In the five years leading up to the outbreak of World War I, both Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as well as a student of Father H Morin, probably independently of each other, discovered La Belle Hougue Cave I on the northeast coast of Jersey. In fact we know from an article written by AE Mourant, published in the Annual Bulletin of the Société Jersiaise in 1983, that locals had probably known these caves for quite some time by the name of Cave du Rouoge Creux. The caves of Belle Hougue I and II, as well as some caves discovered by Mourant in the 1920’s and 1930’s, are exciting archaeologically because they appear to have good preservation conditions for bone, with finds including bones and antler from a now extinct dwarfed red deer species, Cervus elaphus jerseyensus. Rather excitingly there is also a stone artefact that purportedly came from Belle Hougue, potentially meaning there is a cave, or even a series of caves that might contain preserved bones and stone tools together in one place – we can only dream!
Figure 1. An aerial view of Belle Hougue (Taken from Prehistoricjersey.net)
One of the current aims is to try and understand this series of caves, and the geological conditions leading to the bone preservation, and to establish whether they might have interesting material that would help us better understand life on Jersey in the Palaeolithic. Earlier this week we visited the archives of the Société Jersiaise, whose staff kindly helped us locate some of the published material from the 20th century on these caves and their finds. Next up the team hope to get a better understanding of where these caves are situated and what their current state of access might be: boats, diving and spelunking equipment at the ready!
Figure 1. Outside Belle Hougue Cave I (Taken from Prehistoricjersey.net)