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CBA Festival Report 2016

REPORT

 

Council for British Archaeology

 

FESTIVALOF BRITISH ARCHAEOLOGY 2016

 

SOCIÉTÉ JERSIAISE PROGRAMME OF EVENTS

 

16th JULY 2016 to 31st. JULY 2016

 

2016 was the sixth year that the Société Jersiaise took part in the Council for British Archaeology Festival of British Archaeology. The preparation of the programme was begun in February and most of the preparation work was carried out by Mrs. Nicollete Westwood.  Visits to different archaeological and historical sites were arranged for each of the 15 days of the festival.  Once the programme was in place in April for inclusion in Tourism's "What's On" booklet and the C.B.A. Festival booklet, the information was distributed by the Société Jersiaise website, the media, local radio, direct E-mailing, the social media and posters, together with A4 fliers of the programme.

There were some minor changes of details and personnel but none of these prevented the whole festival being a great success especially in the number of people attending

 

Saturday 16th July

 

With an early start to catch the tide a group of 17 met at West Park slipway to be guided and informed throughout Elizabeth Castle by Blue Badge Guide Mr. Terry Underwood who gave an instructive account of all the military functions of the various buildings.  Care needed to be taken as the causeway was still wet from the retreating tide.  The tour ended at the top of Paul Ivy's 15th century castle and the group was then free to explore other areas and the café before beating the tide or taking the DUKW back.

 

Sunday 17th July

 

On a warm afternoon Mr. Frank Falle led a group of 24 around Fort Regent and explained the defence strategy of the early 19th century when artillery was the most powerful weapon.  The lines of defence, much of which is now overgrown were pointed out.  He showed his military knowledge and how the design prevented an enemy getting close to the walls of the fortress.

 

Monday 18th July

 

To take advantage of the tower being unoccupied by holiday tenants of the Landmark Trust, the event was timed for 1.30 pm at Nicholle Tower where Mr. John Clarke gave a short talk about the prehistory, history and construction of Nicholle Tower, to 27 people.  Access to the interior was unavailable but the features were explained.  Mr. Jonathan Bull of Unseen Jersey also gave a talk about the tower and German defence constructions which became important for the defence of the Island after the Invasion of Normandy in 1944.

The party then moved across the field to Mont Ubé where Mr. Robert Waterhouse, the Société Jersiaise Archaeologist gave a talk about the Dolmen and then led the group down the slope to an area where he had recently identified Bronze Age archaeology in a service trench being excavated for a development.  After crossing the main road we were able to approach La Blanche Dame, a surviving Menhir that had suffered damage in the 20th Century by an over enthusiastic agriculturalist.  Returning by the lanes a stop was made at a building which was a halt on the Jersey Eastern Railway line which closed in 1929.  Opposite the railway was a house with a reconstructed façade which was built with 16th century granite reused in the 21st century.  Further up the hill there was a reused Menhir built into an outbuilding as a door jamb.

On returning to the tower we met the new visitors arriving at their holiday let.  They remarked that they would have been interested in the talk had they arrived in time!

 

Tuesday 19th. July

 

What proved to be the hottest day of the century was chosen for a walk on the exposed cliffs of Les Landes.  In the afternoon 13 walkers met near Grosnez Castle and were given an in-depth description of the archaeology of the fortified headland by Mr. Robert Waterhouse, then along the cliff path where he pointed out features including La Hougue de Grosnez before turning sharply towards the edge of the cliff.  Mr. John Clarke described the Palaeolithic site of La Cotte à la Chèvre before the party climbed down a steep path and along the edge of the cliff to the cave.  The climb back up was hot and strenuous but together everyone got back up and set off further along the cliff path to a lavoir used until the 20th century for domestic laundry.  As time and energy were running out the final site on the programme, La Prévoté, was abandoned and the group returned via Mr. Greenwood's Mound - a low circular feature, that appears to be Iron Age.  It had been very hot, only relieved by the shade of the cliff and a slight breeze off the sea.

