Press Release:– The official findings of an archaeological survey conducted on the northern end of the Cas-en-Bas beach, including the former Amerindian burial ground, have been released, with no significant findings being reported.
As this area forms part of the Cabot Saint Lucia Development, the report’s findings clears the path for Cabot to continue development on Point Hardy.
The former Amerindian burial ground and its potential archaeological significance has been the focus of major media attention, after concerns were raised by the St Lucia National Trust.
The Developers, Cabot Saint Lucia, under the recommendation of the St. Lucia National Trust, engaged the services of eminent and internationally respected archaeologist, Dr Reginald Murphy, to undertake a physical study of the area.
The area assessed and researched had been previously studied and excavated.
He described his findings as “bittersweet” from an archaeologist’s perspective, as he had hoped to discover significant archaeological remains, but found nothing remarkable:
“As an archaeologist I was somewhat disappointed because I had heard so much about the burial ground aspect of it, only to find that the site was severely, severely eroded, and essentially destroyed. I was kind of surprised to see cars driving across it, people parking up, having picnics. The rust from under the wheels of the vehicles gets into the dirt, and then the waves come in and wash it away. So the site has been almost totally, I say about 99 percent, eroded or washed away. There’s nothing left of it. It’s a big disappointment for me. Again, you know, you’re hoping for a grand find. You want to see a great big archaeological deposition. But also, in a sense, it was a bittersweet situation”
The Study was a requirement of the local Development Control Authority as part of the approval process for Cabot to start works in that specific area.
The Archaeological and Historical Society of Saint Lucia was asked to consult with the DCA and to prepare the terms of reference for the study. President of the A&H, Dr. Winston Phulgence, confirmed the integrity of the survey:
“We advised the DCA that a proper archaeological assessment should be done. The report was completed and was reviewed by us. It was conducted according to the agreed terms of reference and standard practice for archaeological assessment projects around the world, and we’re satisfied that the gentleman who did the work, Dr. Murphy, did what he was asked to do”
The archaeologist, Dr Murphy, also noted that based on the need to balance all the elements of his findings on this unique site with the goals of sustainable economic development, he could not advise against the development moving ahead:
“…if I’m asked to advise on whether a development should proceed, I weigh the economic value of the jobs to be created against the value of the heritage, because heritage must be seen to be contributing financially. Otherwise, those sites are not going to be saved. For a heritage site, you study it and excavate it until there’s nothing left and then you can develop it, but at that point you have the historical document. This is the kind of case I think I would say, yes, it could be developed at this point in time. It’s not my decision to make, but there’s nothing there historically, archaeologically, to stop development”.
The Cabot team has welcomed the findings:
“Cabot would like to thank Dr Reginald Murphy for his expertise in conducting the Archeological Study, the National Trust for recommending Dr Murphy and the Saint Lucian Archeological and Historical Society for their valuable input. We are pleased to have commissioned this study and we are satisfied with the results. Part of the Cabot culture is to be sensitive and respectful to the environment, customs, culture and heritage of the communities where we operate. This is our track record and we look forward to continuing that in Saint Lucia.” said CEO of Cabot Saint Lucia, Kristine Thompson.
One of the key recommendations of the archaeology report is that an archeologist be present when any significant excavation work is taking place in the specified area.
Cabot has noted that they are working closely with the Local Archeological and Historical Society to facilitate this.
Cabot Saint Lucia has also committed to erecting a monument in the area to memorialize the indigenous peoples.