The tourist’s image of the Caribbean islands is of white sand beaches, shady palm trees and stately colonial architecture. But the islands are full of layers of heritage – disconnected and contested heritage that is all but invisible. In addition, maintaining standing structures and other tangible heritage on the islands can be daunting as the incidence of catastrophic storms increase, and hard decisions must be made about what and where to preserve, protect, and restore, let alone interpret for visitors to the islands.
The island of Eleuthera lies on the eastern, Atlantic boundary of the archipelago of islands that make up the Bahamas. In this location, the island, which is approximately 1 mile wide and 100 miles long, lies in the path of the severe weather systems of the Caribbean basin and suffers wind and overwash damage on a regular basis. This makes the island an excellent case for considering the effects of climate change on vulnerable island resources.
The cultural landscape of the island is heavily determined by the British colonial and plantation periods, overlain with the development of exclusive resorts dating from the 1920’s. Pre-colonial layers created by the Lucayans are faint but still discernable in the archaeological finds and the lore surrounding Preacher’s Cave, the location of the first landing of European colonists.