Searching for petroglyphs in Dominica

EDITOR’S NOTE: Below English writer living in Dominica, Paul Crask, tells of his quest to find Amerindian petroglyphs in the north of the island.

I’ve long held the view, based on absolutely no facts nor evidence whatsoever, that Dominica must have more than just the one tiny little petroglyph that was discovered near the Resposoir Estate on the island’s north coast.

Must have, right ?

If you haven’t the foggiest idea what I’m talking about, sorry. This is an example of an Amerindian petroglyph (Mt Rich in Grenada).

petroglyphs

No-one really understands the meaning of these rock carvings, nor what they represent, but most have been found on large boulders near water, usually rivers and river mouths close to the places these people would have had their settlements.

So today was the first day of what I expect to be a very long, drawn-out and potentially fruitless quest to discover something similar here on the nature island. My wife and I headed up to the L’Autre Bord River in the north east corner of Dominica, between Vielle Case and Pennville, where Amerindians are known to have been.

The first time I first came across this pretty babbling brook a couple of years ago when hiking and researching the new National Trail, I was absolutely convinced I’d discover something on one of the huge rocks and boulders between a little area of pasture land and the sea. So today I was very excited to be back here again with more time on my hands and an enthusiastic wife to help me search.

Here’s what the L’Autre Bord River valley looks like from above.

petroglyphs1

Here’s what it looks like at the bottom.

petroglyphs2
And here’s what it looks like in the river itself.

petroglyphs3

 

We made our way slowly and painstakingly down river, examining all the large rocks as closely as we could, looking for anything out of the ordinary. It’s both a dramatic and scenic little river, and I could almost picture Amerindians bathing, eating, and fishing for mullet and crayfish here.

petroglyphs4

After a while however, my imagination began to run riot, and I started to see faces in just about every natural scar and crevice I came across.

petroglyphs5

See what I mean ?

petroglyphs6

And what was this all about?

petroglyphs7

No idea. Do you ?

We searched all afternoon and, although there were so many awesome rocks and boulders and you could almost sense a discovery right around the next corner, we eventually arrived at the river mouth empty handed.

petroglyphs8

But we enjoyed a well-deserved picnic by a rather wild and beautiful Atlantic Ocean.

petroglyphs9

Sorry. No petroglyphs to report. But we had a nice little adventure.

Paul Crask is the author of two Bradt Travel Guides and, from time to time, writes Caribbean travel and island life features for a handful of newspapers and magazines.

His blog can be found by clicking on the link below.

Paul Crask Blog

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32 Comments

  1. IPO
    May 12, 2013

    I am saving this article….thanks for the info DNO

  2. Lennox Honychurch
    May 10, 2013

    Interesting piece. The only known petroglyph found in Dominica so far is a combination of five faces on a stone above the site of a covered spring in a ravine at Grand Fond Estate, which is located between Capuchin and La Haut, Penville.

    Petroglyphs should not be confused with stone axe grinding sites or mortar sites such as those that have been located at Oban Bay and Mantipo at Marigot. Au Tou, Vielle Case, and near the church at Soufriere among others.

    It is believed that Lesser Antilles petroglyphs have something to do with ensuring that the spirits maintain water sources according to a leading Caribbean archaeologist.

  3. May 10, 2013

    Hi,

    Thanks for reading about my quest :) It was interesting to read your comments. I’m certainly going to carry on looking – there are plenty of rivers here after all and it’s a nice excuse to get out, enjoy this lovely island and have some fun.

    Yes Fada – you mentioned the Layou petroglyph in St Vincent. Yes, it’s pretty awesome. Here’s a link to a photo I took of it a few years ago, plus another one on Grenada. Wouldn’t it be something to discover one here ! Unless we look, we’ll never know …

    http://www.paulcrask.com/

    And lol – yes’ you’re right – we do have the next best thing here on Dominica: the living descendants themselves :)

    Thanks again.

  4. May 10, 2013

    Beautiful sceneries for sure! I have saved them all in my pictures.

    Perhaps that rock with the deep hole was being used as their latrine–all of those scenes here are part of God’s creation–and cleanliness is next to Godliness.

  5. Jazzy
    May 10, 2013

    Those photos are so beautiful!! Makes me miss home so much :(

  6. Dr. Sam
    May 10, 2013

    Fantastic article! I could feel like I was right there!

    Thanks for bringing your trained eye to identify obscure historical and cultural treasures. Do come again. Enjoy, and enlighten us…

  7. rol
    May 10, 2013

    Nice read. Look in the calibishie/Woodford Hill area, I found a stone axe about eight inches long while sweeping my yard. Mr. Honeychurch told me the Indians lived in that area.

