Surveillance in the Wake of Rebellion in Barbados

Author(s): Alan Armstrong

Year: 2014


A series of signal towers were constructed in Barbados in reaction to a slave rebellion in 1816. This study uses GIS and GPS to plot and assess the view-sheds of surveillance and control created by the construction of a series of six signal towers (1816-1819). ‘Bussa’s Rebellion which began resulted in damage to 54 plantations and the death of well over 200 enslaved laborers (in battle or by execution). The rebellion sent ripples of fear through the island’s planter, business, and military communities. It also illuminated the horrors of slavery and galvanized abolitionist sentiment in England. Today the rebellion is commemorated as a defining act of resistance against the institutions of slavery. This study plots the tower sites, examines vectors of communication from tower to tower, and projects for view-shed from each tower. A series of nine plantation sites, currently being considered as part a UNESCO plantation landscapes theme, were also plotted to allow an assessment of bi-directional observation. The study illustrates the tower’s utility as control and communication devices.

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Surveillance in the Wake of Rebellion in Barbados. Alan Armstrong. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437414)

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Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): POS-99,03