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Lager Wick, Jersey, Channel Islands

Barbed wire on entrance post of Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.

 

Introduction

Entrance posts of Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr Entrance posts of Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr
Entrance posts of Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr
Gilly Carr excavating at base of entrance post. Photo copyright Gilly Carr. Gilly Carr excavating at base of entrance post. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Gilly Carr excavating at base of entrance post. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Opening trench 1 at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr. Opening trench 1 at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Opening trench 1 at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
lump of concrete and brick from the corner of a stilt from barrack at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr. lump of concrete and brick from the corner of a stilt from barrack at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Lump of concrete and brick from the corner of a stilt from barrack at Lager Wick. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Gilly Carr and Marek Jasinski in Trench 2. Photo copyright Gilly Carr. Gilly Carr and Marek Jasinski in Trench 2. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Gilly Carr and Marek Jasinski in Trench 2. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Marek Jasinski, Gilly Carr and Peter Masters (L to R). Photo copyright Gilly Carr. Marek Jasinski, Gilly Carr and Peter Masters (L to R). Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Marek Jasinski, Gilly Carr and Peter Masters (L to R). Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Gilly Carr collecting oral testimony in Jersey. Photo copyright Gilly Carr. Gilly Carr collecting oral testimony in Jersey. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.
Gilly Carr collecting oral testimony in Jersey. Photo copyright Gilly Carr.

Lager Wick was a forced labour camp built in 1942 and abandoned in 1944, housing men from France, North Africa and Spain. They were employed by the corrupt Organisation Todt, a paramilitary labour organisation. They are likely to have been paid for their work but they were still forced to work. They had no choice.

The camp comprised at least 9 structures (barrack huts) and some smaller structures but judging by the aerial photos, these changed in number over time. Three barrack blocks burned down in April 1944, as shown by aerial photos and confirmed in wartime diaries and oral testimony. While the wooden barrack blocks were all taken away at the end of the German occupation, aerial photos from 1945 show the foundations of some structures surviving. This project aims to discover what still remains to be discovered archaeologically.

Lager Wick was situated on Grouville Marsh in Jersey. Today the marsh is a site of special interest (SSI) and a wetland site for breeding birds. Planning permission for excavation needed to acknowledge this and to find a way forward that would not disturb the breeding birds. Environmental consultation was an important part of the planning.

 

Research Aims

There are three key research questions and aims for this project:

1) Lager Wick was a temporary camp of wooden huts, erected from 1942-1944. Before the end of the war it was dismantled and the wood removed and used for firewood. What, if anything, still survives of the site today that is detectable by archaeological means? What is the potential of archaeology to find these camps?

2) what were the living conditions and every day life like for those who worked there?

3) How can archaeology be used to draw attention to the plight of forced labourers and their camps in Jersey and further afield?

 

Funding

The project was carried out with the financial support of the McDonald Institute of Archaeological Research and Jersey Heritage in 2014. Permission was granted to carry out fieldwork at Lager Wick by the Planning Department of the States of Jersey and the Chefs Tenants de Grouville, Jersey. Environmental support was provided by Piers Sangan of Sangan Island Conservation.

In 2015, the project was supported by the British Academy and the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. In 2016, it received support from the McDonald Institute once again.

Team

2014 team members:

  • Project Director: Dr Gilly Carr, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge 
  • Professor Marek Jasinski, Institute of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology 
  • Geophysicist: Peter Masters, Research Fellow, Cranfield University 
  • The Lager Wick Advisory Group, convened in 2012, comprises local stakeholder groups in Jersey, including the National Trust for Jersey, Jersey Heritage, the Channel Islands Occupation Society, and the Société Jersiaise.
2015 team members:
  • Project Director: Dr Gilly Carr, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Claudia Theune, Institute for Prehistoric and Historic Archaeology, University of Vienna
  • Project Advisor for 2015: Professor Marek Jasinski, Institute of Historical Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Geophysicist: Peter Masters, Research Fellow, Cranfield University

2016 team members:

  • Project Director: Dr Gilly Carr, Institute of Continuing Education, University of Cambridge
  • Ivar Schute, RAAP, the Netherlands
  • Geophysicist: Peter Masters, Research Fellow, Cranfield University
  • Student volunteer: Isobel Lloyd, University of New England, Australia

Blog link

The excavation blog from April 2014, the March / April 2015, and the March / April 2016 season can be read here:

View it here: http://gillycarr.wordpress.com/

 

Media Links

14th January 2014, BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-25730103

14th January 2014, Channel TV: 
http://www.channelonline.tv/channelonline_jerseynews/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=509117

April 11th 2014, Channel TV: 
http://www.channelonline.tv/channelonline_jerseynews/displayarticle.asp?id=510534

18 April 2014, BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-27025648

12 April 2014, Jersey Evening Post, 'Digging deep into our occupied past', p. 2, 10-11.

24 April 2014, Jersey Evening Post, 'Dig reveals new wartime details', p. 8.

28 October 2014, Jersey Evening Post, 'Plans to carry out dig at occupation site': http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2014/10/28/plans-to-carry-out-dig-at-occupation-site/

30 March 2015, Jersey Evening Post, http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/03/31/want-to-get-your-hands-dirty-this-week-archeology-fans-invited-to-join-dig/

2 April 2015, BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-jersey-32161579

3 April 2015, Jersey Evening Post: http://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2015/04/04/grouville-dig-turns-up-ceramic-plate-with-swastika/

31 March 2016, BBC Radio Jersey, live feature with Charlie McArdle at the excavation. 

1 April 2016, Jersey Evening Post, 'Archaeologists return to dig at Lager Wick labour camp'. p. 8.