Common Myths


Were the Caribs of contact period cannibals as claimed by Colombus?

There is no evidence of this activity archaeologically. What is evident is that they had unusual rituals and practices. After the death of someone special, a selection of their bones were interred kept by the families. It is also clear that some were added or buried with others relatives on their death. However, this is still of research interest and poorly understood. The cannibal myth began in 1492 before Columbus arrived in the Eastern Caribbean. Following discussions with the Native Peoples of the Bahamas, whose language he could not understand, he concluded they were telling him that the islands to the south and east were inhabited by fierce cannibals, the Carib people. On his arrival in the Eastern Caribbean, he saw human bones in one of the native "houses" and saw them as evidence of cannibalism. In time anyone thought to be Carib or cannibals could legally be enslaved and their lands taken.


The Siboney versus Archaic Peoples

It is commonly held that the first people who lived on Antigua were the Siboney.  The Siboney, however, never existed on Antigua. The term "Archaic People" is used to describe these stone aged settlers.


Columbus landed on Antigua

It is falsely believed that Columbus landed on Antigua and that Santa Maria Hill near Cedar Grove was named by him. The reality is that Columbus never landed on the island. On his second voyage in 1493, Columbus sighted Marie Gallant close to Guadeloupe and Dominica and from there headed north, naming many islands in the chain of Lesser Antilles--Santa Maria de Guadeloupe, Santa Maria de Montserrate, Santa Maria la Redonda. It was close to Redonda that Columbus saw Antigua on the horizon and named the island Santa Maria la Antigua. He continued sailing until he reached Hispaniola.


Volcano under the St. John's Cathedral

The Anglican Cathedral in St. John's is thought to be built on a volcano.  In fact, it is built on fossilised reef.


Clarence House was built for the Duke of Clarence, King William IV

It is believed that Clarence House was built for the Duke of Clarence, King William IV when he visited in his ship, HMS Pegasus.

In fact, Clarence House was not built until more that thirty years after he had come and gone.


Nelson's Bed in the Dockyard

"Nelson's Bed" in the Dockyard Museum is Victorian! Nelson died in 1805, some 50 years or more before the bed was built.


Bat's Cave leads to Dominica

Bat's Cave leads to Dominica and that slaves escaped through it or raiding Carib warriors, who carried off governors' wives.

False. The depth of water between the islands means that the cave would have to be more than three thousand feet underground. But, what a story!


Waladli versus Wadadli

The actual " Carib " name for Antigua is Wadadli.

In fact the name was Waladli. The mistake occurred when a popular calypsonian, Short Shirt, wrote a song using Wadadli. From this time on Waladli became Wadadli.



Introduction | Archaic Age | Ceramic Age/Pre Columbian Saladoid | Post Saladoid | Historical Period | Common Myths