So you’ve found yourself shipwrecked on one of the distant Turks and Caicos Islands in the age of sail. You’re going to have some time to kill while awaiting salvation from a passing ship or rescue party, why not mark your visit on one of the rocks.
That’s just what countless sailors and shipwreck victims did when they found themselves on Sapodilla Hill on the island of Providenciales in the Northwestern Caicos Islands. Etched into the craggy chalk rocks and boulders strewn across the hill are names, dates, and small designs left by unlucky sailors that found themselves marooned on the island, heading to the hill for a better vantage point from which to spot ships. Some of the rocks were left with just a crude name and date carved into the stone, while others featured little boats or buildings to tell their tales. Most of the carvings were left between the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s.
Now that getting marooned on a deserted island isn’t much of a problem (at least not in the Caicos), no new rock etchings are being made on Sapodilla Hill. In fact, the ones that remain have dwindled since their heyday. Due to destruction and theft, the historic markers have slowly been disappearing over the years.
Luckily, today the site is a protected historical site which is slowly being catalogued and preserved by the Turks and Caicos Museum. In addition to taking impressions of many of the carvings, the museum has relocated a number of the carved rocks to protect them. They are also researching the names and stories behind each carving to better understand the history of wrecks that left their mark on the island.