Charles Fort is the most outstanding example of a seventeenth-century star-shaped fortification to survive in Ireland. It lies on the site of a medieval castle, which had belonged to the Barry Oges until 1601, when it was occupied by a Spanish force and subsequently stormed by Mountjoy's troops. In 1668 the place was chosen by the Earl of Orrey for an earthwork fort built with outer and inner lines of ramparts allowing for two tiers of guns overlooking the water.
The construction of the present fort began in 1677 to designs of Sir William Robinson, the Surveyor-General, in co-operation with the engineer James Archer, who oversaw the work. The name was changed to Charles Fort in 1681, after a visit by the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Ormonde. It had five bastions, known as the Charles, the Devil, the North, the Flagstaff and the Cockpit. The first two of these faced the harbour and were the main strength of the fort; but the others were overlooked by the high ground, which proved to be the fort's great weakness. In October 1690 it was besieged by the Williamite general, the Duke of Marlborough, who succeeded in making a breach in the wall by placing his cannon on the high ground. After twelve days' siege, the aged governor, Sir Edward Scott, and 1,000 of his men surrendered on honourable terms and marched out through the breach in the walls, followed by Lady Scott in her carriage.
From 1694 onwards the fort was largely rebuilt by the Huguenot military engineer Rudolph Corneille, following the original outline. Further work was also carried out, in cluding the the present rusticated entrance, from 1702 to 1709 by Thomas Burgh, the Surveyor-General. A barracks for over 300 men was added in the nineteenth century. In 1922 the army handed over the fort to Irish "Irregulars", who burnt it down. In 1973 it was declared a National Monument and was subsequently renovated.
Located 1.5 miles SE of Kinsale, beyond the village of Summer Cove.
NGR: W 655494.