Archaeological Project 2001
Hi, my name is Gary
Storm and I am the owner of DetectorPro.
For the last 5 years my wife Joan and I have been vacationing on the
beautiful island of Antigua in the West Indies. We rent a house on Galleon
Beach in Freeman’s Bay which is at the entrance to English Harbor. We
liked it here because the vacation worked for both of us. We would dive on
the beautiful reefs in the morning and I would dive Freeman’s bay in the
afternoon. I would underwater metal detect in front of our house. The last
couple of years Antigua was hit hard by a couple of hurricanes. My first
dive every year was to see what the hurricane did to the bottom. Some years
it would open up, other years it would cover up the bottom.
In the year 2000, the bottom
seemed to be more covered than the year before. But it still kicked up some
good finds. On my first dive I came across a late 1700’s black glass rum
bottle and a ceramic cooking pot. Both were completely intact.
The next day I met Dr.
Reg Murphy head archaeologist on the island. He told me he had
heard of me and wanted to meet me for several years. I showed him what I had
found and donated it to their museum. Over the next couple of days I was
finding some artifacts for their museum. When I gave him the artifacts, he
asked me if I would be interested in working on an underwater dig in English
Harbor. I told him I would.
Volunteer David Chaplin from Ottawa, Canada.
The English Harbor dockyard was
established in 1725. It was used to provide a base for a squadron of ships
patrolling the West Indies and maintaining England’s sea power. Blasting
away a small hill and spreading it on the surrounding reefs formed the
existing docks. Ships were brought alongside to be careened, which means
pulling the ship on its side so the bottom can be scrubbed and painted. Many
ships and famous admirals have been stationed in the dockyard including
Rodney, Hood and Nelson.
Nelson was probably the most famous. He was a senior naval officer of the
Leeward Islands from 1784-1787 on H.M.S. Boreas, based in the dockyard. He
was a young and Zealous officer who tried to enforce Navigation acts,
prohibiting trade with the newly formed USA. Most of the merchants depended
upon this trade, making him very unpopular. This caused him not to get a
promotion for some time. The dockyard was given up by the royal navy in
1889. In its heyday there was as many as 5,000 troops stationed here at a
time. Today Nelson’s Dockyard has been restored and it is now the only
Georgian dockyard in the world.
English Harbor has a
200-year-old sea wall around it. The wall is deteriorating badly and needs
to be restored. Dr Murphy wanted me to do an exploratory archaeological dig.
David Chaplin from Ottawa, Canada volunteered to work with me for the next
2 weeks. Hurricanes and boat props had taken their toll on the wall and sea
bottom. Our mission was to pick a spot and see what was down there. I chose
a spot in front of the paymaster’s office where we could work in the water
and also have a protected area for our topside crew. We dug a hole about 20’
long, 3’-4’ wide and about 5’ to 6’ deep. David was using a
makeshift airlift and I was going over everything with my metal detector. I
used our Headhunter Diver because it was
lightweight and easy to pinpoint. I also ran it in "all-metal"
because we brought up everything including the trash (we filled several
barrels). Some of the items we found are listed below. This dig gave Dr.
Murphy the information he needed to write a report and try to get funding
for new projects. We proved there are plenty of artifacts there. Hopefully
we can retrieve more as they redo the seawall instead of having the
construction destroy what is still there. All the artifacts are the property
List of the Artifacts Found: (many had broad
Grapeshot • Musketballs •
Part of a Barshot • Hat Badge •
Shoe Buckles • Knee Buckle •
Locks • 2 Bayonets •
Lead Pencil • Spigot •
Dice • 1774 Half-penny •
1788 Spanish Reale • 1856,1872 English •
Shillings • 1881 English Six-pence •
Buttons - 85th, 89th, 71st, 3rd West Indies •
for Slide Show of the English Harbor Antigua Archaeological Project 2001
for Slide Show of the English Harbor Antigua Archaeological Project 2002