Seville Heritage Park
Jamaica National Heritage Trust
Middlesex Country, St. Ann Parish, St. Ann's Bay District
The Secretariat of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Heritage Centre do not represent or endorse the accuracy or reliability of any advice, opinion, statement or other information or documentation provided by the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention to the Secretariat of UNESCO or to the World Heritage Centre.
The publication of any such advice, opinion, statement or other information documentation on the World Heritage Centre’s website and/or on working documents also does not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of UNESCO or of the World Heritage Centre concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its boundaries.
Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party
Seville Heritage Park is one of Jamaica's most significant cultural heritage sites and the area is regarded as the genesis of modern Jamaica. The site has been occupied since prehistoric times, and includes the archaeological remains of the indigenous Amerindian (Taino) village of Maima, the 16th century Spanish settlement of Sevilla la Nueva, the post-1655 British sugar plantation known as New Seville, and the distinct landscape and flora that emerged as a result of these interventions.
The encounter, co-existence, and merging of Taino, Europeans and Africans at this site was the initiation of the racial and cultural diversity that characterizes the current Jamaican demography and gives credence to the National Mono, Out of Many, One People.
During the 16th to 19th centuries, sugar emerged as one the most lavish and successful industries in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Americas. Notably, Seville was one of the first sites in the region to have received a steady flow of African slaves working the sugar plantations under the Spaniards. The trend further increased under the British occupation. At a time when sugar was regarded as the jewel in the British Crown, the scale and grandeur of the New World plantations like Seville, defined the social and economic opulence associated with the industry.
Seville Heritage Park is also illustrative of an environmental and societal evolution that is distinctly Caribbean, but owes its emergence to the African-European cultural coalescence. It epitomizes the shifting ideologies of Spain and Britain in their quest to develop the ideal sugar plantation plan, and illustrates how the characteristics of the local people and ecology significantly affected that ideal.
Seville represents all aspects of the process of colonization including the initial contact period, expansion of territory and the resulting goods and slave trade. These events are of great global significance, and ultimately contribute to one universal human heritage.
Historical Description and Context
In order to comprehend Seville's role within a global historical context, a brief overview of both Spanish and British Occupation at the site is provided below.
The history of Jamaica is elaborately entwined with that of Christopher Columbus and his heirs. The island was discovered during Columbus's second voyage to the New World when he landed on the north coast on May 5, 1494, at Santa Gloria, present day St. Ann's Bay.
In 1503, Columbus returned to Santa Gloria on his fourth and final voyage. Due to the waterlogged condition of his ship, he beached his two vessels the Capitana and the Santiago in the bay. Columbus, along with his brother Bartholomew, his son Ferdinand and about one hundred men, was marooned at Santa Gloria for a year before a crew from Santo Domingo rescued them. This was to mark his longest sojourn at any particular place in the New World.
In 1508 Jamaica was designated the property of the Columbus family in partial settlement of the lengthy legal battles that waged between the explorer and the Spanish crown. That same year, Columbus's son became Govemor of the Indies. He appointed Juan de Esquivel as his Lieutenant in Jamaica.
Esquivel arrived in 1509 with 80 citizens and their families, near where Columbus had beached his caravels at Santa Gloria. Here, they established Sevilla la Nueva, the first European settlement and first capital of Jamaica.
In 1511 Esquivel noted that Jamaica lacked any significant gold deposits. The Spanish Crown urged settlers to use native Indian labourers and grow food crops to support other expeditions in Cuba and South America. (Note that archaeological evidence shows several Taino sites in this area predate Spanish occupation by several hundred years, while others are contemporaneous with the Spanish)
Thus, the encomienda system, a policy of forced labour, as it evolved in the Indies, granted certain Spanish settlers rights over a specific number of local Indians. Settlers were given lots of 150 to 200 Indians a piece to use for mining, construction, transportation and farming. As a result of this cruel treatment, along with exportation and exposure to European disease, the Taino population quickly declined.
