The Archaeology Section of the Société Jersiaise caters for people who would like to know more about Jersey's past through its archaeological study. We meet weekly and mount additional special events throughout the year. The Section currently has about 25 members, of which many participate in our practical activities. We are always interested in welcoming new members - it is not necessary to have previous experience, as you will be given tuition in all practical activities.
In August 2010 Robert Waterhouse FSA was appointed Field Archaeologist for the Societe Jersiaise.
Meetings & Activities
The Section meets every Thursday evening, usually between 8pm and 10pm, though times may vary. Depending on the season, this may take one of the following forms:
These are held in the Section's rooms at La Hougue Bie and usually deal with post-excavation work on sites which we or other archaeologists have excavated. This work may involve finds washing, sorting and marking. The Field Archaeologist leads these sessions, which are an excellent opportunity to learn about the wide variety of artefacts which have been found in the island.
Interspersed between work meetings are talks and lectures by local archaeologists and, when possible, by visiting colleagues.
Summer evenings are ideal for this (dependant on the weather of course) and a often take the form of visits to one of the island's many prehistoric dolmens or other archaeological sites. They may be led by the Field Archaeologist, the Section Chairman or another suitably qualified person. Site visits tend to start earlier in the evening, check the section calendar for more details.
The Section also visits sites on neighbouring islands and France.
The Section has been involved in several archaeological excavations in recent years. Field Archaeologist, Robert Waterhouse FSA has organised annual excavations at St Clement's Church and members have also assisted visiting archaeologists working on sites in the island.
Field Walking & Field Survey
The Section carries out field walking and surveys from time to time.
Post-excavation research often includes the need to study particular types of artefact, such as tobacco pipes, glassware, metalwork and coins.
Some members of the Section are experts in the study of ceramics, which usually take the form of broken fragments of pottery, sometimes attractively glazed. Apart from the Neolithic to early Bronze Age periods, and the products of art potteries from the 20th century, pottery was never made in Jersey, due to the lack of suitable clays. This meant that it had to be imported from many places in France, England and elsewhere.
The Section has therefore become expert in identifying the extraordinary variety of ceramics imported into the island. We need more people to learn about this subject, to enable this area of expertise to continue into the future!
Research & Learning Resources
Excavation and other activities are only part of the Section's work. Members are encouraged in their own research, guidance and assistance is on hand as are the resources of the Section's specialist libraries, at La Hougue Bie and in the Archaeology office at the Société's offices at 7 Pier Road, St. Helier.
The Field Archaeologist has commenced a number of small research projects of his own. His reports can be found here.
The Section is also involved with Dolmen Day, organised by Jersey Heritage, which is in September every year, advertised widely, including on the Jersey Heritage website .
On these days, pre-booked participants are conveyed by coach to a series of dolmen and standing stone sites around the island, where Archaeology Section members and Jersey Heritage staff give a brief introduction to each site and its archaeology. These tours are an excellent way of educating locals and visitors alike and showing off various guardianship sites around the island, many of which are owned or leased by the Société Jersiaise.
Each summer we also participate in the Council for British Archaeology's Festival of British Archaeology, which usually includes guided walks and a research excavation in which Section members and others from the Societe Jersiaise are encouraged to participate, to have fun and gain archaeological experience.
A Section Committee is elected by the Members on the first Meeting of the year with a number of Committee Members retiring in rotation.
The Present Committee is:
- Chairman John Clarke
- Secretary, Dr. Ralph Nichols
- Neil Molyneux (Librarian)
- Nicholas Aubin
- Sheena Brockie
- John de Carteret
- Jeremy Percival
- Nicolette Westwood
The Committee meets monthly on the first Tuesday with the Field Archaeologist in attendance.