The Maritime Heritage Trail
In 2003, the Cayman Islands National Museum teamed up with the Department of Environment, National Archive, and National Trust, to develop and launch the Maritime Heritage Trail. Spanning all three Caymanian islands, the trail is the first maritime trail of its kind in the Caribbean and combines education, heritage and recreational tourism. A three part approach aims to protect, manage, and interpret the Cayman Islands’ national heritage.
Made up of thirty six archaeological maritime sites across Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac, and Little Cayman, the Maritime Heritage Trail is a land based driving tour that takes heritage buffs to important maritime locales including lighthouses, shipwrecks and historic anchorages, to name a few.
*Help us recover lost Maritime Heritage Trail signs by contacting us if you or someone you know is in possession of, or has seen one of these signs outside of its proper location.
Glamis Shipwreck Preserve
The Glamis, an 1876 Scottish ship, wrecked in 1913 under the Norwegian flag, is set to become the first shipwreck preserve in the Cayman Islands. As a non-fragile site with legal protection and a management plan, the Glamis site is suitable for interpretation by divers and snorkelers, who can enjoy a fun, interactive and educational experience.
Rare and Fragile Sites
This initiative devotes special protection, study and management to rare and fragile sites such as the HMS Jamaica and HMS Convert (Wreck of the Ten Sail). These early sites have great potential to reveal unique histories available only in the Cayman Islands.
Though findings are yet to be confirmed, informed sources hypothesize that the Gaol (an Early Modern English spelling for “jail”) may have stored armaments and other military supplies, and may even have been part of the 18th-Century Fort George defensive system.
The walls of theGaol are constructed of eight layers of varying material. In 2007, historical graffiti was discovered on the third of these layers during post-Hurricane Ivan restoration work in 2004, leading Historical Preservation Architect, Patricia Green, to call the Museum building “a superb candidate for international status” as a national heritage site.
Though work is ongoing at the site, with efforts to uncover the original floor in progress, visitors can now step into a portion of the Old Gaol as part of our Museum tour.
Discovered in 2003, the Step Well may have been documented in the maps of British Admiralty Surveyor, George Gauld, in the early 1700s. The well has been preserved in a joint initiative by the Cayman Islands National Museum and the Kirkconnell family, on whose property the historic water source is located. Situated opposite Hog Sty Bay, this once vital resource resides in the heart of Grand Cayman’s commercial harbour.
Rescue archaeological work on the site commenced in 2003, with a team of volunteers and staff working to save archaeological materials and record important information. Artifacts found on the site consist largely of ceramics and glass, though three hand-hewn ship’s timbers were also found.
The archaeological materials collected reveal a presence in Hog Sty Bay from at least the mid-1700s. Today, visitors to the commercial shopping centre, Bayshore Mall, can view the Step Well through a pane of glass set in the floor which reveals the steps and water below.
The Museum is grateful to the Kirkconnell family and Bayshore’s owners for their support in preserving this historic landmark.