To replace the disappearing natives, the first group of African slaves was brought to Sevilla la Nueva in 1513. That same year Francisco de Garay was appointed as the second Govemor of Jamaica. He arrived at Sevilla la Nueva in 1515, bringing with him skilled farmers and livestock from spain.
By this time the population had grown to approximately 500 colonists. Francisco de Garay suggested moving the town to higher ground, further from the mangrove swamp which was considered a health hazard. He relocated the settlement a short distance away from the initial site in 1518 and renamed this settlement, simply Sevilla.
Garay also built the first sugar mill on the island and by the early 1520s was producing 12,000 arrobas (150 tons) of sugar per annum. In 1534 the town of Sevilla la Nueva was relocated for a second time, to Villa de la Vega (Spanish Town) on the other side of the island. This was to be Jamaica's second Spanish capital. Despite relocation, it appears that some Spaniards, probably with their African slaves, continued to occupy the initial site. In the end, Sevilla la Nueva was attacked by French corsairs and its remaining inhabitants hung in 1554.
In 1655 the British conquered the Spaniards to take control of Jamaica. Captain Samuel Hemmings, of the conquering Penn and Venables army, received a 2500 acre tract of land which included the earlier Spanish sites of Seville la Nueva and Sevilla in 1670. The entire property became known as the New Seville Sugar Plantation.
Hemmings built the New Seville Great House in the 1670s along with the first slave village, located a short distance away. It is believed that the Great House and slave village were severely damaged by a powerful hurricane between 1745 and the early 1780s. The Great House was then reconstructed as a single storey building and the slave village relocated to a new site west of the planter's residence.
The historical record shows that by the 1690s, Hemmings had established an extensive sugar works with sugar cane being cultivated on 300 to 400 acres of land along the coast, along with warehouses and finger wharves on the waterfront. The estate also produced lime, livestock, and food crops for consumption on the estate.
Upon Emancipation in 1834. many laborers all over the island left the plantations for free holdings off the estates. At Seville, Protestant reformers purchased a section of the estate and established a free settlement called the Priory. The Priory was occupied by former slaves from Seville and other estates in the area. The village at Seville continued to be occupied by tenants until the 1890s.
Also during this time, East Indian laborers were brought to continue work on the Seville Plantation. This resulted in two contemporaneous spatially discrete labor communities at Seville in the post-emancipation period. An East Indian House where these workers lived was discovered serendipitously through archeological excavation of the first slave village at Seville. It is the first such house excavated in the Western Hemisphere.
Today, many of the present employees at Seville Heritage Park are descendants of the original slaves who came to work on the plantation. Mr. Issac Rose, in an interview conducted by Douglas Armstrong in 1974, stated that he was born in 1884 on the property in a place called Nigger (Negro) House, located in the second slave village. Through employment opportunities such as site management, education, outreach and maintenance. area residents are now a living testament to freedom and the cultural heritage of their ancestors at Seville.
Seville Heritage Park is designated as a national landmark, currently owned and operated by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust as a cultural and educational facility. It comprises 121.4 hectares (300 acres) and is located on the north coast of the island, approximately two kilometres west of the town centre of St. Ann's Bay. The land stretches from a fertile coastal alluvial plain in the north to an undulating limestone highland in the south. The area is drained by the Church River, now a small stream that flows from the southern highland, across the plain, and empties into St. Ann's Bay. The site includes three distinct areas. These are:
a) the original Spanish settlements of Sevilla La Nueva (est.1509) and Sevilla (est.15 18)
b) the British settlement known as the New Seville sugar Plantation(e st. 1670)
c) the transformed flora and current forest area
Some of the best preserved structures currently found on the site are detailed below.
