FORTS OF AYUTTHAYA
Text, maps & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg
September 2016
There are different figures for the total number of forts depending the sources. The Grand Palace was protected by 8 forts in total of which 2 were
part of the northern city wall. In the different old documents the palace forts sometimes were counted as being part of the city wall, sometimes not.
The Khamhaikan Chao Krung Kao (Testimony of the Inhabitants of the Old Capital) put the number of forts at 16, while the Khamhaikan Khun
Luang Wat Pradu Songtham (Testimony of the King from Wat Pradu Songtham) gave 22, probably including the forts of the Grand Palace. The
Athibai Phaenthi Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya (Description of Ayutthaya) states 12 forts but only mention 11. The different numbers could also be
attributed whether or not double bastions were counted as a single fort or as two forts.

Jeremias Van Vliet, a merchant of the Dutch East-India Company, wrote in his Description of the Kingdom of Siam 1639 that the city walls had no
proper foundation, nor projections nor bastions like a real fortress. Projections and bastions must as thus have been dated from later. [1] As we can
see  from the maps, forts were mostly set up opposite an important waterway giving access to the water ring around Ayutthaya, or near the entry of
important city canals.

The map drawn by Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703 - 1772) and published as plate no. 4 in volume 9 of the 1752 French edition of Abbé Antoine
François Prévost's L'Histoire Générale des Voyages, shows 13 forts being the two forts in front of the Jan Kasem Palace, Wat Fang (Khwang) Fort,
Ho Racha Khrue Fort, the double bastions of the Hua Sarapha Fort, the
Diamond Fort, Ok Kai Fort, Thep Mi Fort, Pak Tho Fort, Tha Khan Fort,
Tha Sip Bia Fort, the double Bastions of
Pratu Khao Pluak Fort and Maha Chai Fort.
Forts on Bellin's map
(Forts on Bellin's map)
The mid-19th century map (author unknown) has 11 forts being Wat Fang (Khwang) Fort, Ho Racha Khrue Fort, Hua Sarapha Fort, Diamond
Fort, Ok Kai Fort, Chakrai Noi Fort, Wang Chai Fort,
Sat Kop Fort, Supharat Fort, Jampaphon Fort and Maha Chai Fort. The brick remains of
Pratu Khao Pluk are not mentioned as a fort.
Forts on the 19th century map
(Forts on the 19th century map)
The 'Plan d'Ajuthia' in the Bulletin de la Commission archéologique de l'Indochine année 1912 (Paris 1912) mentions the following 7 forts: Wat Fang
(Khwang) Fort, Diamond Fort, Wang Chai Fort, Sat Kop Fort, Pak Tho Fort, double bastions of Pratu Khao Pluak Fort and Maha Chai Fort.
Forts on the Plan d'Ajuthia of the Commission archeologique de l'Indochine
(Forts on the Plan d'Ajuthia of the Commission archéologique de l'Indochine)
Phraya Boran Ratchathanin's map drafted in 1926 has 11 forts being Ho Racha Khrue Fort, Hua Sarapha Fort, Diamond Fort, Chakrai Noi Fort,
Wang Chai Fort, Sat Kop Fort (Pom Tai Krom), Supharat Fort, Pak Tho Fort, Tha Kan Fort, double bastions of Khao Pluak Fort, and Maha Chai
Fort. In the comments of the Description of Ayutthaya published in 1929 Phraya Boran mentions that the foundations of the Ok Kai Fort were still
visible, though this fort is missing on his map.
Forts on Phraya Boran Ratchathanin's map - 1926
The Description of Ayutthaya, a manuscript that was discovered in the bequest of Prince Naret Worarit to the Wachirayan Library in 1925) cites 10
forts being Wat Fang Fort, Ho Racha Khrue Fort, Hua Sarapha Fort, Diamond Fort, Ok Kai Fort, Chakrai Noi Fort, Wang Chai Fort, Sat Kop
Fort, Supharat Fort, Jampaphon Fort and Maha Chai Fort.

In my opinion the Description of Ayutthaya has it wrong regarding the Jampaphon fort as the double bastions at Pratu Khao Pluak were not
mentioned. I believe the author of this document wanted to indicate the Pratu Khao Pluak Fort, but mistakenly called it the
Jampaphon Fort; or
maybe the Pratu Khao Pluak Fort was once called the Jampaphon Fort. If we look at the Jampaphon Fort on the 19th century map, which I believe
has been largely drafted based on the Description of Ayutthaya (or was maybe an element thereof), we can see the position of the fort was all but
strategic. Thus I have my doubts on the earlier existence of this fort since no other maps display it.

