The first season of excavation (August 2008) focused on an 800 m² site in Mont Choisy. A near-pristine location was identified within a region that is undergoing extensive development. The site was formerly a plantation and as such the stratigraphic signature offered a valuable opportunity to record the transition from virgin soil to agriculture. The team excavated three trenches over the site. It was already clear from initial ‘field walking’ that artefactual evidence would be limited, particularly considering the sites’ former uses. Despite this, small finds were recovered, although the main focus was aimed at the collection of environmental data. Coring was a crucial component and important results were forthcoming from cores taken on-site.
Following excavation, it was clear that one of the trenches (Trench 2) evidenced a clear stratigraphic transition from virgin to agricultural soils. Results from core samples showed a clear distinction between the lower (virgin) and upper soils. The upper layer (interpreted as agricultural soil) demonstrated soil enrichment, potentially as a result of ploughing, or even translocation of soil. Of the small finds, three ceramic artefacts demonstrated the breadth of trade that this island has evidenced. A piece of refined white earthenware with a blue transfer decoration probably originated in England; a piece of Chinese export hard-paste porcelain was also recovered, along with a fragment of salt-glazed stoneware originating from Germany or the Netherlands. Charcoal samples collected for C14 dating provided an AMS date for the transition from virgin to agricultural soils of 130 years BP, corroborating historical records for the advent of agricultural management on the island. Pollen grains were not recovered from the virgin soils, but those found in the upper layer where indicative of imported species.