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Historic Town of St. George and Related Fortifications, Bermuda*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Captain John Smith's 1624 map of Bermuda, showing contemporary fortifications.
State Party Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Type Cultural
Criteria iv
Reference 983
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000  (24th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

Several of the islands strung across the South entrance of Castle Harbour, Bermuda were fortified in the early days of the territory, hence the harbour's name. When official settlement of the archipelago by England began in 1612 (unofficial settlement having begun with the 1609 wrecking of the Sea Venture) the first permanent town, St. George's (then called New London) was placed on the North side of St. George's Harbour. St. George's Harbour could be accessed directly by channels from the East. Those channels, however, were shallow, suitable, originally, only for small ships. As a consequence, and despite any major settlement on its shores, Castle Harbour was an important anchorage in the early years of the colony, with its main entrance, Castle Roads being an important route in from the open Atlantic for shipping. It was also a weakpoint, as it was remote from the defences of St. George's Harbour, and difficult to reach. It was quickly fortified and garrisoned by a standing militia.

The Parish of St. George's, in 1676. Castle Island lies to the South of Castle Harbour (originally Southampton Harbour).

Initial fortification by the Virginia Company's (Bermuda was originally settled as an extension of Virginia) first deliberate settlers in 1612, was around the inlets to St. George's Harbour, but by the end of that year work had commenced on Castle Harbour's defences, starting at Castle Island (previously called Gurnett's Head, and King's Island). As a temporary measure, two guns had been salvaged from the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture, one of which was installed on Castle Island ) in 1612. Proper fortifications were soon raised under the instructions of Governor Richard Moore. King's Castle is, today, the oldest surviving English fortification in the New World. It is Bermuda's oldest standing stone building, predating the State House. Its Captain's House, built a year after the State House, in 1621, is the oldest stone home in Bermuda. It is also the oldest standing English house in the New World. In 1614, King's Castle famously replulsed Spain's only ever attack on Bermuda. Two shots were fired from its artillery. although neither struck, the Spanish vessel abandoned the attack (its crew did not realise that the gunners in the fort had only enough ammunition for one more shot). This fort was used as late as the Second World War by Bermuda's military garrison, with soldiers living in tents within its walls, watching over the channels with machine guns. Other forts built at the South of Castle Harbour included Devonshire Redoubt (1620) and the Landward Fort, on Castle Island, Southampton Fort (1620), on Brangman's Island (originally known as Moore's Island and Southampton Island), at the East side of Castle Roads, Old Castle, or Charles' Fort, (1615), on Goat Island, Pembroke Fort, on Cooper's Island, and Fort Bruere, on the Main Island.

At Ferry Reach, on the North of Castle Harbour (an area now separated by the Causeway), Burnt Point Fort, or Ferry Point Battery, and Ferry Island Fort were built, and, much later, in 1822, a Martello Tower. The island chain across the South of Castle Harbour is often referred to as the Castle Islands. Their fortifications are the oldest surviving English New World fortifications (due primarily to their being constructed of stone, whereas contemporary English fortifications on the North American continent were built from timber and earth). They were also the first English coastal fortifications in the New World. As a result of their historical significance, they have been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site[1], together with St. George's Town and other nearby fortifications.

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