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Eighteenth Century Graffiti at English Harbour, Antigua.

Posted by Rob Finch, on February 9th, 2020

Abstract

The idyllic island of Antigua in the Caribbean has a rich colonial history, of which Britain’s Royal Navy has left an indelible mark over the centuries.  A classic example of this is captured by the images that are included in this article, which provide tantalising evidence of the presence those involved in the naval dockyard at English Harbour during the mid-Eighteenth Century.  The names of ships such as the Roebuck, the Anglesea and the Tavistock, as well as the initials and names of those who sailed in them are carved into the remains of stores buildings and workshops that surround the site of the old naval dockyard.  In fact, the varying styles of graffiti that are presented in the images are vast, and it cannot be concluded with any certainty as to whether these were made by sailors, soldiers, marines or indeed local traders, merchants, or the slaves who brought in to work on the islands sugar plantations.  This graffiti, and its remarkable preservation in the face of time and numerous hurricane seasons, provide a human insight into the history of Britain’s colonial maritime presence in the sugar-rich Leeward Islands during the Age of Sail.

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