Brimstone Hill Fortress

In 1689 the French army placed cannons on Brimstone Hill in order to attack the British. In 1690 the British captured Brimstone Hill, put their own cannons at the top and started constructing a fortress.
The Brimstone Hill Fortress took almost a century to complete.

Cannons at Brimstone hill St Kitts
Top of Brimstone hill St Kitts

Construction of Brimstone Hill

The principal structures of the fortress are situated on different levels on the top third of the hill.
Construction is is dressed stone blocks with a rubble core. Local limestone was used as a decorative element for quoins (corner stones) and for facing round doorways and embrasures (openings in the battlements).
Quarries on the middle and lower slopes of the hill provided most of the stone.
At the heart of the fortress, is Fort George (the Citadel) which dominates one of the twin peaks.
Completed towards the end of the 1700’s, Fort George is the earliest surviving example of the “Polygonal System” of fortress design.
The entire site Brimstone Hill Fortress covers approximately 40 acres hectares surrounded by over a mile of buffer zone.

Brimstone hill St Kitts
Parade Square Brimstone hill St Kitts

Modern Day Brimstone Hill Fortress

Brimstone Hill Strategic Map
Strategic location of St Kitts

The importance of location

During the 18th century Britain, Spain, France, Portugal and the Netherlands were all battling to colonize the Caribbean, whoever commanded the eastern sea route had a distinct advantage.
Brimstone Hill Fortress has been called the “Gibraltar of the Caribbean” because of its strategic location.

View from the top of Brimstone Hill St Kitts

Look at the views

Stand at the top of Brimstone Hill today, at a height of 800 ft and you have panoramic views all around you.
Look North West and the first island you see is St. Eustatius and behind that the Island of Saba. To the North on a clear day you can see St Martin and St Barthélemy.
Look down 800 ft and consider what it would have been like to attack the Fortress as an infantryman when your weapons were a musket, a bayonet and possibly a sword.

Today Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical, cultural and architectural significance.
It is 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.

Since 1853 when the British Military abandoned the fort, some of the original buildings have been reconstructed for tourist use. The visitor’s center was opened in 1992 and is housed in the reconstructed Commissariat Building. Much of the site however has been carefully preserved and restored as is befitting as one of the oldest surviving military forts in the world.

Full list of our History of St Kitts articles

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