Archives have recently been discovered at Green Castle Eco-Resort, Northern Jamaica which relate to the very earliest days of Jamaica’s origins. Green Castle sits within 1,600 acres of rainforest in the north east of Jamaica in the Robin’s Bay / Annotto Bay area. Archives which had been packed away for ‘safekeeping’ have recently been discovered and a real treasure trove of historical documents has been found. These include:
1. Evidence of Taino burial sites (including a village) within the Green Castle Estate – supported by University of West Indies / Murray State University, Kentucky, USA.
2. Timbers used in historical tower on Green Castle estate have been radiocarbon dated to late 16th / early 17th century – documents by University of California.
3. Documentation relating to suggestions that Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay – supported by Jamaica Historical Society/Institute of Jamaica
1. Evidence of Taino burial sites/village within the Green Castle Estate
Experts from Wickliffe Mounds Research Center, Murray State University have carbon-dated the skeletal remains of what looks like one of the earliest examples of a Taino Indian family living in Jamaica, to circa 900AD.
Archaeological explorations that took place at Davey Hill located within Green Castle Estate’s 1,600 acres, Saint Mary Parish, showed that the Estate is linked right back to the beginnings of life on the island. The skeletal remains of what is believed to be a Jamaican Taino adult and child were found, as well as a well-preserved Taino village.
It has revealed a people that lived on a wide variety of animal sources as well as cassava root. Early inhabitants of Jamaica named the land “Xaymaca”, meaning “Land of wood and water” and this evolved or changed into Jamaica over time.
“We note that the recovery of two burials, one adult and one infant, is a significant contribution to the bioarcheology of the Jamaican Taino.” (Preliminary Report, University of the West Indies and Murray State University, 2001).
2. Timbers used in historical tower on Green Castle estate have been radiocarbon dated to pre-Columbus times
One of the many great features within Green Castle’s expansive estate is the Spanish Tower near the coast. The coral-stone tower dates back to the late 16th / early 17th century during the time of ownership of one of the island’s most prominent families, The Nedham family. Some of the largest timbers used from trees felled in its construction date back to early 14th century suggesting that they came from a Spanish ship or some Spanish building nearby. The timbers were radiocarbon dated by the University of California – dating them as either 14th century or early 15th century.
3. Documentation relating to suggestions that Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay
It is widely known that Columbus first set foot on Jamaica on the morning of May 7th, 1494 and that he first made landfall at St Ann’s Bay, however, from analyzing eye witness accounts and diary entries from Michele (Miguel) Cuneo, an Italian who accompanied Columbus on the voyage; Fernando Colon, Columbus’ son, Fray Bartolome De Las Casas (friend of Columbus) and Antonio Herrera, it is clear that there is a strong argument he first made landfall at Annotto Bay on the north east coast of Jamaica, very close to Green Castle. A report written by the Jamaican Historical Society suggests that based on these accounts (all stating the same thing), Columbus first made landfall at Annotto Bay taking into account sailing conditions at the time, the direction he was sailing from and eyewitness accounts. Initially, Columbus was repelled upon approaching the coast of Jamaica by Arawak Indians. It is well known that there was a large Arawak settlement which would account for the large number of Indians who came out in their canoes to repel the Spanish ships. Additionally, the area around Annotto Bay was and is unsuitable for beaching a ship the size of the one Columbus sailed (The Nina). It is thought that after this and given the direction of the winds in the area, he sailed further up the coast to St Ann’s Bay.
You can find out more about Green Castle and the part it’s played in Jamaican history over the centuries, here.