||Channel Islands Prehistory
||Relics of Neanderthal man have been found in the cave, La Cotte
at St Brelade's. (1)
|8000 - 6500 BC
||Islands were severed from the Continent by rising seas. (1)
|3000 - 2000 BC
||Neolithic people crossed to the islands, probably from the
Iberian peninsula. Passage graves, menhirs and dolmens appear from this
time. One of the finest Neolithic tombs in Europe is La Hougue Bie on
Jersey, a Viking-type mound above a huge passage grave. (1) (2) (4)
See Geraint Jennings' site Dolmens
in Jersey which also leads to a site about dolmens in Guernsey.
||Cemetery of Iberian immigrants containing 18 prehistoric
graves is established on Green Island. (4)
||Invasions by other tribes such as the Beaker folk. (2)
||Gauls, particularly the Unelli tribe, crossed to Jersey and
made the Iberians their slaves. This was a Celtic society with Druid
|56 BC - 450 AD
||Roman & Viking times in the Channel Islands
||Gaul was conquered by Julius Caesar but there was no Roman
occupation of the Channel Islands. From the Antoine Itinerary of
284 it is believed that Jersey was called Caesarea, Guernsey Sarnia and
Alderney Riduna. Roman law, language and religion became highly valued.
||Gaul was invaded by the Franks and became known as Francia.
||Jersey was occupied by Christian Bretons. The people of
Armorica or Brittany had suffered greatly under invasion and many moved to
the Channel Islands and Britain. Jersey was called Angia or Agna at this
time and Guernsey Lesia. (2)
||St Helier or Helibertus, a Christian
hermit on Jersey, was murdered by
Saxon or Norman pirates. (2)
||St Magliore's monastery was founded on
Sark and this lasted until 1413. (2) (5)
|600 - 800
||The parishes were founded.
|800 - 911
||Many Viking raids occurred with burning and pillaging. Many
Channel Island names developed from the Norse language at this time
including the names of the islands, Jersey probably meaning "grassy
||A Norman dynasty was founded by the Viking,
Rollo. The Channel
Islands were later won by his son, William Longsword, after he defeated the
Bretons in 931. There was large Norman immigration and influence at this
time. The fiefs and feudal system developed. (1) (2) (5)
|931 - 1204
||The Channel Islands ruled from Rouen as part of
||The Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror as Duke of
Normandy took England. Jersey remained part of Normandy and was ruled from
||King John who had acceded to the throne of England and the
Duchy of Normandy in 1199 lost Normandy but kept the Channel Islands. The
Islands were given special privileges and allowed to be largely
self-governing under a Bailiwick system. Norman law was retained and Jersey even remained part of
the Diocese of Coutances for another 300 years (until 1569). (2) (5)
||Construction of the Keep at Mont Orgueil
in Jersey and Castle Cornet in Guernsey were commenced.
||Part of Great Britain
||Henry III, son of King
John, confirmed the special privileges that had been allowed previously.
|1327 - 1330
||Grosnez Castle on Jersey
was built when Jean de Roches was the Warden. It was in ruins by 1607. (4)
||The Black Death struck the Channel Islands like the rest of
Europe leading to a devastating loss of population. Britain's main language
changed to English. (2)
||Treaty of Calais was
signed after the Battle of Poitiers (1356) when the French after their
defeat by the English abandoned any claim to the Channel Islands. (5)
||Repeated invasions by the
French, attacks by pirates and the severe rule of Otho de Grandison as
Lord of the Isles (c1270 - 1320) made life very difficult for the
islanders. (2) (5)
||Jersey was occupied by
the French for seven years. (4)
||The dissolution of the
monasteries led on to the establishment of the Protestant Church in
Britain. The islands favoured Presbyterianism but Jersey was made to
conform to the Church of England in 1620 and Guernsey in 1663. (4) (5)
|1550 - 1800
||Knitting was a huge industry in Jersey and Guernsey. This is
mentioned in William Candor's Britannia (1586) and William Harrison's
of England (1587). In 1587 Mary Queen of Scots wore jersey stockings at
her execution.(1) (2) (3)
||Witch trials were held in
the Channel Islands. Jersey "witches" were hanged and strangled
while those in Guernsey were burnt at the stake. (7)
||Helier de Carteret, the
Seigneur of St Ouen, was given the right to colonise Sark, mainly with
people from Jersey, in order to root out the pirates' nest existing there.
