St Helena 2009 - Forts and Defences

A bit of history to set the scene....

The island was discovered by Juan da Nova, a Portuguese sailor, on 21st May 1502, the feast day of St Helena. The Portugeuse used the island as as stopover point on their voyages to and from the East Indies, keeping its location secret from the English and Dutch until the 1580s.

In the 1650s the Engish East India Company were in charge of the island and built the first settlement, Jamestown, in James' Valley. In 1673 the island was captured by the Dutch until the English re-captured it later that year. It was after this that most of the fortifications were built to deter any further attempts to take the island.

Batteries, walls and signal points were built all around the island but particularly on the northern shores around James' Bay and Rupert's Bay.


The only fort built inland was High Knoll Fort, built on a hill overlooking Jamestown. This photo was taken from just below Diana's Peak (the highest point on the island). The wall has collapsed in a couple of places so it's not possible to easily get into the fort - but Kevin did!

The batteries at Munden's Point, just to the East of Jamestown, are still accessible along tracks - some of them zig-zagging steeply uphill.

Although there were no guns in place at the batteries it was possible to go inside the buildings (we were glad that we'd taken a torch with us).

We did see some old cannons on the rocks below the battery...

.... and later came across one at the top of the hill - a muzzle loading cannon.

There were no shells around but we could see the gear that they used to hoist the shells up to the guns above.

Later we saw some smaller muzzle loading cannons on the hillside overlooking JAmestown and Rupert's Bay

There were several batteries at the top of Ladder Hill, just to the West of Jamestown. There were a couple of guns from the early 1900s still in place overlooking the bay.

There were defensive walls built at many of the bays around the island. This one at Banks Valley had batteries and a bridge built across the stream as well.

Voyages between Cape Town and St Helena
St Helena - exploring the island
St Helena - Jamestown
St Helena - forts and defences
St Helena's Day
St Helena - boat trip
St Helena - Napoleon
St Helena - birds
St Helena - plants
St Helena - Island views - a photo gallery. This link will open in a new window.
St Helena - background information - link to the St Helena tourism website, it will open in a new window.
Diary - Word document.

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