The castle or fort is the most prominent foundation at the site. It is believed to be Gamy's palace, the residence of the Spanish Governor in Jamaica. The structure was built with cut blocks of limestone. The side-out comers and three sections of the north and east wall were constructed of brick. The walls, measured 1.25 to 1.28 meters in thickness. The building is dominated by a large rectangular room 19.2m x 6.3m, and contains other smaller rooms. A well is situated in the northwest comer of the large room. During the initial excavation in 1937, Geraint Casserly, Charles Coner and William Goodwin unearthed carved limestone blocks in the well. The blocks represent quality craftsmanship and have features resembling gargoyles, a dog, a carver coats of arms and molded brick works.
Spanish Sugar Mill
The sugar mill was first excavated by Charles Coner in 1964 and later by Robyn Woodward, and is situated some 150m southwest of the ruins of the Governor's Castle. Based on the archaeological evidence, Coner hypothesized that this was an Egyptian type mill with two vertical gear wheels fitted into spaces between arches and a horizontal gear above. The ruin of the mill is opened for public viewing, and is covered by a structure sheltering from direct exposure to the elements and limiting human or animal contact.
Just east of the sugar mill, an artisan workshop site was excavated in 2002 by Robyn Woodward. Hundreds of incomplete carved stones and broken columns were uncovered. These elaborate carvings give us an insight to the grandeur planned for Sevilla la Nueva. In addition it brings to the fore the artistic competence of the natives and/or Africans who presumably made some of the carvings under the supervision and guidance of the Spaniards.
The Spanish settlement is located about 80m south of the Governor's castle. Faint traces of the structural remains are visible on the landscape. Under excavation, they reveal the layout of living and work space for the entire town of Sevilla la Nueva. Further research is planned for this area in January and February 2009.
Construction of the church of Peter Martyr, the first abbot of Jamaica, began in 1525. Records show that the structure was never completed possibly because of a Taino uprising or possibly because of an attack from the French in 1554. In the 1940s the walls of the Peter Martyr church were taken down and the stones were used to build the existing church just east of it. This present church reflects elements of the initial Spanish church design.
British Great House
Built in the 1670s, Seville Great House was initially a two-storey structure built in the Georgian tradition. When it was severely damaged by a hurricane between 1745 and 1780, renovations included removal of the upper floor, and the addition of an extension to the rear and a wrap-around verandah. The house has retained its exquisite internal ornaments and distinct Georgian qualities, and today, it holds an interpretive exhibition of the property's history and development. The house also serves as an oftice for the managerial and grounds staff. Tours of the Great House and a horse-back trail tour of the property are also offered.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
On an international scale, Seville Heritage Park is a microcosm of the profound and lasting transformation of Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Americas, brought about by colonization, slavery and sugar processing during the 16th to 19th centuries. In one of the world's greatest crimes against humanity, approximately 18 million Africans were displaced to the Caribbean and Americas in bondage under cruel and inhumane conditions.
More than half spent their lives in servitude on plantations in the Caribbean and Brazil. Seville Heritage Park is a testimony to this major episode in the history of humanity. It serves as a reminder of the suffering, injustice and indignity of slavery, and the great struggle towards Emancipation. The history of Seville recalls also the contribution of the first island inhabitants (the Taino) and renews our vigilance against all contemporary forms of servitude and racism.
The ongoing archaeological investigations being conducted at the site seek to clarify and highlight the historical truth about the early inhabitants, their interaction with the Europeans and the following period of slavery. The educational, ethical and civic objective of the site is to ensure universal awareness and promote global dialogue so as to combat contemporary forms of racism. Seville Heritage Park is a testimony to the cultural traditions, ingenuity, technical knowledge, skills and spirituality which now form a large part of the Caribbean and American cultures. As such, its outstanding universal value can be justified under criteria (ii) (iii) and (iv) of the World Heritage Convention. The use of each is outlined briefly below.
Criterion (ii): exhibit an important interchange of human values, over a span of time or within a cultural area of the world, on developments in architecture or technology, monumental arts, town-planning or landscape design
Over centuries of occupation, Seville experienced a thorough exchange of different human values and ideals. The diversity in cultural patterning was clearly influenced by long and varied processes of economic and political domination, the remoteness of other colonies, and issues of race, social status and gender.
