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Title: English Coast Defences - From Roman Times to the Early Years of the Nineteenth Century
Author: Clinch, George
Language: English
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                        ENGLISH COAST DEFENCES

[Illustration: DOVER CASTLE, KENT
From an engraving by S. and N. Buck]

                        ENGLISH COAST DEFENCES


[Illustration: Printer's Logo]

                             GEORGE CLINCH

                        G. BELL AND SONS, LTD.


                         THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

                      ARTHUR JAMES BALFOUR, M.P.

                      FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY
                             THESE PAGES ARE

[Illustration: Printer's Logo]


The intricate coast-line of England, so difficult for an enemy to
blockade, so difficult at every point for combined naval and military
forces to defend against raiders, presents to the student of history
an extremely interesting subject. It is to its insularity that England
owes something of its greatness, and to the great length of its
coast-line that its vulnerability is due.

The present book represents the results of a study of the methods and
means by which England, from Roman times down to the early years of
the nineteenth century, has defended her shores against various
over-sea enemies, who have attempted, sometimes successfully, to
invade and conquer.

The author wishes to return thanks for the loan of blocks used in
illustration of this volume, particularly to the Society of
Antiquaries for Figs. 3, 10, 11, 29, 31, 32; the Royal Archaeological
Institute for Figs. 1, 4, 7, 13, 18; the Kent Archaeological Society
for Figs. 37, 38, 39, 40, 42, 43; the proprietors of the "Victoria
History" and Professor Haverfield for Fig. 15; and the Technical
Journals, Limited, and Mr. A. W. Clapham, F.S.A., for Fig. 24.

The corrected proof-sheets of the book have been submitted to the
proper authorities at the War Office, and that Department has
sanctioned the publication of the volume.


  PREFACE                                                           vii

  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS                                              xi


    PREHISTORIC CAMPS                                                3

    THE ROMAN INVASION OF BRITAIN                                    5

    THE COUNT OF THE SAXON SHORE                                    13

    ROMAN COAST FORTRESSES                                          16


    THE SAXON SETTLEMENT OF ENGLAND                                 75

    DANISH INCURSIONS AND CAMPS                                     80

    THE NORMAN INVASION OF ENGLAND                                  86

    NORMAN COAST CASTLES                                            87





      ON THE EAST COASTS OF KENT AND SUSSEX                        159


      OF THE SOUTH COAST                                           182



      THE NAVY                                                     195

      THE CINQUE PORTS                                             196

      DEFENSIVE CHAINS, ETC.                                       204

      THE COASTGUARD                                               212

  INDEX                                                            219

                        LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

  FIG.                                                            PAGE

      DOVER CASTLE. Buck's engraving                    _Frontispiece_

   1. GARIANNONUM (BURGH CASTLE). Plan                              22

   2. GARIANNONUM (BURGH CASTLE). Plan published in 1776            23

   3. WEST MERSEA. Plan of Roman building                           27

   4. REGULBIUM (RECULVER). Plan                                    29

   5. REGULBIUM (RECULVER). Roman masonry                           31

   6. RECULVER. The ruins of the church                             33

   7. RUTUPIAE (RICHBOROUGH). Plan                                  36

   8. RECULVER. From a print published in 1781                      39

   9. RICHBOROUGH. Roman masonry of north wall                      43

  10. DOVER, ROMAN PHAROS. Elevation of north side                  47

  11. DOVER, ROMAN PHAROS. Section                                  51

  12. LYMNE. Roman walls                                            54

  13. LYMNE. Plan                                                   55

  14. PEVENSEY. Bastion                                             59

  15. PORCHESTER. Plan                                              63

  16. PORCHESTER. Water-gate                                        65

  17. PORCHESTER. Exterior of west wall                             67

  18. SHOEBURY. Plan of Danish camp                                 83

  19. YARMOUTH. North Gate, 1807                                   104

  20. YARMOUTH. South Gate, 1807                                   105

  21. IPSWICH. St. Matthew's Gate, 1785                            107

  22. ORFORD CASTLE, SUFFOLK, 1810                                 109

  23. COWLING CASTLE, KENT, 1784                                   114

  24. QUEENBOROUGH CASTLE, KENT. Plan                              118

  25. QUEENBOROUGH CASTLE, KENT. View in 1784                      119


  27. SANDWICH, KENT. Fisher Gate                                  123

  28. SANDWICH, KENT. Barbican                                     126

  29. DOVER. Bird's-eye view of town and harbour, _temp._
      Queen Elizabeth                                              131

  30. SALTWOOD CASTLE, KENT. The Gate House                        135

  31. PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR, _temp._ KING HENRY VIII                  143

  32. SOUTHSEA CASTLE, _temp._ KING HENRY VIII                     147

  33. SOUTHAMPTON. Plan                                            150

  34. DEAL CASTLE, KENT                                            163

  35. TILBURY FORT IN THE YEAR 1588                                166

  36. TILBURY FORT IN THE YEAR 1808                                167

      COASTS                                                       170

  38. SANDOWN CASTLE. Plan                                         171

  39. DEAL CASTLE. Plan                                            172

  40. WALMER CASTLE. Plan                                          173

  41. WALMER CASTLE FROM THE NORTH                                 175

  42. SANDGATE CASTLE. Plan                                        177

  43. CAMBER CASTLE. Plan                                          178

  44. UPNOR CASTLE, KENT                                           180

  45. HURST CASTLE, HANTS                                          183

                                PART I

                       PREHISTORIC CAMPS

                       THE ROMAN INVASION OF BRITAIN

                       THE COUNT OF THE SAXON SHORE

                       ROMAN COAST FORTRESSES

                        ENGLISH COAST DEFENCES

                          PREHISTORIC CAMPS

Round the coast of England there are many prehistoric earthworks of
great extent and strength. These fall generally under the heads of
hill-top fortresses and promontory camps. The works comprised under
the former head are so arranged as to take the greatest possible
advantage of natural hill-tops, often of large size. On the line where
the comparatively level top developed into a more or less precipitous
slope a deep ditch was dug, and the earth so removed was in most cases
thrown outwards so as to form a rampart which increased the original
difficulties of the sloping hill-side.

The latter type of earthwork, called promontory camps from their
natural conformation, were strengthened by the digging of a deep
ditch, so as to cut off the promontory from the main table-land from
which it projected, and in some cases the sides of the camp were made
more precipitous by artificial scarping.

An examination of these types of earthworks leads to the conclusion
that they were probably tribal enclosures for the safe-guarding of
cattle, etc.; that, strictly speaking, they were not military works at
all, and, in any case, had no relation to national defence against
enemies coming over-sea.

One finds in different parts of the country a prevalent tradition that
the Romans occupied the more ancient British hill-top strongholds, and
the name "Caesar's Camp" is popularly applied to many of them. If such
an occupation really took place it was, in all probability, only of a
temporary character. These fortifications were not suitable to the
Roman method of military operations and encampment, and such
archaeological evidences of Roman occupation as have been found point
to the presence of domestic buildings, such as at Chanctonbury Ring
and Wolstanbury Camp (Sussex) rather than military works.

However, the question must not be dismissed as entirely without some
foundation in fact, because it was only natural that the Roman
invaders who dispossessed the Britons of their fastnesses should
themselves have taken temporary possession of the works from which the
Britons were driven out.


There is hardly a single detail of the first invasion of Britain by
the Romans which has not been the subject of dispute or discussion
among historians and antiquaries, but, briefly, it may be stated as
highly probable that Caesar left Portus Itius (Boulogne) on 25 August
55 B.C., and landed at or near what is now Deal on the following day.

When Caesar found a convenient time for the invasion of Britain, he
got together about eighty transports, which he considered would be
sufficient for carrying two legions across the channel. Those galleys
which he had left he distributed to the questor, lieutenants, and
officers of the cavalry. In addition to these ships there were
eighteen transports, detained by contrary winds at a port about eight
miles off, and these were appointed to carry over the cavalry.

A favourable breeze sprang up, and anchor was weighed about one in the
morning. The cavalry in the eighteen other transports embarked at the
other port. It was ten o'clock when Caesar reached the coast of
Britain, where he saw the cliffs covered with the enemy's forces. He
speaks of the place as being bounded by steep mountains in a way which
clearly describes Dover and the eminences in its neighbourhood,
comprising Shakespeare's Cliff, the western and eastern heights, and
all the magnificent cliff of precipitous chalk rock which extends to
Kingsdown, near Walmer. On such a coast as this, apart from the
presence of the enemy, landing was impossible, and Caesar wisely
determined to sail eight miles further on, where he found, probably at
Deal, a plain and open shore. Caesar's description is most
interesting, and may be quoted:

     "But the barbarians perceiving our design, sent their cavalry and
     chariots before, which they frequently make use of in battle, and
     following with the rest of their forces, endeavoured to oppose
     our landing: and indeed we found the difficulty very great on
     many accounts; for our ships being large, required a great depth
     of water; and the soldiers, who were wholly unacquainted with the
     places, and had their hands embarrassed and loaden with a weight
     of armour, were at the same time to leap from the ships, stand
     breast high against the waves, and encounter the enemy, while
     they, fighting upon dry ground, or advancing only a little way
     into the water, having the free use of all their limbs, and in
     places which they perfectly knew, could boldly cast their darts,
     and spur on their horses, well inured to that kind of service.
     All these circumstances serving to spread a terror among our men,
     who were wholly strangers to this way of fighting, they pushed
     not the enemy with the same vigour and spirit as was usual for
     them in combats upon dry ground.

     "Caesar, observing this, ordered some galleys, a kind of shipping
     less common with the barbarians, and more easily governed and put
     in motion, to advance a little from the transports towards the
     shore, in order to set upon the enemy in flank, and by means of
     their engines, slings, and arrows, drive them to some distance.
     This proved of considerable service to our men, for what with the
     surprise occasioned by the make of our galleys, the motion of
     the oars, and the playing of the engines, the enemy were forced
     to halt, and in a little time began to give back. But our men
     still demurring to leap into the sea, chiefly because of the
     depth of the water in those parts, the standard-bearer of the
     tenth legion, having first invoked the gods for success, cried
     out aloud: 'Follow me, fellow-soldiers, unless you will betray
     the Roman eagle into the hands of the enemy; for my part, I am
     resolved to discharge my duty to Caesar and the common-wealth.'
     Upon this he jumped into the sea, and advanced with the eagle
     against the enemy: whereat, our men exhorted one another to
     prevent so signal a disgrace, all that were in the ship followed
     him, which being perceived by those in the nearest vessels, they
     also did the like, and boldly approached the enemy.

     "The battle was obstinate on both sides; but our men, as being
     neither able to keep their ranks, nor get firm footing, nor
     follow their respective standards, because leaping promiscuously
     from their ships, every one joined the first ensign he met, were
     thereby thrown into great confusion. The enemy, on the other
     hand, being well acquainted with the shallows, when they saw our
     men advancing singly from the ships, spurred on their horses,
     and attacked them in that perplexity. In one place great numbers
     would gather round a handful of Romans; others falling upon them
     in flank, galled them mightily with their darts, which Caesar
     observing, ordered some small boats to be manned, and ply about
     with recruits. By this means the foremost ranks of our men having
     got footing, were followed by all the rest, when falling upon
     the enemy briskly, they were soon put to the rout. But as the
     cavalry were not yet arrived, we could not pursue or advance far
     into the island, which was the only thing wanting to render the
     victory complete."[1]

Sea-fighting was not unknown to the Romans, but as far as the invasion
of Britain was concerned, Caesar's fleet may be regarded as a
collection of ships for transport purposes rather than a fighting
naval force. The main object of Caesar was to land his soldiers so
that they might encounter and vanquish the enemy on dry land. This, as
the graphic words of the "Commentaries" clearly tell, was quickly
accomplished. The British method of fighting, in which chariots were
employed for the attack, is described by Caesar,[2] who was evidently
impressed by their skilful combination of rapid and awe-inspiring
attack with the freedom and mobility of light infantry.

It is noteworthy that Caesar says nothing about coast defences in the
form of earthworks, or indeed in any other form, and it is on other
grounds improbable that the Britons possessed any provision of that
kind against invading enemies, although they themselves lived in
stockaded enclosures.

The Romans were the first people to introduce anything like general
coast defence in Britain, and in this, as in all other branches of
their military enterprises, they displayed great skill, intelligence,
and thoroughness. For the defence of the coast of the eastern and
southern parts of Britain they erected a chain of castra or fortresses
extending from Brancaster, on the north-west coast of Norfolk, to
Porchester, situated on the extreme north-west shore of Portsmouth

The position of the various fortresses shows that it was not
necessary, according to the Roman plan of defence, that one fort
should command views of its neighbours. Reculver and Richborough,
Richborough and Dover, Dover and Lymne, Lymne and Pevensey, were in no
case visible from each other, although the distance which separated
them was not great in every case. Under these circumstances it is not
remarkable to find evidences, as will presently be explained, of
special provision for signalling between the fortresses.

