Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project

Many years ago, Prof. Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann, an archaeologist, was having tea with her aunt, when her aunt said, “Go to Christiansborg Castle and see your name inscribed there.” So Rachel did. And there it was – Carl Engmann – inscribed on the cistern in the Castle courtyard. Subsequent archival research in Denmark and oral history research in Ghana confirmed that Carl Gustav Engmann was, in fact, a Danish governor at the Castle and participated in the Danish slave trade. He married Ashiokai, a local Ga woman and the couple had children. Rachel wanted to learn more. She decided that this was an important site for an archaeological excavation project and in 2014 the Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project (CAHP) was born. The CAHP is the first research project granted access to the Castle and is the first archaeological excavation of the site.

Rachel Engmann at Christiansborg Castle, Osu, Ghana

Rachel decided to work together with other direct descendants of the relationships between Danish men and African women, who lived in and around the Castle, along with other members of the local community. The project is on-going. Together, they study the history and legacies of the Danish transatlantic slave trade. She calls this inclusive, collaborative, and participatory-orientated approach ‘autoarchaeology.’

The CAHP approach to a collective reckoning and responsibility, strives to keep alive the memory of those who suffered as captive and enslaved Africans during the transatlantic slave trade and slavery, and offers possibilities for social and restorative justice on both sides of the Atlantic.

Volunteer archaeologists from Christiansborg Castle excavations
Artifacts from Christiansborg Castle excavations
Volunteer archaeologist sieving from the Christiansborg Castle excavations

The Artifacts

The excavation team has discovered a large pre-colonial settlement, with the foundations of houses, and what is tentatively thought to be a kitchen, with three stones for a cooking pot, and charcoal. They have also retrieved a large collection of local and foreign manufactured objects, including ‘African trade beads’ (originally from Italy and Holland); Chinese and European ceramics; local pottery; European (Dutch, English and Danish) and African smoking pipes; and European glassware. Other small finds include writing slate, faunal remains, metals, stone, daub, cowrie, and other shells.

With local fishermen’s assistance, they excavated a cannon that had fallen from the Castle above, down on to the beach below. Under the Castle, they discovered an underground tunnel entrance that led to a slave trader’s house nearby. Captive Africans could be moved from the house, directly onto slave ships, to avoid escape or drawing the attention of others in the community.

It is hoped that this artifact collection will contribute to the Traditional Authorities’ and Ghana government’s plans to develop the Castle into a museum.

The Archaeologists

Project Director

Rachel Ama Asaa Engmann


Gideon Agyare
Ernest Kwadzo Fiador
Daniel Kumah
Edward Adum Nyarko


This is a list of team members that have worked with us over the years. (In alphabetical order)

Isaac Addo
Mike Aboagye
Samuel Aboagye
Betty Afatsanki
Moses Akoto
Frank Akugre
Theophilus Adom Amman
Nii Torgbor Anang
Isaac Ankomah
Joseph Osei Ansah
Carlos Aryeetey
Patrick Asamoah
William Nii Adjiri Barnor
Kwame Asano-Boateng
Eugene Agyenim Boateng
Densen Bonaparte
Kenneth Bruce
Jake Cobblah
Edmond Wulff Cochrane
Robert Wulff Cochrane
Joseph Coleman
Nicholas Degbe
Daniel Duku
Caleb Gaisie
Richard Kottoh
Isaac Kpakpo
Emmanuel Kumah
Patricia Kwao
Joseph Lamptey
Charles Lokko
Edwin Lokko
Anita Lutterodt
Malik Ludric Lutterodt
Shadrack Lutterodt
Francis MacCarthy
Daniel Masopeh
Michael Adjei Mensah
Emmanuel Mortes
Odorkor Nii Nortey
Joseph Ocloo
Fred Okla
Pascal Mate Osman
Sampson Oware
Henry Akuffu Palm
Frederick N.K.W. Peprah
Akwertey Quarcoo
Daniel Quartey
Nicholas Quaynor
Carl Reindorf
Emmanuel Reindorf
Hackie Reindorf
Nicholas Banor Reindorf
Benjamin Odenkey Richter
Francis Salifi
Ibrahim Salifu
Robert Sefardzi
Ebeneser Sowah
Cecil Odametey Swaniker
Theophilus Tagoe
Paul Sogah Telfer
Bitatsi Thompson
Jude Wulff

GMMB Representatives

George Anorchie
Samuel Nobah

Architectural Conservationist

Frederick Kofi Amekudi


Raymond Orison Agbo

Photographers & Filmmakers

Jolie Sleem
Elizabeth Naa Aku Shika Grant
Yahaya Alpha Suberu

Thank You To Our Supporters

Stanford University
French Embassy Ghana
Mellon Foundation
Wenner-Gren Foundation
Joukowsky Family Foundation
The British High Commission Accra
Danish Maritime Museum
Danish National Archives
The British National Archives
The Whiting Foundation
Rapaport Foundation
Egality Law Ghana
Shell supporting Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project
Total Energies supporting Christiansborg Archaeological Heritage Project
Botswana Consulate, Ghana
Ahead Media