Specifically, many of these interchanges were manifested through developments in technology, landscape design and monumental arts. This is illustrated in the adapted architecture of the Spanish sugar mill and the layout of the various sugar works buildings, and in the unique artwork that was characterized by Taino or African craftsmen executing Spanish Renaissance aesthetic ideals.
For example, the technology used at the sugar mill at Sevilla la Nueva reflects ideas derived from Roman, Muslim and Iberian sources. The Spanish used two types of mills in the Caribbean during the 16th century. A trapiche (manual powered) mill or a water-powered mill. Most were built from wood instead of metal. In Jamaica the Spanish had access to a wide variety of local hardwoods that were suitable for construction of superior waterwheels, axels and gears.
As the sugar industry grew, some innovations in sugar mill design, such as vertical rollers, were adopted universally. Conversely, other advances in technology and agricultural practises were developed in response to local settings, resulting in distinctly regional characteristics. In the early 16th century Caribbean, adaptations to the existing European practises included a massive increase in the size of individual holdings. This necessitated the use of enslaved labour in the agricultural setting as well as the mill operations.
The production processes of sugar also defined the layout ofthe mill and related buildings, thus determining the landscape of the industrial part of the town. At Sevilla la Nueva, sugar production, construction trades and workshops were separated from the residential sections of town. This is in contrast to the traditional arrangement of a medieval European village where domestic and craft productions were mixed.
Another significant feature of the landscape at Seville is the British Great House which perfectly illustrates the interchange of different designs and ideas. The house was built in the late 17th century with a traditional two-storey Georgian design. In 1745 a devastating hurricane caused severe damage to its roof and upper floor. In an effort to make the house more resistant to these ferocious natural phenomena and adaptable to the environment, the entire upper floor was removed and a low roof installed on the first floor. Additional rooms were constructed to the rear to compensate for the loss of living space. A wrap-around verandah was also added to allow for cooling air circulation throughout the house.
This architectural adaptation marked the emergence and era of a distinct local and regional vernacular architecture. In essence, the house exemplifies the elegance of Georgian architecture and the opulence of European aristocracy, while at the same time making it able to withstand the ravages of tropical hurricanes.
A final example of a cross-cultural value exchange is illustrated in the discovery of the artist's workshop. As described previously, during excavations near to the sugar mill in 2002, many sculptures and unfinished carvings were unearthed from what was presumably a working studio. These exquisite artefacts are a testimony to 16th century transference of European artistry in the Americas and emphasize the importance of Seville la Nueva in Spanish America at this time.
It is believed that most of the carvings were intended ornaments for the abbey and Governor's Castle. In an 18th century description of the town from Edward Long, he speaks of a church and castle located half a mile from each other giving some idea of the, "extended grandeur of the place." Long also believes that it was through the will of the abbot, Peter Martyr, that the church and other public buildings owed their degree of elegance which was, "unusual in the new world." He notes "several fragments of carved work in stone such as mouldings, festoons, cherubs ...are still to be seen here that would be thought no mean ornaments in a European church."
The sculptures are executed in the early Spanish Renaissance style known as the Plateresque. As noted by the Spanish art historian, Diego Angula Iniguez who traveled to the island in 1942, the complex Plateresque decorations are of, "the greatest significance not only for the history of architecture in America but for that of the (Iberian) peninsula itself."
The uniqueness of this Plateresque complex is underlined by the fact that it was probably created by Taino or African carvers working under the guidance of a Spanish craftsman. In either case, there would have been an inter-assimilation of the European Renaissance style and of the aesthetic of the Taino or African religiosymbolic system in carvings. Thus the significance of the sculptures, rather than being purely chronographic, is essentially artistic. Much remains to be investigated, and further study of these artifacts will reveal even more information about the wide exchange of human values at Seville.
Criterion (iii): bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared
Because of Seville's strategic location, ideal anchorage bay and access to fresh water, the area has always supported a significant human population. The site bears an exceptional testimony to both the Taino and the enslaved West Africans, two distinct and now vanished cultures who lived there throughout several centuries.
