Archaeologists return to Elizabeth Castle

Archaeologists will be returning to Elizabeth Castle this summer to continue their work to undercover the history behind one of the Island’s most iconic landmarks.

Archaeologists will be returning to Elizabeth Castle this summer to continue their work to undercover the history behind one of the Island’s most iconic landmarks.

A team of five members of staff and 16 students from the Department of Archaeology at the University of York will visit Jersey between 6-16 July to carry out fieldwork at the Castle, including further excavations of the lost barracks on the Green.

Their visit is part of an ongoing research project between the University and Jersey Heritage and part of wider plans to restore some of the buildings on the Castle that were damaged during the Occupation and have not been open to the public.

Jon Carter, Jersey Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “The restoration project for Elizabeth Castle is still subject to funding but, if secured, the first building to be restored would be the early 19th century hospital, which the University of York surveyed for us last year. Their work at the Castle proved very popular with visitors, who enjoyed guided tours of the hospital site and watching the team carry out their dig on the Green. We look forward to welcoming the team again this summer and seeing what their fieldwork yields.”


The team from the University of York first visited Jersey in 2017 to carry out research at the Castle, returning last summer to begin excavating the lost barracks site and to survey the hospital. Their 2019 programme of activity will focus on three areas – continued excavation of the lost barracks on the Green; research into the Castle’s Occupation heritage ahead of next year’s Liberation 75 celebrations; and an investigation into the site of the 12th century Abbey.


A planning application has been submitted by the University ahead of their visit seeking permission for minor archaeological trenching on the Green to allow the fieldwork to go ahead. This is required due to Elizabeth Castle being a Listed site.

Much of this year’s programme of activity will once again be open to the public to observe and will also involve the Société Jersiaise; Channel Islands Occupation Society; Young Archaeologists Club (YAC); Elizabeth Castle staff; and Jersey Heritage volunteers.

Matthew Jenkins, Associate Lecturer at the University of York, said: “We are very much looking forward to returning to Jersey this summer and continuing our investigation of  Elizabeth Castle. This year we have two major focuses – the lost barracks, currently buried under the Green, and the standing structures associated with the Second World War.

“Our excavations of the lost barracks will hopefully help to answer some intriguing questions we still have from last year about the use and afterlife of this building. Our work on the WWII heritage follows on from our successful investigation of the hospital last year, using buildings archaeology to increase our understanding and interpretation of this difficult heritage. We are very excited to continue our partnership with Jersey Heritage on such a significant site.”


Programme of activity – University of York

Old Barracks Excavation

Following on from the research questions identified in last year's excavations, there will be another targeted excavation on the Green within the Outer Ward of the Castle.

The aim of this fieldwork is to develop understanding of the former long barracks on the site, which was demolished at the end of the 18th century. This is a comparatively understudied area of the Castle.

Occupation Heritage

The Elizabeth Castle Conservation Management Plan identifies 19 sites and buildings dating from the Occupation. Archival research and archaeological buildings recording will be used to document these sites, focusing on the major standing structures, such as personnel bunkers. This will contribute to understanding of the structures and help inform traditional and digital interpretations of the site(s).

Rapid condition assessments of the same structures will also be carried out, exploring potential traditional and innovative methods of conservation and restoration.

This area of the fieldwork will contribute to research and planning ahead of the commemorations next year to mark Liberation 75.

3. Abbey Site Investigation

Elizabeth Castle was originally founded as an abbey in 1155. Geophysics investigations will explore the abbey’s exact location and potential below-ground survival, while the team also develop an associated research theme of religion/ pilgrimage.