                     THE COUNT OF THE SAXON SHORE

During the early part of the Roman occupation of Britain the chief
mode of defence adopted against piratical incursions was the navy,
_classis Britannica_. This, for the most part, moved in those waters
which lay between the British and Gaulish coasts, answering to what we
now know as the Straits of Dover and the southern part of the North

For a time the navy was able to keep the seas free from pirates, but
towards the end of the third century the trouble became greater than
ever. Raiders came in large numbers both to our own coasts and also to
the Continental coasts opposite, to both of which the name of the
Saxon Shore was given. The Romans decided to take strong measures to
put an end to the trouble. For this purpose they appointed a special
officer, one Marcus Aurelius Valerius Carausius, commonly known by his
last name.

The appearance of Carausius on the stage of history brings into
prominence a man of strong but unscrupulous character. He is believed
to have allowed the pirates to carry on their work of plunder at their
pleasure, and then, having waited for the proper moment, he relieved
them of their booty on the return journey. In this way he acquired
great riches, and in due course he employed the fleet, not against the
enemy of Rome, but against Rome, and in such a way as to render
Britain independent. After several ineffectual attempts to break his
power, Diocletian and Maximianus found it necessary to recognize him
as their colleague in the empire, a triumph which Carausius
commemorated by striking a medal bearing as a device three busts with
appropriate emblems the legend:

                (_ob._) CARAVSIVS . ET . FRATRES . SVI
                (_rev._)        PAX AVGGG.

Carausius was murdered by his chief official, Allectus, in the year
293. Shortly after his death, and when the British province had ceased
to be independent of Rome, an official was appointed called the Count
of the Saxon Shore.

This officer, whose title was _Comes Littoris Saxonici_, was a high
official whose duty it was to command the defensive forces and
supervise the fortresses erected on the east, south-east, and south
coasts of England against the piratical raids of the various tribes of
Saxons and others during the latter part of the Roman occupation of
Britain. The precise nature of his duties and the full extent of his
authority are equally unknown, but they probably comprised the general
oversight and command both of the fortresses on the British coast from
the northern coast of Norfolk to a point near Portsmouth, and the navy
which guarded our shores.

Opinions are divided on the question as to what was precisely meant by
the phrase "the Saxon shore." Was it, as some think, those parts of
the shore of Britain and Gaul on which, being specially subject to
Saxon raiders, defences were erected or employed for repelling the
invaders? Or was it, as others have supposed, perhaps with less
probability, a strip of territory following the line of coast nearest
the sea on which the Saxons were allowed to settle in late Roman


A careful examination of the fortresses which protected the line of
coast to which reference has been made, is likely, we think, to afford
some light upon the above-mentioned point.

If we pay attention to the plans of these fortresses, it will be
obvious that at least two, Reculver and Brancaster, belong to a type
of Roman fortress which is associated with a period much earlier than
the time, as far as we know, when Saxon or other raiders began to
molest the coasts of Britain and Gaul. Perhaps it is significant that
these two castra command the entrance to two of the great water ways
on our east coast, the Thames and the Wash. The other seven
fortresses, judging from their plans, belong to a later stage of
development in Roman military architecture.

From this and other features already described we may infer that the
whole series of fortresses was built at different periods, and
probably in the following order:

              Reculver.   |  Richborough.
              Brancaster. |  Lymne.
              Porchester. |  Pevensey.

Unfortunately, the architectural remains of the remaining castra are
not sufficiently perfect to allow of classification.

One or two of the coast fortresses, such as Pevensey and Lymne, may
well have been erected towards the close of the Roman occupation. It
is significant that tiles bearing the impressed name of Honorius have
been found built into the walls of Pevensey, pointing to the lateness
of the building of at least some of the masonry at that castrum.[3]

At Lymne early inscriptions, etc. have been found built into the
walls, indicating a period if not late in the Roman period, at least a
considerable time after the date of the inscribed stones which were
enclosed, as mere building material, in the walls. This is
corroborated by indications of adhering barnacles, from which we may
fairly conclude that there was a period of submergence between the
time of the carving and the subsequent use as building material.

It seems probable, therefore, that although the earlier fortresses may
have been intended to serve as centres for the Roman army, they may
have been supplemented at a later period by other castra, forming
altogether a chain of defences intended to protect the shores of
Britain against Saxon invaders.

The late Mr. G. E. Fox, F.S.A., who made a special study of the
subject, writes as follows:[4]

     "By the last quarter of the third century the Romano-British
     fleet, on which no doubt dependence had been placed for the
     protection of the east and south coasts from raids by
     plundering bands of rovers from over the seas, had evidently
     failed to afford that protection. Whether it was that the fleet
     was not numerous enough, or for whatever reason, the Roman
     government determined to supplement its first line of defence
     by a second, and this was achieved by the erection of forts
     capable of holding from 500 to 1,000 men each, on points of the
     coast-line extending from the mouth of the Wash to Pevensey on
     the coast of Sussex. The coast-line indicated received the name
     of _Litus Saxonicum_, and the nine fortresses which guarded it
     are called 'the forts of the Saxon Shore.'"

The following were the nine fortresses referred to with the modern

  1. Branodunum.       Brancaster.
  2. Gariannonum.      Burgh Castle (near Yarmouth).
  3. Othona.           Bradwell-on-Sea.
  4. Regulbium.        Reculver.
  5. Rutupiae.         Richborough.
  6. Dubris.           Dover.
  7. Portus Lemanus.   Lymne.
  8. Anderida.         Pevensey.
  9. Portus Magnus.    ? Porchester.

It will be observed that the various fortresses in this chain of
defensive works occur at irregular distances on or near the
coast-line, and on examination it will be found that in most cases
good reason exists for the selection of the various sites.

                            1. BRANODUNUM

There is sufficient evidence to identify the Roman fort of Branodunum
with some ruins lying to the east of Brancaster, a village situated
near the north-western corner of Norfolk, on the shores of the Wash.
The only early mention of the place is found in the "Notitia Imperii,"
a catalogue of the distribution of the imperial military, naval, and
civilian officers throughout the Roman world. From this remarkable
work, a compilation which has come down to us from a very early
period, it appears that the "Comes Littoris Saxonici" (the Count of
the Saxon Shore) had under him nine subordinate officers, called
Praepositi, distributed round the coasts of Norfolk, Essex, Kent,
Sussex, and Hampshire. The fortress at Brancaster is now in a very
much ruined state, and but little can be gathered of its original form
from a casual or superficial examination. Excavations and careful
searches made about the middle of the nineteenth century brought to
light many facts about its plan.[5] The fortress was a square of 190
yards and the angles were irregularly rounded. Exclusive of ashlar,
the walls were found to be 10 feet thick, and bounded with large
blocks of white sandstone. At one of the roughly rounded angles the
ashlar facing remained intact. It consisted of blocks of sandstone
firmly set in mortar with joints of three inches minimum thickness.

Traces were found within the walls of small apartments adjoining the
main walls into which the smaller walls were regularly bonded,
pointing to contemporaneity of the work.

Two facts of some importance are proved by the excavations, viz. (1)
the strength of the fortress as a defensive work, and (2) the simple
and early character of the plan. Traces of gates were observed in the
eastern and western walls.

                            2. GARIANNONUM


Now known as Burgh Castle, is situated in Suffolk near the point where
the rivers Yare and Waveney fall into Breydon Water. The lines of its
walls enclose a space, roughly speaking, 660 feet by 330 feet, over
four acres. It is generally considered to be one of the most perfect
Roman buildings remaining in the kingdom. The walls in places remain
to a height of 9 feet, and their foundations are no less than 12 feet
in thickness. The bastions, or perhaps more correctly, towers, which
flank the gates and support the rounded angles of the walls are of
peculiar, pear-shaped plan. They are solid, and to the height of about
7 feet are not tied into the walls. Above that height, however, they
are bonded into the walls with which, curious as it may appear, they
are undoubtedly coeval. It is noteworthy that there are two bastions
on the east side and one each on the north and south sides, and that
they, six in all, are provided with a hole in the top, 2 feet wide and
2 feet deep, indicating in all probability that they once mounted
turntables upon which ballistae were placed for the defence of the

(From an engraving published in 1776)]

The masonry is of the kind which is usually found in Roman buildings,
namely, a rubble core with courses of bonding tiles, and an outer
facing of flints chipped to a flat surface.

Gariannonum was a place of great importance in Roman times. Here was
stationed the captain of the Stablesian horse, styled Gariannonensis,
under the command of _Comes littoris Saxonici_.

_Walton._--Near Felixstow, situated on what is now the fore-shore, but
which originally was a cliff 100 feet high, and commanding extensive
views of the surrounding country, are the ruins of what was an
important Roman station. Although possibly not ranking as one of the
nine great coast fortresses, it occupied a most important site for the
defence of this part of the east coast of Britain, and commanded not
only the entrance to the River Deben, but also all the adjacent coast
to the south of it. Almost every trace of the station has now been
obliterated by the waves, but from plans which have been preserved it
appears that its plan was that of an oblong with towers or bastions at
each angle.[6]

                              3. OTHONA

Or Ithanchester, near Bradwell-on-Sea, in Essex, was another important
member of the Roman coast defences of Britain. It commanded the
entrances of the Rivers Blackwater and Colne. Little now remains of
Othona, although it is on record that the fortress enclosed an area of
4 acres, and that its walls possessed foundations no less than 14 feet
in thickness.

The defence of such a point as this against the incursions of foes was
a matter of much importance, because this was a point on the coast of
Britain specially susceptible to attack by marauders, and, as we shall
see, special precautions were taken against attacks of this kind.


At a distance of about four miles to the north of Othona, across the
estuary of the River Blackwater, lies the island of Mersea. In the
year 1896 some Roman foundations were accidentally discovered in the
western part of the island which, upon examination, appear to have an
important bearing on the Roman scheme of coast defence in this part of
Britain. The foundations were circular, 65 feet in diameter, and
closely resembling in gigantic form the steering-wheel of a ship. The
foundations were of Kentish rag and chalk lime mortar, and above this
the low walling was almost entirely composed of Roman bricks set in
red mortar. Dr. Henry Laver, F.S.A., who communicated the discovery to
the Society of Antiquaries of London,[7] modestly abstains from giving
any explanation or theory as to the purpose of the building which
stood on this site, but in the opinion of the present writer there
seems to be little doubt that the foundations were intended to carry a
lofty pharos, or perhaps signalling tower of timber by means of which
messages might have been transmitted to Othona and Colchester.

                             4. REGULBIUM

[Illustration: FIG. 4. RECULVER, KENT]

Now known as Reculver, is situated about three miles to the east of
Herne Bay. The site, although originally some distance inland, is now,
owing to the encroachment of the sea, quite close to the shore.
Indeed, about half of its area has been destroyed by the waves, and is
now covered at high water. Its area when complete was over seven
acres, and its walls which, in the eighteenth century, stood 10 feet
high, and still remain to a height of 8 feet in some places, are no
less than 8 feet in thickness with two sets-off inside. It seems
doubtful whether there was ever a ditch round the castrum. Owing to
the ruinous condition of the main part of the masonry, and the
complete destruction which has overtaken the northern part of the
foundations, it is impossible to ascertain any particulars as to the
gates or internal arrangements.

Showing facing stones (squared), rubble core, and pebbly foundations]

As will be seen from the accompanying ground-plan the form of the
castrum at Reculver was quadrangular. The angles were rounded, but
there are no indications of towers or bastions. These features are
considered characteristic of Roman fortresses of early date. Another
feature pointing to the same conclusion is the absence of tile courses
in the walls.

The only recorded facts about this fortress is a mention in the
"Notitia," from which we learn that it was garrisoned by the first
cohort of the Vetasians commanded by a tribune.


At a comparatively early stage in the art of Roman masonry in Britain
the idea was conceived of protecting the enclosing wall of the
fortress by means of projecting bastions and towers. In an early type
represented in the Romano-British coast fortresses, of which this of
Reculver is an excellent illustration, there were, as we have seen, no
projections whether of walls, bastions, towers, or gates. Reliance was
placed in the strength and solidity of the walls themselves, which
were 8 feet in thickness. But the desirability of having some points
from which the enemy could be attacked in flank whilst battering the
wall soon became evident, and in other cases such as Richborough,
Lymne, Pevensey, etc., we find that the fortress was furnished not
only with massive walls, but also with strong angle-towers and
bastions or towers at intervals by which the wall could be commanded
and protected.

These various works furnish an interesting series of illustrations of
the progress made in the military architecture of the period.

                             5. RUTUPIAE

[Illustration: FIG. 7. RUTUPIAE (RICHBOROUGH)]

Now known as Richborough, situated about two miles north-north-west of
Sandwich, was a station of great importance in the Roman period, being
then, as Sandwich was subsequently for many years, the chief British
port for travellers and traffic to and from the Continent. In shape
Rutupiae was a rectangular parallelogram, with the greater length from
east to west. Its walls, which were lofty and massive, enclosed an
area of somewhat less than 6 acres. At each angle is, or was, a
circular bastion 18 feet 6 inches in diameter, and square towers or
bastions at intervals projected beyond the general face of the walls.
A considerable part of the south-east corner, and the whole of the
east wall have been destroyed by the falling of the cliff in the
direction of the River Stour. The theory formerly propounded that the
castrum had no eastern wall has been disproved by the careful
examinations of Mr. G. E. Fox and other eminent antiquaries. These
examinations have definitely shown that large fragments of the east
wall have fallen down the cliff. It is certain that the castrum of
Rutupiae as also those of Regulbium and Portus Lemanis, in spite of
the doubt which has been expressed in each instance, had four walls.