While each of these groups maintained individual traditions and customs, both were also exposed to a European way of life, acculturated, mistreated, and eventually declined. Nonetheless, both civilizations left their mark on the heritage and ancestry of the people who make up modern Jamaica today.
It is thought that ancestors of the Taino, an ethnic group of the Greater Antilles, occupied Jamaica circa 600 A.D. When Columbus discovered the island in 1494, the Taino population was estimated to be at least 60,000. While it's generally accepted that most indigenous were eradicated by 1520, the archival records for Jamaica describe Indian slaves at work on the abbey in Sevilla la Nueva in 1526. In 1533 two separate censuses listed Indians, slaves and cattle, and as late as 1597, authorities were discussing how to settle the remaining Indians. Thus it appears that the local Taino were present at Sevilla la Nueva prior to, and throughout its short occupation.
Because there is a relative lack of archival documentation on the initial phase of Hispanic-Indian contact, several analyses of the aboriginal remains at Sevilla la Nueva have provided an understanding of the mechanisms that shaped the colonial society. For example, the presence of indigenous ceramics and the evidence of some indigenous food-preparation techniques indicate that local Taino women were employed in daily domestic activities at Seville. It is thought that the remoteness of the colony and the lack of Spanish women also forced Hispanic settlers to engage in some degree of cultural mixing with the now lost civilization.
Similar information and materials recovered from ongoing archeological excavations at Seville are to essential understanding Taino cultural adaptations, labour arrangements, race, class and gender, all of which shaped this period of momentous historical change.
Seville Estate's slave villages also bear an exceptional testimony to the cultural traditions of the enslaved West Africans brought to the Americas under British Colonialism.
Archeological excavations at the African settlements at Seville have yielded a tremendous amount of data concerning persons of African ancestry in the Americas. With the initial slave village (c1660-1760) located southwest of the planter's residence, and a later village (c1760-1880) west of the planter's residence, the two spatially and temporally distinct housing areas provide an excellent opportunity to study change over time.
Excavations at both areas have yielded significant information on the formation of a Jamaican community and the processes of cultural transformation. Seville hasthe distinction of containing the first burials recovered from a clearly defined late 17th to early 18th century slave housing compound. The significance of these houseyard burials cannot be underestimated. They suggest elements of West African cultural traditions in the early years of slavery, but they also reflect local cultural variations indicative of the creative process of transformation associated with the emergence of new cultures and societies in the Americas.
Interestingly, the skeletal remains of four of these house-yard burials were taken to the Syracuse University, USA, for osteological analysis in 1993. On their return to Jamaica, a unilateral agreement between the Government of Jamaica and Ghana resulted in the repatriation of one of the remains to Africa in 1998. This was a symbolic repatriation of all enslaved Africans back to their homeland. Today elements of slavery culture as exemplified at Seville contribute to the unique Caribbean identity and bear testimony to both living and historical traditions.
Criterion (iv) be an outstanding example of a type of building or architecture or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates (a) significant stage(s) in human history
During the colonial period of the 16th and 17th centuries, sugar was a major industry, and the core element linking trade between the New World, established European manufacturers, and African slaves. The landscape and architectural remains at Seville Heritage Park are a perfect illustration of this time. They provide a glimpse of daily life of both the slaves and the European elite during that significant stage of human history.
The Spanish sugar mill ruin is an outstanding example of the transference of one of the tint European industrial technologies, along with its associated socio-economic structure and practices in the Americas. The success of this complex influenced the development of others like it on other parts of the island and within the region. It also influenced the wider spread of the sugar industry which eventually dominated the landscape and economy of all Caribbean territories for over three centuries.
This sugar plantation at Seville and those in the Caribbean region may also be viewed as precursors to the industrial revolution, arguably one ofthe most significant eras in all of human history. Certainly with the introduction of complex mills and massive coerced labour forces, the production of sugar was an industrial process. And as a specialized labour force was required to manufacture large output, Seville was one of the earliest places supporting importation of African slaves into the Americas. This then set the precedence for the entire trans-Atlantic slave trade.
