Anguilla’s Fountain National Park
Saturday 25th, 2015 marked the opening of The Fountain National Park located in lower Shoal Bay East on the Northeast coast of Anguilla. The park covers an area of 14.5 acres, and comprises a series of limestone terraces rising from the sea level to 92 feet. As the area has been designated as a National Park, these lands must be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of Anguillians and visitors; and would be open to the public under conditions pertaining to its long-term preservation.
The purposes of the park are manifold and the primary objectives are:
- to use artefacts and other research findings to interpret the presence of the Tainos on Anguilla;
- to provide an authentic experience for locals and visitors; and
- to increase day tripper visits and the length of stay and expenditure of longer stay visitors on the island.
In the words of Dr Watters (1987), “[n]o other Lesser Antilles island has a resource that combines the natural and cultural aspects to the extent that the Fountain Cavern does…”
Construction of Phase I of the Anguilla Amerindian Interpretation Centre (AAIC) and Trail commenced in May 2015. The AAIC and Trail uses architecture and landscaping to interpret the period of the first Anguillians or the Taino peoples living in Malliouhana. The roof covering/ thatch was specially sourced on Dominica from thatch farmers and the Kalinago tribe, to show the extent of authenticity that the project team aimed to achieve. Phase I includes a leveled parking lot, entry way, reception centre, trail, interpretative signage, displays, toilet and wastewater treatment plant. Sustainability is a key element of the design and materials used for this project.
Phase II of the project is the construction of an interpretation centre. The interpretation centre will be constructed to depict a large Taino hut. The centre will be the primary location on the park for the diffusion of archaeological and speleological information of the area and Amerindian culture. It will house artefacts, photography and film on the Fountain Cavern; as well as casts, fossils and information on one of the first inhabitants of Anguilla, the Amblyrhiza Inundata or Anguilla’s Giant Rodent which is now extinct. The flora and fauna of the Fountain Cavern and the environs will also be interpreted on specially designed signs.
Major Themes include:
- Entrance to park: History of the land and the park
- Path to Fountain: Geological and natural history
- Path to Fountain: Amerindians in Anguilla
- Path to Fountain Entrance: Amerindians, Caves and Zemis
- Near the Fountain Entrance: Archaeology of the Fountain Other Displays:
- Chronology of Amerindian and Anguillian history
- Amerindian Material Culture
- Amerindian Maritime Adaptation
- Anguillian Maritime Adaptation
The opening ceremony rightfully included a blessing of the site by Gerard LanGlais—Ceremonial Priest of the Kalinagos in the Commonwealth of Dominica Mr Langlais, known as the Mabrika (mah•bree•ka) in the Kalingo Nation, is the recognized ceremonial priest. He is very passionate about the Caribbean’s Amerindian cultures and is widely travelled to exchange with other indigenous cultures; and also to share the knowledge and practices of his people. He is also a teacher of music and dance, which he uses as a medium to transmit and preserve the culture of Kalinagos. The Kalinagos, the indigenous people of the Commonwealth of Dominica, is genetically one of the closest links to the Tainos who once lived on Anguilla.
Eighty five (85) archeologists who attended the 26th IACA Congress in St Maarten / St Martin from July 19th – 25th 2015 were given the wonderful opportunity to experience The Fountain National Park. After arriving at Blowing Point the delegates were taken on a tour of the island escorted by staff of the Tourist Board. Stops included the Rendezvous Bay archaeology site and a visit to the Amerindian Interpretation Centre and walking trail to the Fountain Cavern.
The Fountain National Park is a welcomed inclusion to what we do in Anguilla and a step in the right direction to capture the past, experience it in the present and propel it into the future. Did you attend the event? Would you like to? Leave a comment and share what we do.