Environment Club : Some Stones are Worth Turning Over!


On 11th May 1854, William Robert Inglis, a former stipendiary magistrate of the Bahamas arrived to replace President Forth. Inglis proceeded to impose a series of new lawsto remodel the Salt Colony’s statutes deemed necessary by the recent separation from the Bahamas.

What a fascinating informative talk to the members of the ‘Environment Club’ by Dr.Donald Keith on ‘The best ways to preserve the remarkable ‘Sapodilla Stones’ located on the Southen most point of Providenciales.These stones without a doubt represent an era in time and contribute to the Islands cultural and Historic Heritage…

Each stone has been etched with some famous and no doubt infamous names, dates and drawings. I remember seeing  ‘old man Harriot’s’ name inscribed on one of the stones.



Daniel Harriott was born circa 1807, some say he was a common man who married into wealth when he married Mary Olivia Hyatt the daughter of Captain James Hyatt.Bemudan by birth he sailed for Salt Cay to make his fortune. By 1829 the White House had been built and he was exporting Salt around the world.

Daniel Harriott was one of the leading Salt Merchants on Salt Cay who run his operations from the “White House”. I can imagine him standing on the top of Sapodilla Hill with his spyglass and no doubt on look-out for one of the trading vessels. Fed up with the tedious waiting Daniel decided to doodle his name creatively into the rock. He probably sat their with his pals, swigging rum and discussing the salt trade and latest world events as relayed by visiting sailors and other leading merchants.

Or does this inscription represent something more sinister. Take a look at the date 1844, ten years after the Emancipation Act when “wracking” boats was common place. Earl Talbot an old time resident on Salt Cay remembers stories from his great grand father that spoke of Harriott being an old pirate that engaged in wracking and and rum running…A far more intriguing tale.(see Spotlight on the TCI Cultural Heritage Show with Earl Talbot)

One thing is certain though and that is each stone tells a story and helps piece together another part of the puzzle of the rich history of these Islands.


Engraving of a slave ship

Dr Keith is no stranger to these Islands and is a Trustee of the Turks and Caicos Museum and President of ‘Ships of Discovery’ and has tackled many fascinating and difficult ‘rescue’ missions of underwater artifacts,and various shipwrecks including the slaveship ‘Trouvadore.

On ‘terra firma’ too, Dr.Keith pursues his passion for researching and preserving artifacts. Previously his team  used multi part casting techniques to create accurate molds of the ‘Sapadilla’ stone inscriptions without causing any damage to the originals.The idea was to preserve the stones for future generations to enjoy.

Some of these intriguing molds are displayed in the Providenciales Airport and certainly are fascinating to both the residents and tourists alike.This achievement can only be described as a work of art and a labour of love.

Finally to mark the end of 2010, Dr. Keith in joint collaboration with theTurks and Caicos  Museum, DECR( Department of Environment and Coastal Resources),friends and all that make up the team were successful in removing  all the  transportable stones from Sapodilla Hill and put them straight into storage.


Sapodilla Hill carvings – ship

This will preserve and protect them from the modern day enthusiastic ‘doodlers’ that were unfortunately  doodling over 300 year old inscriptions.what a great way to start the New Year…

For anyone interested in these worthwhile projects please contact the Environment Club on Facebook or email Dr. Donald Keith at dhkeith@shipsofdiscovery.org