St. Kitts is located in the Eastern Caribbean about 200 miles south-southeast of Puerto Rico. St. Kitts is a former British colony that attained independence in 1983. The capital is Basseterre and the island population is ca. 40,000. St. Kitts has a tropical climate with daytime temperatures of 85 to 90 F and night time lows of 75-80 F. Tropical showers are common, but they rarely last more than 20 minutes.
Brimstone Hill is a British fortress dating 1690 to 1853. Sometimes called the Gibraltar of the West Indies, it is among the largest and best preserved colonial military complexes in the New World. The fortress is perched atop Brimstone Hill, a volcanic intrusion rising to over 700 ft above sea level. The fortress covers 40 acres and includes over 50 distinctive structures and buildings. The fort was constructed and maintained by enslaved Africans.
Archaeological studies at Brimstone Hill are intended to:
- Discover and document the role African slaves played in the fort’s construction and maintenance.
- Provide accurate information about the architecture of individual structures used or occupied by slaves so that they can be properly restored for visitation by the public.
- Demonstrate that the heritage of Brimstone Hill is as much African-Caribbean as it is Colonial British.
- Provide the people of St. Kitts an historical context from which to understand and appreciate their own culture.
In cooperation with the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park Society, the University of Tennessee conducted work at the site from 1996-1999 and 2004-2008. There are currently no plans to conduct excavations at the site in 2009.