The chief peculiarity of Rutupiae is the presence of a solid mass of
masonry underground, a little to the east rather than in the middle of
the enclosed space. Many different theories have been put forward to
account for its purpose, but it is now generally agreed that it was
intended to serve as the foundation for a lofty structure, perhaps of
timber, the purpose of which was for signalling between this station
and that at Reculver, and possibly also answering to the pharos at
Dover. It is not improbable that it also served as a lighthouse for
ships entering the estuary of the Stour from the sea. If lights or
signals could be seen as far as Dover they might from that point be
communicated easily to and fro from the coast of France from the high
ground on which the pharos of Dover stands.

In order to understand the functions and relative positions of
Regulbium and Rutupiae as coast fortresses during the Roman period, it
is necessary to reconstruct the ancient geography of the north-eastern
part of Kent. The small stream now falling into the sea near Reculver
was at the period under consideration a river sufficiently broad and
deep to afford a convenient channel for shipping. It was known as the
Wantsum. Boats and ships voyaging from the French coast as well as
from the British coast near Dover to London, usually took their course
through the channel formed by the Stour and the Wantsum, thus avoiding
the strong currents and tempestuous seas often raging off the North

[Illustration: FIG. 8. RECULVER
From a print published in 1781]

It will be seen, therefore, that a lofty tower or lighthouse at
Rutupiae would have been of the greatest value both for the guidance
of friendly shipping and as a means of giving warning of the
approach of the enemy.

The north wall of the castrum at Richborough is a remarkably perfect
and interesting specimen of Roman masonry. It is noteworthy, too, as
furnishing proof of the great care and thoroughness with which the
Romans carried out their building works. At the base of the wall, on
the outside, one sees four courses of flint in their natural form, and
above them the following succession of materials, in ascending order:
three courses of dressed flint; two courses of bonding tile; seven
courses of ashlar and two of tile; seven courses of ashlar and two of
tile; seven courses of ashlar and two of tile; seven courses of ashlar
and two of tile; eight courses of ashlar and two of tile; nine courses
of ashlar. The wall is 23 feet 2 inches high, and 10 feet 8 inches

There is one aspect of some of the Roman coast fortresses which shows
that their builders were not influenced entirely by utilitarian ideas.
This is the methodical and tasteful use of stones of different
colours in such a way as to produce a pleasing species of colour
decoration. The aim obviously was to break up the monotony of broad
spaces of masonry, and possibly, also, to enhance their apparent size
by multiplication of detail. The north wall of Richborough, although
to some extent marred by rebuilding of some part of it, affords an
illustration of this. Here we find dark brownish-red ironstone built
into the wall in a way which reminds one of bands of chequer work. A
Pevensey again, where the stones are cut with the regularity and
precision of brickwork, large blocks of similar sandstone are employed
in regular order at different heights in the walls and bastions. To
the latter in addition to their decorative use they serve to tie in
the outer skin of masonry to the inner rubble.


                           6. DUBRIS, DOVER

A paper by Rev. Canon Puckle on Vestiges of Roman Dover was published
some years ago in "Archaeologia Cantiana."[8] It was accompanied by
a plan in which are set out the outlines of what are supposed to have
been the limits of the Roman town or fortress of Dover. Although the
outline is merely tentative and hypothetical, there is a certain
plausibility about the suggested site and size of the castrum. It was
situated, as is pointed out, quite away from the pharos, in the lowest
part of the town, the present Market Square being approximately in the
middle of the enclosure. The plan is roughly a parallelogram with
certain irregularities on the north-west angle.

On the top of the eastern and western heights of Dover a lighthouse
was erected by the Romans for the guidance of ships into the narrow
mouth of the river. Traces of that on the western heights still
remain, or remained recently: whilst that on the eastern heights
stands intact, one of the most remarkable and interesting pieces of
Roman architecture now remaining in the kingdom.

The Roman pharos at Dover consists of a strong and massive tower,
hollow within, which rises to a height of 42 feet, having walls whose
thickness varies from 12 feet at the base to about 7 feet at the top.
The structure is not entirely of Roman workmanship, because in the
thirteenth century certain additions were made to its outer walls.

Doubtless its massive masonry was calculated to withstand the severe
storms to which its exposed position on the lofty cliff subjected it.
Whether employed for signalling purposes or as a lighthouse, this
building was doubtless in such a position as to communicate with
similar buildings on the coast of France, and with the lighthouse or
signalling tower (it may have served in both capacities) at

The pharos on the western heights of Dover, of which little now
remains, must have formed an extremely valuable auxiliary to that on
the eastern heights, affording a guide for ships making at night for
the haven of Dover. It is not at all improbable that both structures
combined the purposes of lighthouses at night with those of signalling
stations in the daytime.

[Illustration: FIG. 10. PHAROS, DOVER]

The precise details of the existing pharos, although of the greatest
interest from architectural and archaeological points of view, are not
necessary to our present purpose, but a few facts are worthy of

The masonry throughout is of tufa with the exception of two or three
courses of Roman tiles at intervals of about 4 feet, and the
foundations, which again consist of several courses of tiles arranged
in three sets-off, and with an octagonal plan.

The tower is of octagonal plan externally, and square within, where
each of the four walls measures about 14 feet. The structure is
believed to have been repaired and cased with flint in the year 1259,
when Richard de Codnore was Constable of Dover Castle. His arms, Barry
of six, argent and azure, are carved in stone on the north side of the
pharos. The octagonal chamber in the top story of the tower appears to
have been restored or rebuilt in Tudor times.

It is interesting and instructive to compare the Dover lighthouses in
their relation to the French coast and Richborough, with the
signalling tower or lighthouse of West Mersea, by means of which
communications were kept up with the sea-coast station and castrum of

Bearing in mind the defensive character of the forts with which the
lighthouses were associated, it seems probable that their purpose had
a close relation to the work of watching the coast, and obtaining
early information of the approach of invaders.

There is a strong probability that more of such buildings for
observing the approach of enemies once existed, traces of which have
now perished.

[Illustration: FIG. 11. PHAROS, DOVER]

                          7. PORTUS LEMANIS

Situated originally on the side of a spur of high ground at Lymne,
near Hythe, and overlooking the flat ground of Romney Marsh, was a
fortified station of sufficient importance to rank as a town. Its
distance from Dover, and its situation on the south coast, suggest
that it cannot have formed a part of the group of contemporary
fortresses which defended the east coast of Kent.

Owing to a landslip on a large scale, which happened possibly before
the Norman Conquest, the whole of the site upon which this town stood
slipped downwards towards Romney Marsh, and the massive walls and
towers by which it was once encompassed were disturbed, shattered, and

The form, as far as can be gathered from the disturbed foundations,
was somewhat irregular. The east and west walls were parallel, and the
south wall ran at right angles with them, but the north wall had an
outward bow-like projection. The walls, when the place was intact,
enclosed a space of about 11 acres, and were from 12 feet to 14 feet
thick, whilst the height of both walls and mural towers was somewhat
more than 20 feet.

The purpose of placing a strongly fortified town at this place was
partly in order to command a view over the surrounding country, and
partly to defend the Roman port which was situated on a branch of the
River Limene,[9] or rather, just at the foot of the hill on the side
of which it stood.

[Illustration: FIG. 12. ROMAN WALLS, LYMNE, KENT]

Among the discoveries made at Portus Lemanis there were two of
remarkable and significant character. The first consisted of a
mutilated altar-stone, bearing a much-worn inscription indicating the
dedication of the altar by a praefect of the British fleet, named
Aufidius Pantera, probably to Neptune. The stone was found built
into the masonry of the principal gate, and from its worn condition,
and the remains of barnacles which it still bore when found, it was
justly inferred that it belonged to an earlier period than that of the
building of the gate. The second discovery, of quite equal interest
with the first, was that of a number of broken roof and other tiles,
inscribed CLBR, which has been read _Classiarii Britannici_, Marines
of the British fleet.

[Illustration: FIG. 13. PORTUS LEMANIS (LYMPNE)]

From these discoveries one may gather that at some period, probably
before that of Constantine, a division of the British fleet was
situated at Portus Lemanis, and that some of the buildings there were
erected by the crew from the fleet.

The principal gate, which may have been battered down during a siege,
and required rebuilding, was evidently the work of a late date in the
Roman period. This view is supported by a comparison of the whole
building with the work at Anderida (Pevensey). The general arrangement
of the walls, the disposition of the mural towers, or bastions, and
the facing of regularly cut limestone blocks present points of very
considerable similarity.

It will be observed from a comparison of Portus Lemanis with Anderida
(about to be described) that there is reason to think that both works
belong to a date somewhat late in the Roman period.

                        8. ANDERIDA (PEVENSEY)

The castrum at Pevensey retains so much of its enclosing walls and
bastions that it is particularly worthy of study if one would learn,
by direct observation, what splendid specimens of architecture the
Romans erected in this country. Although a mediaeval castle has been
built within the boundary of the Roman castrum, the walls of the
latter may be traced for almost the whole of the circuit, and on the
north, east, and west sides they stand to a considerable height. At
the south-western extremity is the main gateway, its two flanking
towers forming perhaps the most prominent features. Proceeding to the
north of this gate we find three good specimens of bastions of
somewhat horse-shoe form on plan. A series of six similarly planned
bastions remain at the opposite side of the fortress, the general plan
of which may be said to be elliptical.


The character of the facing masonry, especially on the south-west
side, is quite remarkable. The facing consists of carefully squared
blocks of limestone laid with the regularity and precision of

Two characteristics stand out prominently in comparing this with other
Roman castra on the coast of Britain. One is the irregularity of plan,
the other is the presence of numerous projecting bastions. Both point
to the lateness of the work, and some valuable evidence, confirming
this view, has been brought to light in recent years. In 1907 Mr.
Charles Dawson, F.S.A., communicated to the Society of Antiquaries[10]
some notes on tiles found here bearing the stamp

        HON AUG

The first line apparently refers to the Emperor Honorius (395-423),
whilst the second may be regarded as indicating with somewhat less
certainty the name Anderida.

                    9. PORTUS MAGNUS (PORCHESTER)

This remarkably fine castrum, which stands on the edge of the most
northern creek forming a part of Portsmouth Harbour, consists of a
square enclosure containing a space of about 9 acres. Its walls, 10
feet in thickness, are constructed of flint rubble with courses of
bonding-tiles. Originally each angle was furnished with a hollow
bastion, or tower, and similar bastions, hollow within, were placed
along the walls at intervals of from 100 feet to 200 feet. Some of
these bastions have been destroyed, but fourteen examples, in a more
or less perfect condition, remain. The water-gate, on the eastern
side, still survives in a peculiarly perfect state. It is remarkable
from the fact that the blocks of stone forming its semicircular arch
are of light and dark colour, and are arranged alternately, so as to
impart a picturesque and decorative effect.


The identification of Porchester with the Portus Magnus of the Romans
has been questioned by Professor Haverfield, and there can be no doubt
that it rests upon insufficient evidence. Conceivably it may be the
Portus Adurni of the Romans: but this is not certain.

A Norman castle, with remarkably fine keep, still practically intact,
was built in the north-west corner, and the parish church, also of
Norman architecture, was constructed near the south-east angle, within
the walls of the castrum.

_Clausentum_, an important Roman station, now known as Bitterne, is
situated a little to the north of Southampton, on the banks of the
tidal estuary of the River Itchen. Practically nothing in the shape of
architectural traces now remain, but from accounts written before
their complete destruction we know that it was enclosed with walls 9
feet thick, and constructed of flint bonded with large flat tiles and
roughly faced with small square stones. It has been supposed that the
outer defences when perfect measured 500 yards in length. The station
was three-sided, the walls each having an outward curve. The outer
defences are believed to have enclosed an area of 20 acres: the inner
defences, 10 acres.


_Cardiff._--Although not situated near the Continent, it is probable
that Cardiff took its part in the defence of our coast during the
Roman period. Whether the Roman fortress at this point formed part of
the defences which were placed under the control of the Count of the
Saxon Shore may be doubted, but in size and general plan it certainly
resembled the coast fortresses of the south-eastern shores.


In the course of recent excavations in and near Cardiff Castle the
nearly complete ground-plan of this castrum was found. Its form was
nearly quadrangular, the only irregularity being in the western wall,
which was inclined eastward at its southern end. Gates were situated
about the middle of the northern and southern walls, whilst
semicircular bastions were placed along the walls at intervals,
roughly, of about 120 feet. At the angles were built towers of
irregular form and of somewhat unusual interest, from the fact that
they were obviously additions to the original work. The area enclosed
by the walls was roughly a square of 600 feet.

The question of angle-towers or bastions is one of considerable
importance. Their presence in a Roman castrum may generally be taken
as evidence of late date; but it is necessary to bear in mind that in
some cases they have certainly been added to give strength to
fortresses of early type, which, as we have seen in the cases of
Reculver and Brancaster, were furnished with rounded angles, without
any such projecting features as angle-towers or bastions. At
Cardiff[11] it is perfectly clear that the original building had
rounded angles against which towers of irregularly circular plan were
subsequently built.