The Fine Arts Department drafted a historical map of Ayutthaya in 1974 in which 19 forts can be counted, including the two forts on the northern
wall of the Grand Palace. These forts are summed up here under in the List of Forts.
(Forts on Phraya Boran Ratchathanin's map - 1926)
Forts of Ayutthaya on the 1974 Fine Arts Department map
The three most important forts stood at the confluences of the main incoming and outgoing waters of Ayutthaya. These three large forts were Sat Kop
Fort at Hua Laem overlooking the waters coming from the
Maha Phram Canal, Maha Chai Fort at Hua Ro overlooking the old Lopburi River and
Phet Fort near Hua Sarapha overlooking the Bangkok River. Next to those three forts there were two forts with double bastions being the Pratu
Khao Pluak Fort and the Hua Sarapha Fort.
(Forts of Ayutthaya on the 1974 Fine Arts Department map)
Phraya Boran wrote that the foundations of the Ok Kai Fort, Chakrai Noi Fort and Wang Chai Fort were still visible in 1929. Steve Van Beek in his
book "Slithering South" - in which he describes his epic boat trip in 1988 from the source of the Ping River to the mouth of the Chao Phraya River in
the Gulf of Thailand - mentions the Chakrai Noi Fort, when he passed west of Ayutthaya:
"Near Phom Pratu Chakrai Noi, a watchtower on the
old city wall, a plump, saronged woman called out: Hey farang Come have a glass of cold water."
 Apparently the Chakrai Noi Fort was still
visible at the end of the 80s. [2]
All the forts were dismantled in the reign of King Rama I who had the bricks taken to be used in the construction of the city walls for the new capital
in Bangkok. [3] Today only two ruins of forts can be seen being the restored Diamond Fort opposite Bang Kaja area and the Pratu Khao Pluk Fort
near
Wat Ratcha Pradit Sathan.

List of Forts

All these forts are mentioned on the Fine Arts Department map drafted in 1974. Starting at the eastern city wall below Hua Ro in clockwise direction:

(1) A small fort protecting the area of the
Front Palace (source: Bellin 1752 map).

(2) A small fort protecting the area of the Front Palace (source: Bellin 1752 map).

(3) Wat Fang Fort also called Wat Khwang Fort - The remnants of this fort still existed in 1912, but were gone in 1926 as Phraya Boran does not
mention the fort on his map, but says it stood before on the premises of the Jomsurang Upatham School. (sources: Bellin, Mid 19th C map, Plan
d'Ajuthia and Description of Ayutthaya).

(4) A small fort protecting the eastern area along the
front moat (source: FAD 1974 map).

(5) A small fort overlooking the mouth of
Khlong Ban Bat and protecting the eastern area along the front moat (source: FAD 1974 map).

(6) Ho Racha Khrue Fort (Rattanachai Fort) opposite Ko Kaeo (Crystal Island) in front of
Wat Suwandararam. The fort overlooked the mouths of
Khlong Khao San and Khlong Suan Phlu (sources: Bellin 1752, Mid 19th C map, Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(7) Hua Sarapha Fort with double bastions protecting the harbour area opposite
Wat Phanan Choeng (sources: Bellin 1752, Mid 19th C map, Plan
d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(8) Diamond Fort (Pom Phet) opposite Bang Kaja protecting the river entry to Ayutthaya in the south (sources: Bellin 1752, Mid 19th C map,
Description of Ayutthaya, Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(9) Ok Kai Fort east of Pratu Jin Canal and overlooking the mouth of Wat Phraya Phan Canal (sources: Bellin 1752, Mid 19th C map, Plan
d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(10) A small fort at the mouth of the
Thep Mi Canal (source: Bellin 1752 map).

(11) A small fort at the mouth of the
Chakrai Noi Canal overlooking the entry of Khlong Khu Cham (sources: Mid 19th C map and Phraya Boran
1926 map).

(12) A small fort near
Wat Wang Chai overlooking the entry of Khlong Takhian (sources: Mid 19th C map, Description of Ayutthaya, Plan d'Ajuthia
1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(13) Sat Kop Fort also called Thai Kop Fort protecting the river entry to Ayutthaya from the north-west (sources: Mid 19th C map, Description of
Ayutthaya, Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(14) Supharat Fort (sources: Mid 19th C map, Description of Ayutthaya and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(15) Pak Tho Fort at the north-west corner of the Grand Palace (sources: Bellin 1752, Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(16) Tha Kan Fort at the north-east corner of the Grand Palace (sources: Bellin 1752 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).

(17) A small fort at the entry of the
Lam Khu Pak Sra (source: Bellin 1752 map).

(18) Pratu Khao Pluak Fort with double bastions at the entry of
Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak (sources: Bellin 1752, Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya
Boran 1926 map).

(19) Maha Chai Fort overlooking the river entry of Ayutthaya from the north-east (sources: Bellin 1752, Mid 19th C map, Description of Ayutthaya,
Plan d'Ajuthia 1912 and Phraya Boran 1926 map).


References:

[1] Van Vliet, Jeremias - Van Vliet's Siam - Chris Baker, Dhiravat Na Pombejra, Alfons van der Kraan, David K. Wyatt - Silkworm books (2005)
- page 110.
[2] Van Beeck, Steve - Slithering South (2002) - Published by Wind & Water, Hong Kong - page 386.
[3] Rajanubhab, Damrong (Prince)  - Our Wars with the Burmese (1917) - White Lotus, Bangkok (2000) - page 10.
Pratu Khao Pluak Fort along the northern city wall
(Pratu Khao Pluak Fort along the northern city wall)
Diamond Fort opposite Bang Kaja area and Wat Phanan Choeng
(Diamond Fort opposite Bang Kaja area and Wat Phanan Choeng)