High Knoll Fort stands 600 metres above sea level and is the largest, most prominent and most complete of the forts and military installations on the island. It is located to the southwest of, and overlooking Jamestown. It is designated as a Grade I Listed Building and has twice been voted one of the Seven Wonders of St Helena.
High Knoll's History
High Knoll Fort is a redoubt fortification with the earliest elements dating to 1790 and appears on Cock’s Map of 1804 and Barnes Map of 1811. This original fort was occupied during the Napoleonic period by the 20th Regiment and appears dramatically on Whathen’s 1821 painting. After Napoleon’s death in 1821, British forces withdrew from the island until the site was redeveloped in the early 1860s.
The northern portion of the existing fort dates from this first period and was subsequently integrated into the larger complex during this second period of construction. Evidence for this is unclear in the surviving fabric, but in principle, the interpretation does seem plausible. The central an southern portions are clearly late 19 century in origin and the entry gate the keystone has a date of 1874. The Royal Engineers finally completed phase two of construction until 1894
Restoring the Fort
In the early 21st Century parts of the fort crumbled away. High Knoll Fort remained fully closed until 2012 and then only partially open, for special events with many areas sealed off, for a further three years. It was the subject of an expert survey in 2009 which concluded that restoration was indeed possible and that traditional building techniques would need to be used to effect a complete repair.
At the beginning of 2015 the St Helena National Trust responded to the challenge and took on the job of restoring High Knoll Fort using the traditional materials and techniques originally used to build it.
With expert advice from the Centre for Heritage Conservation at Texas A&M College of Architecture, the UK-St Helena Heritage Trust is supporting the preservation and restoration of this historically significant fortification.