Green Island, or La Motte is a small islet, now measuring no more than 15 metres by 10 metres off the south coast of Jersey at St Clement. It was previously connected to the island, even at high tide, but storms have washed away the spit of sand making that connection and now Green Island is surrounded by the sea at high tide.
While it remained connected it was the most southerly point of Jersey.
Excavations by archaeologists in 1910 – 1911, based on the large amounts of flint and pottery found around La Motte, revealed the tiny islet to be rich in archaeology. They discovered 18 cist graves, some of which contained human remains thought to be in excess of 4000 years old. Some of these have been removed to the grounds of La Hougue Bie.
Erosion from heavy rain in 1910 revealed small and roughly constructed cist graves. When excavation began, these were found to be the open ends of a “sepulchral chamber”, consisting of two graves covered by capstones. When these stones were removed, the researchers found “no relics of art or industry” as the acidity of the clay had dissolved any remains.
As exploration continued, more cist graves began to be discovered about 5 feet north of the last, though again, no lasting remains had been found. By the end of the excavation, 15 cist graves had been discovered and recorded by the Société Jersiaise excavators. Grave number 14 contained the most intact skeleton, and three graves bore intact skulls. Grave number 6 contained two skulls, and graves 2, 5, 9 and 15 contained the remains of children.
The view of the researchers, reflected in the 1912 edition of the Société Jersiaise Bulletin, was that the graves were likely Neolithic in origin. However, this view was criticised when revaluated in the 2002 Bulletin by Archaeologist Mark Patton, who identified the graves as Medieval cist graves dating between the 4th and 11th centuries AD.
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1911 archaeological dig
Photograph by Emile Guiton