As at Pevensey and Porchester, a Norman castle was ingeniously
constructed within this castrum by placing the mound towards the
north-western corner. Two walls thrown out from this, one towards the
western wall and the other to about the middle of the southern wall,
enclosed practically a quarter of the whole area in the south-western
angle, and formed the inner court, whilst the whole of the rest of the
area of the castrum formed the outer court. It is obvious that at the
period when this Norman castle was built the Roman walls were
sufficiently perfect to afford an effective barrier of defence.

                      OTHER ROMAN COAST DEFENCES

The coast to the north of Brancaster, the most northern of the nine
regular Roman coast castra, is provided in certain places with
defences of Roman date, either in the form of watch-houses, or
lighthouses, or fortresses.

Professor Haverfield, in a recent lecture on the subject,[12] suggests
that such structures once existed at (1) Huntcliffe (near Saltburn);
(2) at a point near Staithes; (3) on the high promontory of Peak, near
Robin Hood Bay; and (4) on another high headland, called Carrnase, to
the north of Filey Bay. Generally speaking, the altitude of the sites
of these works suggests their use for watching or lighting purposes
rather than for purely military defence.

To a certain extent the Roman walled towns of Canterbury, Rochester,
Chichester, Colchester, and London, must be regarded as having
exercised a share in the coast defence of England, because they were
situated on rivers now or formerly navigable, and not too far from the
sea-coast to be absolutely without value in repelling invaders.

The fact that they were constructed specially for defensive purposes,
not only against near neighbours, but also against those unwelcome
visitors who, from the remote past, and all through the middle ages,
have been attracted by the wealth of England, brings them within the
scope of the present essay. For obvious reasons, however, and mainly
because of the question of space, it is unnecessary to describe in
detail every defensive work which was partially available for English
coast defence.

                               PART II


                     DANISH INCURSIONS AND CAMPS


                     NORMAN COAST CASTLES


With the settlement of the Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes in
England, this book has no immediate concern, but it is worthy of note
that having driven the British people westward into Wales and
south-westward into Cornwall, they quickly spread over the greater
part of England. Their weapons, their costumes, their jewellery, and,
indeed, their general standard of civilization, are clearly reflected
and illustrated by the contents of numerous cemeteries, which have
been scientifically explored and examined. We know little of their
houses or other buildings until the eleventh century, when we are
aided by the actual remains of churches, the evidence of illuminated
manuscripts and the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle."

There is, however, one fact which stands out quite clearly in an age
which is remarkable for the obscurity of its historical evidence. This
is that the Saxons, as a general rule, did not immediately occupy the
ruins of Romano-British towns or houses. On the contrary, they seem to
have avoided them, even to the extent of diverting the roads which
originally passed through the towns. This is so marked that we can
only infer that it was due to a superstitious dread of sites which had
once been inhabited by the Romans. The site of the important
Romano-British town of Silchester, although full of evidences of Roman
occupation, and of intercourse with contemporary British population,
has furnished absolutely no trace of Saxon habitation.

What was true of cities and towns and houses, was probably true of the
coast fortresses upon which the Romans, particularly in the latter
part of their occupation of Britain, had expended so much time and

It is extremely doubtful whether the Saxons ever garrisoned the
coast fortresses abandoned when the Roman legions were withdrawn from
Britain. Numismatic evidence shows that there was an Anglo-Saxon mint
at Lymne, the Portus Lemanus of the Romans, and possessing an
important harbour. The coins minted there range from King Edgar's time
to that of Edward the Confessor, but there is reason to believe that
the Roman site was deserted at an early period in the Saxon
occupation, the neighbouring town of Hythe taking its place. Certain
Saxon coins bearing the legend RIC, have been attributed to a mint at
Richborough, but there is a good deal of doubt as to this
identification. Coins of middle and late Saxon kings, as we might have
expected, were minted at Canterbury, Rochester, Sandwich, and Dover,
but generally speaking the evidence of Saxon coinage does not support
the view that the purely coast fortresses of the Romans were ever used
to any great extent by the Saxons.

The Saxons built burhs, or towns fortified with earthen ramparts,
probably palisaded, in many parts of the kingdom, and the evidence for
them will be found in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," but they were not
castle-builders. They were a people with tribal instincts and
traditions. They did not construct defensive dwellings for a single
lord and his family and retainers; they expended their efforts rather
on fortified towns for the protection of all their people.

Wareham, in Dorset, is generally believed to be an example of the
fortified towns of the Anglo-Saxons. Sandwich, again, which retains
considerable traces of mediaeval earthern ramparts, and was a port of
great consequence in early times, was also probably fortified by the
Anglo-Saxons. It is impossible to say whether any part of its
earthwork defences are of that early period. Dover, Canterbury,
Rochester, Chichester, Colchester, and some other walled towns of
Roman origin, appear, from archaeological evidence, to have had
Anglo-Saxon populations, possibly of late date, when the Roman houses
had disappeared and the dread of the Romans had become forgotten. It
may be doubted whether the Saxons took advantage of the Roman walled

As we have already pointed out, there are very few remains of purely
defensive works belonging to the Anglo-Saxon period. For this reason
the quadrangular moated site at Bayford, near Sittingbourne, in Kent,
is of peculiar interest, because as Mr. Harold Sands, F.S.A.,[13] has
pointed out, the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" mentions that King Alfred
here threw up a "geweorc" in 893 in order to repel the inroads of the
Danes under Bjorn-laernside, who had formed an encampment at a place
called Milton, in Kemsley Downs on the opposite side of Milton Creek,
a mile and a half north of Bayford Castle.

The incursions of the Danes and other raiders provided the Saxons with
excellent opportunities for displaying their skill in defensive
warfare, and brought into prominence a great man whose name must ever
be held in honour as one of the bravest and most enlightened defenders
of our shores. To King Alfred, commonly known in recent years as
Alfred the Great, belongs the credit of having conceived the idea of
destroying the enemy's power at sea in order to secure the safety of
our shores. He seems to have been the first man in our history to have
grasped this great principle. He led this navy to action in person and
so acquired the epithet of "the first English admiral."

Early in his reign, King Alfred devoted his attention to the important
question of his navy, and he brought it to such a condition of
strength and proficiency as to defeat the Danish raiders, one of the
greatest pests by which our shores were ever troubled.

                     DANISH INCURSIONS AND CAMPS

The coast-line of England is of curious complexity, and is long out of
all proportion to that of any other great European nation, perhaps not
even excepting Norway. Consequently its defence presents and always
has presented problems of great difficulty. Much of the coast-line is
rocky and dangerous even for friendly shipping. In other places,
where cliffs are absent, shoals and sand-banks make navigation and
landing difficult and dangerous. In looking back to the days when
there were no artificial harbours and landing-places, one sees quite
clearly that estuaries of rivers would have afforded the safest and
most convenient places for landing. That such spots were selected is
abundantly proved by tradition, history, and actual contemporary

The Danes were quick to seize upon such favourable landing-places.
They were provided with boats of great length and slight draught, and
their operations were not limited, therefore, to the deeper rivers.
During the latter years of the eighth century, and practically
throughout the tenth, the Danish raids on Britain were numerous. In
due course they established themselves on river-banks, and built
permanent camps. According to the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle," Hasting
constructed and occupied a camp at Shoebury for a short period in the
year 894. The camp, or such part of it as now exists, has been
described by Mr. Spurrell[14] as a Danish work. The place has been
much destroyed by the inroads of the sea and the building of various
military works, such as barracks, etc., but the plan can be made out,
and as restored by Mr. Spurrell, may be described as an irregular
quadrangle with rounded corners, and containing an area of about one
third part of a square mile.

Another Danish camp was constructed the same year at Appledore, the
Danes sailing or rowing up the river Rother. According to Somner[15]
they discovered at Appledore a half-built fortress, but finding it
insufficient for their needs they built a larger entrenchment on the
same site.


Other places where the Danes settled were Benfleet, probably
Swanscombe (although the existing remains of the camp belong probably
to the Norman period); Bramber, Sussex; an earthwork surrounding East
Mersea Church, Essex; and many other places. Here they constructed
their camps and established their forces for long periods, using the
adjacent rivers as channels for quickly putting to sea in their
swiftly-moving boats when embarking on raiding excursions to the
neighbouring coasts.

They raided Sheppey in 832, Kent, Canterbury and London in 851. In 876
they took Wareham, where are interesting earthen town-walls, perhaps
of Saxon origin. During one or more of their raids in the Medway they
penetrated as far as Rochester, which they pillaged. Sandwich and
Canterbury suffered much from their visits in the eleventh century.

It may be noted that the favourite methods of the Danes when invading
England was to enter the rivers so as to reach by that means populous
towns and districts where they could seize valuable possessions. The
monastic houses were their favourite prey, and few in England escaped
injury or pillage at their hands.

The following extract from the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" gives a vivid
picture of the doings of the Danes at the end of the tenth century:

     "A.D. 999. In this year the army again came about into the Thames,
     and then went up along the Medway, and to Rochester. And then
     the Kentish force came against them, and they stoutly engaged
     together, but alas! that they too quickly gave way and fled;
     because they had not the support which they should have had. And
     the Danish had possession of the place of carnage; and then took
     horses and rode whithersoever they themselves would, and ruined
     and plundered almost all the West Kentish. Then the king with his
     'witan' resolved that they should be opposed with a naval force,
     and also with a land force. But when the ships were ready, then
     they delayed from day to day, and harassed the poor people who
     lay in the ships; and ever as it should be forwarder, so was it
     later, from one time to another: and ever they let their foes'
     army increase, and ever they receded from the sea, and ever they
     went forth after them. And then in the end neither the naval force
     nor the land force was productive of anything but the people's
     distress, and a waste of money, and the emboldening of their


It is a remarkable fact that the greatest event in the whole history
of foreign attack upon England, namely, the invasion under the
leadership of William, Duke of Normandy, in 1066, excited less
interest, and provoked less effective opposition than many other
incidents of infinitely minor importance.

The invasion was not unexpected by any means. When tidings of the
projected invasion reached England, the largest fleet and army ever
seen in this country were being mobilized at Sandwich. Yet, when the
Norman invaders actually arrived the English made practically no
opposition at all. It appears that the crews of the navy were tired of
being under arms so long, and went home; whilst the king was bound to
go northward to put down the troubles in Yorkshire. Nothing was

The Norman fleet consisted, according to various accounts, of from 696
to 1,000 vessels. It can hardly be described as a navy, because the
ships were too small to carry much more than the men and their arms:
there was no room for provisions, and when on the 28 September 1066,
the invaders landed in Pevensey Bay they encountered no opposition. In
the Battle of Hastings the English forces were protected within
palisaded entrenchments, but the result of the conflict was a decisive

The Normans having secured a foot-hold in the country, commenced at
once to make their tenure secure, and to establish their power. This
they accomplished with wonderful skill and success.

                         NORMAN COAST CASTLES

The castles first built in England by the Normans consisted of
palisaded earthworks, the main feature being a lofty but truncated
mound encircled by a deep ditch, and closely related to it were
generally two courts or baileys. They were built in such situations as
would command rivers and important roads, and so dominate the English
people. Usually the castles of this period were built just within the
boundaries of walled towns. The relation of the Tower to the City of
London affords an excellent example of this arrangement.

Primarily the purpose of the Norman castle was to complete the work
begun at the Battle of Hastings of subjugating the native population
of England, and it is believed that castles of this type were employed
for this purpose, because of the ease and rapidity with which they
could be thrown up. Castles of this type were erected in England, not
only after the Norman Conquest but also before it, and at one time the
idea was generally held that they represented the usual and normal
species of defence employed in Saxon times. The late G. T. Clark, who
was a pioneer in the scientific study of English and Welsh castles,
considered that these works were the actual burhs of the Anglo-Saxons,
so often mentioned in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle." The theory was
generally accepted for some years, but in due course doubts were cast
upon it by the researches of Dr. J. Horace Round, Mrs. E. S. Armitage
and others. It is now generally held that those examples of this type
of defence which are known to have been constructed before the
Conquest were built under the influence of Edward the Confessor's
Norman friends. England at that time was following the fashions of
Normandy; but the great majority of defences of this type were built,
probably, very soon after the Norman Conquest, and under the direct
influence of the Norman Conquerors. It is worthy of note that numerous
examples exist to this day in Normandy, and some, with the
characteristic palisaded mound, are represented in the Bayeux

In many cases the earthwork castles as first built were, in due
course, rebuilt in stone, the top of the mound being capped by a
shell-keep and the other eminences being surmounted and reinforced by
walls. Another type of keep, generally square in plan and of great
strength and size, was built, as at Dover, Rochester, Canterbury,
London, etc.; but such massive structures required firm foundations,
and they were always built on undisturbed sites. These two kinds of
keeps practically determine the two types into which the Norman
castles built in England naturally fall.

A fairly large proportion of those Norman castles which may be
considered to have been built for coast defence, have been constructed
in such a way as to take advantage of pre-existing Roman castra.
Porchester is an admirable specimen. Here the north-western portion of
the Roman enclosure has been cut off by Norman walls so as to form the
inner bailey, whilst the remainder has been converted into the outer
bailey. Pevensey, London, Rochester, Colchester, Cardiff and Lancaster
are other excellent examples.

