La Cotte has the potential to surprise us with incredible new stories. But before the archaeologists can begin their work, the cliffs around La Cotte must be made safe and the ancient site protected from the sea. It’s a big and exciting project and we need your help!
By supporting the La Cotte project, you can help us get closer to uncovering the story of our ancestors and tell the next chapter of the story.
Whatever is uncovered beneath the earth, once archaeologists can safely access it, the site will form part of a story that relates directly to our ancient ancestors and the lives they once lived at La Cotte de St Brelade.
Help us to uncover the story by making a donation.Make a donation
Meet Barbu. He is one of our ancient human ancestors, part of the Neanderthal population who lived in Europe until 40,000 years ago. La Cotte de St Brelade was a very important place to Barbu’s people.
It was a refuge to which they returned again and again, a home in which they made tools and clothing, shared food and from where they could watch animals moving across the lowlands.
La Cotte is home for our Neanderthal ancestors and the story of their lives is buried beneath the earth at one of the most important Neanderthal sites in North West Europe.
We can trace our history back to Barbu, to a time before our family histories were written down. We are part of a global human family that can be explored through our DNA. We asked four people living in Jersey to take part in a project to uncover the mystery of their own ancient ancestry and see how they are connected to Neanderthals, and ultimately the untold story of La Cotte de St Brelade. Watch the film to find out more. Film supported by Mary Venturini.
Situated on a granite headland on Jersey’s south west coast, the collapsed cave and granite ravines of La Cotte de St Brelade provided a home for Neanderthal hunters-gatherers for over 200,000 years.
Since ancient stone tools were first found at the site in 1881, stunning discoveries have been made by successive generations of archaeologists. La Cotte provided early fossil evidence for Neanderthal people, exciting records of their use of fire, and heaps of bone which showed how they could work together to hunt Ice Age megafauna such as mammoth and woolly rhinoceros. It is now time for a new era of investigation and a new generation of archaeologists are about to embark on an exciting and ambitious programme of scientific research and discovery.
In 2010, the Ice Age Island team began to survey La Cotte de St Brelade, determining both that the site contained further Neanderthal archaeology and that it was under threat from significant coastal erosion. Since then, Jersey Heritage and the Société Jersiaise have worked with engineering teams from the Channel Islands and UK to transform the site into a place that is both safe to work in and secure from further damaging erosion. The engineering project represents a bold and innovative response to the effects of sea level rise and climate change and provides an opportunity to safeguard an internationally important scientific record. It has also opened the way for renewed large-scale archaeological research.
La Cotte de St Brelade preserves a unique record of our closest human relatives. Now, for the first time in the site’s history, it is possible to safely excavate within this massive site. In the summer of 2019 the Ice Age Island team will initiate the first stage of this project with a short intense season focussed on the west ravine. From this first season they will gain valuable information which will help shape a long-term project, bringing the west ravine under new understanding, leading to new discoveries, and protecting the archaeology.
Dr Matt Pope
Dr Matt Pope works for the Institute of Archaeology at UCL, London. He studies early human behaviour and how prehistoric people adapted to changing environments. He is particularly interested in the evolution of human hunting behaviour and the use of landscape. He teaches the archaeology of human evolution and coordinates multidisciplinary field investigation. He is passionate about sharing the results of human origins research and explaining why understanding human adaptation is important to society.
Dr Beccy Scott
Dr Beccy Scott works in the Department of Prehistory and Europe at the British Museum, specialising in the behaviour of early Neanderthals in North West Europe. She is particularly interested in how Neanderthals came to ‘act like’ Neanderthals, using their stone tools to reconstruct how they moved within their landscapes, and modified their environments. Beccy investigates the texture of Neanderthal landscapes beyond river valleys and excavates sites on the upland interfluves of Southern Britain. She has studied Neanderthal technology from Britain, Northern France and Belgium, as part of the AHOB projects, and is the author of ‘Becoming Neanderthals’.
Jersey Heritage is Gardien of the Island’s story. It cares for it, promotes access to it, brings imagination to telling its stories and inspires others to do the same. As an independent charitable organisation, it can only do this with support from the local community. Jersey Heritage plays a major role in the La Cotte project as it aims to share the stories of the ancient site and the Island’s earliest ancestors.
The Société Jersiaise was founded in 1873 for the study of Jersey archaeology, history, natural history, the ancient language and the conservation of the environment. La Cotte is owned by the Société Jersiaise, which is committed to protect, conserve and realise the potential public heritage value of the internationally significant site of La Cotte de St. Brelade.