Fort Caroline National Memorial | RIBAULT MONUMENT

Ribault Monument at Fort Caroline National Memorial

Ribault Monument at Fort Caroline National Memorial

The Ribault Monument is located less than a half mile from the main unit of Fort Caroline National Memorial. When exiting the Memorial, take a left on Fort Caroline Road and be on the lookout for signs to the “Ribault Column.” Take another left on Fort Caroline Park Road, a short side road that leads to a small parking area. The monument and an observation deck that overlooks the St. Johns River are located at the top of a stone staircase. The area is open daily from 9 AM to 4:45 PM. Allow no more than 15 minutes for your visit.

Stairs to the Ribault Monument at Fort Caroline National Memorial

Stairs to the Ribault Monument at Fort Caroline National Memorial

Jean Ribault was the leader of a French expedition into the Florida area in the spring of 1562. As the story goes, when he first discovered the St. Johns River, which he named the River of May, he erected a column of stone at the mouth to establish the land as French territory. He then went exploring farther north, eventually landing on Paris Island in South Carolina. He placed a column at that site as well. These columns were sculpted in France for the purpose of marking territory. Both had the French coat of arms carved into them.

Ribault left a garrison of men on Paris Island at a small fort they had built and then sailed to France to get more supplies. However, when he arrived he found that war had broken out in France between the Catholics and the Protestants, and he could not return as promised (the men at Paris Island eventually left as well). He was able to make another trip to Florida in the summer of 1565, this time to bring supplies and more settlers to Fort Caroline, which had been established a year earlier. After leading a failed attack on the Spanish at St. Augustine, he was captured in October and executed along with all of his surviving men.

A reproduction of the column was erected in 1925 by the Daughters of the American Revolution on a parcel of land overlooking the St. Johns River. It is based on a 1564 drawing by Jacques le Moyne, an artist who came to Fort Caroline on the 1564 expedition that founded the short-lived colony. This is not the original location of the monument, for where Ribault placed the column is anyone’s guess. The original location, like that of the Fort Caroline site, was lost to history long ago. Ironically, it’s not even the original location for the DAR monument, which was first placed on land that became the U. S. Naval Station at Mayport in 1941. It was moved two other times until finally ending up at its present location on St. Johns Bluff.

There are three sides to the Ribault Monument. One side has the French coat of arms; a second explains the purpose of the column; and a third lists the dedication date and who erected it, the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Inscription explaining the purpose of the Ribault Monument

Inscription explaining the purpose of the Ribault Monument

Dedication inscription for the Ribault Monument

Dedication inscription for the Ribault Monument

View of the mansions along the St. Johns River from the Ribault Monument property

View of the mansions along the St. Johns River from the Ribault Monument property

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Last updated on March 25, 2021
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