Despite our current economic struggles, Jamaica was once a prosperous land, dotted with sprawling estates, imposing great houses and even magnificent castles. These once spectacular buildings are now ruins, but still stand proud as symbols of architectural greatness. Let’s take a ‘castle tour’ across Jamaica.
Ackendown Castle, Westmoreland – The ruins of Ackendown Castle are located on the northern side of the main road between the towns of Savanna-la-Mar and Black River. It is also across from the Sandals Whitehouse resort. According to a plaque on the inner wall, the castle was built by Archibald Campbell (1781-1833) of the Auchenbreck family from Argyll, Scotland.
The castle consists of the stone remains of an eastern and western tower connected by what is said to have been an underground passage. The castle’s masonry work is more medieval in character, which is unusual in Jamaica.
The Ackendown Castle ruins were declared a national monument by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust on December 21, 2006.
Colbeck Castle, St Catherine – Situated in open country about two miles north of Old Harbour, Colbeck Castle is a massive stone and brick structure with walls standing to their full original height. The castle, built about 1680, is currently owned by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust.
The building is rectangular in shape, consisting of four-storied, tower-like structures at each corner, rising to a height of about 40 feet. Constructed in the Palladio style of architecture, its solid and imposing structure made it a key point in the island’s defence against the Spaniards. A 2006 archaeological impact assessment of the area surrounding the ruins found Taino, Spanish, English and Afro-Jamaican artifacts.
Edinburgh Castle, St Ann – Edinburgh Castle situated in Pedro district, St. Ann, was built by Lewis Hutchinson, a Scottish doctor who also happened to be Jamaica’s first recorded serial killer! The building, perhaps loftily titled a ‘castle,’ was constructed in the 1700s and named by its Scottish architect. It stands small and square with two storeys and two circular loop-holed towers at opposing diagonal corners.
Stewart Castle, Trelawny – The once impressive cut stone mansion known as Stewart Castle was originally fortified for protection against attack, with loopholes for fire muskets placed strategically around the entire building. The rectangular building appears to have been three storeys high, consisting of a cellar, ground floor and first floor. It featured square towers at opposite corners.
A Taino midden found on the property was excavated in 1957 by archaeologist Charles Cotter, revealing insights into the dietary habits of the land’s first known inhabitants. Materials found include marine shells(giant conchs and crab limbs), breast bones of birds and turtle bones.
Ownership of the properties on which the ruins and the midden are located was transferred to the JNHT by Kaiser Bauxite Company.