This era in history also saw the peak and dénouement of the Spanish stronghold in the Caribbean as English, French and Dutch powers took over. Into the 18th century, colonies in the West Indies produced vast amounts of goods and resources for these European powers while merchants in the motherlands found new markets in the islands. Trans-Atlantic trade also stimulated the growth of various industries such as ship-building and triggered several long and complicated wars.
Seville was an occupied site during each of these phases, thus it represents a landscape that changed and shifted in response to each major event happening on an international scale. Further research of the buildings and technological artifacts at Seville Heritage Park has the potential to reveal much about important periods in human history and will contribute greatly to knowledge of collective world heritage.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
Seville Heritage Park has a history that stretches over 500 years. This time span witnessed a cross of peoples and traditions from Taino, to European, to African, and resulted in the development of many aspects of Jamaican and Caribbean culture as we know it today. Seville's cultural value and authenticity is without question and may be expressed through several attributes including; location and setting, use and function, and form and design. Each of these is discussed briefly below.
Location and Setting
Location and Setting
As discussed, historical records show that Sevilla la Nueva was established near the initial site where Columbus and his crew spent a year marooned in Jamaica at Santa Gloria. present day St. Ann's Bay. Further to this historical location, Seville's setting also represents an excellent example of the transformation of an environment, as altered by settlement and plantation.
As a result of extensive deforestation and intensive cultivation of sugar cane, food crops, limes, pimento, and banana by both the Spaniards and English, a new ecosystem evolved on what was initially tropical marine forest. This emerging scenery is marked by an amalgamation of indigenous and introduced flora that is typical of defunct Caribbean plantations.
For example, hills and sloped habitats are now dominated by pimento (Pimenta dioica) woodland formed as a result of natural regeneration of abandoned pimento groves. Other species here include sweetwood (Nectrandra), yokewood (Catalpa longissima), red birch (bursera simaruba), lime (Citrus aurantifolia), tulip trees (Spothodea campanulata), wild jasmine (Cestrum diurnum), and guava (Psidium guajava).
The northern coastal plain is occupied by coastal woodlands that are more open in structure and lower in profile and are characterized by many smaller shrubby species such as guava, calabash (Crescentia cujete), lime, wild jasmine, West Indian almond, and guango. The coastline itself is dominated by several species of mangrove including white, black, red and button, while the Church River valley now supports riverine forests.
All these areas, with the exception of the mangroves, have demonstrated the mingling of native and introduced species, an authentic indicator of varied land use over time.
Form and Design
The design and layout of the post-1655 New Seville Sugar Plantation exemplifies the Eurocentric central location model for sugar estate spatial arrangement and land-use. BY 1700, standard models for plantation layout had been generated, and planters interested in establishing a new estate could consult manuals or inspect existing models. The central location model was regarded as the ideal in the effective and efficient use of land space to ensure maximized sugar production and profits.
Seville Plantation's industrial production complex was centrally located at the margin where hill meets plain and is characterized by the sugar works ruins and the Overseer's house. To the north were the costal cane fields, wharves, and ware-houses. To the south, where the soil and terrain is less conducive for sugar cane cultivation, the slave villages, provision grounds, pastures, woodlands, and Great House were located. In this way, the planter and managerial houses were strategically positioned between the key economic variables; labor, fields, and works.
The central location model, like most models at the time, assumed that topography and soil were homogeneous and did not consider that variation in the natural environment would impact the layout. Hence, although employing this model in general, Seville, like most sugar estates in Jamaica, demonstrated marked deviation from the initial plan. This demonstrates that variation in the environment (topography, soil, and power sources) played a fundamental role in determining the special arrangement of the sugar estates. In light of the rapid deterioration of the remnants of many sugar works and settlements in the Americas, Seville is one of the best examples that demonstrated this marked variation in the universally accepted and practiced models of sugar estates in the slavery period.
