‘Les Minquiers are an assemblage of rude, irregular, dreary rocks rising as it were like so many needles out of the sea.’ So wrote Captain Martin White in 1812 of this remote and unforgiving complex of reefs and sandbanks situated 20 km south of Jersey.
Despite Captain White’s misgivings, Les Minquiers are one of the wonders of the natural world. At over 300 km2 the reef is larger than most British cities and is home to some of the most extraordinary scenery, wildlife, geology and archaeology anywhere in Europe. And yet until now Les Minquiers have remained largely unexplored and undocumented. ‘There is perhaps no area of comparable extent in the British Isles about which so little is known,’ wrote the celebrated geologist Dr Arthur Mourant in 1977.
This new book contains the findings of a small team of volunteers from Jersey who, in 2012, set out to study the natural, historical and cultural features of Les Minquiers. Everything has been documented, from the prehistoric archaeology of the reef’s lone island to its marine biology, geology and ornithology. They also explored the cultural history of Les Minquiers, revealing a story rich in shipwrecks, smuggling, fishing lore and a 150-year-old political battle between Britain and France that reaches into the twenty-first century.
Each page of this highly readable book shows why Les Minquiers are such a magnificent natural feature whose beauty and significance deserves to be recognised by the wider world.