Look at, but do not touch the Petroglyphs
Our Readers' Opinions
March 8, 2011
Look at, but do not touch the Petroglyphs


by Louise Mitchell Joseph, Chairperson SVG National Trust

Our heritage belongs to us, and it is incumbent on each citizen to be its custodian, to be its guardian. When our history is lost, so too we will be. If we cannot protect our own history, then how can we stop someone else from charting our course, trampling on us, and steering us in the wrong direction?{{more}} We have to have knowledge of our heritage and a clear plan for protecting it. We have to know who we are, and value what we have as our heritage.

The National Trust is one of the agencies responsible for ensuring that our heritage is preserved. The National Park, Rivers and Beaches Authority is another body, a government one, which is charged with ensuring that our ‘cultural heritage’ is preserved. However, neither these agencies, nor the Government itself, has enough funds to preserve our heritage without the support of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is for this reason, that we ask you, the citizens, the boys and the girls to be custodians of our heritage and to seek to preserve it.

The inspiration for writing this article came to me after a visit to the Layou Petroglyph, on the weekend, with my family. I was absolutely shocked to see that the petroglyphs there had been damaged by the application of a substance which is corrosive to the site. Upon inquiring, I got an unconfirmed report that it was chlorine that was used. The National Trust will investigate why this happened and how it happened.

Meanwhile, I want to bring it to the attention of the nation that petroglyphs should in fact only be cleaned with water and by experts only. For everyone else, please look at them, but don’t touch. If you see someone attempting to clean a petroglpyh, please ask them to stop.

While these rocks may not appear to you as important, they are some of the few records we have of our past. They are indeed so important that the National Trust is seeking that they be declared as world heritage sites by UNESCO. Meanwhile, we write about these petroglyphs and seek to bring them to the attention of the international community, so that they can gain greater recognition by world archaeologists and in turn attract visitors to the shores of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. When visitors come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they do care to know about our history and do spend money with tour companies to visit our historical sites.

Every petroglyph is part of the patrimony of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the National Trust is working on a national plan to ensure that every petroglyph site is managed and protected for all time. The resources are not in place to execute this plan immediately; as such, in the meanwhile, we call on everyone to play their part in ensuring our heritage is not destroyed. It is indeed possible that the person or persons who put the corrosive substance on the Layou Petroglyph had the best of intentions; however, the act was damaging, and to lovers of history, soul destroying.

The National Trust is a resource that is here to advise on the protection of our heritage. We are available to inform and advise the public about the preservation of historic sites. For comments write to [email protected]