La Cotte de St Brelade: Eemian and Weichselian Sequence

Late Middle Palaeolithic Neanderthal Archaeology

Excavations by the Societe Jersiaise and R.R. Marett in the early 20thcentury determined the presence of a series of occupation layers in the North Ravine which formed part of a deep sedimentary sequence spanning the last interglacial (Eemian) and last cold stage periods (Weichsleian).  These deposits contained evidence for hearths, well preserved cold stage fauna and thousands of stone tools of Middle Palaeolithic character. While much of this archive and material is now lost, enough survives to show that a significant series of occupation levels were once present in this part of the site.  Neanderthal teeth and single skull fragment found during these works are still the only Late Neanderthal remains from the La Manche region and the British Isles.

NERC Funded Assessment

In 2011 LaMP members surveyed the West Ravine as part of a NERC-funded stabilisation project aimed at addressing issues of coastal erosion effecting this part of the site. OSL dating determine that the West Ravine still contained deposits which spanned the end of the Eemian and a large part of the Weichselian and that deposit of apparent stratigraphic equivalence to those which renewed the Neanderthal remains were still present ta the site.

Enabling Works

As a result of further storm damage in the winter of 2013-214 the LaMP team were commissioned by Jersey Heritage to undertake fieldwork at the site head of the first stage of engineering works.  This project, managed by Archaeology South East,  saw LaMP team members work together to remove archaeolgically sensitive depsoits ahead of the constrtcion of a protective wall.  Now, working with the site’s owners, the Societe Jersiaise and Jersey Heritage, the LaMP team are helping to develop plans for it’s long term stabilisation and research programme.

Human Remains and Archive Study

Parts of the archive relating to the Weichselian deposits and archaeology from La Cotte de St Brelade has come under renewed study with partners from the British Museum of Natural History Human Origins Research group led by Professor Chris Stringer.  This ongoing work is also bringing the fossil Neanderthal remains recovered from this part of the site under renewed study.

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