Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fort Conception

Fort Conception lies a few miles north of Fuentes de Onoro just inside the Spanish border with Portugal. It was the home to the Light Division, but they blew it up in 1810 as Marshal Ney approached on his march to Portugal.

Despite the damage done in 1810 the fort is still in a good condition, though many of the larger rocks have been removed by local farmers for use in their own houses and walls. It is open to the public and we spent an afternoon there wandering around without seeing any other visitors.

After a quick look around, Jan settled herself down with her sketch pad, whilst I explored the abandoned and empty buildings.

The sketch that Jan did of the ramp approaching the main entrance

It was a very hot day and I should have given Jan my hat to protect her from the sun – but I did give her my handkerchief to make a very “natty” headdress.

The most impressive part of the fort still intact is the main entrance, with its Spanish royal crest engraved in stone.

Much of the walls and most of the interior casements and storage areas are still intact and very interesting to explore. Its hard to imagine such easy access to a historical site in UK. Apart from being charged admission there would no doubt be many areas fenced off in the interests of health and safety.

Fort Conception is one of the most interesting sites we have visited. Many of the most famous soldiers of the period, such as Jonathan Leach, John Kincaid, Harry Smith and George Simmons were members of the Light Division and would have spent long periods in this very fort. It was fascinating to read their experiences whilst sitting where they wrote them.

Although the structure was blown up in 1810 the fort was used by the Light Division on and off during the next three years as they guarded the frontier between Spain and Portugal.

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