||Elizabeth College on
Guernsey was founded by Elizabeth I and rebuilt in 1825. (6)
were sailing across the Atlantic seeking cargoes of Newfoundland Cod. They
left Jersey in spring and returned for the autumn ploughing. (8)
||The building of Elizabeth
Castle on the Islet, Jersey, was completed. (4)
|1642 - 1651
||English Civil War. Both Charles II
and James II lived in exile in Jersey. Only Jersey & Virginia remained
loyal (1) The Parliamentarians invaded in 1651.
||The revocation of the
Edict of Nantes led to an influx of Huguenot refugees from France. (5)
||Riots occurred in Jersey
due to seigneurial dues, poverty and the high cost of corn. (5). Also
serious continental wars, the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) and
the war against France in the Napoleonic era (1793-1802, 1803-1815) meant
that the Channel Islands were under threat. (5)
||The Battle of Jersey
occurred when a French expedition led by Baron de Rullecourt tried to
capture Jersey. Major Francis Peirson led the attack against the French
and defeated them (5)
||Methodism came to the
Channel Islands. John Wesley visited himself in 1787. (5)
||After the French
Revolution the Islands received an influx of refugees, particularly French
Royalists and Catholic clergy. (5)
||General Conway developed
a fortification programme for thirty coastal towers in the Channel
||Population of Jersey - 28,000
||Queen Victoria and Prince
Albert visited Guernsey and Jersey. They visited again in 1859 and
Alderney in 1854. (5)
||Construction of St
Catherine's Breakwater in Jersey was carried out.
||Population of Jersey - 57,000.
After Louis Napoleon's coup in France in 1851 many political refugees came
to the Islands including Victor Hugo who remained for 15 years. (5)
||A very low tide exposed
the existence of the remains of an ancient forest off the coast of L'Etacq.
|1914 - 1918
||Many islanders served in
British forces. At Blanches Banques in Jersey a German prisoner-of-war
camp was set up. (5)
||A Royal visit was made by
George V, Queen Mary and Princess Mary. The prince of Wales also visited
in 1935. (5)
||German occupation of the Islands.
Alderney was completely evacuated, Guernsey partially so and Jersey
slightly. German forces arrived first in Guernsey on 30 June, in Jersey on
1 July and in Sark on 3 July. (5) This was the only part of Britain occupied during WW
II. The population came close to starvation as well as the German garrison
after supply lines were cut after D-Day (6 June 1944).
||On 27 December the Red
Cross ship Vega arrived with supplies. (5)
||Liberation Day occurred
on 9 May when the German surrender was signed. (5)
||Population of Jersey - 57,000
||Population of Jersey -
63,000; population of Guernsey - 45,000; population of Alderney - 1,500;
population of Sark and Brechou - 560. (5)
||As Crown dependencies
with sovereignty over their own affairs, the Channel Islands have chosen not to join EU.
However, pressure is being exerted to establish agreements with the EU
about financial transactions.
1. Cerruti, J. (1971). Britain's "French" Channel Islands. National Geographic,
139, 5, 710-740.
2. Balleine, G.R. (1950). A history of the Island of Jersey.
3. The Evening Post 1890-1965. 30 June 1965.
4. Ahier, P. (1957). Jersey. Premier: Bagot, Jersey.
5. Lempriere, R. (1970). Portrait of the Channel Islands. Robert Hale:
6. Court, A.N. (1969). Guernsey in colour. Jarrold & Sons: Norwich.
7. Balleine, G.R. (1939). Witch trials in Jersey. Bulletin of the Societe
Jersiaise, XIII, 379-398.
8. Le Sauteur, W.T. (1982). A brief
history of Jersey. Accessed 23.4.03. (Online).
A few distinctive aspects of the Channel
Tomatoes and Jersey Royals
Jersey & Guernsey & Alderney cows
The local patois - Jersiaise and Guernesiaise
Ormers, a shellfish similar to abalone
Jerseys & Guernseys - terms arising from the famous products of the islands'
Haro! An ancient cry for help
Inter-island jokes about the Jersey crapaud (toad) and the Guernsey donkey
A haven for privateers and smugglers
Dense fortifications from the Elizabethan period, the Napoleonic Wars (Martello
towers) and World War II when the Germans built many concrete bunkers and gun
Many Neolithic constructions such as passage graves and dolmens