The new exhibition is called ‘Searching for Jersey’s Celts – Unearthing Le Câtillon II the world’s largest Celtic Coin Hoard’ and it is housed in the newly-refurbished archaeology gallery at La Hougue Bie. Le Câtillon II was discovered in 2012 and is the world’s largest Celtic hoard. The new exhibition explores what might have led people to bury a hoard of 70,000 coins and jewellery in Jersey 2,000 years ago.
A host of collection pieces are included within the exhibition, many of which have never been on display before. There are more coins, torques and ingots from Le Câtillon II, as well as a unique leather purse, which is the only Iron Age example of its kind. There are also coins from Le Câtillon I, which was discovered in 1957 but sold and scattered around the world until Jersey Heritage was able to buy them in 2020, bringing back together the majority of the hoard.
The public can visit the new exhibition from next Wednesday (1st) when La Hougue Bie reopens after being closed for the winter, together with Hamptonne Country Life Museum and Elizabeth Castle. Mont Orgueil Castle and the Maritime Museum also return to daily opening.
As recently announced, this is the final time the visitor sites will need to reopen for a new season following the decision by Jersey Heritage’s Board of Trustees to keep the majority of them open daily all year round, which is already the case for Jersey Museum, Art Gallery & Victorian House. Elizabeth Castle is the only site that will continue to close during the winter months as it is too difficult to reach in bad weather.
Morgan Ward, Jersey Heritage’s Head of Programmes, said: “The start of a new season is always an exciting time and we can’t wait to welcome visitors and Islanders to our sites, which are all open daily from Wednesday, 1 March. We’ve got plenty of events and activities lined up for the year ahead and it is fantastic to be able to start the season with the opening of a brand new exhibition at La Hougue Bie.
“The exhibition is housed in the newly-refurbished archaeology gallery at La Hougue Bie where we have been able to create a wonderful open space to tell the story of the Celts in Jersey and the astonishing coin hoards discovered from their time in the Island. As part of the refurbishment, the gallery has also been made fully accessible.
“Elsewhere, our new museum space at Hamptonne Country Life Museum is nearing completion and our important restoration project at Elizabeth Castle continues. We hope visitors to the Castle and Hamptonne can bear with us while these projects are ongoing and our thanks go to the Government of Jersey, which has provided funding for each of these projects, including the La Hougue Bie gallery refurbishment.”
The new museum space at Hamptonne is expected to be completed in April, when it will house temporary displays until a longer-term exhibition is ready to share the story of the Island’s rural history.
At Elizabeth Castle, scaffolding is being erected around the Georgian Military Hospital, near to the entrance of the Castle, and the 18th century Officers’ Quarters, which overlooks the Parade Ground. It demonstrates the focus of the first phase of the vital restoration project, which aims to ensure that the Castle’s story can continue to be told for generations to come. This year’s activity follows preliminary works carried out last year to gather essential conservation information for the restoration work.
The Officers’ Quarters, which had been used as exhibition space, is being restored and developed and returned to its original use as accommodation, opening up opportunities for the Castle to be used in different ways, including during the winter months when it is currently closed to the public.
The Georgian Hospital Block is currently derelict and too dangerous to allow visitors to access. It is being restored to open to the public to share its stories. The large 19th century Coal Store next to the Hospital is currently unused and is being refurbished to create a multi-purpose meeting and function room, with kitchen and toilet facilities. It will provide a location for meetings and events.