The Channel Island of Jersey is extraordinarily rich in archaeological remains. Key sites include La Cotte de St Brelade (a cave filled with Neanderthal stone tools and the bones of mammoths and rhinos) and La Hougue Bie, a prehistoric grave mound topped by a medieval chapel. Jacquetta Hawkes explored this heritage in her first book: The Archaeology of the Channel Islands: Volume II The Bailiwick of Jersey.
Volume I, covering the archaeology of Guernsey, had been published by Methuen in 1928. Its author, Thomas Kendrick, worked at the British Museum, as did Jacquetta’s husband Christopher. Kendrick had done much of the research for a second volume, on Jersey, by 1934, but “an increase in other work, and a growing distaste for the stones and bones of prehistory” meant that he was glad to put the task into Jacquetta’s “capable hands”.
Jacquetta had recently married Christopher; both were becoming known as exceptional young archaeologists. Jacquetta was particularly well placed to take on the Jersey project. As J.G.D. Clark pointed out, “Her cave experience in Palestine … made her sympathetic to one of Jersey’s chief glories, the Cotte de Brelade, while her own distinguished researches into the Neolithic pottery of France … equipped her to deal with the megalithic backbone of the island’s pre-history”.
Part IV of The Bailiwick of Jersey, detailed descriptions of individual archaeological sites, was largely Kendrick’s work. However, Parts I-III were written by Jacquetta herself and reflect changes in archaeological thought since the original volume: she took a more hypothetical and conceptual approach to the subject. Although this volume was her first publication, she already demonstrated qualities that were to distinguish her writing in the future, bringing together a huge range of sources and ideas to create a coherent, clear and readable account. Jacquetta’s biographer Dr Christine Finn observes the clarity and ambition of the green exercise book, “Jersey arch. Notes”, in which the book took shape, and the “lyrical” introduction.
The Jersey volume is a fine example of Jacquetta collaborating with other archaeologists, as she did later on for the Festival of Britain. In particular, she drew on the efforts of the Société Jersiaise (who published the book). Jacquetta’s Archive documents her extensive correspondence with key researchers including Emile Guiton, responsible for the photographs in the book, N.V.L. Rybot, who created most of the line drawings, R.R. Marett, H.L. Stapleton, and Arthur Mourant. She also gathered older research material which is now part of her Archive, notably an important collection of 1870s letters by Philippe Langlois on Jersey antiquities.
The Bailiwick of Jersey was well received by archaeologists. It made Jacquetta’s name and enabled her to become a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. The book remains an essential resource for anyone interested in the Island’s prehistory.
The flints illustrated above lead us to another aspect of Jacquetta’s first book and of Jersey’s archaeology, which has been explored by Dr Finn. The top row of flints came from “… a considerable piece of ground in the sandy terrain of the Lower Quennevais [which] is still scarred by the last traces of the Prisoners-of-War Camp which was established there during the Great War” and were revealed by “the disturbance of the occupation and dismantling of this camp, followed by a severe storm”.
The story of the flints and their finding exemplifies Jersey’s own turbulent story. Its closeness to mainland Europe led to easy contact with other communities, often resulting in invasion, occupation and the presence of refugees. Jacquetta paid particular attention to this narrative in her sections of The Bailiwick of Jersey. Her approach seems horribly prescient given what was to come soon after the long-delayed publication of the volume, in 1939. The Nazis invaded Jersey in June 1940 and it was occupied until the end of the Second World War.
Jacquetta’s book thus has an added value and resonance as the record of a landscape about to change forever, where (as at La Hougue Bie and many other sites) “gun emplacements, bunkers and other observation posts” were built on the same “exceptional vantage points” chosen by the prehistoric peoples for their buildings.
Quotations. The Bailiwick of Jersey, Clark’s review in Man, Vol. 40 (July 1940), pp. 107-108 (available via JSTOR), Christine Finn’s article “Artefacts of Occupation” in Artefacts Consortium Publications Vol. 5 and her online biography of Jacquetta.
Note on dates: The Bailiwick of Jersey has no publication date. Jacquetta’s Preface is dated April 1937, hence library catalogue records and bibliographies may give the date as 1937 or 1938. The date of 1939 is correct, as far as I can ascertain.
Note on creator of drawings: In the absence of information on the flint drawings themselves, we have in the past attributed them to Jacquetta. The pencil annotations are certainly hers. However, the phrasing of her Preface to Bailiwick now leads me to think that the drawings might be by Rybot, but the sketchy nature of other drawings on the same graph paper brings me back to Jacquetta. I will continue to investigate this.