History of Katouche Estate
How the Estate got its Name – ‘KATOUCHE’
Anguilla was inhabited by the early people called Amerindians. The Island endured many wars in the 17th and 18th century when European interest in Anguilla propelled fights for control and occupation of the territory between the English, Spanish and French.
It appears that Katouche most likely got its name from Monsieur de La Touche who landed in the area with a pair French frigates on the 21st of May 1745 and attacked the English with an army of about 600 men under his command - "The War of Jenkins Ear". The English defended the island with a militia of about 100 men who lined the hilltop and from there fired their muskets and used rocks and boulders to defeat the French. At the end of the insurgence, the French retreated and the French Commander Monsieur de La Touche had been hit twice. It is thought that the name "Katouche Bay" derives from the French CMonsieur de La Toucheommander's defeat.
The Cavannagh Cave
Phosphate deposits called 'guano' from bird droppings and cave bat droppings accumulated over thousands of years was found in Cavannaugh Cave and with the end of the American War and the concentration on farming, fertilizer was in great demand. Phosphate of lime was first discovered in Sombrero, an offshore cay of Anguilla in 1810. Sombrero cay was best known for its lighthouse to guide shipping through the Anegada Passage. The need for fertilizer brought trade ships through the islands for next 20-30 years. *In 1868, a ship laden with stone fragments mined from Cavannaugh Cave sailed into Philadelphia USA and deposited its cargo on the waterfront lot of Henry Walters & Brothers Manufacturer of phosphatic manures. While being prepared for processing and the extraction of calcium phosphate, the fossilized remains of a creature was discovered and later analyzed by a Paleontologist, Dr Edward D. Cope.
The remains turned out to be the remains of a huge rodent the size of a deer or a small donkey which lived in Anguilla in the Pleistocene era when Anguilla was part of a much larger land mass described as 'Anguillea' which comprised Anguilla and its cays, St Martin/St Maarten and St Bartholomew (St Barths). Dr Cope named the animal "Amblyriza Inundata" (The Drowned Thing). Subsequent research had confirmed Dr Cope's discovery. The remains are supposed to now be situated in the Smithsonian Museum. With the discovery also of a shell Celt also by Dr Cope it was thought that prior to the mining activities at Cavannaugh Cave that the Cave was likely also one of the five ceremonial cave sites of the Pre-Columbian Amerindian People. There have also been disoveries of bones of a number of extinct species including birds and deer.
Katouche Valley was once home to a somewhat thriving slave plantation in the early 19th century. The old well seen in Katouche Valley was dug on hand by slaves during the slave era. Slavery on Anguilla did not last very long or flourish as occurred in other Caribbean islands due in great part to the poor soil conditions and scarce rainfall.
The Katouche Cave
This is one of the oldest and deepest known caves in Anguilla. There is not much literature on its discovery, but so far it is the only cave on which a partial fossil of the ‘Amblyrhiza Inundata’ can be located. The Cave is rich and impressive with stalactites, stalagmites, fossils and what appears to be an impressive sculpture of one of the Amerindian gods. Once inside there is ample height and width on the interior of the cave allowing for adventurers to navigate it easily while walking upright. In a few areas there are crawl spaces and moderate climbing over rock formations. Katouche cave gently descends to about 180 feet underground and considering that Anguilla is only 214 feet above sea level, this gives the adventurer a good idea of the depth. Anecdotally along the way, adventurers will experience “The Thinking Man’s Chair”, “The Crystal Walk”, “The Air-Conditioned Room” and “The Face” just to name a few of the notable and fun sightings.