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Fort Charlotte

A fortification built in 1665 to defend the Sound of Bressay and Lerwick Harbour in Shetland during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, Fort Charlotte is situated behind Commercial Street in the town centre, overlooking the North Pier. Now comprising a five-sided artillery fort, with bastions projecting from each corner, the original structure was rather simpler and built by Robert Mylne (1633 - 1710) at a cost of 28,000. Its presence held off a Dutch fleet in 1667, despite the fort not being properly completed, under-gunned and poorly-supplied. The fort was abandoned in 1672 and the Dutch were able to land unopposed the following year and burned the barracks. However threats from the French gave the impetus for a new defence, which was built 1781-2 and named after Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the wife of King George III. The walls are strong; barrack blocks and a powder magazine are preserved within. The renewed fort never saw action, but was garrisoned throughout the Napoleonic Wars. It served as a courthouse and jail (1837-75), and later a customs house and a coastguard station. Today the structure is in the care of Historic Environment Scotland but remains a base for the local detachment of the Territorial Army.


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