Excavations and Surveys

The Field Archaeologist has been organising and directing archaeological rescue and research excavations in Jersey since 2010.  These are listed below.

Post-Medieval Barrel Wells at Le Hocq, St Clement Parish
October 2010

This single day project involved members of the Archaeology Section in the rescue excavation and recording of two probably post-medieval (c.1550-1800 AD) barrel wells which had been exposed by shifting sands on the beach alongside Le Hocq Martello Tower.  It is thought that these enabled cattle to drink from fresh water springs in the beach without muddying them with their feet.

Garden Archaeology at 16 New Street, St Helier

This project took place over a four week period in December 2010 and January 2011, in the front garden of 16 New Street: a Georgian house belonging to the National Trust for Jersey.  Section members assisted the Field Archaeologist in carrying out the excavation and afterwards, the work of washing, sorting and identifying the large quantity of finds from the excavation.   


Town Church, St Helier

The Field Archaeologist and members of the Archaeology Section assisted Caroline Atkins in her ongoing excavations under the floor of the Town Church, while heating and new flooring was being installed.  This work is in the course of writing up and a report on it by Caroline is intended to be published in due course.

Research Excavations on Medieval & Post-Medieval Site at La Saline Slip, St Ouen Parish

This project aims to find the lost Manoir de la Brecquette, traditionally believed to have been inundated by the sea in 1356.  Various claims made since the 17th century have suggested that it was either completely washed away or was so badly damaged that its site was abandoned.

Mr Brian Phillipps of the Archaeology Section began to research the site in the early 2000s and he identified two stone buildings in the fields behind the sea wall immediately north of Le Chemin de la Brecquette.  One of these has disappeared, but the other survives as a ruin.

Excavations were started by the Archaeology Section in 2006, when the interior of the ruined building was excavated, revealing a somewhat larger building of possibly later medieval date, which was interpreted as a fisherman's shed or an agricultural building.  The project was taken on by Mr Waterhouse in 2011, when several test pits were dug in fields to the north.  Since then, a survey of the standing building on the site, sample coring and geophysical surveys of several fields in the vicinity have taken place.  No further building remains have been found, but a picture of regular inundations by the sea interspersed with periods of sand blows have suggested that the tradition of an inundation of the area in the 14th century (though not necessarily in 1356) is quite plausible.

In 2015, further excavations revealed post holes of unknown but possibly medieval date in an adjoining field, with evidence for spade-dug agriculture above.  It is not certain whether these relate to the manoir or not, but further work on these is now planned.

Research Excavations on a Later Prehistoric, Gallo-Roman & Medieval Site at St Clement

This is currently the principal piece of practical work being carried out within the Iron Age & Gallo-Roman Jersey Project.  The site, which has been known since the 1980s, is a multi-period settlement area, with evidence for occupation from the Bronze Age until the present.  The principal interest of the excavation however is the period from the 2nd century BC to the 3rd century AD, during which there is evidence for at least two areas of settlement.  This had square or rectangular timber-framed houses within a ditched enclosure with fields adjoining.

Slag from iron smelting was found in ditches of the second century BC, while two large pits of c.30BC to AD50 contained slags, furnace linings, crucible fragments and iron nails, suggesting a dedicated industrial area.  Much pottery has been found on the site, showing links with western Brittany in the 2nd century BC and the French/Belgian/German border around the birth of Christ.

Three seasons of excavation work have so far been completed - the fourth and final season will take place in 2016.

Rescue Excavations on Prehistoric Field Ditches at Le Hurel Slip, Grouville Parish

A clay exposure at the top of the beach, south of Le Hurel Slip, was exposed by storms in 2013 and 2014.  Survey work by Robert Waterhouse and his intern Sorren Alsford showed that at least two grey stripes and other grey areas could be seen in this essentially orange clay.  A long strip of the clay was exposed with assistance from the Archaeology Section in February 2014, and the features were plotted before digging three sample sections across them.  These showed that they were parallel ditches, one of which formerly had a bank on its east side.  The ditches had been recut at least three times and their fills contained sherds of coarse pottery, freshly struck flint and fragments of cattle teeth.

The two ditches are interpreted as field boundaries, possibly running down either side of a lane between fields.  The presence of freshly struck flint with the coarse pottery may suggest a date before c.1600BC - ie: the Middle Bronze Age, when flint ceased to be used.  A report on this excavation has been prepared for publication by Sorren Alsford.

Rescue Recording at Green Island, St Clement Parish, 2015

Increasing erosion at La Motte, generally known as Green Island, has been a cause for concern for several years.  The Field Archaeologist has been monitoring this for some time and has begun a programme of archaeological recording, responding to issues as and when they occur.  In November 2015, part of the eroding cliff face was cleaned and drawn, revealing a small prehistoric ditch - probably part of a field boundary.

Struck flint and Bronze Age pottery were found in the ditch and in associated occupation layers, and a stone rubble feature - perhaps one of the graves recorded in 1914 - was recorded at the top of the cliff.  Work will continue over the next few years on the site, following a policy of 'managed retreat' to enable as much as possible to be learned from the remaining parts of the site.