The Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site bearing significant historical, cultural and architectural significance. It is a monument to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who designed it and the skill, strength and endurance of the Africans (slave labour) who built and maintained it. It is 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.
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 characterize 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 defenses. 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 skillfully 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.
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.
Underwater Cultural Heritage
Underwater artifacts and sites (sunken ships etc) have always generated a great amount of interest from human beings. A natural offshoot of this interest is pillage and theft of articles bearing great historical value. Possessing extremely rich Underwater Cultural Heritage the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is keenly interested in the advancement of measures that will help to preserve these heritage sites.
The UNESCO Kingston Cluster Office for the Caribbean in collaboration with the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO, organized a 3-day Sub-Regional Meeting on Underwater Cultural Heritage Protection Laws for the Caribbean Small Island States” from June 25-27 2013.
The objective was to strengthen professional capacities for the effective implementation of the 2001 UNESCO Convention on Underwater Cultural Heritage through drafting, harmonization and adaptation of national laws. Of course this was with a view to protecting underwater cultural heritage. The meeting was facilitated by Dr. Ulkrine Guerin, UNESCO expert as well as international legal expert from Australia, Professor Craig Forrest.
Charles Fort: Part of The Trans_Boundary Serial Nomination
Eastern Caribbean Coastal Fortifications and Associated Cultural Landscapes Justification of Future Nomination:
The smaller islands of the Eastern Caribbean which inhabit the same geographic space have a shared history of the early emergence of the Plantation System which began in the Leeward Islands and spread southwards to the Windward islands. A significant feature common to all these islands are the Coastal Fortifications and associated landscapes, built to defend the plantations. Out of this, both tangible and intangible cultural elements emerged. From an historical perspective, these sites of memory were also
Arenas for encounters between the indigenous peoples and the Europeans where indigenous peoples provided strong resistance to the efforts of the Europeans to colonize them.
Sites of memory. Most of these Coastal Forts would have defended portals through which enslaved Africans entered the Americas.
The construction of these coastal forts exhibited the fortitude, skills and creative genius of enslaved Africans.
Several of the Islands are combining to nominate the Forts as a whole for consideration as sites of Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). These include.
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Charles Fort
Sint Maarten: Fort Amsterdam
Memory of the World Programme
The vision of the Memory of the World Programme is that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all. Should be fully preserved and protected for all and, with due recognition of cultural mores and practicalities, should be permanently accessible to all without hindrance.
- To facilitate preservation, by the most appropriate techniques, of the world’s documentary heritage.
- To assist universal access to documentary heritage.
- To increase awareness worldwide of the existence and significance of documentary heritage.
Its success relies heavily on the drive, initiative and enthusiasm of regional and national committees.
Currently the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission for UNESCO (SKN NATCOM) is at an advanced stage in the process of formation of such a committee. Victoria Borg O’flaherty who actually sits on the UNESCO International Memory of the World Committee and member of the SKN NATCOM is spearheading the activity and will head the committee. Already Ms O’Flaherty who is also the Director of the National Archives has identified documents which she believes will qualify as Memory of the World Documents.
The committee will comprise:
- A professional from the archival committee
- A professional from the Library community
- A professional from the Museum Community
- Official from the government department responsible for heritage or culture
- A professional with conservation/Preservation expertise
- One of two other persons with relevant specialist skills or experience.
Its work will include initiating and supporting nominations for the international register, together with publicity, promotion and awareness raising, and evolving cooperation with government, professional associations and custodial institutions at the national level. We also hope to set up our own national Memory of the world register