In passing, it may be noted, that at Reculver and Porchester, the
parish church has been built, doubtless for safety, within the walls
of the castrum; whilst at Pevensey two parish churches have been
erected sufficiently near the castrum to suggest that the sites were
selected with a view to securing protection.

The regular castles of masonry erected during the reign of Henry II, a
great castle-building period, although very important as military
works, were not in the main built for the defence of the coast. But it
is necessary to bear in mind that in ancient times river-courses, even
far from the sea-coast, were subject in a peculiar degree to the
incursions of the enemy, and the great Norman keeps of Canterbury,
Rochester, and the White Tower of London, although situated far from
the sea-coast, played an important part in the defence of the coast.
At Porchester, Pevensey, Hastings, Folkestone and Dover, the relation
between the Norman castles and the coast defences was much more

                               PART III



In the following account of the more important of the castles which in
mediaeval times guarded the coast, it has been found convenient to
include a notice of those walled towns with which, in many cases, they
were closely associated. The mediaeval castle, generally speaking,
represents an effort to maintain the power of the feudal lord, and, in
a lesser and secondary degree, provision for resisting raids and
invasion by foreign enemies. Walled towns, on the other hand, when
situated on or near the coasts, or on navigable rivers, were primarily
designed for coast defence. The mediaeval castles which were built in
situations remote from the coast were the fastnesses and strongholds
of nobles fighting amongst themselves or against the king.

In the following accounts of the more important examples of castles
and walled towns wholly or partially designed for the defence of the
coast, occasion will be taken to point out the interesting series of
developments through which these mediaeval fortifications passed as
time went on. For example:

The massive keep of the Norman castles was able to resist fire and
battering-ram when the besieging force came near enough to apply them.
Its strength consisted in its thick walls, its height, and its massive
masonry. The Edwardian castle, on the other hand, presents certain
structural improvements which mark a great advance in military
construction. The walls, gates, and towers are so built as to present
curved surfaces to the engines of the enemy, with the result that
missiles hurled against them would glance off at various angles
according to the direction of the curve at the point of impact. The
extent to which this development of the curve is carried in the walls
of many of the Edwardian castles is quite remarkable and instructive.
It shows that mere weight and bulk were no longer relied upon, but
constructive skill and the judicious use of materials were guiding
principles in the military architecture of the period.

The following list does not include the sixteenth century blockhouses
and other fortifications erected by Henry VIII, and in subsequent

The defences on the eastern coast of England consist of an extremely
interesting and important series of fortresses. In the extreme north

_Berwick-upon-Tweed_, a town which, from its position on the English
and Scottish border, has always been a place of strategic moment, and
which Queen Elizabeth spoke of as "the chief key of the realm." In the
time of Edward I (1272-1307) it was encompassed by a great moat, or
ditch, 80 feet wide and 40 feet deep. A crenelated wall from 15 to 22
feet high, with 19 towers at intervals, was constructed during the
reign of Edward II (1307-1327). A castle had been erected at Berwick
during the reign of Henry II, and together with the Edwardian wall and
ditch must have formed an extremely formidable defence.

The mediaeval fortifications included a large area, and in the time of
Elizabeth a portion within this area was enclosed and strengthened by
works of more modern character, the main features of which comprised
five examples of the orillon type of bastion. The orillon was an
enclosure of flattened triangular form, projecting beyond the curtain.
The middle angle was obtuse, and the passage from the opening in the
curtain into the bastion was somewhat restricted. It is obvious that
such a bastion as this, which was introduced into England in the
latter half of the sixteenth century, would give the maximum range for
defensive fire, whilst affording most valuable means of protecting the

The fortifications of Berwick-upon-Tweed were primarily intended for
defence against the Scottish Border raiders and incursions coming
overland, but they also served to protect the town against the enemy
approaching by sea.

_Bamborough._--The site of this castle must have been a place of great
natural strength, and probably a fortress, from prehistoric times
downwards. It would not be inaccurate to describe it as one of the
important and historic spots in the kingdom. The castle dates from a
period before the Norman Conquest. Here the Danish raiders were
successfully repelled in 912. The castle was maintained in a good
state of defence under Henry I, and the keep is of the twelfth
century. Structural repairs were made at frequent intervals, viz., in
1183, 1197, 1198, 1201, and 1202. A new gatehouse was built here in
consequence of the invasions of the Scots in 1383-4.

On several occasions Bamborough Castle has served as a prison, and it
was brought into considerable prominence during the Wars of the Roses.
The part it played in the various wars between England and Scotland
must have been important.[16]

_Dunstanburgh._--Situated on a bold, rugged headland, this fine castle
reminds one of such great fortresses on the east coast as Scarborough
and Tynemouth. Its share in the Border troubles was perhaps less than
that of Bamborough. Dunstanburgh is the largest castle in
Northumberland, is built on a remarkable plan, and comprises an area
of ten acres, the main part of which was occupied by the outer bailey.
Its history is associated with Simon de Montfort and Thomas of

The castle was mainly erected in 1313-14. The great gatehouse of the
latter part of the fourteenth century, was planned and built on a
colossal scale, and still forms a striking object, even in its ruin.
By the sixteenth century the place had fallen into ruin.[17]

_Warkworth._--This castle, remarkable for its eccentric plan, was
built about the middle of the twelfth century.

_Tynemouth._--The priory and castle of Tynemouth (for it was a
combination of both) occupied a prominent position among the mediaeval
coast defences of England. The office of Prior of Tynemouth was one of
great importance. The person who held it was possessed of vast
spiritual and worldly influence. He maintained his own armed force,
just as the Bishop of Durham did, and the gatehouse[18] of the
priory was in reality a military fortress, a building of great
solidity and strength. It was approached by a barbican, the
passage-way being vaulted and furnished with a gate at each end.[19]

_Scarborough._--This place was defended by walls or earthworks and a
fosse before the time of Henry III. Its castle was built as early as
the time of Stephen, and rebuilt or enlarged in the reign of Henry II.
During the Civil War Scarborough Castle was besieged. It was
surrendered in 1645, and has long been in ruins. It enclosed nineteen
acres of land and occupied a romantic site 300 feet above sea-level.

_Hull._--From an early period this seaport has been defended by
fortifications. In the seventeenth century these comprised a moat and
a complete system of walls, fortified gates, and drawbridges. It
possessed five gates, called Hessle Gate, Myton Gate, Beverley Gate,
Low Gate, and North Gate, and two sally-ports. The whole fortified
walls were 2,610 yards, or slightly less than one-and-a-half miles in
circuit. In front of the principal gates were drawbridges and
half-moon shaped batteries. In the year 1540 the eastern side of the
town was defended by two blockhouses, erected by Henry VIII. These
were known as the North Blockhouse and the South Blockhouse, and both
mounted guns when the town was besieged during the Civil War. A castle
was also built on the eastern side of the town by Henry VIII.

_King's Lynn._--The eastern side of this important town was in former
times defended by a wall strengthened by nine bastions, and by a broad
and deep fosse over which were three drawbridges leading to the
principal gates. One of the latter and fragments of the wall remain.
From the statement of Stow in his "Chronicle," and from certain
illustrations of the walls as they existed in 1800, we may infer that
the walls at any rate belonged to the first half of the thirteenth
century. The East Gate and the West Gate were rebuilt on the sites of
earlier gates in the fifteenth century.

[Illustration: FIG. 19. NORTH GATE, YARMOUTH, 1807]

_Yarmouth._--The town-wall, of which some traces remain, measured
between six and seven thousand feet in compass, and possessed ten
gates and sixteen towers. Swinden,[20] the historian of Yarmouth,
states that the building of the wall

     "was begun on the east side, and very probably at the north-east
     tower in St. Nicholas's churchyard, and so proceeded southward:
     for in the 11th of Edward III we find them at work at the Black
     Friars, at the south end of the town; and afterwards we trace
     them to the north end, which, I presume, was the last part that
     was finished.

     "And there is a tradition, that the north gate was built by the
     person or persons who had amassed considerable sums of money by
     being employed in burying the dead in the time of the plague.

     "As soon as the walls were finished, there was made a moat or
     ditch round the town, with bridges at each gate: the whole so
     complete that boats could pass with their lading to any part
     of the town, for the conveniency of trade and commerce. And so
     careful were the magistrates to preserve the said moat from
     being filled or stopped with earth, rubbish, stones, etc., that
     in the rolls of the leets, there appear several fines, levied
     on different persons for offending in that behalf. Thus the
     tower being fortified with a wall and moat, towers, gates, and
     bars, was deemed a sufficient defence against all assailants
     with bows and arrows, slings, battering-rams, and all other
     missive engines of those times. But afterwards, when great guns
     of various denominations were employed in sieges, the aforesaid
     fortification, it was adjudged, would make but little resistance
     against them, without several additional works, as mounts,
     ravelins, etc."

[Illustration: FIG. 20. SOUTH GATE, YARMOUTH, 1807]

In the 36th year of Henry VIII the fortifications of Yarmouth were
strengthened by rampiring, or backing up the walls by earthwork
mounds. Additional works were constructed by Queen Mary in 1557, and
by Queen Elizabeth, the complete process of rampiring not having been
finished until 1587, the year before the coming of the Spanish armada.
In the following year it was considered desirable to secure the haven
against any sudden attacks of the enemy, and it was accordingly
decided to construct jetties of timber on either side of the entrance,
whilst across the actual entrance was placed a boom of massive timbers
furnished with iron spikes, and this was so constructed that it could
be opened or closed at pleasure. This work, including probably the two
jetties and the boom, cost £120.

Traces of the wall of Yarmouth and its towers still remain, whilst
other evidence of the wall is the extraordinary way in which the
houses are crowded together, leaving only narrow alleys, or "rows,"
for the traffic. A plan of Yarmouth in 1819, published as a
frontispiece to John Preston's "Picture of Yarmouth," shows in an
admirable way the congested state of the buildings within the walls.

[Illustration: FIG. 21. ST. MATTHEW'S GATE, IPSWICH
From a print published in 1785]

_Ipswich._--There is a tradition that Ipswich was defended by a wall
and fortified gates soon after the time of the Norman Conquest, but
unfortunately no traces of either remain. Westgate Street preserves
the memory of the picturesque West Gate. The interesting old
engraving shows St. Matthew's Gate, now demolished. There appears to
have been a castle at Ipswich built by William the Conqueror, and
Roger Bigot, one of the Conqueror's powerful nobles, held it. With the
exception of certain earthworks all traces of the castle have
perished. The form of the town in mediaeval times has been made out by
John Wodderspoon in his "Memorials of Ipswich," 1850.

_Orford._--This castle, situated half a mile from the River Ore, in
Suffolk (hence its name), commands a view of the sea, two miles
distant, owing to the fact that it is built on a mound partly natural
and partly artificial. All round is swampy ground.

[Illustration: FIG. 22. ORFORD CASTLE, SUFFOLK, 1810]

The building of Orford Castle was begun in 1166. Strictly speaking,
perhaps, it should not be called a castle: it was essentially a keep,
and its purpose primarily was to serve as an outpost for observation
and for the protection of the coast. The plan of the actual keep, if
so we may term it, was peculiar, being circular within, and so much
modified by the buttresses without as to present the appearance of
a large number of angles.

_Harwich._--This ancient seaport situated on the extreme north-eastern
point of Essex has always been a place of some strategic importance.
It formerly was encompassed by a wall which had four gates and three
posterns. In addition Harwich once possessed a small castle and other
fortifications, but owing to the inroads of the sea these have for
many years been submerged. Traces of the walls or foundations of the
castle were seen, however, in 1784, when an unusually low tide laid
bare more than usual of the sea-bottom.

On the south side of the town are some ancient earthworks locally
ascribed to the Romans, although upon slender evidence.

_Colchester_, which is situated on the river Colne, and perhaps not
too far from the shore to take some part in the defence of the coast,
has been in its time a place of great importance and of formidable
strength. Its walls, of which considerable parts remain, are of Roman
workmanship, and its castle, built largely of Roman materials, and
therefore by some regarded as Roman in date, is almost unquestionably
of Norman construction. It must be admitted, however, that the castle
presents several features which differentiate it from the normal
castles of the Norman period. Originally the walls were furnished with
four principal gates, viz.: Head Gate, North Gate, East Gate, and St.
Botolph's or South Gate, and three posterns, viz.: West Postern in St.
Mary's Street, Schere Gate or South Postern, and Rye Gate or River
Postern, but these have been demolished. The north and west sides of
the town were defended by strong earthworks. The place was besieged
for eleven weeks during the Civil War. It was held by the Royalist
party, and on its fall, two of its most gallant defenders, Sir Charles
Lucas and Sir George Lisle, were shot under the castle walls.

The weakness of mediaeval castles, built merely for passive
resistance, has frequently been noticed, and what is true of them is
equally true of the mediaeval walled town. Forces shut up within walls
are obviously unable to prevent an enemy from over-running a country.
It must be borne in mind, however, that the purpose of fortifications
behind walls was not, and never has been, merely intended to oppose
the ravages of the enemy. In that part of our military history which
is subsequent to the use of gunpowder, the uses of walled defence has
been varied and manifold. For example: they were intended to check the
enemy's advance; to give time for mobilization; to protect the
strategical disposition of the army, especially in the early stages of
a campaign; to protect important junctions in the lines of
communications; and to safeguard magazines and stores against sudden
and surprise attack of the enemy.

