Matt and Britney Weidert

Matt Weidert

Pirate Legends and Hidden Treasures: Norman Island

In a recent blog post, we touched on the era of piracy in the British Virgin Islands. Today, we will dive deeper into the mysterious and captivating stories of Norman Island.

Norman Island: A Treasure Trove of Pirate Legends

Norman Island​, often cited as the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson's novel "Treasure Island," offers much more than breathtaking scenery. Its history is colored by the golden glow of pirate gold and the dark adventures of those who lived outside the law. This island is a place full of mystery and hidden treasures.
Norman Island Caves

Caves of Hidden Treasures

The caves on Norman Island are not just spectacular for their rock formations; they are legendary for the treasures they supposedly house. One of the most famous tales dates back to 1750 when a pirate ship called the Seaflower, commanded by Owen Lloyd, raided the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Lloyd and his crew stole an enormous amount of treasure, which included 44 chests filled with pieces of eight, cochineal, hides, and other valuables. The total take was valued at nearly 250,000 pieces of eight.

After the raid, Lloyd's crew hid the treasure in the caves of Norman Island. This treasure sparked a frenzy among the local inhabitants, who rushed to the island to dig for the buried loot. Much of the treasure was eventually found by local planters and was later confiscated by the British authorities and returned to the Spanish.
Lost treasure was discovered by a local fisherman in the Caves
Adding to the allure, there's a local story about a fisherman named Henry Creque who, in the late 1800s, sought refuge in the caves during a storm. As he waited for the weather to clear, the waves repeatedly bashed his small boat against the cave walls, dislodging several rocks. Among the debris that fell into his boat were several gold doubloons. This unexpected discovery led to significant changes in Creque's life; he moved to St. Thomas and opened a store in Charlotte Amalie, seemingly using the wealth he found in the cave.
The Bight at Norman Island

Pirates and Battles on the High Seas

Norman Island was also a crucial setting for numerous encounters between pirates and merchant ships during the 17th and 18th centuries. The island served as a strategic base for pirates to launch attacks on Spanish galleons laden with riches. The island's name itself, along with places like Money Bay and Privateer Bay, hints at its piratical past. The names reflect the island’s history of serving as a hideout and treasure trove for buccaneers and privateers.
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The Inspiration of "Treasure Island"

Beyond the legends, we explore how Norman Island's fame grew immensely thanks to "Treasure Island." This literary connection not only attracts tourists and adventurers but has also permeated popular culture, keeping alive the romantic image of pirates and their treasure hideouts. The novel has inspired generations to dream of maps marked with an "X" and adventures in unknown seas. Who hasn't dreamed at some point of being a pirate on this island?
Hiking the Norman Island trails in search of lost treasure on our recent trip

Connecting with the Present

Today, Norman Island remains a fascinating destination for those seeking a close encounter with history. The beaches and trails are devoid of real pirates nowadays, but the adventurous spirit and stories of the past are still palpable in every corner of the island. Visitors can explore the same caves from the nearby The  Bight and look out towards the horizon, imagining sails in the distance and hearing the echo of cannons, thus feeling part of a true movie.

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