Saturday, September 1, 2012

Cannonballs and Shell Walls - St. Augustine FLA

Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, by DG Hudson

Looking out from inside the fort, were the soldiers anxious in the early years?  The area was more remote, supplies may have had to come by ship, communication was sparse. 

The crenelations which decorate the battlements are guarded by cannon.  Iron cannonballs are stacked and ready. 


The Castillo construction has endured since the late 1600s 

The Castillo de San Marcos is located on the shore of Matanzas Bay in the city of St. Augustine, Florida, USA.  Built from the year 1672, when Florida was part of the Spanish Empire.  These walls were made with a unique building material called coquina, shown in the photo below.
Coquina stone walls of Castillo de San Marcos, by DG Hudson

The Castillo, a masonry star fort design is made of a stone called coquina, Spanish for 'small shells'.  Coquina (koh-kee-nah) is basically made of ancient shells that have a texture similar to limestone.  It is quarried from Anastasia Island, in Matanzas Bay and ferried to the site of the fort.  This early building material was formed during an interval of the Pleistocene Age, approximately 500,000 years ago.  I purchased a sample of coquina at the fort, and the label bears this description: "a calcarenite stone whose particles are chiefly fossils, whole or fragmented, cemented together by calcite."

Castillo Men's Barracks, Interior by DG Hudson

The barracks were utilitarian, at least for the men who lived at this fort.   There are tours or you can explore on your own.  Information is available at one of the offices at the fort.  The staff are friendly and can answer most of your questions.


Inner Courtyard Castillo de San Marcos by DG Hudson


Have you visited any forts from our colonial past, or the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine?  Have you heard of coquina and its usefulness?

Did you have or build a fort when you were younger? (even temporary ones)
Please share in the comments.

All images property of DG Hudson, taken on location in St. Augustine, Florida.

References:  Castillo de San Marcos,_Florida  Wikipedia History of the fort