History of Jersey

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The island of Jersey and the other Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy that held sway in both France and England. Jersey lies in the Bay of Mont St Michel and is the largest of the Channel Islands. It has enjoyed self-government since the division of the Duchy of Normandy in 1204.

Contents

Prehistory

It has been an island for approximately 8,000 years and at its extremes it measures 10 miles east to west and six miles north to south. The earliest evidence of human activity in the island dates to about 250,000 years ago when bands of hunters used the caves at La Cotte de St Brelade as a base for hunting mammoth. There was sporadic activity in the area by nomadic bands of hunters until the introduction of settled communities in the Neolithic period, which is marked by the building of the ritual burial sites known as dolmens. The number, size and visible locations of these megalithic monuments (especially La Hougue Bie) have suggested that social organisation over a wide area, including surrounding coasts, was required for the construction. Archaeological evidence shows that there were trading links with Brittany and the south coast of England during this time. It would appear that the island was significant enough to inspire large-scale construction projects.

Christianity

Although part of the Roman world, we know very little about the island until the 11th century. The tradition that the Island was called Caesarea by the Romans appears to have no basis in fact. The Channel Islands, then called the Lenur Islands, were occupied by the Britons during their migration to Brittany (5th-6th century). Various saints such as the Celts Samson of Dol and Branwaldr (Brelade) were active in the region, although tradition has it that it was Saint Helier from Tongeren in modern-day Belgium who first brought Christianity to the Island in the 6th century, and Charlemagne sent his emissary to the island (at that time called Angia, also spelt Agna)[1] in 803.

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