Lost land near the Channel Islands

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By Nicolas Jouault

I have an interest in the historical land masses and their associated legends. Most notable for our area is the ForĂȘt de Scissy, from which some say Chausey derived its name. A Cromlech is still visible on the shoreline there today.

Legend has it there was a great catastrophe and flooding of lands in AD 709. There are tales of a land link in Roman times from Cap de la Hague to Alderney where three islands were said to have disappeared named Ramvi, Arona, and Croix.

Accounts say that in AD 565 a plank was used by the Bishop of St Lo, and/or the Archdeacon of Coutances, to cross the water seperating Jersey from Normandy. The cattle crossing gave its name to the Boeuftins, an area near to halfway between the south east of Jersey and Normandy.

St Brolade or Brendan was said to have visited Jersey on foot, and St Samson crossed from Guernsey to Herm by a plank. There are some tenuous links to areas prone to flooding and inundation, with St Clement in Jersey and Chausey having an Abbey dedicated to the Saint, who is also associated with Viking settlements. There is evidence that sea levels have risen since this time as we see from the Vikining settlement at Saint Suliac on the Rance. In Jersey we have the legend of the lost Manor at La Brecquette which was said to have been washed away in 1356.

Les Ecrehou(s) derives its name from the Norse words Esker, meaning an area of stones, as in Sker or Skerries, and Hou for island or land bound peninsula. The area has a limited amount of evidence of former land masses which date to around 6,000 BC and later, which I have been recording. I am still discovering new areas. Although I keep thinking I have found most if not all the visible evidence, one never knows what a big storm may uncover.

Most of these areas are of a hard grainy base substance, but there are some areas of clay-like substance similar to what is found near Seymour Tower, and are probably from a time when the area was an estuary.

Local experts suggest that a rock known as La Vielle may be after the local name for wrasse or rockfish. I like to think it might be La Vieille (spelling) meaning old, and describing an old land mass. Historian Mayeux-Doual states that the cultivated land of the Ecrehou was lost in 1421 and there was land 300 yards to the east of Gros Tete, a rock which forms the current north west corner of the reef accesible at low water. It has been said that the top of Maitre Ile was cut down by locals to prevent raiding Vikings using the island as a screen and base to mount raids, but there is no evidence to prove this.

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