At the meeting point of the South American and Caribbean tectonic plates, over millions of years, sedimentary rock has deposited along with the skeletons of millions of crustaceans to form the Lesser Antilles. This is a string of islands stretching up through the Caribbean Sea from South America to the Greater Antilles in the North, reaching up to Dominican Republic and Jamaica to the West. The easternmost of these is Barbados.
Over time, the process of semidry deposit from the meeting of the plates and sea life falling to the sea bed has created a land mass that has risen from the sea floor to create these islands. In fact, this process continues even today, with the island of Barbados rising out of the ocean at a rate of about 25mm every 1,000 years.
Today the Queen’s Baton travelled back through this history during a trip to Harrison’s Caves - formed over thousands of years as water flowed through the limestone rock and eroded it away and in doing so, dripping to create extravagant stalactites and stalagmites. Due to the slow rise of the island, these caves - once at sea level - now lay over 30 metres above. Accompanied by four athletes, including weightlifter Christian Payne, the baton was taken down into ‘The Great Hall’, a cavern about 30 metres tall.
Along with the impressive Harrison’s Caves, the baton took a sightseeing tour of Barbados, starting at Christ Church Foundation School, then visiting a local fish market, before heading to the South Coast boardwalk. The boardwalk is a recent development built by the Barbados Government which not only acts as a very beautiful and pleasant place to stroll down Barbados’ beautiful south coast beaches, but also serves a practical purpose as well, helping to protect the movement of the beaches inland.
From a natural monument to a historic monument - the baton moved on to Garrison Savannah thought to be one of the oldest British Colonial Garrisons in the world, dating back to the 18th and 19th Century. Three years ago, UNESCO named this sight as a World Heritage site, confirming its importance and its legacy.
The baton visited a number of schools including Hillaby-Turner's Hall Primary School which stands at the top of Hillaby Hill. Hillaby Hill is the tallest point on Barbados with wonderful vistas all around. The last stop of the day was to a reception held by the British High Commissioner to Barbados HE Victoria Dean at her residence. The baton was seen and held by both the West Indies and English cricket teams and had a distinct Scottish flavour with Scottish Chef Paul Wedgwood having flown over to make up a traditional Scottish haggis.