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SOUTH AFRICA TABLET 15: What did the original Fort of Good Hope in Cape Town look like?

by TimeTraveler

Mr. Van Riebeek and the three skippers, having made an inspection of Table Valley, selected a site for the fort on the ground close behind the present general post-office. The outlines were then marked out, and the labourers commenced the work without delay.

The fort was in the form of a square, with bastions at its angles. Each of its faces was seventy-eight metres in length. The walls were constructed of earth, six metres and a fith in thickness at the base and tapering to five metres at the top. They were three metres and three fourths in height, and were surmounted by a parapet.

Round the whole structure there was a moat, into which the water of the Fresh river could be conducted. Within, there were some wooden buildings and a square stone tower rising above the walls. The tower had a flat roof, from which its defenders could fire down upon an enemy who should attempt to scramble over the banks of earth.

The buildings were used as dwelling-houses, barracks, and storehouses.

In front, that is on the side facing the sea, a large space beyond the moat was enclosed with an earthen wall so constructed as to give additional strength to the whole. In this enclosure were the workshops and the hospital, which was a large building, as the Company intended that sick men from the fleets should be left here to recover.

At the back there was a similar enclosure, which was used as a cattle kraal. The plan was altered several times during the course of construction, in such respects as the thickness and height of the walls, but the general design remained as it was laid out on the 9th of April.

Such was the original fort of Good Hope, when it was completed.

Reference: History and Ethnography of Africa South of the Zambesi by George McCall Theal.


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