European Forts & Trading Posts in Africa

  • Fort St. Jacques, Gambia, 1695

    Plan du Fort St. Jacques, situé dans la riviere de Gambia, showing layout and architectural features, including holding areas or quarters for slaves (cases des negres and logement des Negres); also, for example, (A) the Governor's quarters/residence and (C) powder magazine. Also published in Jean Baptiste Labat, Nouvelle Relation de l'Afrique Occidentale (Paris, 1728), vol. 4, facing p. 286.
  • Fort Crevecoeur, Accra, Gold Coast, 1679

    View of Dutch fort from the sea; African town on right. The original drawing is from the 1679 manuscript, located in the British Library (Robin Law, pers. comm.).
  • European Trading Posts at Savi, 1720s

    Detailed plan or prospect of the European factorys shows surrounding town, compounds (factories) of Portuguese, French, and English; also, palace compound and various of its courts and buildings. In Labat (vol. 2, between pp. 40 and 41), this illustration is titled Comptoirs des Europèens a Xavier and about 50 buildings and locales are individually identified and named--far more detail is given than shown here in the Astley edition. The city of Savi . . . was about four miles in circumference. It was so populous that the throngs of people made it difficult to pass along the streets . . . . The daily markets featured all sorts of European and African commodities. Near the European compounds was a square shaded by tall trees where the English, French, Dutch, and Portuguese directors, merchants, and sea captains sat and transacted daily business, much like a European mercantile exchange (Robert Harms, The Diligent [Basic Books, 2002], p. 156). Savi, the predecessor of the town of Whydah (Ouidah), was the capital of the Hueda Kingdom, c. 1670-1727.
  • Fort St. Anthony at Axim, Gold Coast, early 18th cent.

    The fort, at the time owned by the Dutch West India company, is shown along with various geographical features, each marked by a letter, e.g., B. Rock on which the Negro's put their wives & children when they go to war. The African village of Achombene is shown spread out behind the fort, marked with the letter F. The fort is seated on a large, high rock and its surrounding area and people, including the latter's methods of acquiring gold, are described on pp. 575-576.
  • Annamaboe Castle, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View from the sea; places identified by letters are the landing place; port within ye rocks; and entry of ye port. Annamaboe was a major English slaving station on the Gold Coast during the 17th century. In the 1690s, an account of the Royal African Company's forts in West Africa reported that the facilities at Annamaboe included twelve great guns . . . . a large tank or cistern . . . and a Negroe-house for one hundred and fifty Negroes. This fort . . . opens a trade . . . for gold, corn, palm-oyl and oyster-shells; also a very great trade for slaves (A Particular of the Royal African Company's Forts and Castles in Africa [London, ca. 1698]). By the 1770s, it was reported that almost every room in the fort is in a rotten, ruinous condition . . . very little slave trade at present (Extracts from an account of the state of the British forts, on the Gold Coast of Africa [London, 1778]). This illustration appears in Awnsham and John Churchill, A Collection of Voyages (London, 1732; vol. 5, plate 13, p. 176) in the translation of Barbot's late 17th century account.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Gold Coast, 1727

    Top, East Prospect of Cape Corse, or Coast Castle, by Mr. Smith, 1727; inset shows location of features surrounding castle, e.g., the town, various paths. Bottom, North West Prospect of the Same; inset is a plan of the castle, showing gun placements, warehouses, barracks, etc. The two views of the fort and the inset plan were separately published in William Smith, Thirty Different Drafts of Guinea (London, 1727); one of the views is also shown on this website, image mariners22. Smith made his survey of forts for the Royal African Company.
  • St. Georges Castle at Elmina and St. Jago, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View of both forts from the sea; European and African shipping in foreground. Elmina, on the left, also called at one time St. George d'el Mina; small fort on the right is St. Jago (Coenraadsburg). This illustration also appears in Awnsham and John Churchill, A Collection of Voyages (London, 1732; vol. 5, plate 8, p. 156) in the translation of Barbot's late 17th century account.
  • Goree Island, 1728

    Numbers identify the location of many places and buildings. For a view of Goree island from the sea in 1681, see P.E.H. Hair, Adam Jones, and Robin Law, Barbot on Guinea [1678-1712] (London, 1992), vol. 1, after p. 41 and associated text. Similar views of Gorèe and its slave holding areas are also in Awnsham and John Churchill, A Collection of Voyages (London, 1732; vol. 5, plate 3, p. 21) in the translation of Barbot's late 17th century account.
  • Fort Nassau (Mowri), Gold Coast, 17th cent.

