Investigation launched after ‘Pillar of Hercules’ defaced in Antigua

Visible from the coast, the Pillar of Hercules is a popular stop on the Carpenter Rock trail in Antigua’s Nelson’s Dockyard National Park. (Photo: YouTube)

The National Parks Authority (NPA) in Antigua and Barbuda has launched an investigation into several instances of graffiti and name inscriptions by hikers who frequent the popular Carpenter Rock trail.

The NPA, in a statement on Friday (July 10), further noted that it will be exploring measures to immediately put a stop to the practise as it expressed its “utter shock and dismay” that residents would deface the ‘Pillar of Hercules’ rock formation.

One of the photographed instances of graffiti on a section of the Pillar of Hercules in Antigua. (Photo: Facebook @OMPAntiguaBarbuda)

“The National Parks Authority wishes to express its utter shock and dismay at the deliberate and unconscionable actions of some hikers who have travelled the Carpenter Rock trail that leads to the Pillars of Hercules and the pool formation known as Mermaid Gardens. Names and messages have been carved into the popular rock formations at the Pillars of Hercules,”

According to Parks Commissioner Ann Marie Martin, the Pillar of Hercules stands not only as a major national landmark but as one the most prominent features of Antigua’s coastline. The issue of the pillar’s defacing also comes amid several reports of littering, which is illegal.

While noting an increase in the number of persons using the trail in the face of restrictions on public gatherings as Antigua’s national response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak continues, Commissioner Martin said the matter was disappointing.

Names and other messages have been inscribed into the rock face of the Pillar of Hercules in Antigua. (Photo: Facebook @OPMAntiguaBarbuda)

As the restrictions relaxed, many have been making use of park trails as an option to escape the confines of their homes to enjoy the outdoors and get some exercise after the prolonged period of a lock-down.

“But never would we have thought that it would have come to this,” she declared.

The Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, similar to other areas in the twin-island country, is a protected space in Antigua and Barbuda and its natural assets are safeguarded by legislation.

The defacing, destroying or removal of the natural (including taking plants) or cultural (including heritage) assets of the park is a punishable act under the law. Anyone found in violation can be fined up to ECD$5000 or serve six months in jail.

The NPA further stated it has since reported the matter to the police and is now considering other measures to put a halt to the unfortunate and regrettable practice of some persons