The Hands that Built the Staircase

By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)

As I walked between the towering limestone rocks, the sun barely peeped through the lush vegetation dangling above.

It was dark, eerie, solemn…almost sacred.
There are no colours there besides shades of green, brown, gray.

The area leading towards the Queen’s Staircase is hauntingly beautiful. It teems with history and has a unique vegetative charm. Near the top, is a lovely, cascading waterfall.

May we never forget. Have you ever considered how the Queen’s Staircase came into being? The heat, the long hours and the hands…those rough , calloused hands which manually chiseled at those 66 steps…hand tools alone.

May we never forget

History records that back in the 1700s, some 600 slaves carved through the limestone rock, creating what is commonly known as the 66 steps. It was reportedly a direct route of British soldiers from the city of Nasssu to Fort Fincastle – which is perched atop those steps on Bennett Hill – in event of an attack.

The water tower on Bennet Hill near Fort Fincastle

At 102 feet high, the 66 steps which took some 10 years to build, was reportedly named in honour of Queen Victoria, the reigning British monarch at that time. She was the one who signed the declaration to abolish slavery. Coincidently, the queen also spent 66 years on the throne. Is it a coincidence or is it contradictory that a queen who abolished slavery would be fine with slaves doing hard labour to manually build a staircase in her honour. Who knows the truth?

Whatever the real story, may we never forget the hard work, the cuts and bruises, the sweat and perhaps tears, the torn, bloody flesh indicative of merciless whips…and those hands…the hands that built the staircase.


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