Principal Investigator: Dr Niall Finneran, Reader in Archaeology
Bequia is the most northerly of the Grenadines, which connect Grenada in the south with St Vincent in the north.
One of the main aims of the project is to study the post-Emancipation cultural adaptations of the island, in this case the whaling and boatbuilding industries. In 2014 and 2015, the team undertook extensive survey work there, mapping fortifications, plantation structures and cisterns.
In 2015, a small shore-based tryworks (two large try pots in a brick furnace, one of the most characteristic features of the whaling industry) was recorded and excavated, and some of the historic whaling boats in the Bequia Boat Museum were recorded. These boats are important artefacts, evidence of a vernacular wooden boat building tradition that clearly fossilises elements of post-medieval British ship building technology as well as designs derived from the Yankee whaler boats of the 19th century.
Future work will include undertaking more maritime survey, boat recording and excavation work at the Old Fort sugar estate, as well as an important survey of the island of Balliceaux, where in 1796 some 4000 ‘Black Caribs/Garifuna’ were kept prisoner by the British prior to their deportation to Roatan off Honduras. Many Garifuna still regard the island as a very special site of memory.