Ice age sediments began accumulating within a jagged fissure in the rocky cliffs of the modern south coast of Jersey between at least 220 000 and 30 000 years ago.



St Brelade

These deposits contain hundreds and thousands of Neanderthal stone tools, together with their animal prey. Over the 190 000 years when Neanderthals used la Cotte, the surrounding landscape changed dramatically. During warm periods, Jersey may have been an island, like today, but during cold periods,  La Cotte overlooked dry land - a dissected open plain, with the modern Channel shrunk to a deep, fast-flowing river in the distance.

This would have been a fertile landscape for herd animals like horse, mammoth, and reindeer. The sediments from the site record these pronounced changes in climate and landscape, whilst the archaeology contained within them tells us how Neanderthals were adapting to these changes. They trekked to Jersey equipped with tools they had made elsewhere, so looking at these artefacts allows us to reconstruct what they were doing elsewhere on the vanished landscapes of the channel river plain.


Some photography on this page is reproduced with thanks to Chris Brookes.