Institute of Archaeology


Ice Age Island

The Early Prehistory of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey and wider La Mancheland

Archaeologists led by Mathew Pope (UCL) excavating at the site of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey (July 2022)

Since 2010 this project has seen a multi-disciplinary team, drawn from British and French institutions, working to undertake reassessment of the early prehistoric record of the island of Jersey and its wider context. From the start we have worked with island partners Jersey Heritage and the Société Jersiaise to unlock the Ice Age record of the island and the wider, now-submerged region of La Mancheland.

The first three years of the project saw an island-wide survey on Jersey, identifying new locales and bringing archaeological understanding to previously known sites, attempting to use the exceptional record of this small island to frame wider research themes.  The period also saw NERC-funded assessment of the Neanderthal mega-site of La Cotte de St Brelade, identified as being partially under threat from marine erosion.

The project has seen a transformation in our understanding of the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic records of the island. At La Cotte de St Brelade a major new excavation project has been initiated alongside detailed work on existing archives.

These include the following projects:

La Cotte de St Brelade West Ravine Excavations: Funded by Jersey Heritage and implemented by UCL Archaeology South-East. A major project to stabilise and investigate sediments preserved in the site’s West ravine.

Last Neanderthals of La Cotte de St Brelade: Reevaluating the collections from early excavations at La Cotte to bring into focus late Neanderthal occupation history and records of environmental change. One key research aim of this project is to provide a context for fossil teeth at the site identified as having morphology indicative of a shared ancestry with Homo sapiens.

The Violet Bank Survey: Funded by the British Academy/Leverhulme, this project is investigating the record of Neanderthal activity preserved in Jersey vast intertidal reefs.

Les Varines Magdalenian Site: Led by Dr Chantal Conneller (University of Newcastle) and Dr Ed Blinkhorn (Archaeology South-East), this major Upper Palaeolithic settlement preserves stone artefact scatters, pits and hearths, alongside Palaoelihtic art as part of an open air site on the south east of the island of Jersey.

Ice Age Jersey (coastal landscape pictured with blue sky overhead)

Related videos

Related podcasts

Related outputs

  • Scott, B., Shaw, A., Scott, K. and Pope, M. eds., 2023. Repeopling La Manche: New Perspectives on Archaeology and Landscapes from La Cotte de St Brelade (Vol. 10). Oxbow Books.
  • Compton, T., Skinner, M. M., Humphrey, L., Pope, M., Bates, M., Davies, T. W., Stringer, C. (2021). The morphology of the Late Pleistocene hominin remains from the site of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey (Channel Islands). Journal of Human Evolution, 152.
  • Bello, S. M., Blinkhorn, E., Needham, A., Bates, M., Duffy, S., Little, A., Pope, M., Conneller, C. (2020). Artists on the edge of the world: An integrated approach to the study of Magdalenian engraved stone plaquettes from Jersey (Channel Islands). PLoS One, 15 (8)
  • Scott, B., Pope, M., Ashton, N. and Shaw, A., 2019, November. The Early Middle Palaeolithic of Britain and Jersey: reconnecting the Saalian occupations of the Channel Region. Institut national de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives (INRAP).
  • Pope, M. (2019). La Cotte de Saint-Brélade: a new beginning. Excavations July-August 2019. Bulletin of the Société Jersiaise.
  • Pope, M., Gamble, C., McNabb, J. 2017. Crossing the Human Threshold Dynamic Transformation and Persistent Places During the Late Middle Pleistocene. Cambridge.
  • Conneller, C., M. Bates, T. Schadla-Hall, E. Blinkhorn, J. Cole, M. Pope, B. Scott, A. Shaw. 2016 "Rethinking human responses to sea level rise: The Mesolithic of the Channel Islands." Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, London.
  • Shaw, A., Bates, M., Conneller, C., Gamble, C, Julien, M-A., McNabb, M., Pope, M. and Scott, M. 2016. The archaeology of persistent places: the Palaeolithic case of La Cotte de St Brelade, Jersey. Antiquity
  • Pope, M. Scott, B., Mills, J., Bates, M, Bates, R. Blinkhorn, E., Conneller, C., Duffy, S., Julien, M.A, Ravon, A.L and Shaw, S. 2015. Discoveries from La Manche: Five Years of Early Prehistoric Research in the Channel Island of Jersey. Archaeology International, 18 (2015), pp. 113–123, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/ai.1813
  • Scott, B., M. Bates, R. Bates, C. Conneller C, M. Pope. A. Shaw, A and G. Smith. 2014. A new view from La Cotte de St. Brelade, Jersey. Antiquity: A quarterly review of archaeology, 88 (339) pp. 13-29.
  • Bates, M., M. Pope, A. Shaw, B. Scott and J-L Schwenninger. 2013. Late Neanderthal occupation in North-West Europe: rediscovery, investigation and dating of a last glacial sediment sequence at the site of La Cotte de Saint Brelade, Jersey. Journal of Quaternary Science 316: 14-26
  • Pope, M., M. Bates, J. Cole, C. Conneller, K. Ruebens, B. Scott ,A. Shaw, G. Smith, D. Underhill, and R. Wragg Sykes. 2012. Quaternary Environments and Archaeology of Jersey: A New Multidisciplinary project looking at the early prehistoric occupation of the English Channel Region. In K. Ruebens,, I. I. Romanowska and R. Bynoe. Unravelling the Palaeolithic. BAR International Series 240