence of two witnesses, saying in the hearing of the alleged wrongdoer: ‘Haro! Haro! Haro!, A l’aide mon Prince, on me fait tort’.”

Haro! Haro! Haro! Come to my aid, my Prince, I am being wronged.

Clameur de Haro

This roughly translates as “Haro! Haro! Haro! Come to my aid, my Prince, I am being wronged” and is thought to have been a plea to Rollo, the first Duke of Normandy.

Rights As Old As Time

magna carta

A copy of Magna Carta. Image Credit: Jem Collins

While perhaps one of the more unusual ways to enforce your rights, the Clameur de Haro is just another reminder that the concept of ‘human rights’ is actually much older than we might think they are.

Perhaps the most well-known example is that of Magna Carta, which was formally approved by King John of England in 1215.

It essentially gave us three fundamental constitutional ideas – that rights can only be taken away of interfered with by due process and in accordance with the law and that Government rests upon the consent of the governed, which is reinforced by our right to free and fair elections.

Thirdly, government, as well as the governed, is bound by the law, so the Human Rights Act 1998 makes it clear that public authorities can’t infringe our rights.

It’s yet to be seen how this clameur will play out though – so watch this space.

Featured Image Credit: Guernsey via Geograph / Rosie Henderson via Facebook

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About the Author

Jem Collins

Strategic Impact Director
Jem is the Strategic Impact Director for RightsInfo, working on increasing our reach across the UK and measuring our impact. Previously she was the News and Social Media Editor. She is also passionate about helping young people into the media and runs Journo Resources, a start-up which helps young people into the media, as well as serving as a trustee of the Student Publication Association. She is also one of the co-founders of The Second Source, a group to help end harassment in the media. Email Jem View all posts by Jem Collins.
Guernsey Woman Invokes Ancient Norman Ritual To Stop Roadworks
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