_Cowling._--The castle at Cowling or Cooling, situated about seven
miles to the east of Gravesend, and just two from the sea-shore, was
built between 1380 and 1385 by John de Cobham. The gatehouse, built
in the regular form in vogue during the latter end of the fourteenth
century, and comparable with that at Saltwood Castle and the West
Gate of Canterbury, still remains in good preservation, as well as a
good deal of the walls and angle-towers enclosing the inner ward, and
certain parts of the walling enclosing the outer ward. The gatehouse
just referred to is on the south side of the outer ward, to which it
gives access.

[Illustration: FIG. 23. COWLING CASTLE, KENT, 1784]

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about Cowling Castle is the
fact that it was built expressly for the defence of the coast against
the French and the Spanish. This fact is rather pointedly referred to
in the following contemporary inscription enamelled on copper plates
attached to the eastern side of the gatehouse:

    Knouweyth that beth and schul be
    That i am mad in help of the cuntre
    In knowyng of whych thyng
    This is chartre and wytnessyng.

The inscription is set out in the form of a regular charter, to which
is attached a seal bearing the Cobham arms, gules, on a chevron or,
three lions rampant sable.

The situation of Cowling Castle on low-lying ground near the coast is
a circumstance which confirms the idea that the fortress was built for
coast defence purposes. On the other hand, however, inscriptions of
this kind are of great rarity, and it has been suggested with great
show of reason, that whilst the purpose was partly for the defence of
the coast and partly to keep the people of Kent in order in what were
peculiarly troubled times, the inscription was so worded as to divert
attention from the latter. The suggestion is worthy of consideration,
but the fact remains that towards the end of the fourteenth century
this part of Kent was overrun by Frenchmen and Spaniards, who burned
and destroyed all the houses they came across, and Cobham's intention
in building Cowling Castle was to check these incursions.

_Rochester._--It is clear that Rochester has in its time been an
important part of our coast defences. It still retains many fragments
of its Roman wall, whilst its Norman castle is represented mainly by a
stately keep 70 feet square in plan, and 113 feet in height, which
forms an impressive object, and is in fact a remarkably fine example
of castle-building. The Norman keep was built between the years 1126
and 1139. The city wall, which was built in places on the site of the
Roman wall, dates from the year 1225.

_Queenborough._--There is a tradition, possibly it is little more,
that a residence of the Anglo-Saxon kings of Kent was situated here
near the north-western mouth of the Swale, the building being
afterwards known as the castle of Sheppey, in which island it is
situated. The whole fortress was rebuilt by Edward III about the year
1361 according to plans made by William of Wykeham. Edward III in due
course visited the place and gave it the name of Queenborough in
honour of his queen Philippa.

As a coast defence a fortress on this site must have been of great
value, commanding as it did the north-western mouth of the Swale, and
protecting the water which divides the Isle of Sheppey from the

Henry VIII recognized the value of this point, and repaired it so as
to make it suitable for use as one of his coast castles.

The plan of the mediaeval fortress, as might be expected when one
remembers who designed it, is ingenious and remarkable.


The main interest of this castle consists in its plan, which proves it
to have been perhaps the earliest example of a fort as distinct from a
typical castle of the middle ages, in which there was always a
certain amount of accommodation for dwelling-house purposes.
Queenborough Castle contained, mainly in its six lofty circular
towers, more than fifty rooms, but these were of small size. The
building of the castle was commenced in 1361 and finished about the
year 1367. The plan was curiously symmetrical, and not unlike that of
Camber Castle, built in the time of Henry VIII, but the elevations of
the two fortresses display great differences. The lofty towers of
Queenborough, serviceable enough in the fourteenth century when
artillery attacks offered no serious menace, are wanting in Camber
Castle, built in the sixteenth century, and their place is taken by
low squat towers which offered little surface for cannon-shot.

[Illustration: FIG. 25. QUEENBOROUGH CASTLE, 1784
From a drawing by Hollar]

_Canterbury._--There were really two castles at Canterbury in quite
early times. The first, largely perhaps of earthwork, was the work of
Duke William of Normandy, and was constructed on and near what is now
the most southern point of the city wall. The purpose of the first
castle was to dominate and overawe the inhabitants of the city, and
also to furnish a convenient post for observing the surrounding
country. The castle was provided with a lofty moated mound for this
particular purpose. The hill called the Dane John has sometimes been
confounded with the original mound of the castle, but as a matter of
fact the two were not related in any way, the castle mound having been
destroyed many years ago, whilst that known as the Dane John was
erected in the eighteenth century.

The masonry castle, the ruined keep of which stands to the north-west
of the earlier castle, was built by Henry II between 1166 and 1174.
The keep measures in plan 88 feet by 80 feet, and, owing to the upper
storey having been pulled down in 1817, measures now only 45 feet in
height. The castle was originally enclosed by a rampart and wall with
several towers, and had its own gate to the city, and a barbican on
its eastern side.


The city of Canterbury was enclosed by a wall built about the same
time as the castle (1166-1174). There were seven gates in the wall
giving access to the city, viz.: (1) Newingate, or St. George's Gate;
(2) Ridingate; (3) Worthgate; (4) Westgate; (5) Northgate; (6)
Burgate; and (7) Queeningate. From the evidence of various old
engravings it is apparent that several of the gates had been rebuilt
at different times. Westgate, the only one of the group which now
survives, was erected in the reign of Richard II, and is an unusually
good example of the mediaeval town-gate furnished, as it once was,
with portcullis, machicolations, and other apparatus for defence. It
is also a building of great beauty both of masonry and proportion.

_Broadstairs._--This small town on the north-east coast of Kent, which
in former times did a good deal of trade in connection with the North
Sea fishing, still retains considerable traces of a gate, probably of
the fifteenth century, which commanded the only means of access from
the harbour to the town through a cutting in the chalk cliff. It is
known as York Gate, and although altered and repaired, still possesses
the massive lower part of the original gateway of flint and stone, and
the grooves for the portcullis.


_Sandwich._--The chief traces of the fortifications of this ancient
and once important town are an earthern rampart or wall of
considerable extent, a deep fosse, and two interesting and
picturesque gates.

We know that Sandwich once possessed a castle, and this probably in
Anglo-Saxon times, but its site is a matter of uncertainty. It must be
borne in mind that for many centuries Sandwich was the principal port
for traffic and merchandise to and from the Continent. It possessed a
mint in the Anglo-Saxon period, doubtless in the castle, and times out
of number it has taken an important part in repelling invading enemies
and in preserving the peace and liberty of our shores.

The Fisher Gate, although buried to some depth in an accumulation of
soil, retains several interesting features. One can still see the
grooves for its portcullis and the recessed space in its outer wall
into which the drawbridge fitted when drawn up. The gate is
constructed of flints and stone, a certain proportion of which are
squared blocks of sandstone, which from their size and shape may well
have been derived from the walls of the ruined castrum of
Richborough, less than two miles distant.


The Barbican is a peculiarly picturesque structure commanding the
entrance to the town on the south-east side by the ancient ferry
across the river Stour, which at this point is tidal and often rapid
and deep. There is a modern bridge. The gateway, which is flanked by
two towers presenting externally semicircular walls, is largely of
Tudor masonry, arranged in chess-board fashion in black flint and
grey stone, and long flat bricks. On the southern side of the gateway
a modern door has been made into the south tower. Splayed embrasures
commanding the approach are visible within the tower. According to
local tradition these were intended for cannon. The upper part of the
gate is a modern restoration in woodwork.

Sandwich originally possessed five gates, but those described are the
only two which have survived.

_Dover Castle._--For the last seven and a half centuries Dover Castle
has been justly considered a fortress of paramount importance in the
defence of England. Its site is remarkable for more than one reason.
The steepness of the chalk cliffs towards the sea, and the abruptness
of the other slopes, natural and artificial, which encircle it on the
land side, give a peculiarly difficult, indeed, impregnable character
to the fortress. The height of the hill on which the castle stands
close to the narrowest part of the Channel which separates our shores
from those of the Continent renders it a spot of unusual importance
for the purposes of observing the approach of an enemy coming across
the Straits of Dover.

Although there are no certain traces of defensive works on the eastern
heights of Dover before the time of the Norman Conquest, the natural
advantages of the site, and Caesar's own words make it probable that
some kind of camp or look-out post was established at Dover in
prehistoric times. However, this is a matter of conjecture which lacks
the confirmation of actual archaeological evidence.

One of the first acts of the Norman Conqueror was to establish his
power over the English by building earthwork castles, and such a work
was thrown up on the eastern heights of Dover. Its form and extent are
unknown, but it may, with reasonable probability, be conjectured that
its central eminence was that upon which the keep was subsequently
erected in the reign of Henry II.

Dover Castle, as it exists to-day, presents a good example of the
amalgamated defences of several different architectural periods. Its
important position as the "Clavis et repagulum Angliae," gives it a
national rather than local importance, and every part of it is of
historical interest. As a fortress which from Norman times, almost
without intermission to the present day, has retained its garrison and
maintained a foremost place in the defence of the realm, Dover Castle
deserves more than a passing notice in these pages.

During the reign of Henry I (1100-1135) masonry began to take the
place of earthwork defences, but in due time the need of stronger
defences became apparent, and during the reign of Henry II (1154-1189)
the keep, citadel, and defensive works to the north were carried out
at the enormous expense of nearly £5,000.

The keep, one of the most important of the new works, forms a striking
feature of the castle. In plan it is practically square, measuring 98
feet by 96 feet, exclusive of the fore-building, with walls at the
lowest stage no less than 24 feet in thickness. This is amongst the
largest buildings of its class in this country. Each of its three
floors, basement, and first and second storeys, is occupied by two
large apartments, those on the second floor being the chief or state
apartments and possessing two tiers of windows.

Dover Castle suffered a siege in 1137, and again in 1216. The latter
occurred under the second constableship of Hubert de Burgh at the
hands of the Dauphin Louis of France. (See the section on the Cinque
Ports, pp. 196-204.)

After this siege Dover Castle was strengthened by the construction of
an additional defensive work, commanding the plateau to the north of
the castle, and other works, including a subterranean passage,
excavated in the solid chalk, which still exists. These works were
carried out between 1220 and 1239. In 1371 a series of important
repairs was effected, and during the reign of Edward IV the Clopton
tower was rebuilt, and a sum of £10,000 was expended in placing Dover
Castle in a state of thorough repair.


Further important works were carried out by Henry VIII in connection
with his great scheme of coast defence. In addition to the
strengthening of the actual works of the castle, it appears that
"bulwarks under Dover Castle," probably near the level of the
sea-shore, and a "bulwark in the cliff" were constructed at this
period. An interesting plan of Dover, made in the time of Queen
Elizabeth, shows not only the Arckcliffe Bulwark and the Black
Bulwark, but also the walls and its towers inclosing the town of
Dover. The plan was published in the sixth volume of "Archaeologia,"
and is here reproduced in much reduced size by permission of the
Society of Antiquaries.

In June 1666, and again in July 1667, an invasion of Dover by the
Dutch fleet was expected. The invasion of this particular part of the
sea-coast was never carried out, but the castle was provisioned for a
siege, and it is probable that the actual fortifications were improved
and augmented.

In the earlier part of the eighteenth century Dover Castle appears to
have been much neglected, and an engraved view by Buck, published in
or about the year 1735, indicates that certain parts of it had become
almost ruinous; but in 1779, owing to the war with our colonies, as
well as France and Spain, Dover Castle was hastily placed in a state
of extra defence in order to resist the threatened invasion by our

The period of the Napoleonic menace saw great improvements at Dover
Castle. Much of the underground work on the north side of the castle,
as well as in other parts, belongs to this period. Of these and later
works it is not necessary to speak in this volume. They belong to
defences which are still effective, and at the present moment Dover
Castle may be regarded as a fortress of enormous importance in the
safe-guarding of our shores.

_Folkestone._--No traces remain here of defensive work, but a castle
was built in quite early times, by William de Arcis, for the
protection of the town. Owing to the fall of the cliffs and the
inroads of the sea, this has long since been destroyed. It is probable
that there was some kind of protective work near the mouth of the
little river which here runs into the sea, but no traces seem to

_Saltwood._--Situated about two miles inland from Hythe, this castle
can hardly be described as a purely coast fortress, but it is such a
valuable example of the mediaeval castles of its time that it deserves
special attention. It must be remembered that the typical mediaeval
castle, with its elaborate defences, possessed a moral influence out
of all proportion to its strategic value. As soon as effective charges
of gunpowder were employed the weakness of mere walls of masonry
became at once apparent. Explosives were far more effective and
disconcerting than battering-rams.

Experience extending over many centuries teaches, what has been so
thoroughly proved by recent events on the Continent, that offensive
tactics are almost invariably preferable to those of a defensive
character, even when practised under the protection of the strongest
and most elaborate fortifications.

Still, as long as the only dangers were starvation and battering-rams,
the mediaeval castle was as nearly as possible a perfect form of
defence. Saltwood castle furnishes an excellent example of this.


