Views of Christian's Cave

9 February 1998    5c, 20c, 35c, $5.00

                             Mint and CTO    $5.60
                             FDC                   $6.10

The gutter of each sheet contains a Pitcairn Island outline showing the location of Christian's Cave as displayed above. The gutter text shown on the right, is also a  feature of this issue.

 Technical Details

Release Date:             9 February 1998
Tablet Values:            5c, 20c, 35c, $5.00
Artist:                         Lesley Harraway
Printer:                       Walsall Security Printers Ltd
Process:                     Lithography
Paper:                        CA Spiral Watermark
Stamp Size:                31.75 x 48.26 mm
Perforation Gauge:     14.5 per 2 cm
Pane Size:                  50 stamps in 2 panes each of 25 stamps
                                  With outline of Pitcairn Island plus text in the gutter
Mint and CTO:           $5.60
First Day Cover:         $6.10

Under the shadow cast by Gannet's Ridge, is the yawning cave in which Fletcher Christian, leader of the mutiny on HMAS Bounty is said to have spent many hours meditating and watching for ships.  Although it is now clearly visable from the sea, it was previously hidden by vines and lofty trees which would have afforded him a safe retreat.

    Of what thoughts ran through his mind during those solitary moments, one can but speculate.  Sometimes described as morose, did Christian spend his time reliving and regretting the act of mutiny which ultimately condemned him, his followers and their offspring to a life of isolation?  Did he, as some have suggested, escape to the cave retreating from responsibility and the need to create some order within the society he was so instrumental in bringing about?  The truth is unlikely ever to be known.

    By 1825 however, when William Smyth painted his view of the village at Pitcairn Island, the cave stood clearly exposed on the cliffside.

    The 5c stamp features a view of the cave from Dorcas Apple, not far from where Dave and Lea Brown have built their home, looking west across Adamstown, the tops of the houses showing through the lush vegetation.  The view on the 20c stamp is from the rocks, near Betty's Edge, looking along the northern shore, past Tatinanny.  Most visitors to the cave approach it climbing the slope to the right of the cave, shown in both the 5c and 20c stamp.  The 35c stamp has a view from close to the cave, near to where a natural tunnel leads to the 'chimney', a three-sided vertical shaft, down through which it is possible for visitors to the cave to work their way to a small clearing below.  The chimney is the dark vertical line just to the right and below the cave on the 5c stamp.  The $5.00 stamp shows Christian's Cave from a road near where Fletcher Christian built his home and beneath the ringleted aerial roots of the Banyan trees.  Light fades quickly as the sun sets behind Gannet's Ridge.

    Christian's Cave is a popular place to visit for tourists coming ashore from cruise ships and for Pitcairners taking a Sabbath afternoon walk.  More a deep indentation in the cliffside, the cave would afford little shelter from the elements.  The view across Adamstown and out over a brillant blue sea however, is magnificent.