The first archaeologists to visit Elizabeth Castle for two years have arrived in the Island as Jersey Heritage continues with preparations to restore the iconic fortress.
Dav Smith, from University of York’s Archaeology Department, and fellow archaeologist Susan Brook are at the Castle this week surveying historic buildings so that all the necessary conservation information is available for when funding is granted to start phase one of the vital restoration project.
Jersey Heritage looks after Elizabeth Castle on behalf of the people of Jersey and was given funding in the Government Plan for 2021 to finish laying the groundwork for phase one, which includes the Officers’ Quarters and the Hospital Block. An additional commitment was made by the States Assembly to find sufficient funding to complete the first phase by 2025.
Dav and Susan will be completing archaeological buildings recordings of the Officers’ Quarters and the adjacent Library in the Lower Ward. This will include photographic and measured surveys of both buildings and archaeological analysis of their development and use.
As well as helping with the restoration project, their work is a continuation of investigations by the University of York since 2017 to further develop an understanding of the Castle’s history. This has previously included excavations on the Green and surveys of the Hospital Block and Occupation buildings.
Dav said: “Elizabeth Castle has an incredibly rich history covering multiple time periods and it will be fascinating to see what information these latest surveys reveal to us. We can’t bring students with us this year to carry out excavation work in the field as we have done in the past, but we’re glad to be able to return to Jersey for the first time in two years. Hopefully, we’ll be back again in 2022 for a bigger visit with a new group of students and plenty of interaction with the public at the Castle, which we have enjoyed so much in previous years.”
In welcoming the archaeologists to the Island, Jonathan Carter, Jersey Heritage’s Chief Executive, said: “We have received planning permission to renovate the Officers’ Quarters and, subject to funding, to return the building to its original use as accommodation. But it is essential to survey it first to ensure that we conserve and protect its history. The other building being looked at is the Library and once the archaeological survey is complete, we will be carrying out repairs to make it safe for the public to visit and creating an exhibit about the building’s former uses. Both projects are part of a much bigger plan to ensure that the wealth of stories held at Elizabeth Castle are preserved and protected on behalf of the community.
“After such a difficult year in 2020 when all plans for visiting archaeologists had to be put on hold, it’s been fantastic to be able to welcome Dav and Susan to Jersey. The University of York team is a little smaller than in previous years but the work they are carrying out is just as important and essential to our plans for the future of Elizabeth Castle.”
While they are in the Island, Dav and Susan will also be working on Gigoulande Mill, which is owned by the Crown, to bring together existing information about the site to help inform decision about its potential use in the future.