Its main structure is of late fourteenth century date. Elaborate and
complicated defences guarded the main entrance to the mediaeval
castle. Before the unwelcome visitor could enter, the following
obstacles had to be surmounted. First was the gateway in the outer
wall of defence, access to which was by means of a drawbridge spanning
a deep but perhaps dry moat. This first gateway was furnished with
portcullis, and heavy timber doors capable of offering formidable
resistance. The outer gateway passed, the invaders would proceed
across the outer bailey towards the inner and far stronger gatehouse,
exposed all the while to such missiles, arrows, cross-bow bolts, etc.,
as might be projected from the battlements and loop-holes of the

Here, at the entrance to the great gatehouse, the moat was generally
wide, deep, and filled with water. Supposing that the drawbridge was
down (a most unlikely circumstance), the enemy on approaching the
gates was confronted by the massive portcullis, and at least two pairs
of double timber gates beyond it, and whilst forcing the former he
would be within the range of heavy stones and every kind of dangerous
and unpleasant missile dropped or thrown from the machicolations
situated between the flanking towers almost on a level with the
battlements above. The massive and studded oak doors were constructed
of a material which was not easily fired, and they were barred with
oak beams of the strength and almost the consistency of steel. Even
when these were burnt or battered down the invaders would encounter a
flanking fusilade from the lateral passages.

On the other hand, if the drawbridge was up, it formed in itself an
extremely formidable barrier, because by means of chains passing
through holes in the wall it was drawn close to the gatehouse tower
and within the recess specially made to receive it, leaving the under
side of the bridge flush with the surface of the gatehouse wall.

It may be doubted whether anything in the whole range of military
architecture furnishes a more perfect system of defence than the
gateway, walls, ditches, moats, and drawbridges of a mediaeval castle;
and it seems probable that it would have proved invulnerable against a
direct attack from without had not the discovery of gunpowder put a
new and terrible weapon in the hands of the attacking force.

Elaborate precautions were taken to secure the walls of mediaeval
castles from attack. Experience proved that the massive masonry of
Norman times was inadequate. A new principle was universally adopted.
The plan of the castle was so arranged that every part of the
enclosing wall was commanded by means of mural towers. These additions
not only added to the passive strength of the work, but also when
placed within a bow-shot distance enabled the defenders, themselves
protected, to enfilade the intermediate curtain. Again, the use of
curved walls and mural towers gave free scope for constructive skill
and favoured the economical use of building materials.

_Rye._--Wall and gates were built by Edward III. Of these the Landgate
remains. The Ypres Tower, a work of the time of King Stephen, also
survives. The first wall was built in the time of Richard I, and of
this there are no traces, whilst of the wall built by Edward III one
finds very few traces.

_Winchelsea._--This town also was formerly walled and defended by
strong gates. Of the latter three still survive, viz., Strand Gate,
New Gate, and Land Gate.

_Hastings._--This was the first castle built in England by the Normans
after the Norman Conquest, and, in accordance with the plan of other
fortresses of the period, consisted of a mound (shown in the Bayeux
tapestry) and two, if not three, attached baileys. One of the baileys,
called "Ladies Parlour," is of rather small size, comprising little
more than one acre, a circumstance which has led Mr. Harold Sands,
F.S.A., an eminent authority on castles, to infer that it could not
have been the outer bailey. His inference was confirmed by the
discovery of the traces of another, and much larger, bailey,
containing about five acres, situated on the eastern and northern

The masonry part of the castle was probably erected in the years 1171
and 1172. Further important parts of the castle were subsequently
built, notably in 1173-4, etc. The fall of the sandstone cliff, due to
the inroads of the sea, has destroyed a very large part of these
works, and what remains is a comparatively small part of the area of
the castle.

The castle at Hastings mentioned in the "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" as
having been built by the order of Robert, Earl of Mortain, is not to
be confounded with that fortress whose ruins crown the hill
overlooking Hastings. It was probably situated on the shore of the
western, or Priory valley at a point near the site of the present
railway station.

It may not be generally known that in former times Hastings was
protected on the sea side by a wall. This wall, which had a gateway
and portcullis, extended from the Castle Hill to the East Hill, and
was so arranged as to cut off the valley of the Bourne from the shore.
A portion of the wall is figured as being in existence in 1824, when
"The History and Antiquities of Hastings" was published by W. G. Moss.
Slight traces of the wall may still be seen. The steep character of
the hills of the Bourne valley rendered walls unnecessary on either
side. This wall at Hastings is in some ways comparable with the
defensive gate at Broadstairs already described.

A little to the west of this wall, situated on the very edge of the
shore, was formerly a fort, the memory of which is preserved in local

_Pevensey._--The Roman castrum here, with its very interesting
masonry, has been described in the earlier part of this volume.
Reference has also been made to the construction of a mediaeval castle
within its area. It has long been supposed that there had been a
Norman keep, and this has been confirmed by recent excavation and
examination of the site.

_Bramber._--An early earthwork, possibly a Danish camp, at Bramber,
has already been mentioned. The site was granted by William the
Conqueror to William de Broase, and a massive castle, of which certain
ruins remain, was erected by him. It is now, owing to modifications of
our river systems, somewhat remote from the main stream of the
Shoreham River (incorrectly called the Adur), but there is every
reason to believe that at the time of the Danes, and probably long
after, it had a direct communication by water with the sea. Shoreham
itself, it may be added, in 1346, furnished no less than twenty-six
ships for Edward III's invasion of France.

_Portsmouth._--The existence of remains of the Roman castrum at
Porchester, situated on the upper waters of Portsmouth Harbour, goes
to show that in those early times the value of this part of the coast
as a great harbour was recognized. It is curious, therefore, that no
town of any importance was built at Portsmouth until the twelfth
century. The actual building of the town was commenced in the reign of
Richard I, and a charter was granted in the year 1194. Confirmation of
this charter was made at various dates by successive sovereigns, and
important additions to the privileges were made in 1627 by Charles I.

The town itself was defended by a wall with towers and gates, the date
of which is not clear; but from the position of the place on the south
coast, and open in a peculiar degree to invasion by the French, it is
reasonable to infer that the defences were made at an early period in
the history of the town, probably in the thirteenth or fourteenth


Leland in his "Itinerary" describes the defences as consisting of a
"mudde waulle armid with tymbre, whereon be great peaces both of yron
and brassen ordinaunces." The circuit of the town was a mile, and a
ditch was constructed outside the wall. Leland records that he heard
in the town that the defences of the entrance to the harbour ("the
tourres in the hauen mouth") were commenced in the reign of Edward IV,
continued in the time of Richard II, and finished in that of Henry
VII. In the time of Edward VI two towers of stone were built, one on
either side, at the mouth of Portsmouth Harbour, and a chain of
immense weight and strength was placed between them in such a way as
to form a defence against the advance of the ships of the enemy. The
actual chain, with large long links, is shown on a plan of Portsmouth
of the time of Queen Elizabeth.[21]

The approaches to Portsmouth, east and west, were commanded by several
forts and the two blockhouses, popularly known as Southsea Castle
and Hurst Castle, both works being of the time of Henry VIII.

[Illustration: FIG. 32. SOUTHSEA CASTLE, _temp._ KING HENRY VIII]

An extremely interesting picture, in the nature of a bird's-eye view,
of the defences of Portsmouth and the adjacent coast-line, extending
as far as the northern shores of the Isle of Wight, is given in the
engraving showing the encampment of the English forces near
Portsmouth, 1545, published many years ago by the Society of
Antiquaries of London. The original of this picture perished in the
fire which destroyed Cowdray House, the mansion of Viscount Montague,
at Midhurst, Sussex, but fortunately the Society of Antiquaries has
preserved for us the copy of a picture which is full of interest, as
illustrating the mediaeval walls of Portsmouth and the castles, forts,
and other works as well as the guns, ammunition, and methods of
working them, in vogue for the defence of the coast about the middle
of the sixteenth century. One can see, too, the two towers built at
the mouth of the harbour for carrying the chain which once protected
it. The picture also comprises a bird's-eye view of the naval
forces of England and France drawn up in battle order at the
commencement of the action between the two navies on 19 July 1545.

_Southampton._--For many years Southampton took such a prominent part
as a seaport, and was such a favourite town for landing and embarking
during the Middle Ages, that it would indeed be remarkable if it had
been left undefended. As a matter of fact its mediaeval walls and
towers and gates were peculiarly strong. The walls varied from 25 feet
to 30 feet in height, nearly 2,000 yards in length, and was
strengthened by 29 towers. There were seven principal gates, and four
of them, as well as large portions of the walls, remain. The gates
which remain are (1) the North, or Bar-gate; (2) God's House, or South
Castle-gate; (3) Westgate, and (4) the Postern, now known as Blue
Anchor-gate. The following have been destroyed: (1) East-gate; (2)
Biddle's-gate; and (3) the South, or Water-gate. There were also
formerly a Castle Water-gate (now walled up) and a Postern near the
Friary and God's House: the site of the latter is lost. The mural
towers were chiefly drums, or of half-round form. The masonry of the
wall, to a large extent, is of Norman work, and in some parts the
walls are rampired, or backed with earth to the summit.


The castle at Southampton occupied not only nearly the whole of the
north-western corner of the area within the town-walls, but also the
highest ground. Although some authorities have regarded it as a Saxon
or Danish castle, the weight of evidence seems to be very much in
favour of the view that it was built very soon after the Norman
Conquest. It also seems probable that in the first instance it was
mainly composed of an artificially-heightened mound and other
earthworks, crowned, perhaps, by palisades. In due course, perhaps in
the time of Henry I, a shell-keep of masonry was built on the mound,
and its wall-footings were carried on massive piers of masonry, 8 feet
square, and sunk 15 feet into the earth so as to have the benefit of
the original hard surface. The other parts of the castle were built in
masonry at about the same time or perhaps within the next fifty years.

Southampton suffered much from repeated ravages of the Danes, and from
various other enemies at different times in the Middle Ages.

_Wareham._--The early earthwork defences of this ancient town still
exist on the east, north, and west sides. They consist of a rampart of
some size with ditch on the outside and another ditch of smaller
dimensions on the inside. In plan, the earthworks take a roughly
quadrangular form, except that there is no earthwork along the south
front facing the River Frome. A Norman castle, of which the mound
still remains, was formerly part of the protection of Wareham. It
stood within the south-western corner of the town.

_Bristol._--Bristol has been a considerable seaport from quite early
times, having been engaged in trading from about the year 1000. The
defences also date from an early period, as might be imagined where
great wealth and interests were at stake. The date of the first castle
is unknown, but it is said to have been rebuilt in the reign of King
Stephen, and in it he himself was imprisoned for nine years. It seems
probable that the earlier castle was one of the regular Norman
defences mainly of earthwork, whilst that subsequently built was a
masonry castle erected to take the place of or to strengthen the
earthworks. The keep was square and built very strong and massive.

The castle was situated on the eastern side of the town, and on ground
rising considerably above the level of the river. The town-wall,
commencing near the west corner of the castle, partially enclosed the
town, following the main course of the River Frome, and then taking an
almost right-angle turn to the north-east as far as the bank of the
River Avon.

Of the numerous castles and walled towns of Wales it is not, perhaps,
necessary to speak in these pages, because it is obvious that their
function was not so much to defend the coast against foreign invaders
as to establish the power of the English, and to assist in the
complete conquest of Wales.

_Lancaster._--An interesting and important Norman castle[22] was built
partly without and partly within the southern angle of the Roman
castrum which was built here long before. The keep is of fairly early
Norman workmanship. The whole work is perhaps somewhat remote from the
coast--a little over four miles, in fact--but being situated on the
River Lune, it may well have taken its share in coast defence.

_Liverpool._--The castle here is believed to have been built in the
year 1089 by Roger de Poictiers. During the Civil Wars in the time of
Charles I it was dismantled, and its ruined walls were finally pulled
down about the year 1725. One or two forts for the protection of
Liverpool have been subsequently built on the north shore, but they
have been demolished to make way for new buildings connected with the
gigantic shipping trade done here.

_Carlisle._--The defences of Carlisle are said to date from Roman
times. The present castle is well situated on the highest point of
ground within the city, about 60 feet above the river. Its walls
enclose a roughly triangular space of an extent of about three acres.
The keep, rectangular in plan, measures 66 feet by 60 feet and is at
present 68 feet in height. It rose to a greater height originally. As
one would infer from the dimensions of the keep, it is of Norman
workmanship, but it has received a good many strengthening additions
in comparatively recent times. The keep is situated in the inner ward
which occupies the eastern end of the castle enclosure. It is
approached by means of two gatehouses, one near the middle of the
southern wall, leading into the outer ward, and the other about the
middle of the wall which separates the outer and inner ward. The south
wall of the castle is of Norman date: the other walls are of both
Norman and Edwardian construction. The castle (doubtless as a fortress
comprising mostly earthworks and palisading), is attributed to William
II. The work was doubtless continued (probably in masonry), by Henry
I, and completed in 1135 by David, King of Scotland, who also
heightened the city walls.

Carlisle was, perhaps, only in a very minor sense of any importance as
one of the coast defences of England. Its castle, its walls, and
other defences were doubtless intended, primarily, to keep the
Scottish border raiders in check, and to serve as a military base
against Scotland.

