Skip to main content

Sauteurs Bay: Archaeology in a Disaster Zone

As we wind down the end of 2022, a long-awaited report on Sauteurs Bay is finally ready. Hanna first started this manuscript back in 2018, but there was just more and more to add. There is more still, of course -- we hope to have osteological analysis completed on the site's human burials in 2023, as well as aDNA analysis and more excavations. But there's always more to do. It's been four years and 150 pages now, so time to just get it out there!

And one of the core issues addressed is quite urgent. The site (and the communities along Sauteurs Bay) have been suffering from extreme erosion every dry season for the past five years. Homes and businesses have been destroyed as well as one of Grenada's most important archaeological sites, as seen through a continuous stream of human skeletons ripped by the waves into the sea. The archaeological site dates as early as AD 300, but the burials falling into the sea mostly date between AD 900-1200. And of course, this is the village that was razed by French forces in 1650, during the eponymous massacre at le Morne des Sauteurs (Leapers’ Hill). 

Unfortunately, the high-breaking waves are not merely climate change -- they are the result of an ill-conceived and poorly-planned government breakwater project that finished in early 2017. At first, the breakwater was hailed as a great success (even toured by the PM), and the town of Sauteurs itself was indeed saved from ongoing erosion. But there was no Environmental Impact Assessment done, nor were previous studies (like the RRACC) consulted. Had more thought been put into this thing, they would have known that the currents changed between the rainy and dry seasons -- and thus, come the next dry season, the swells would be concentrated and redirected towards Mt. Craven, a small beach community just west of town, causing catastrophic damage. But they didn't. And then they ignored it and sat on their hands whilst the destruction continued unabated.

The first part of this new report provides some documentation for the recent catastrophe and references the studies done. The second part synthesizes all past research on the archaeological site itself, including preliminary results from a community archaeology project (SCHAP) in early 2022. In the process, the report offers a case-study in the (mis-)management of Grenada’s rich heritage – with recommendations and lessons learned for the future. 

This publication also marks the first in a new "Occasional Research Papers" series by the GNM Press. We hope that that future academic reports​ about Grenada​ can be published through the Museum in this way, on various topics related to the natural and cultural history of Grenada. 

A pdf of the report is freely available on ResearchGate here:

A color hardcopy can also be printed at-cost ($11 USD) via the GNM Press account on most Amazon country websites (,,,, e.g.,

ISBN: 9798365816800



Popular posts from this blog

Marking an ‘X’: Exploring the History of Grenada’s Surnames

Despite the widespread belief that most Grenadian surnames today are derived from plantation/slave owners, many former enslaved men actually used their first (and only) names to create their family names. This is the case for a plurality of both English and French-derived surnames today. That means your surname may contain a clue to the name of your last enslaved male ancestor. A smaller percentage of Grenadian surnames, both English and French, are derived from plantation owners, and this often indicates a blood connection. Maybe we can see these surnames as more a creation of the newly freed Grenadians to establish identity, rather than something imposed upon them, as was the case in other countries.   Malcolm X, the son of Grenadian Louise Langdon Norton Little (1895/6-1989), made famous the identity struggles of Black people in the diaspora when he replaced his family name of Little (or what has also been termed his “slave name”) with an ‘X’ to signify his lost or robbe

“Slave Pens” in Grenada? Finding Ancestry in the Historical Landscape

Tours of estates like Dougaldston, St John, or River Antoine and Belmont, St Patrick today will reveal little to nothing of slavery unless one has knowledge of what took place here beyond the cocoa trees, sugar-cane fields, and old waterwheel technology that dates to the 18th and 19th centuries (Figures 1, 2). There were no family heirlooms to pass down, no shackles or whips that tell of the brutality, no memory of tears that tell of the suffering, no ruins of thatched houses that reveal the hearth of everyday (enslaved) lives, no drums beating out rhythms of melancholy melodies, no cultural artifacts that linger in museums, and no monuments that sing praises to heroic ancestors. It is a landscape and heritage barren of slavery except in the enduring nightmare of it all. Figure 1. River Antoine estate in St Patrick still producing rum utilizing slavery-era technology in its waterwheel and aqueduct system (courtesy Grenada National Museum) The current relic landscape, particularly the p

The Grenadines Will Always Be Grenadian! (Because of Their Name)

The southern Caribbean and northern South America, with Grenada and the Grenadines, 1760 The Grenadines, from Bequia to Carriacou, were once entirely owned and administered by Grenada, hence their original name  Granada y Granadillos (<AmSp Granada + illos : “little Grenadas”). A few of the approximately 125 small islands, islets, and rocks were first settled by the French in the mid-1700s, the last islands to be colonized by Europeans, most likely due to their small size, arid landscape, and the absence of yearlong streams. Today, Carriacou, Petite Martinique, Ronde, and some 30 small islets are dependencies of Grenada. The rest are now part of St. Vincent. Map of the southern Caribbean by Johannes van Keulen, 1684, showing the Grenadines’ early association with Grenada  (note, the top is facing west; Grenada is colored red).  In 1784, the Grenadines were officially partitioned on the recommendation of Lieutenant Governor Valentine Morris of St. Vincent who believed