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JAMES ISLAND

JAMES ISLAND
Lower Niumi District, Gambia
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BACKGROUND

First settled in 1651 by traders from Courland (in present-day Latvia) on an earlier native site, James Island on the River Gambia was a cultural crossroads from the late fifteenth to the late nineteenth centuries. In 1661 the fort that the settlers had built passed into the hands of the English who renamed it Fort James. The fort has a square plan with polygonal bastions at its four corners. (...)

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HOW WE HELPED

Limited stabilization work was done in the twentieth century, but because of its relative inaccessibility the site was not heavily visited and continued to deteriorate.

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WHY IT MATTERS

The site is directly associated with the early mercantile encounters between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. It is primarily associated with the slave trade and is comparable both in scale and duration with that of Île de Gorée in Senegal. (...)