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Fort Charlotte

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Fort Charlotte is an artillery stronghold built in the 1600’s in order to protect the Sound of Bressay. A fort was constructed in 1667 at the start of the Second Anglo-Dutch War by Robert Mylne at a cost of £28,000 (worth several million pounds at today’s currency value).

Fort Charlotte proved its worth in 1667 when it held back a Dutch naval attack even though the walls weren’t fully finished and it was equipped with less cannon than it should have had. The strategic importance of Lerwick was downgraded after the war and the castle decommissioned. As such, it was easy prey for the Dutch in 1673 at the start of the Third Anglo Dutch War when it was sacked and torched.

This was the last time it saw battle. The structure visible in Lerwick today was constructed in 1781 by George III when Britain went to war with France and Spain during the American Wars of Independence. A very similar structure can be found in the city of Cape Town in South Africa which was constructed by the Dutch East India Company around 1670. The incredible similarity between Fort Charlotte and The Castle of Good Hope in South Africa strongly suggests that the British had appreciated the strength of the defences pioneered by the Dutch nearly a century earlier. Since then it has been used as a Napoleonic billet, a courthouse, a prison, a customs house and a coastguard station. It used to be right next to the sea but a fifty metre wide strip of land now separates from the shoreline – the result of a reclamation programme. Fort Charlotte is now operated by Historic Scotland and is the headquarters of the Shetland Territorial Army. The battlements offer excellent views of the harbour and the town.

Contact Details

  • Address: 1 Harbour Street, Lerwick, Shetland, Shetland Islands ZE1 0LR, UK
  • GPS: 60.15596539275115,-1.1451243846557872
  • Phone: 0044 (0)1595 692 140
  • Part of UK: Scotland
  • Sat Nav Postcode: ZE1 0LR
  • Disabled Access: Good
  • Visibility from Road: Excellent

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