    Colored painting; African town in foreground. Fort was founded by the Dutch in 1612; renamed Fort Nassau in 1637. See A. W. Lawrence, Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa (1964), pp. 242-44. (Slide, courtesy Merrick Posnansky, from the original in the British Library.)
  • Christiansborg Castle, Gold Coast, ca. 1750

    Engraving shows north and east sides of fort, from the southwest; also neighboring African town. Built by the Danes in 1660. A clearer plate of this illustration, as well as a view from the northeast, is publshed in Selena Axelrod Winsnes, trans. and ed., A reliable account of the coast of Guinea (1760) by Ludewig Ferdinand Romer (Oxford University Press, 2000), plates 2 and 3.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Gold Coast,1990s

    Photo from air, looking east; note guns on ramparts. For a similar view in the 1940s, see A. W. Lawrence, Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa (Stanford Univ. Press, 1964), fig. 38.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, 1986

    Photo; shows ramparts with guns pointing seaward. Slide, courtesy of Christopher DeCorse.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, 1986

    Photo; note, guns on ramparts point seaward. Slide, courtesy of Christopher DeCorse.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, 1986

    Photo of interior courtyard. Slide, courtesy of Christopher DeCorse.
  • Elmina Castle, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View from the sea; shows neighboring African town and European ships in harbor. For an informed discussion of Dapper as an historical source, see Adam Jones , Decompiling Dapper: A Preliminary Search for Evidence (History in Africa, vol. 17 [1990], pp. 171-290).
  • Elmina Castle, Ghana, 1986

    Photo looking west to site of former Elmina town, destroyed in 1873; shows beach and surf. see Christopher DeCorse, An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001);
  • Dixcove Castle, Ghana, 1973

    Photo; interior courtyard and ramparts, with guns facing seaward. (Slide, courtesy of Merrick Posnansky; taken in Ghana, 1973)
  • Cape Corso [Cape Coast] Castle, Gold Coast, 1704

    Top, Cape Corso Castle, the prospect of it on one side; bottom, A prospect of Cape Corso Castle on the opposite side. Both views show African houses/village in the center. Bosman writes: This is the English chief fort, which next to that of St. George d'Elmina is the largest and most beautiful on the whole coast; within it is well furnished with fine and well-built dwelling-places; before it they have also built a high turret to secure the lives of the people of the town, in case of an invasion of hostile Negroes ( pp. 48-49). Bosman was an official of the Dutch West India Company and chief factor at Elmina. See also Christopher DeCorse, An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).
  • Elmina Castle, Gold Coast, 1704

    Caption, The Castle of St. George d'Elmina, one side of it (aan d'eene). View from the sea. Elmina was built by the Portuguese in the 1480s; in 1637 it was taken by Dutch who held it until 1872. Bosman was an official of the Dutch West India Company and chief factor at Elmina. See Christopher DeCorse, An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).
  • Cormantin Castle, Gold Coast, late 17th cent.

    View from sea, Cormantin in distant background; foreground shows several European ships. For an informed discussion of Dapper as an historical source, see Adam Jones, Decompiling Dapper: A Preliminary Search for Evidence (History in Africa, vol. 17 [1990], pp. 171-290).
  • Elmina Castle, Gold Coast, 1704

    Caption, [The Castle of St. George d'Elmina] from the other side (en aan d'andre zyde). View from the sea; African village shown to left and right of illustration. Bosman was an official of the Dutch West India Company and chief factor at Elmina. See also Christopher DeCorse, An Archaeology of Elmina: Africans and Europeans on the Gold Coast, 1400-1900 (Smithsonian Institution Press, 2001).
  • Cape Coast Castle, Ghana, 1999

    Interior courtyard, where captive Africans were assembled, and Gate of No Return, the passageway through which they were led to the beach and from there to slaving vessels waiting offshore. (Photographed by Michael Tuite in Ghana; Aug. 1999)
  • Cape Coast Castle, Gold Coast, ca. 1682

    Shows central courtyard and surrounding walls/ramparts, guns pointing to sea, and European soldiers drilling in courtyard; African town to right. This image is taken from some secondary source and ultimately derives from a drawing by Henry Greenhill in 1682; for details see A. W. Lawrence, Trade Castles and Forts of West Africa (Stanford Univ. Press, 1964), plate 37 and passim. See also image D008.
  • Cape Coast Castle, Gold Coast, 1682

    Caption along top: Cape Coast Castle, on ye Gold Coast of Guinea. This seems to be one of several variations of an engraving made by Henry Greenhill in 1682; a copy is in the British Library. See P.E.H. Hair, Adam Jones, and Robin Law, Barbot on Guinea [1678-1712] (London, 1992), vol. 2, after p. 392 and associated text. In the 1690s, an account of the Royal African Company's forts in West Africa, reported that among the facilities at Cape Coast Castle were repositories to contain one thousand Negroes, and vaults for rum, work-houses for smiths, armourers, and carpenters; seventy four great guns, . . . pinnaces and cannoes attending the castle and garrison . . . . gardens and grounds producing all necessaries for the factories and shipping . . . also ponds of fresh water (A Particular of the Royal African Company's Forts and Castles in Africa [London, ca. 1698]). See also image D007.
  • Cormantin (Fort Amsterdam), Gold Coast, 1704

    View from land; African town on right.
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