We Are Shown An Ancient Fortress…

 I accompanied Mr. Thurston to a well, where we found the natives boring the hard rocks of lava which they intended to blast. We encouraged them in their laborious work, and then visited the ruins of an old military fortification, formerly belonging to the makaainana, (common people, as distinguished from the aristocracy, or reigning chiefs.) In those periods of their history, during which the island of Hawaii was divided into a number of independent governments under different chiefs, which were frequent prior to the reign of Taraiopu, who was king at the time of its discovery by Captain Cook; this had been a place of considerable importance. All that at present remains is part of the wall, about eighteen or twenty feet high, and fourteen feet thick at the bottom, built of lava, and apparently entire. In the upper part of the wall are apertures resembling embrasures; but they could not have been designed for cannon, that being an engine of war with which the natives have but recently become acquainted. The part of the wall now standing, is near the mouth of Raniakea, the spacious cavern already mentioned, which formed a valuable appendage to the fort. In this cavern, children and aged persons were placed for security during an assault or sally from the fort, and sometimes the wives of the warriors also, when they did not accompany their husbands to the battle. The fortification was probably extensive, as traces of the ancient walls are discoverable in several places; but what were its original dimensions, the natives who were with us could not tell. They asserted, however, that the cavern, if not the fort also, was formerly surrounded by a strong palisade. (Ellis)

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 (These are excerpts from a book by William Ellis that has survived long enough for the copyright to expire and the book to enter the public domain. A public domain book is one that was never subject to copyright or whose legal copyright term has expired.)


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