 

Wednesday 20th. July

 

After a little confusion of where best to park their cars 34 people met Mr. Frank Falle outside the gates of the Territorial Army Barracks at La Collette.  The building and its history was first explained from outside from various positions in the public gardens.  The group was made welcome by the Commanding Officer then passed into the parade ground to visit the Martello type tower.  The building is in use and the original wall had a lower door cut through and windows inserted.  The interior is completely lined so that little of the structure is visible.  Returning via the parade ground we were invited into the Officers' Mess within the original Engineers Barrack and served with tea and biscuits with the opportunity to see early photographs and pictures.

 

Thursday 21st. July

 

St. Ouen's Parish Church was the venue for Mr. Peter Bisson to give a very interesting lecture on the history of the church to 36 seated in the pews.  This was followed by examining the interior and then the exterior with the construction explained by Mr. Robert Waterhouse.

The group then moved a few hundred yards and several hundred years to fields hiding the remains of a Second World War artillery battery.  Mr. Steve Bree of Unseen Jersey, guided the group and explained all the truncated features of the gun positions.  The afternoon ended at the farm where the German soldiers had their billet with the farmer showing some artefacts that he had retained.

 

Friday 22nd. July

 

Blue Badge Guide Mrs. Jean Treleven led 31 walkers from the Boulevard slipway across the causeway to St. Aubin's Fort to give an account of the development and history of the islet as a harbour and for defence of the bay.  The arrangement with the Education Department was that everyone had to leave the tower and inner ward before a school group arrived for their outdoor activities so we visited the interior first and everyone had the opportunity of climbing out of the bunkroom inside and squeezing up the ladder to the roof.  This presented a view of the gun platforms and a splendid panorama of the bay.  The outworks and bunker were explained from the harbour and the pier examined.  Thanks are due to the Education Department for allowing access.

On the return walk across the causeway one of the party slipped on seaweed covering a small area of the concrete and fell.  Although in pain she was helped to her feet and assisted to a car to be taken the the hospital for examination.  Although muscle and tendon had been sprained no permanent injury had been done.

 

Saturday 23rd. July

 

It was fortunate that at short notice an experienced guide Mrs. Sheila Mallet volunteered to lead a party of 32 to the tidal Islet of Icho.  The guide who specializes in bird tours took the party into the retreating water to allow an hour at the outcrop.  Wading up to the thighs over sand and gravel beyond the mussel beds the party climbed to the terrace where once had been workmens' huts, to be given a short talk about the archaeological excavation of Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age settlement when it was part of a larger island.  The building of the tower and the history of quarrying was also explained by Mr. John Clarke.  The Société archaeologist was unable to give the talk expected.  The numbers of people who could be safely guided was limited and unfortunately many were turned away or could only follow at their own risk.  Some came unsuitably shod or were not prepared to immerse their footwear so were advised alternatives.  There was no access to the tower because the tenant was away.

 

Sunday 24th July

 

The planned archaeological excavation near Grouville Church was not able to take place during July.  It had been postponed because due to unseasonal weather the broccoli crop had not been harvested.  Nevertheless Mr. Waterhouse met 31 interested people and, after moving away from a bees' nest in the ground, gave an account of previous excavations around the church by himself and others.  He explained why he thought  the church may be on a Roman settlement.

He pointed out the evidence of early archaeology in the structure of the walls and explained the excavations carried out in the field outside the churchyard.  Inside the church the granite piscinas were examined.   The excavation originally planned will probable take place in the autumn over several weekends.

 

Monday 25th July

 

A sunny late afternoon attracted 40 to meet in the car Park and descend the long flight of steps to the picturesque bay of Portelet.  Before descending Mr. John Clarke pointed out the islet and that this was the best view of the Martello type tower.  Arriving at the beach Dr. John Renouf indicated and explained the sequence of raised beaches and the geological events that had formed them.  Moving down the beach Mr. Clarke told the sad story of  Captain Janvrin's demise during plague in France and the ignominious fate of his mortal remains, also of the drowning of 15 boys from the Jesuit College on a swimming party in 1915.

