Fort Paté is a small oval battery on an island in the middle of the river Gironde, just big enough to hold the soldiers who defend it. It was built between 1685 and 1693 as part of the verrou de Blaye, a system of three forts built to seal the river against enemy ships.
The fort was situated so as to support the river batteries at Blaye on the right bank and Fort Médoc on the left bank. The island used to be flooded at very high tides and has varied in size considerably over the years. To prevent the fort from sinking into the muddy ground a special foundation had to be made.
The engineer François Ferry, advised by Vauban, was responsible for the construction of the fort. He constructed a grid of wooden piling, which rests upon wooden stakes, forming a raft. The fort itself was then built on top of this raft.
A similar wooden grid was laid around the island in order to stabilise it. In around 1705, the fort had sunk about two meters into the mud. Although the lower embrasures'were useless the rest of the fort was still useful. In 1730 the island had to be stabilised again because its size had been reduced considerably by the currents of the river. The technique used to make the foundation for the battery is quite common in the region; Brouage, Fort Chapus and the Corderie Royal in Rochefort all have similar foundations.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.