  8. Justice and Truth
    May 9, 2013

    I looked up the meaning. It is Prehistoric drawing done on rock. Interesting!
    The scenery is beautiful and the rocks are unusual all the same. If we look closely we will see them. They are probably hidden.
    When I once visited Antigua while sea bathing with some friends I saw a carved, unusual stone on the sea shore. I picked it up and brought it with me to Canada. :)
    It is beige, a few inches long but not heavy, small enough but if used at someone it could injure or kill. :) I have it as an ornament and memory of one of my enjoyable visits to Antigua. It is one of my treasures.
    Who knows? The stone may have washed ashore from another area. I suppose that every country had those settlers and may have a few of those stones.

  9. Yes Fada!
    May 9, 2013

    The first time I read of the Layou Petroglyth Park in St. Vincent, I wondered if Dominica might have any…doesn’t seem far-fetched at all considering the similarities in the history of the smaller island territories. There’s got to be something somewhere…sooner rather than later, it will be discovered.

  10. May 9, 2013

    next time they can check lennox honey chuch to accompany them he knows where they are

  11. May 9, 2013

    next time they can lennox honey chuch to accompany them

  12. Nacinimod
    May 9, 2013

    Try the Crapaud Hall river. Among the many rock formations on the river bank you may find something interesting. But beware as the Crapaud Hall river is the coldest in Dominica.

  13. Looking in
    May 9, 2013

    I have an ax made out of a stone which was found in an area called “Big River” in the Kalinago Territory. I am sure there are more stuff in that area. It was found when some of my family members were toiling the land to plant. So there are stuff including petroglyph around, just have to know where to look.

    • UDOHREADYET
      May 10, 2013

      Somebody in Carib reserve loose their Ax and you think is yours. The stone Ax is still used by Caribs that doh have money to go Roseau and buy metal axes by Whitchurch. That’s not a discovery buoy!

  14. Bounty
    May 9, 2013

    Very interesting.

  15. Natural Beauty
    May 9, 2013

    I enjoyed the article. Great pics.

  16. Ignorance Is Bliss!
    May 9, 2013

    Interesting read.

    All i gotta ask is “where is part 2 of the Dominican Journal?”

    i immensely enjoyed part 1 and am eager to read the 2nd one

    great job Paul and i’m glad that you are enjoying Dominica

  17. Imagine that
    May 9, 2013

    That was lovely. :) Fun!

  18. Dotty
    May 9, 2013

    Talk to the indigenous people. They probably have stories about the ancients. Sometimes they become hidden and covered over. We find evidence of native Americans here in California when building is taking place.

  19. OK
    May 9, 2013

    OK. Petro…What? Petro-glyphs? Ok you going too fast. Take about 10 steps backward. You see that big stone behind you? No, not that one. This one with the black mark. You see it? Yes? OK good. Check it out, then let us know.

  20. LawieBawie
    May 9, 2013

    I live on Anguilla which is blessed with some of the best preserved Amerindian petroglyphs in the region. The is an underground cave here called The Fountain because there is a pool of water inside of it that originates from a spring. Inside that cavern there are 12 petroglyphs (one of which is carved in the likness of their Deity) which apparently have some calendrical significance in their arranged because the rays of the sun touches a different one of these petroglyphs every month during the year. These people were truly amazing. As far as we know Carib Indians never lived here but Arawak natives did. It just goes to show how similar these two sets of people were.

  21. dom2013
    May 9, 2013

    great way to spend a day, so just do it again and again in different locations.

  22. NIQ
    May 9, 2013

    Lovely piece…we all as Dominicans should try to undertake such little adventures with our friends and families and get to know our island better!

  23. lol
    May 9, 2013

    I believe that we have, just need to look harder, perhaps concentrate on other areas. If we do not find any at least we have the BEST THING, not the next best thing but the best thing. The actual living descendants on island.

  24. Dominican
    May 9, 2013

    Nice Article.. remind me of when my sisters and I would walk down the rivers climbing the stones and just having fun!!!

  25. Observer
    May 9, 2013

    Look elsewhere you may just discover what you’re looking for.

  26. flower
    May 9, 2013

    8-O :mrgreen: :?: Why are you all so trouble some. live nature alone

    • I REMEMBER
      May 9, 2013

      Only an IDIOT thinks that way.

      • hawtorn
        May 9, 2013

        Woman youre just a big stupidy and it Is people like you dat DNO………………….

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3
    • Anonymous
      May 9, 2013

      So sorry for you because you are missing the mark,they were not troubling anything they were discovering thing’s don’t you know that knowledge is power,these are thing’s that Dominican’s should discover,but no,some body else had to do as you live you learn.

      • UDOHREADYET
        May 10, 2013

        Discover what… for what? You know what happens when people start discovering right?! Dominica is still 80% in its original state before it got ‘Discovered’ by columbus. The reason being Caribs fought to protect it and the Blacks, Mulatos and others that took over respect it. We are the last remaining Island with original people and original landscape.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
    • Mango Bab
      May 9, 2013

      Flowers have no brains. Right!! Thank you.

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