Category Archives: Earth Works

Fortification is built using earth and dirt.

Lunet Saint Laureis

Description – The lunet of Saint Laurent / Sint Laureis / Saint Lawrence was built in support of the citadel of Antwerp to the north. It was located south of the citadel and guarded one of the main roads. It was named for the nearby dwelling of Sint Laureis. To the northeast one finds the fort of Montebello.

Construction & Armament – This lunet constructed in 1817 featured a wet moat. The facing ramparts measure 100m while the flanks measure 40m. These ramparts add up to a roughly spearhead design just as its counterpart lunet Kiel. It had only one entrance to the north. The lunet is considered a fort in some sources because it features a crenelated wall facing the citadel. Since it is not known whether there was a garrison stationed on a permanent basis it is currently classified as an older redoubt.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The lunet of Saint Laureis was considered an integral part of the citadel and it retained this status. During the siege of 1832 it was bombarded and captured by French forces until the citadel surrendered on the 23th of December.  The Belgian Army occupied the site but the citadel was ordered to be abandoned from 1870 onward. Most of the structures are presumed to be destroyed when the city of Antwerp expanded.

Sources – Own elaboration;

Lunet Kiel

Description – The lunet of Kiel was built in support of the citadel of Antwerp. It was located southwest of Antwerp on a short distance away from the river Scheldt.

Construction & Armament – This lunet constructed in 1817 featured a wet moat. The facing ramparts measure 100m while the flanks measure 40m. These ramparts add up to a roughly spearhead design just as its counterpart lunet Saint Laureis. It had only one entrance to the northeast. The lunet is considered a fort in some sources because it features a crenelated wall facing the citadel. Since it is not known whether there was a garrison stationed on a permanent basis it is currently classified as an older redoubt.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The lunet of Kiel was considered an integral part of the citadel and it retained this status. During the siege of 1832 it was bombarded by French forces until the citadel surrendered on the 23th of December.  The Belgian Army occupied the site but the citadel was ordered to be abandoned from 1870 onward. Most of the structures are presumed to be destroyed but some trances may still be found because the construction of the Antwerp South railway station did not employ deep digging. Aerial photos suggest the shape of the lunet can still be discerned; the former night club Zillion is located on this site.

Sources – Own elaboration;

Lunet Hoboken

Description – The lunet of Hoboken was built on a dyke of the river Scheldt. Located southwest of the city of Antwerp it guarded river traffic but was originally built to secure the Borgerweertpolder.

Construction & Armament – This lunet featured a wet moat and four ramparts. These ramparts add up to a roughly triangular design. It had only one entrance to the northeast. The lunet is not considered a fort since it is not known whether there was a garrison stationed on a permanent basis. It can be considered an older redoubt.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – The lunet of Hoboken shows up on several maps dating back to the siege of Antwerp in 1584. It might be possibly still considered a defensive work in 1851 as it secured the Hoboken polder area. It lost its military role when the Brialmont forts of 1859 were erected; Fort Hoboken and Kruibeke secured the southern river Scheldt access to Antwerp. Most of the site is presumed to be destroyed since part of the port of Antwerp expanded in this area since the 1890’s. Today one finds an industrial site (Antwerp Blue Gate).

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R., Cannaerts, J.

Fort 7 Hoboken

Description – Fort 7 of Hoboken was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 7 Hoboken had a four pointed star shape with bastions; the design is the same as nearby Fort 6. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 7 was included in the Grote Omwalling and served as an additional redoubt. Construction of the R1 ringroad erased most trances.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.; Cannaerts, J.

Fort 6 Wilrijk

Description – Fort 6 of Wilrijk (Wilryck) was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 6 Wilrijk had a four pointed star shape with bastions; the design is the same as nearby Fort 7 and Fort 4. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 6 was included in the Grote Omwalling. Construction of the R1 ringroad erased most trances.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.; Cannaerts, J.

Fort 5 Berchem

Description – Fort 5 of Berchem was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 5 Berchem had a five pointed star shape with bastions; the design is the same as Fort 2 Deurne. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 5 was included in the Grote Omwalling and the main building served as a redoubt. Construction of the R1 ringroad erased most trances. Today part of the moat is still accessible in Park Brilschans, named for the former redoubt or fort.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.; Cannaerts, J.

Fort 3 Berchem

Description – The fort of Berchem was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 3 Berchem had a four pointed star shape with bastions. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Presumably the fort was completely demolished since it does not show on maps since 1859. No known remains of Fort 3 still exist today.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Remes, K.

Lunet Deurne

Description – The Lunet of Deurne was part of the first line of defensive structures protecting the city of Antwerp after 1851. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle. Sometimes referred to as Lunet 2-3 because its location was between the smaller forts 2 (Deurne) and fort 3 more to the south. Locals referred to it as “halve maan” (half moon) because of its shape.

Construction & Armament – The lunet was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades) and it has a triangular shape. It had a wet moat surrounding the ramparts.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 the small forts surrounding forts were completed. By that time it became clear that they could not defend Antwerp and tensions rose because they could be used to bombard the city. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Lunet 2-3 located at Deurne continued to exist and a military butchery was installed on the site. Several buildings were erected. The lunet was demolished and a laboratory and research facility was built on its premises.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.

Fort 1 Merksem

Description – The small fort (1) of Merksem was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later fort of Merksem located more northeast. It was built on a strategic location to guard the main road to Breda (Bredabaan) but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (palisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort. This raised tensions with the city of Antwerp who feared possible bombardments. Fort 1 Merksem had a four pointed star shape with bastions. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  Fort 1 of Merksem was demolished to allow the town of Merksem to expand. It’s shape can roughly be identified if one looks at aerial photographs. No part of this fort is still visible on site. Parts have become a housing area. Note: other sources locate this fort near the later Turnhout Gate.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.; Cannaerts, J.

Fort 4 Berchem

Description – The small fort 4 of Berchem was part of the first line of forts protecting the city of Antwerp designed by Brialmont. It is a so called Keller fort but should not be confused with the later forts located more to the east and to the south. It was built on a strategic location but was not part of a genuine defensive circle.

Construction & Armament – The fort was built in 1851 featuring earth works (pallisades). Later a brick main building was added roughly the shape of a horse shoe. Initially these forts did not have a saillant towards the city. When later upgrades were added it became a genuine fort but this raised tensions with the city of Antwerp. Fort 4 Berchem had a four pointed star shape with bastions. It featured a wet moat.

Armament –

  • ?x Cannon

Current condition – In 1858 these small forts were completed but by that time it became clear that they could not defend the city of Antwerp. Their location made it impossible to include them in future defensive positions so they were declassified or absorbed in the Grote Omwalling.  In the case of Fort 4 of Berchem it was decided to build an arsenal on the eastern part of the site in 1898. The arsenal entered use in 1907). Later the western part became the military hospital of Antwerp (construction started in 1899 and was completed by 1911). When the hospital was disbanded it served as a housing project (Groen Kwartier) and during these works parts of the former fort 4 were uncovered. Remants are no longer visible.

Sources – Own elaboration; Gils, R.