In the beginning…

The Channel Islands were not always islands. A million years ago we were in the middle of the Ice Age. The world was very cold and most of Britain was covered by a sheet of ice a kilometre thick. So much water was turned to ice that the sea was over 100 metres lower than it was today. Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey would have been just hills and you could have walked to England or France.

During this time, stone age people came north hunting animals such as woolly mammoths. Their bones and stone tools have been found in Jersey but not in the other islands. At times the world warmed up, the ice melted and the sea swept in. England became separated from France, and the Channel Islands became islands for a few thousand years. We know this happened at least five times, possibly more than 10 times.

About 11,700 years ago the world began to warm up again (9,700 BC). Sea level rose cutting us off from France. Guernsey and Herm became one big island around 9,000 BC. Alderney was cut off around the same time, making a big island with the Casquets and Burhou. The sea cut the smaller islands away 7,000 BC. Jersey was the last to lose its land-bridge to France around 5,000 BC. You can still see the remains of a great forest drowned by the sea at Vazon in Guernsey. The huge animals that used to live here vanished.

People came to live in the islands full time once the world had started to warm. Archaeologists have found stone tools made by hunters near the little island of Crevichon. These were left behind around 12,000 BC. Tomorrow we’ll talk about the next people to arrive...
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- Dr Jason Monaghan is the Director of Guernsey Museums and will be covering the history of the Channel Islands for the next 2 weeks