Monday, December 16, 2013

Where is the real Treasure Island?

Norman Island is often mentioned as the probable site of the "real Treasure Island."   Norman Island  lies some fifty miles east of Puerto Rico in the British Virgin Islands, a group of thirty two small islands and islets  only a few of which are inhabited.   Most of this British colony's 13,000 people live on Tortola.  These islands were heavily infested with pirates.  The coves and bays provided a lurking place for pirates and buccaneers.  Only a really knowledgeable sailor could make it through the maze of reefs, which proved an ideal hiding place.  One of the most famous legends of these islands is the one of Dead Chest (the name of an actual island), celebrated for centuries in the Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum song.  Blackbeard the pirate marooned fifteen of his men on the small speck of land named Dead Chest with only a bottle of rum and a cutlass. 

Norman Island takes its name from an 18th century buccaneer who is said to have buried his treasure on the island.  The legend of Norman's treasure was first documented in a small book entitled LETTERS FROM THE VIRGIN ISLANDS (London, 1843). The surface of the island is rugged, covered with scrub timber and Guinea grass, and punctuated with bare rock outcroppings.  The island is also liberally sprinkled with caves.  At a spot called Treasure Point, there are two caves into which a small boat can enter from the sea.  The larger cave appears to have steps carved into the rock.  A few treasure holes can be found in likely spots.   Except for an occasional curious visitor from a yacht the bats have the caves and the treasure to themselves.

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