See The Forts
During the colonization period of Jamaica, particularly in the early
years, the building of forts was an important aspect in both protecting
the island nation from external enemies and plunderers and keeping the
enslaved and working classes under control. Several of these forts have
crumbled and lie in ruins, while many others have been restored and
put to other uses. Touring the forts of Jamaica offers a glance back
into an interesting and often troubling history, as well as provides
insight into the Jamaican culture of today.
Fort Charles, which was originally named Fort Cromwell, is the first
of the six forts to be built for the protection of Port Royal, Jamaica.
The building of the structure was begun in 1655, not long after the
British assumed control of the island. Towards the end of the 17th century
it had 500 men and had 104 big guns, and was well stocked and prepared
to defend. In later years the fort served as a prison. Today, it is
home to a museum and is open for tours.
Ocho Rios Fort was built in the late 1600’s. In 1780, it was strengthened
and partially rebuilt in anticipation of French invasion during one
of many periods of unrest between France and Britain. The fort, periodically
rebuilt through the years, recently went through another renovation
and still contains two of the cannons it had centuries ago. Through
the years, it has served many uses, including that of slaughterhouse.
The Morant Bay Fort is another one of the numerous forts to be found
throughout Jamaica. Built just after the middle of the 1700’s, it is
located behind the Morant Bay Courthouse. Three of the big guns that
were added during the period of the fear of French attack during the
late 18th century still remain. There are historical statues and memorials
nearby, honoring those who lost their lives in the pursuit of freedom
Named for an intimate female companion of King George III, Fort Charlotte
was built in the mid 1700’s. Though small, housing only 50 men, it was
heavily armed and fortified, having 23 guns and a devise allowing some
to be rotated to fire in any direction necessary. Part of the fort is
home to a local high school, but the site is worth visiting simply because
of the impressive view.
Fort Haldane is another fort known for its lovely view. Located at Port
Maria, and named for the General who also, at one point, served as governor
of the island, this structure was built in 1759. It placement, on a
hill facing the water, made it a true asset for defense in that era.
Today, its placement is what makes the view from the grounds so spectacular.
The many forts that dot the coastal areas of Jamaica are a reminder
of the past, solid pieces of history that demonstrate something of the
many cultures and peoples that have shaped the Jamaica of today. Some
of these forts have been the sites moments of great import to Jamaican
history. All of these forts have something to share with those who choose
to visit their grounds.
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