Columbus during the Saint Mary phase of his second voyage went on a spree of naming every island he saw after the virgin Mary: Santa Maria de la Galante, Santa Maria de la Montserrat, Santa Maria de la Antigua, and finally, Santa Maria de la Redonda--Saint Mary the Round.
The high, barren, haycock of an island is about a mile long and about one-third of a mile wide. Lying between Montserrat and Nevis, it was little more that a navigational landmark until the 1860's. At that time, the centuries-old deposits of bird guano (bird manure), which in some places were perhaps a dozen feet thick, were found to be of such high quality that they could be commercially mined. A conveyor belt with large buckets to haul the manure reached from the plateau to the sea.
The guano mining operation was producing a thousand metric tons each year. In 1872 the island, which had been a dependency of Montserrat, was annexed by Antigua. then phosphate was discovered beneath the bird guano. By 1895, more than 130 people from Montserrat worked on the island.
In 1914, when the guano mining operation ended, about a thousand tons of phosphate were stockpiled near the pier on Redonda. The phosphate and the pier slipped into the sea and rendered the island virtually inaccessible. Afterwards, boats had to anchor off the southwest corner and the crew had to go ashore in small boats.