Use and Function
Excavations and archeological investigations carried out at the slave burial yards, the Spanish sugar mill and the artisan workshop are just a few of the numerous studies which have validated the original use and authenticity of the various artifacts and ruins found at Seville.
In terms of architecture, the Great House of the British Occupation remains authentic to the time of its 1745 restoration and alterations. All repairs to the building have been conducted in accordance with best international practices. Where change is required to maintain the site's status, it is always carried out in a manner that preserves the site's significance and original use or function.
The site's history and multifaceted layers of archaeological deposits have attracted visitors and researchers alike from all over the world. Research conducted on site has contributed immensely to scientific understanding of the history, evolution and development of several aspects of global culture including; the Amerindian-European contact period, the Afro-American Diaspora, and the day-to-day workings of sugar plantations and industry.
Seville Heritage Park includes all the necessary elements to express its outstanding universal value including adequate size, management strategies and a sustainable role within the current community.
The property extends across 300 acres and encompasses distinct areas, buildings and artifacts relevant to the Taino, Spanish, and British occupation. The area includes a specific site designated as the African or Slave village and its associated burial yard. The size, scope and preserved remains of Seville Heritage Park ensure that it is a complete representation of the contact period and plantation era in the New World.
The Government of Jamaica acquired the property in 1971 and in 1994 the site was opened to the public as a cultural heritage attraction. The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) declared it a national monument in 1999. A buffer zone consisting of natural and survived plantation vegetation was established by the JNHT Act of 1958 and is actively maintained as a stipulated protective measure and safeguard to the site. It encompasses the entire acreage and averages approximately 50 meters in width.
A JNHT Act of 1985 prevents any person or organization from demolishing or altering any aspect of the site, or conducting any development on it without prior written approval from the Heritage Trust. Offenders may be liable on summary conviction before the Resident Magistrate, to be charged with imprisonment not more than 2 years and/or fine (s) up to JA$40,000.00, or the payment of the cost for restoring the offended site or monument to its original state.
The Heritage Trust has also appointed an advisory board to assess, advise, and make recommendations on all conservation, restoration, development, and promotional issues relating to the site. The board is comprised of professional architects, historians, archaeologists, engineers, lawyers, and technical staff of the JNHT, along with a stakeholder representative body known as the Seville Advisory Committee. The aim is to ensure the site's preservation in a systematic and carefully controlled manner. Specialized expert advice and assistance from foreign researchers also contributes to the preservation and promotion of the site.
Occasionally the physical integrity of the site is threatened by the hurricanes and tropical storms which commonly hit Jamaica. During such times, precautions are taken to ensure that the outdoor sites are properly protected and potential damage is kept to a minimum.
Currently, Seville Heritage Park offers guided tours to visitors and tourists and provides this service free of charge for hundreds of local students annually. Tours ensure that visitors come away with a better understanding and deeper appreciation of the contribution made by the Europeans and Africans in the economic, social, technological, and cultural evolution of Jamaica and the entire Caribbean region.
Permanent staff hired to maintain Seville are all community members and include a site manager, tour guides, and maintenance personnel. Some reside on the property and are believed to be ancestors of the original enslaved Africans. In this way the site remains true to its original inhabitants and provides employment for the community through an ongoing and sustainable venture.
Seville Heritage Park also hosts two annual national cultural events to commemorate its origins and first inhabitants. Each year, The Encounter celebrates the discovery of Jamaica and the traditions of various groups such as Amerindian, Spanish and African, that eventually evolved into a unique culture distinctly Jamaican. The event also includes the other ethnic groups that contributed significantly to this unique culture, such as the East Indians, Chinese, Jews and British. All the groups participate by presentation of songs, dance, traditional dress, craft and culinary arts. The event is a favorite of many tourists.
Emancipation Jubilee is another annual favorite. Each July, Seville celebrates the emancipation of African slaves through cultural activities that were typical of the slave and plantation society. The aim of the celebration is to foster awareness and acceptance both locally and globally towards the struggles of Jamaica's African ancestors and to showcase the retention of heritage. The event allows patrons to fully appreciate and recognize the significant contribution that this part of history played in the development of the people, nation and race.
