CBA Members Tour 2017 – Jersey
Andante Travels is delighted to present our second tour in collaboration with the Council for British Archaeology. This tour explores the rich, multi-faceted archaeology of Jersey, an island with a unique history, that has left a unique monuments, site and landscapes to explore. Based in St Helier, the tour is led throughout by Robert Waterhouse, an archaeologist who has dedicated his career to the study of Jersey’s prehistory and led many excavations on the island. At the cutting edge of archaeological discovery, we visit some of Europe’s finest Neolithic dolmens, marvel at a great Iron Age coin hoard and explore the stalwart Norman and Tudor castles of later periods. We have special access and evening lectures at the headquarters of the Société Jersiaise, whose members have led the study and protection of Jersey’s heritage for over 130 years. A very privileged exploration of the history and prehistory of this beautiful island.
Day 1: We arrive at St Helier in Jersey in the late afternoon and begin our tour with a ‘Vin d’Honneur’, a drinks reception as guests of honour, at the headquarters of the Société Jersiaise. Founded in 1873, the Society has been dedicated to the study of the history, language and antiquities of Jersey for over one hundred years. We enjoy a lecture on the prehistory of Jersey – a preview of our visits to come – before checking into our hotel. We are based throughout the tour at the Merton Hotel, a bustling, high-quality 3* hotel on the outskirts of St Helier with pool, gardens and several restaurants.
Day 2: The Neolithic Landscape
We begin at the beginning, as we spend the day exploring the rich legacy of Jersey’s Stone Age past. This morning we visit the dolmens of Jersey, starting with La Hougue Bie Dolmen and Museum. This very well preserved passage grave dates from around 3500BC, and was first excavated by the Société Jersiaise in the early 20th century. We visit the site and associated museum, which is currently hosting the Le Catillon Iron Age Hoard, one of the largest coin hoards in Europe (and which we have more of on Day 4) . We continue to explore the monuments of the Eastern coast of Jersey with visits to the dolmens at Mont Ube, La Pouquelaye de Faldouet, and Le Couperon.
After a picnic lunch we continue to survey Jersey’s prehistoric monuments at La Hougue des Géonnais, Le Mont de Grantez, La Sergenté, La Ville Es Nouaux and La Table des Marthes. This final monument, a huge granite slab, was used long into the historic period for witnessing and signing of official contracts. The number and variety of Neolithic monuments on Jersey brings inevitable comparisons with the landscapes of Wessex and Carnac. The archaeologists who are our guides will discuss the numerous theories around the monuments, and of the lives of the people who built them.
We return to St Helier for a lecture on the Late Prehistoric, Roman and Early Medieval Jersey - Lecture at the Société Jersiaise, before continuing to our hotel for dinner this evening.
Day 3: The Later Middle Ages
Mont Orgueil Castle, our first visit of the day, has loomed over the small fishing village of Gorey for over 800 years. Built around 1204, it has all the forbidding granite walls, defensive positioning and military quarters you would expect of a top-notch Norman castle. The Castle has been put to many uses over the centuries, including residence, prison, secret service headquarters, and garrison for the German occupying forces in World War II. We continue to the fine 11th century Grouville Church, where we enjoy a tour and picnic lunch.
We contrast the Normans with the Tudors this afternoon, as we travel by amphibious vehicles to the 16th century Elizabeth Castle –built on the tidal island of St Helier. Replete with hidden passageways, bunkers and battlements the castle replaced Mont Orgueil as Jersey’s main defensive structure. It was also used as a refuge for Charles II during the interregnum and later re-fortified during the German occupation. If time allows, we will continue to the Hamptonne Country Life museum for a taste of life in the 15th century.
We end the day with a lecture on Medieval & Post-Medieval Jersey before retiring to our hotel.
Day 4: Iron Age & Roman Jersey
In the morning we visit the Iron Age defensive earthworks at Catel de Lecq, one of the best-preserved defensive monuments in Jersey. Later we continue to the Iron Age and Roman sites at St Clement and Grouville. In 2014, excavations in St Clement uncovered Jersey’s first known Iron Age settlement, including the remains of a rectangular, timber-framed house as well finds from multiple periods of occupations. Robert Waterhouse, our expert guide, led the excavations and will discuss the significance of the site.
Having survived the Iron Age, we return to Hougue Bie for a picnic lunch before entering the site museum for a special session with Conservator Neil Mahrer, whose team are currently cleaning and restoring the Le Catillion (or Grouville) hoard. Discovered in 2012 by metal detectorists, the hoard is thought to have belonged to a Breton tribe fleeing the invasion of Julius Caesar (the antics of Asterix and Obelisk spring irresistibly to mind!). The hoard consists of over 70,000 Roman and Celtic coins, as well as various items of jewellery,
This evening, we visit the Société Jersiaise for one final time for a lecture on the excavations at St Clement. We enjoy a final, farewell dinner at our hotel this evening.
Day 5: Napoleonic Wars
We check out of our hotel and travel the short distance to Fort Regent. Built on the site of a prehistoric dolmen, the fort was constructed in its current form in 1806, as a bastion against possible French invasion. We explore the impressive earthworks, ramparts and redoubts and bastions that characterise the building. After a final picnic lunch our tour comes to end and we depart for home or onward journeys.
We are based throughout the tour at the highly-regarded Merton Hotel, on the outskirts of St Helier. A large hotel with many options to upgrade rooms, facilities also include pool, gardens, several restaurants and a fitness centre
4 nights’ accommodation in the Merton Hotel
All meals with wine at dinner
Entry to all sites listed in programme
Expert Guides and Professional Tour Manager
Local transport by air conditioned coach