Antigua’s Historical Landscapes in Oh Gad!


They even had a little adventure when the rental cut out up at Shirley Heights Lookout, a hilltop liming spot and former naval fortification overlooking the white sails of the many yachts in Nelson’s Dockyard below. While tourists imbibed rum punch and danced, badly, to the music of the Halcyon Steel Orchestra, Nikki and Jazz wondered how they were going to get the clunker all the way back to town. They got a jump from one of the tour operators, and kept their fingers crossed all the way to Fanso’s house.  -P. 28, Oh Gad!

Shirley Heights Lookout is one of those places you will visit if you visit Antigua. It is, according to, a military complex, 1780-1850, named for then Governor of the Leeward Islands, Sir Thomas Shirley. The complex includes the ridge and artillery quarters, the blockhouse, and, of course, the lookout – which is also, as referenced in Oh Gad! a party spot. I should mention here as well that Shirley Heights Lookout is also one of the sponsors of the Jhohadli Summer Youth Writing Project.


It was Sunday. Nikki had stopped by to drop the kids off after their semi-regular Sunday romp at Deep Bay. She’d even managed to coax the kids to scale Goat Hill with her, though not into long abandoned, eerie Fort Barrington. Carlene, happy and small in the water below, had waved up at them. – P. 268, Oh Gad!

Fort Barrington, circa 1779 to 1850, is described at as a gun emplacement with “dungeon-like rooms and a powder magazine” and, of course, a “magnificent view”.



The slave dungeon at Parson Maule’s lends some appeal to the area of Seaton’s, a coastal village and one time port town like Parham.

 But then, there’s also a dungeon at Blackman’s Valley. The etymology of the name remains obscure, but the land there is fertile and is used to good effect by farmers from neighboring villages. There was some appeal in focusing the study on this point of convergence.  – from Winston Baltimore, Antigua Journal in Oh Gad! – P. 151

Read more about the Rock Dungeon, the Bump off and the Torturer, one-time slave dungeons in Antigua at

Also read my paper on the actual history of the fictional dungeon in my book Oh Gad! as presented by me during the 3rd Congress of Caribbean Writers, 2013, in Guadeloupe. In it, I say, among other things: “Once I realized that the dungeon was a part of this story, I embraced it; and post-publishing, I’m thrilled that I was able to ink it into memory. Because I don’t believe that forgetting serves us. I believe that the memory of all that our ancestors survived should embolden us to be our best selves, to honour their legacy by fighting to retain the freedom they bled for.”

That is part of the reason for this post. Hope you enjoyed.

Be sure to visit the Antigua and Barbuda Pages – to the left, to the left – for more insights to Antiguan and Barbudan culture referenced in Oh Gad!


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