These management actions and ongoing cultural celebrations ensure that the integrity of Seville Heritage Park is maintained for generations to come.
Comparison with other similar properties
The following is a brief comparative analysis between Seville and similar properties locally, regionally, internationally and currently inscribed on the World Heritage List.
Seville's industrial sugar works were built at the base ofthe hill on which the Great House and slave village were situated, in a central location with respect to the fields and labour. Here they remained throughout the estate's history. This is unlike any other sugar plantation in Jamaica including Lucky Valley Estate, located in the interior of the island, or Drax Hall Estate, two kilometers east of St. Ann's Bay, where the sugar works were moved to a more efficient central location within the fields. Despite changes in the processing technology from animal to water power, and notwithstanding relocation of the slave village, all structures retained their original spatial distribution.
Besides Seville, there are several properties in the Caribbean and Americas that seek to illustrate life on the estates and sugar plantations during the period of African slavery. Notable examples are Newton Plantation in Barbados, and Galways Plantation in Montserrat.
Archaeological research and interpretation on these sites are often geared towards the analysis of four main themes: living conditions under slavery, status differences within the plantation communities, relationships of planter dominance and slave resistance, and formation of African-American cultural identity.
Seville, Newton and Galways plantations share fundamental commonalities in the regional context. They were all developed on the European central location model, engaged in sugar cane cultivation and processing, and relied on a large free labor force of African slaves. However, Seville is the only site where ongoing research is being conducted. Excavations of the Spanish buildings are planed for early 2009 which will continue to add to the scientific and academic knowledge on plantation life.
The Spanish settlers at Seville, the first dominant group in the cultural exchange that occurred in Jamaica, were forced to adopt aboriginal wares, and in some cases food preparation methods, to meet their needs. The resulting society of Sevilla la Nueva became highly acclimatized to its new environment. This degree of acculturation had hitherto not been seen at other early 16th century Caribbean island sites but was mirrored later at the military garrison at St. Augustine, Florida.
Professor Barry W. Higman in his 1988 book, Jamaica Surveyed, made the observation that Jamaica's sugar works, and by extension Seville, did constitute formidable industrial complexes comparable to the factories of industrializing Europe and North America until the middle of the nineteenth century.
On the World Heritage List, two sites may be directly comparable to Seville. Leon Viejo in Nicaragua is one of the oldest Spanish colonial settlements in the Americas similar to Sevilla la Nueva. Both cities were the first country capitals and both were short lived. Nominated under criteria (iii) and (iv), the ruins of Leon Viejo, like Seville, are testimony to the social and economic structures of the Spanish Empire in the 16th century. However, unlike Leon Viejo, Seville describes a site where continuous occupation from Amerindians, to Spanish, to English and African created a cultural landscape that is unique in every way. Additionally, because of the sugar processing at Seville and the subsequent exchange of human values in technology, art and landscape design, the inclusion of criterion (ii) clearly distinguishes Seville from Leon.
Currently, the only example of a true plantation landscape on the World Heritage List is the archaeological site of the first coffee plantations in South-East Cuba. The coffee plantation may be compared with the sugar plantation in Seville in that both exemplified agricultural exploitation of vast tracts of virgin forest. However, the coffee plantation dates from the 19th and 20th century while Seville's plantation history stretches across the 16-19th centuries. Thus it would be a unique inclusion in Jamaica's tentative list and within the World Heritage inventory.
Furthermore. the Caribbean is an under-represented region in terms of UNESCO World Heritage. Jamaica has only one site on the tentative list and no inscribed sites on the World Heritage List. Seville Heritage Park represents one of the most comprehensive plantation landscapes in the region. Offering insight into the expansion of the New World, the transatlantic slave trade and the booming sugar industry in the 16th and 17th centuries, Seville wholly embodies events of universal cultural heritage.