Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Christopher R. DeCorse


Antigua, Caribbean, Defensibility, Fortification, Landscape

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Between 1670 and 1785, the plantation elite on the British island of Antigua built and maintained at least fifty-four fortifications to protect the island from other European competitors. Rather than being commissioned, engineered, and defended by the metropolitan government in London, the defense of the island was the sole purview of the Antiguan legislature. Money, designs, and locations for these defensive sites came from internal deliberations on the island making them unique places to study iterations of seventeenth and eighteenth century British colonialism, elite thinking, and the impact on the landscape. To interpret these sites, I use archaeological, archival, and spatial analyses to investigate their ability to provide the types of external defenses they were designated for, as well as test the corollary explanation that the forts played a role in providing internal security for the island. Neither paradigm, however, adequately explains the spatial distribution, architectural decisions, or addresses the heterogenous fort societies revealed in this research. Therefore, to better interpret Antigua’s fortifications, I develop the concept martial landscape as an explanatory framework whereby the island elites manipulate defense policy to better reflect their own social standings, rather than considering a holistic defensive structure. I conclude by showing how blanket assumptions about military sites like fortifications and the historic trajectory of colonialism in the Caribbean are concepts which need considerable tempering by a more local, island scale, perspective.


Open Access