|St. Christopher, 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 native Amerindians were virtually exterminated, and African people brought in as slaves. The plantation system, based upon sugar production and slavery, which came to characterise Caribbean ( or "West Indian" ) society, had its beginnings in St. Christopher and the other early colonies.
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.
Brimstone Hill Fortress
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, labouriously 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.
The physical location of the Fortress presents attractive panoramic vistas of forested mountains, cultivated fields, the historical township of Sandy Point, and neighbouring Dutch, English and French islands across the Caribbean Sea.
Management of the Fortress
Brimstone Hill and its Fortress is a National Park within the terms of the National Conservation and Environment Protect Act (1987 ) which gives the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society "the power to make and enforce Regulations for ( its ) management and administration".
The Society is a voluntary organization founded in 1965, and registered as a non-profit company. Its Council of Management, made up of elected representatives of its members and two Government nominees, makes all policy decisions.