JE solar rig powers Ice Ace dig at Les Varines

Solar rig

Dr Matt Pope, Dr Ed Blinkhorn and Dr Sarah Duffy with the rig

Cutting edge technology will play a vital role discovering more about Jersey’s Ice Age past this summer, with a solar powered generator, funded by Jersey Electricity, being used at the Les Varines dig site enabling archaeologists to complete more of their painstaking work on site.

This is the fourth year of the Ice Age Island project in which Jersey Heritage, in partnership with the National Trust for Jersey and the Société Jersiaise, have worked with the world’s Ice Age experts and seen Jersey emerge as one of the leading locations of Ice Age Archaeology.

Today an international team of archaeologists, researchers and students, led by Dr Matt Pope of University College London, returns to Les Varines where evidence of a rare hunters’ camp from around 14,500 years ago has already been discovered, including what is thought to be some of the oldest pieces of art discovered in Britain.

Dr Pope said: ‘Modern archaeology requires battery powered survey and recording equipment and other electrical devices so the solar generator gives the team the freedom to keep these devices working smoothly without costly time-consuming trips back to our HQ and without the risk of losing data.

Dig shot

‘In addition, we’ll be able to base more of our recording and analysis on site enabling rapid decision making and reducing the risk of time-consuming mistakes caused by separating parts of our work flow. We and Jersey Heritage are grateful to Jersey Electricity for making the equipment available. It will make a big impact on our ability to undertake research. It is the first time a solar rig has been deployed on a high profile dig and will demonstrate the potential of renewable energy in field research and showcase how the technology could be used to support scientific study anywhere, however remote.’ 

JE CEO Chris Ambler said: ‘We are delighted to help Dr Pope’s team and Jersey become the first to use renewable energy this way on a high-profile dig.It is fantastic that such new, advanced technology will help to shed light on our past.

‘Jersey Electricity has invested tens of millions of pounds over the past three decades decarbonising Jersey’s electricity supply. Today, around a third of the electricity consumed in Jersey is from renewable sources in France. These are currently hydro and wind but all renewables, including solar, have a part to play in the diversification of energy sources. In such innovative, portable technology as this, it can provide power in remote locations for all sorts of life enhancing projects.’

The Les Varines Live Dig and Pop Up Museum will be open to the public from 11 July and will continue to 5 August. Full details are available at the Live Dig section of the Jersey Heritage website. There is a special Open Day on Sunday 31 July from 10am to 3pm. Access to the Live Dig is via a free shuttle bus and guided tours departing from Jersey Museum at 11am, noon, 2pm and 3 pm. .