We are now in year two of our three year investigation into Jersey’s Ice Age past. Through archaeological digs and archive work we aim to bring the incredible ice age record of the island under renewed and detailed scientific study. Working with partners on Jersey, in the UK and Europe we have built a team drawing in expertise from archaeology and other scientific disciplines.
Through fieldwork, analysis and review of existing collections we are building a picture of prehistoric occupation for the island, understanding how humans, animal communities and vegetation responded to long term climate change.
This work is adding to our knowledge of human prehistory in Europe but will create and exciting new dimension to Jersey’s heritage and tourist offer.
Delivering a full narrative of Ice Age occupation will enhance the public understanding of what is essentially an exceptional geological resource. Through this blog, visiting us in the field, or our exhibition at Hougue Bie, you can share in the adventure of exploring this ancient period of Jersey’s past.
Jersey's Rich Ice Age History
Jersey is a special place for understanding the Ice Age. For long periods, it would not have been an isolated island, but part of a broad landmass extending from the modern coast of France across to where a deep river flowed through the centre of the modern channel. This plain was not flat and featureless, but dissected by deep rivers and now-submerged uplands. This drowned landscape was richly textured and topographically diverse; Jersey would have been visible from miles around - as an isolated plateau, when sea level was low, or a peninsula sticking out into the Gulf of St.Malo, like the Cotentin peninsula does today. Hunter-gatherer groups would always have tracked in on Jersey as a high point, from where they see out over the rich landscapes of the channel river plain. Ice Age sediments are preserved within clefts and fissures in the sea cliffs (head deposits), or within fine, wind blown silts and sands that infill and smooth the inland valleys (loess). Archaeology preserved within these sediments allow us to reconstruct how hunter-gatherers adapted to a constantly changing environment, and how they moved through the now vanished offshore landscapes that are inaccessible beneath the sea.