Most then climbed, via the remains of a path built when the holiday camp thrived, to look at the depressing state of the tower's interior.  Returning to the beach the extent of quarrying in the bay could be seen.

The tour ended for some by repairing to the beach café for a pizza.  Others went to examine Jersey's earliest dated 17th. century arch of 1606 on the Portelet Inn and took refreshments.

 

Tuesday 26th. July

 

In the afternoon the President of the Channel Islands' Occupation Society (Jersey), Mr. Paul Burnal generously opened the Underground Bunker at Noirmont for 30 people to visit.  First he explained that the whole headland was a War Memorial and led the group to a memorial to Americans lost in a battle fought off the coast in 1945.  Then he led on to several gun positions around the Battery Lothringen and back to the museum.  Everyone was very impressed with the museum and visit, most did not know the extent of what was underground.  Grateful thanks were due to the CIOS and donations for the museum were invited to which there was an excellent response.

 

Wednesday 27th. July

 

Mrs Sue Hardy took 24 people on a walk, meeting at the gates of the Howard Davis Park, beginning with a talk in the surviving billiard room, now an art gallery, about Thomas Benjamin Davis, the successful entrepreneur and philanthropist.  She then led across the busy road into Royal Crescent and gave historical information about the area.  Unfortunately scaffolding impaired progress along the route which included St James's Church Rectory and School.  Turning uphill into The Terrace with more history the heights of Victoria College were attained, and more history was given before returning down to the starting.point.  Some of the commentary was lost due to size of the group and the noise of the road traffic nearby.

 

Thursday 28th. July

 

Meeting at the entrance to St. Belade's Churchyard 36 people, with due respect for other church users sat in the church to listen to a lecture by historian Mr. Neil Molyneux.  They then moved to the nearby Chapel and he continued about the archaeology and the religious wall paintings.

On leaving the buildings Mr. John Clarke led the group around the graves of local merchants and ship owning families of St Aubin, and public benefactors including the Davis family.  The two grave stones of controversial artists and other interesting characters were pointed out.  The view across to La Cotte Palaeolithic site was also pointed out.  As the tour moved across to the area where the German forces had buried their soldiers a shower of rain began which sent some under the trees near the north gate which gave shelter to those interested in the memorial stone.

The tour finished as did the rain and a few went on to find and visit the private burial place of the Boot family along the road towards the headland.

 

Friday 29th July

 

By arrangement with Jersey Heritage the Société opened its site of La Hougue Bie for the Festival. The response was tremendous with parking at saturation on the site.  Members were there to help but more were needed to show people around.  Thanks are due to Jersey Heritage and especially Mr. Nigel Bartlett who stayed right to the end.  Most visitors who came saw what they wanted to but two hours was not long enough to appreciate everything there is at La Hougue Bie.  The present work on the Armorican coin hoard was the most popular region and Mr. Neil Mahrer deserves special thanks.

The Section had been prepared to serve coffee and tea to a small number but with so many vistors and no request the idea was abandoned.  A count of the numbers wasn't taken but an estimate of 70 to 80 was made.

 

Saturday 30th July

 

At 9.30 on the beach at L'Ouaisné as the high tide ebbed away 54 people gathered and were requested to put their names to a disclaimer before scrambling along the rocky shore to be lectured about what they could see of the Neanderthal site and archaeology of La Cotte de Saint Brélade.  Dr. Andrew Shaw of the combined University team gave talks at each point where features could best be viewed.  Access to the rock arch and excavation areas is restricted for safety reasons therefore the information was given at a safe distance; compared to previous years the whole route of access is becoming more dangerous by the action of the sea, however everyone went away well informed and understanding the site better.

