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Amerindian petroglyphs - A view from our expert author


Mt Rich petroglyphs, Grenada by Paul CraskPetroglyphs are images that have been etched into rock and are found all around the world, created by many different people from a range of historical eras. Grenada’s petroglyphs are believed to have been carved by the island’s earliest Amerindian peoples and are found at several sites in the north. The best known are those at Duquesne and Mt Rich. Mt Rich is on the road between Sauteurs and Hermitage.

The elaborate carvings appear to depict figures and faces, perhaps even monkeys which appear in ancient myths, though we can only speculate on their meaning. Most scholars believe the images relate to gods or mythical figures, and some speculate that, as many are discovered near water, they may perhaps have some symbolic meaning – perhaps during periods of drought.The elaborate carvings appear to depict figures, faces, and even monkeys, which appear in ancient myths.

(Photo: The petrogylphs at Mt Rich are some of the best known in Grenada © Paul Crask)

The Mt Rich petroglyphs are carved on a large boulder now upturned at the bottom of a steep but narrow valley where the St Patrick River flows. There was once a viewing platform for the stone; actually there still is, but it is derelict and covered in graffiti. In fact it looks like a vandalised urban bus shelter. And it has no sign. It is hard to believe that such an important piece of Grenada’s heritage appears to have been abandoned in this way.

If you can find this structure, and if bamboo growth is not obscuring it, you may be able to see the boulder and make out some carvings, but it is a strain. Much better is to scramble down to it, but this is tricky and in all likelihood involves crossing private land. I discovered some roughly cut steps and a trail near a house to the left of the platform (the house was incomplete at the time of writing). It is a steep scramble to the bottom where there is a short trail that splits. Take the track to the right and then, as you face the river, step into it and walk right for about five minutes until you come to the boulder. The river is shallow, but you may have to negotiate fallen branches. You can’t miss the boulder.

The elaborate carvings appear to depict figures, faces, and even monkeys, which appear in ancient myths.

The carvings are very impressive and it is awesome to witness something that was created such a long time ago, for reasons we do not understand, by the indigenous people who came to live here from the South American continent. At the southern end of Duquesne Bay are more accessible examples of Grenada’s Amerindian petroglyphs. Duquesne Bay is located on the west coast road to the north of Victoria, at the point where the road turns inland towards Sauteurs. Then simply walk on the beach and head left all the way to the rock face at the end. Again, the petroglyphs are not really well cared for. The basin in front of them is often full of rather smelly, stagnant water and rubbish. Nevertheless, these carvings are also impressive and definitely worth a visit.

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