Big Spring


Useful Information

Location: Island Harbour, northern end of the island. Meeting Point: Anguilla National Trust office.
(18.251485, -63.015605)
Open: Big Spring Heritage Site Tour: All year daily 9.
Prebooking by phone or online at least 48h in advance necessary.
[2021]
Fee: Adults USD 10, Children (0-12) USD 5.
[2021]
Classification: KarstDoline
Light: bring torch
Dimension: Ø=40m, VR=5m.
Guided tours: D=1h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: James B. Petersen, Belinda J. Cox, John G. Crock, Emma Coldwell (): Big Spring: A Ceremonial Petroglyph Site In Anguilla, Lesser Antilles, XXe Congrès International D'Archéologie de la Caraïbe. pdf
Address: Anguilla National Trust, Albert Lake Dr., The Valley, AI-2640, Anguilla, Tel: +1-264-497-5297. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

600-1500 Indigenous Amerindian occupation during the Late Ceramic Age.
1970s freshwater from the spring replaced by desalinated sea water.
1988 petroglyphs discovered by John Lloyd and recognized by the AAHS.
1992 more than 60 additional petroglyph recognized by Alain Gilbert.
2001 archaeological exploration.
2003 opened to the public with an elevated trail and explanatory signs, site protected by a fence.

Description

The Big Spring site is a huge doline with a natural pool. There is no spring, the pool is just an access point to the karst ground water of the island. There is no outflow or river. Just a 30-50cm deep pool of water.

The doline is a more or less circular hole with a diameter of 40m. The floor is 5m below the surface, more or less level and covered by fertile soil. The depression is the result of a cave which collapsed. Large blocks of collapsed rock fill much of the sinkhole. Only at the eastern and southern edges a large bedrock overhang covers part of the doline.

Beneath Fountain Cave, Big Spring is the second most important Amerindian site on Anguilla. It shows diverse petroglyphs pecked into bedrock directly adjacent to the freshwater spring. Amerindian use of the site was apparently focused on water acquisition and ceremonial usage in correlation with the rare freshwater. After their disappearance Afro-Caribbean and Euro-Caribbean residents also used the spring for 300 or more years. Finally drinking water was produced by desalinating sea water and the spring was abandoned. Soon it was used to dispose of trash and was left to grow up with scrubs and trees.

The site was rediscovered by John Lloyd in 1988. He informed Nik Douglas and other members of the AAHS. They studied it briefly and invited s visiting French, Dutch, and American rock art scholars and archaeologists. 28 individual petroglyph images were initially recognized by Douglas and Lloyd. More than 60 were recognized by Alain Gilbert in 1992.