Turns out, Jersey’s popularity as a tourist destination is nothing new. Archaeologists conducting research on the island have discovered that tourism to the island and others in the channel dates back as far as the Neanderthals in the Stone Age. This means they first happened upon the island between 180,000 and 40,000 years ago when it was a large hill in Ice Age Europe.
Evidence for their visits to the island has turned up during excavations and examinations conducted by the University of Southampton at La Cotte de St Brelade’s cliffs in conjunction with two other universities. This, however, is not all new because stone age finds have been unearthed from the area as far back as the 1970s.
Not a Random Place to Visit
According to the study’s lead author, Dr. Andy Shaw, “La Cotte seems to have been a special place for Neanderthals. They kept making deliberate journeys to reach the site over many, many generations. We can use the stone tools they left behind to map how they were moving through landscapes, which are now beneath the English Channel. 180,000 years ago, as ice caps expanded and temperatures plummeted, they would have been exploiting a huge offshore area, inaccessible to us today.”
The cliffs appear to be a regular place for neanderthals to excavate and fashion stone tools over a period of tens of thousands of years. This journey undertaken by neanderthals included a wide range of climate induced changes including water levels ranging from low enough to walk, to high enough to need crafts or swimming. Being such a high point, it is thought that the island would have been a refuge during times of flooding, storms, and rising sea levels.
Archaeologists on the team have examined geological data from the cliffs to determine the environment of the neanderthal period and how it changed. It points out to the island being a continuous place of residence and a destination for hunter gatherer societies and units no matter the climate.