Cannons found at Kingston Waterfront (Jamaica)

Workmen at the Digicel construction site in downtown Kingston have unearthed a number of cannons and cannon balls while they were excavating the site on October 21. The historical find prompted the men to contact the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), the agency responsible for preserving the nation's material cultural heritage.

A tractor lifting one of the newly discovered cannons.

When the team of archaeologists arrived from the JNHT they saw nine cannons and 21 cannon balls stocked in a pile while the workmen continued their excavations. The men explained that the artefacts were found in a cluster underneath the earth. It was only in June this year that the JNHT had gone to the site to undertake an Archaeological Impact Assessment of the area before the workmen went in with their heavy equipment.

Jamaica National Heritage Trust Conservation Officer Frank Gayle takes a close look at the newly unearthed cannons on the Digicel construction site at the corner of Port Royal Street, Downtown Kingston.

Acting Executive Director and Technical Director of Archaeology at the JNHT, Mr. Dorrick Gray, noted the find is very significant. He pointed out that the area where the discovery was made was once an Ordnance yard for the British military. This was where supplies including weapons, ammunition, maintenance tools and equipment were stored before being distributed all over the island.

"We were definitely expecting such artifacts to be found after our archival research pointed to this ordnance yard," Mr. Gray said.

The area slated for the proposed Digicel building is in the historic port of Kingston that was closed and dismantled in 1966. The Ordnance Wharf and Yard was sited at the exact location of the proposed development. These facilities had a variety of uses that included the unloading and storing of military supplies and the disembarking of important visitors to the island such as the Emperor Maximilian of Mexico in 1864.

Mr. Gray pointed out that it was from this area also that National Hero The Rt. Excellent George William Gordon was taken aboard the ship HMS Wolverine and transported to Morant Bay, St. Thomas before being hanged for his role in the 1865 Morant Bay Rebellion.

The JNHT is presently working with the Digicel Contractors to secure the cannons and other artifacts recovered from the site to be preserved for display after the construction is completed.

After the Ordnance Yard was closed the site was used by the Harbour Master, the Public Works Department and finally the Urban Development Corporation, which had its car park there.

For further information contact:
922-1287-8/ 885-8105

Versión en español [enlace]


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