The plantation-era grave site near the St. Thomas Bay ferry terminal in Virgin Gorda will get a “face lift” following a donation to the BVI Tourist Board, government announced Monday.
Deputy Culture Director Anne Lennard recently handed over $3,000 to Tourism Director Sharon Flax-Brutus for cleanup work to commence at the site, according to Government Information Services.
Ms. Lennard said the graveyard is a historical site that residents and visitors alike often walk quickly past.
“Between the white sandy beach and the parking lot, there lies a small plot of land which seems somewhat out of place, as it seems undisturbed and untouched,” she said. “The area is a plantation era cemetery which dates back to the 1600s. Most of the graves are covered to a great extent in dirt waiting to be revealed.”
The project will include the use of a “ground measuring device” to properly locate graves that might not have markers, according to GIS.
“These efforts were initially started by The BVI Tourist Board with the Department of Culture providing support when possible,” Ms. Lennard said.
The deputy director explained that many of the graves at the site are not currently visible.
“At a first glance, there are two triangular shaped bricklike structures which can be seen resting in the ground,” she said, adding, “Some years back, the then Virgin Gorda Garden Club had taken on this site as a beautification project. During their cleaning of the area, they unearthed a large tombstone measuring approximately four feet by three feet with the name and time clearly stated. It is believed that this site may have been a burial site for white planters around the 1600s. The site was believed to extend further north and south of what now exists.”
Ms. Leonard said Virgin Gorda is believed to have been settled around 1690 by settlers from St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, many of whom were Quakers.
“Today,” she said, “there remains similarities between Anguilla and Virgin Gorda, including, as many believe, the dialect and last names like Harrigan, George, Vanterpool and Hodge. Both even have the names of their main towns to be The Valley.”