ADMAT's St Kitts Maritime Archaeological Project 2003

Phase 1 White House Bay Wreck

Brimstone Hill Fortification, Site Visit

One of the memorable activities of the project arranged by Jackie Armony, from St Christopher’s Heritage Society, was the inspection of the British fortification called Brimstone Hill Fortress.

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical, cultural and architectural significance: a monument to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who designed it and to the skill, strength and endurance of the African slaves who built and maintained it. One of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas, it is located on the island of St. Kitts in the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis in the Eastern Caribbean.

St. Christopher (now called St. Kitts), the first Caribbean island to be permanently settled by both the English and the French (who shared the island between 1627 and 1713), was a model and a springboard for English and French colonialism in the Caribbean and elsewhere. The Caribbean islands produced great wealth and were well worth defending. Fortifications had been the earliest colonial structures, and every island had its own network of coastal defences. But the scale and magnificence of the Brimstone Hill Fortress signified the actual and symbolic importance of St. Christopher during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Fortress, constructed intermittently between the 1690s and 1790s, is of singular importance as being the remains of a large, complete military community of the 18th century. As such, it is a veritable time capsule of international significance.

The prominent Citadel is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of a new style of fortification known as the 'polygonal system'.

Brimstone Hill is nearly 800 feet high with steep and precipitous slopes which had to be tamed by the disciplines of engineering and architecture, and at the risk and probable loss of human lives. The walls of the structures are predominantly of stone, laboriously and skilfully fashioned from the hard volcanic rock of which the hill is composed. The mortar to cement the stones was produced on site from the limestone which covers much of the middle and lower slopes. The Fortress is virtually a man-made out growth of the natural hill.