 

Sunday 31st July

 

The final event was at Les Varines where the Ice Age Island team had resumed their excavation of an Upper Palaeolithic site for the third year.  There was an Open Day and the CBA Festival was invited for talks in the afternoon.  After a little confusion about the shuttle bus departures, the talks began on time with Dr. Matthew Pope speaking about the development of the Ice Age Island project and Dr. Ed. Blinkhorn  describing the work being done at Les Varines.  The extent and depth of the trench were impressive and the quantity of flints recorded made it possible to imagine the pre-historic activity on the site and the landscape around. CBA Festival and Jersey Heritage visitors could not be differentiate but for the talk there were about 80 people.

The Festival concluded with thanks from the Société Jersiaise to all those who made it a success.

 

Acknowledgements

 

Thanks are due to the following for their help in many ways. All the work was voluntary and no entry fees were asked for nor were the contributors paid.

 

Mrs. Nicolette Westwood for organising the Programme

Mr. John de Carteret for assisting throughout

Mrs Clare Cornick and Mr. Jonathan Sykes of the Société Jersiaise Office

Jersey Heritage

Mr. Terry Underwood

Mr. Frank Falle

The Landmark Trust

Mrs. Julia Rotherham

Mr. Jonathan Bull

Mr. Robert Waterhouse

Mr. Malcolm Gallichan

The Environment Department

Jersey Field Squadron

Mr. Neil Molyneux

The Rector of St. Ouen

Mr. Peter Bisson

Mr. Steve Bree

Mrs. Jean Treleven

Mrs. Sheila Mallet

The Rector of Grouville

Dr. John Renouf

Mr. Paul Burnal

Mrs. Sue Hardy

The Rector of St. Brelade

Mr. Nigel Bartlett

Mr. Neil Mahrer

Dr. Andrew Shaw

Dr. Matthew Pope

Dr. Ed Blinkhorn

 

and many property owners onto whose property the events might have entered.

 

Conclusions

 

This year's Festival was a success, attendance figures surpassing previous years; The accumulated total was estimated at 480 average was 32 for each event.  This number is too great for many of the sites where moving about is involved.  Printing a disclaimer and taking names was done at three events.  At the most hazardous site, Icho, the number was restricted to 30 and others (up to about 10) turned away.  Some were advised of the difficulties and retired, but most events were held in public spaces so that members of the public could not be prevented from attending.  For the same reason the organisers did not take any responsibility for anyone's safety.

No complaints have been received but some useful suggestions have been made.  On publicity better use of media has been suggested.  This year publicity began with the CBA Festival booklet, What's On in Jersey,  CBA websites, Société Jersiaise website, Jersey Heritage website, direct e-mail, social media, Jersey Radio interview, ITV Channel News interview, Jersey Evening Post diary, interview and report, Posters to Hotels and public places, fliers, and word of mouth were all used.  No payment was made for the publicity and all the material was produced in-house.

Other suggestions were to fully record the attendance to analyse who the participants were, how many were SJ members, or visitors, who came to all, several or only one event and how they knew about the Festival.  This would require another person at every event.

Suggested timing of events; preference was expressed for early evening starts, 5.30 or 6.30.

Having indoor lectures was suggested.  This would require experienced speakers. 

The criticism that mid 20th century military defence remains are not archaeology has been dismissed.

Charging fees for tickets has not been done for several reasons:-

         none of the speakers are paid,

         all the organisations are charities therefore donations can be made,

         the cost of printing tickets,

         complications if events were cancelled or changed and securing any monies       during ambulatory events.

         It was successful and appropriate to ask for donations for the CIOS Museum   and previously at indoor lectures.

 

Summary

 

The 2016 Festival of British Archaeology was a worthwhile success but risked getting overwhelmed by numbers.  Further growth is possible while new sites are available but it requires enough experts to guide and interpret them to bring more archaeology to the public.

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