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Slideshows: 2001 | 2002 

Gary Storm

English Harbor Antigua
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. 

History of English Harbor

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. 

Horatio 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.

The Dig

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 of Antigua.

— Gary Storm

A Partial List of the Artifacts Found: (many had broad arrows)

Cannonballs 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 Naval Bottles

Click Here for Slide Show of the English Harbor Antigua Archaeological Project 2001

Click Here for Slide Show of the English Harbor Antigua Archaeological Project 2002