The general principle of defending the coast by means of strong
castles erected near the shore was in due course extended in
accordance with local requirements. Thus, Tynemouth Priory, situated
on the coast of Northumberland, was provided as we have seen, with a
gatehouse closely resembling in form and massive strength the
gatehouse of a mediaeval castle. It is certain that its builders
contemplated and provided for military defence.

Houses of great personages, and of wealthy institutions such as
monastic houses were also built on a defensive or semi-defensive

                               PART IV




                  OF THE SOUTH COAST


During the reign of Henry VIII an interesting group of castles, or
more properly blockhouses, intended entirely for coast defence, was
erected on the coasts of Kent and Sussex. The particular circumstances
which gave occasion for these defensive works at this period are
quaintly set forth by William Lambard in his "Perambulation of

     "King Henrie the eight, have shaken of the intollerable yoke of
     the Popish tyrannie, and espying that the Emperour was offended,
     for the divorce of Queen Katherine his wife, and that the Frenche
     King had coupled the Dolphine his Sonne to the Popes Niece, and
     married his daughter to the King of Scots, so that he might more
     justly suspect them all, then safely trust any one: determined
     by the aide of God to stand upon his owne gardes and defence,
     and therefore with all speede, and without sparing any cost, he
     builded Castles, platfourmes, and blocke-houses in all needful
     places of the Realme: And amongest other, fearing least the ease,
     and advantage of descending on land at this part, should give
     occasion and hardinesse to the enemies to invade him, he erected
     (neare together) three fortifications, which might at all times
     keepe and beate the landing place, that is to say, Sandowne,
     Dele, and Wamere."

It appears that on Easter-day 1539 three strange ships appeared in the
Downs, and as their origin and purpose were alike unknown and
suspicious, all the able men of Kent rose, and mustered in armour
without delay. Invasion of the kingdom was feared at any moment, and
steps were at once taken to put all the havens and possible
landing-places in a state of defence.

As Lambard mentions, the most prominent of these blockhouses, as
being more immediately opposite the enemy's coast, were Sandown (now
demolished), Deal, and Walmer. The two latter, whilst retaining many
of the original features, have been considerably modified by
alterations and modern additions.

On a coast such as this, extending from Pegwell Bay to Kingsdown, and
directly facing the nearest shores of the Continent, it would be
remarkable if no traces were found of defensive works raised to oppose
the incursions of the enemy. The need of such defences for the
protection of the coast must have been apparent during a considerable
part of the Middle Ages, and means were doubtless taken to meet it.

Before the building of the three castles in the reign of Henry VIII,
which are about to be described, an interesting chain of earthworks of
a defensive character was thrown up along the coast. The most
important were the Great, or Black Bulwark, and the Little, or White
Bulwark, both in the parish of Walmer. There were also two other
earthwork forts situated between the castles of Deal and Sandown. In
addition to these there was a similar fort on the site of each of the
three blockhouses or castles built on this coast.

There must have been many raids by the French and others at various
mediaeval periods, and it can hardly be doubted that these forts took
some part in resisting them. Against such an incursion as that feeble
attempt by Perkin Warbeck in 1495, when the men of Kent in this part
of the county, and particularly those from Sandwich, beat back the
intruders, such earthworks as these must have been a valuable means of

Among the State Papers preserved in the Record Office are several
which give interesting information generally as to the defences set up
by Henry VIII in 1540.

[Illustration: FIG. 34. DEAL CASTLE, FROM THE SOUTH]

From them we gather that the following castles and blockhouses were
at that time newly built in the Downs (_i.e._, Sandown, Deal, and
Walmer) and at the following places: Dover(?), Folston (Folkestone),
Rye, Calshotispoynt (Calshot), the Cowe (Cowes) under the Wight, two
bulwarks above Gravesend, and bulwarks at Higham, Tilbury, and over
against Gravesend, at Plymouth, Dartmouth, Falmouth, Fowey, Torre Bay,
Portland, etc.

[Illustration: FIG. 35. TILBURY FORT IN THE YEAR 1588]

Christopher Morres, Master of the Ordnance in 1540, drew up a book of
"rates for captains, constables, deputies, soldiers, porters, and
gunners, for the safe-keeping of the King's castles and bulwarks, of
late new devised by his Majesty's commandment," in which are the
following details:

     "_The bulwark at Gravesend._ Crane, captain 12_d._ a day; deputy
     8_d._; porter 6_d._; 2 soldiers and 6 gunners 6_d._ _Mr. Cobham's
     bulwark_, Mr. Cobham, captain, and 11 others. _Th'ermitaige_,[24]
     Johne's bulwark in Essex side over against Gravesend. Francis
     Grant, captain, and 8 others. _The bulwarks at Tilbury._ Boyfield,
     captain, and 8 others. _The bulwark of Hiegham_, Jarley, one of
     the Guard, captain.

     "At the Downes. _The Great Castle_, Thos. Wynkfelde, of Sandewyke,
     captain, and 34 others. _Four bulwarks of earth in the Downs_,
     4 captains and 32 others. _The bulwarks under Dover Castle_, a
     captain and 3 others. _The bulwark in the Cliff_, a captain and
     2 others. _The bulwark of earth upon the hill beyond the pier
     at Dover_, Edmond Moody, captain, and 11 others. _The Castle at
     Folston_, Kayse, captain, and 18 others. _The Castle at Rye_,
     Ph. Chutt, captain, and 24 others. _The town of Portsmouth_
     John Chaterton, captain, and 7 others. _The Wyndemyll and Mr.
     Chaterton's bulwarks._ One gunner to each. _The Tower of
     Portsmouth_ John Rydley, captain, and 4 others. _The bulwark of
     Mr. Sperte's making at Gosport side, and the blockhouse there_,
     Slymbye, captain, and 5 others. _The Castle at Calste Point_,
     William Shirlande, and 20 others. Total 220 men; £2208. 5_s._
     per annum.

     "Besides the above, each head house is to have a trumpeter or
     drum, and the Great Castle both. Crane's bulwark, Th'ermitaige
     bulwark, the bulwark at Heigham, and the Castle and three bulwarks
     at Dover are furnished with ordnance and artillery. To know the
     King's pleasure whether the garrison at Dover Castle shall be
     augmented or no."

[Illustration: FIG. 36. TILBURY FORT, 1808]

In the year 1540 an act of Parliament (32 Hen. VIII, cap. 48),
entitled, "The Castell of Dover," was passed in which reference is
made to the fact that

     "the King by his exceeding greate costis and charges hath lately
     buylded and made nye unto the Sees divers Castellis Blockhouses
     Bullwarkes and other houses and places of greate defence, within
     the lymittes of the Fyve Portis and their membres or betwene the
     same, in the shires of Kent and Sussex for the saufegard and
     suerty of this his Realme and subjectis of the same...."


The act is really framed to give power and authority to the Warden of
the Cinque Ports and the Constable of Dover Castle, "which now is and
comunely heretofore hath ben one personne" over the newly built
Blockhouses. The act was passed in the year when the building of the
castles was completed.

[Illustration: FIG. 38. SANDOWN CASTLE]

In making a careful examination of these buildings one is struck with
the fact that we find a certain unity of idea running through the
designs and plans. Deal, the largest and most complicated of the
series on the east coast of Kent, has a central circular tower with a
diameter of 58 feet, and from it project six small inner lunettes and
six much larger outer lunettes. The walls are no less than 20 feet
thick at the foundations, and about 11 feet thick at the summit. The
whole building is surrounded by a moat and was originally approached
by a drawbridge. The circular central tower and the surrounding
lunettes, or bastions, are roofed with very thick arched masonry work,
and are pierced with 52 port-holes below for scouring the moat, and
funnels, or chimneys, were conveniently arranged for carrying away the
smoke of the fire-arms. Larger embrasures were provided for cannon. It
is believed that these chimney-like openings were intended to be used
as machicolations by means of which the invaders could be harassed
should they obtain admission to the fortress.

[Illustration: FIG. 39. DEAL CASTLE]

At Walmer, where the plan resembles that of the destroyed blockhouse
of Sandown (the lunettes being four in number), the embrasures for
cannon are still left in their original condition, although certain
modern buildings have been erected for residential purposes. Both Deal
and Walmer retain the chief part of their original encircling moats.
This is a feature of some interest as pointing to a new stage of
development in the art of defensive architecture. Hitherto, we have
seen that the castles which in Norman times presented flat surfaces to
the invaders' engines and battering-rams, were superseded by walls
having curved surfaces. Curved walls were still built in Tudor times,
and for precisely the same reason as those which were constructed in
Edwardian days, but the whole structure of the castle was now
depressed within a moated enclosure, the aim being to avoid presenting
much surface to the enemy's fire, cannon by this time having become
destructive and gunners proficient.

[Illustration: FIG. 40. WALMER CASTLE]

Sandown Castle was once the prison of Col. John Hutchinson, the
regicide, whose life contains a good deal of information as to the
dampness and darkness of the place. It stood quite close to the
sea-shore about a mile to the north of Deal, and, after being much
damaged by the waves, was finally destroyed in 1864. A few indications
of its massive strength now survive in a chalky mound.


Sandgate was another of this series of blockhouses, its plan being of
somewhat triangular form owing to the disposition of three towers
in reference to the central tower. It has been much altered in
comparatively recent times (1806), and now stands so close to the
sea-shore as to be in great danger of being destroyed in due course by
the waves.

[Illustration: FIG. 42. SANDGATE CASTLE]

_Camber._--Beyond the castles opposite the Downs there was one, namely
Camber Castle, situated a short distance south-east of Rye, Sussex,
which belongs to the same period and was built for the same purpose as
the others. Many years ago, however, it had become decayed and useless
for coast defence. In 1642 the castle was finally dismantled and
abandoned, and the guns were removed. In plan it resembled none of
the others of the group, having a central tower and four nearly
completely circular towers placed at regular distances around it.
Although abandoned for so many years Camber is an excellent example of
the kind of blockhouse which was erected by Henry VIII, retaining
most of the features unaltered by rebuilding.

[Illustration: FIG. 43. CAMBER CASTLE]


Another group of defences erected at about this period was designed
for the defence of the river Thames, the river Medway, and what in
later times came to be known as the Port of London. These included
blockhouses at Gravesend, Tilbury, Higham, etc.

In 1536 Henry VIII repaired Queenborough Castle and brought its
equipment up to date, so as to make it a useful part of the coast
defence in this part of England.

Chatham Dockyard was founded by Queen Elizabeth, and for its
protection she built Upnor Castle.

_Upnor Castle._--This is a rather late form of castle, having been
built in 1561 by Queen Elizabeth for the defence of the reach of the
river Medway almost opposite the dockyard at Chatham. The engraving
of it, here reproduced, shows it to have been a castellated building
three stories in height, and furnished with towers at each end. A
platform for guns, defended by a stockade, was made in front of the
castle close to the edge of the river. The forts at Sheerness and
Gillingham were built during the reign of Charles I.

[Illustration: FIG. 44. UPNOR CASTLE]

_Landguard Fort_, situated on the extreme south-eastern corner of
Suffolk, was erected about the beginning of the reign of Charles I,
in order to command the mouth of the combined estuaries of the Rivers
Orwell and Stour. The first fort having been demolished, new works
were built in 1718, and eight small towers, each mounting three guns,
were erected on the adjacent coast in 1806. Owing to undermining by
the sea some of these towers were destroyed twenty or thirty years
after they were built.

_Brighton._--In the year 1558, in consequence of the frequent
incursions and depredations of the French, the people of Brighton
determined to erect fortifications for the defence of the place. A
site was selected on the low cliff between Black Lion Street and Ship
Street, and about 215 yards westward of East Street. Upon this was
erected a circular blockhouse, as it was called, containing in the
main storage for arms and ammunition. Beyond it, towards the sea, was
a small battery comprising four pieces of large ordnance.

It is somewhat surprising to learn that in addition to these
fortifications against enemies, Brighton possessed three gates, viz.,
(1) the East Gate and Portal at the south end of East Street, (2) the
Middle Gate, opposite the end of Middle Street, and (3) the West Gate,
opposite the end of West Street.

                     DEFENCES OF THE SOUTH COAST

Along the south coast, particularly in the neighbourhood of
Portsmouth, another group of coast defences specially designed to
protect the extremely important naval base of Portsmouth Harbour, was
built by Henry VIII. They comprised the blockhouses or castles of
Southsea, Hurst, Calshot, and in the Isle of Wight, Cowes, Sandown,
and Yarmouth.

[Illustration: FIG. 45. HURST CASTLE]

_Southsea Castle_, situated about three-quarters of a mile to the
south or south-east of Portsmouth, was built by Henry VIII in 1539.
The original castle consisted of a blockhouse with a dome-like top.
Additions to it in the form of a star-fort were made in the time of
Charles I. It was repaired and enlarged on the accession of the
House of Hanover.

The castle was situated on the level ground quite near the sea-shore
and was apparently selected with a view to commanding the approach of
ships from the east in the direction of Portsmouth.

_Fort Cumberland_ is a more modern defence, having been built in 1746
and enlarged in 1794.

_Hurst Castle_, a fortress of considerably larger size than those on
the east coast, is situated on the Solent, and was built specially to
defend the approach to Southampton Harbour against the French. Its
building was commenced in 1541 and finished in 1544. The fortress was
of some importance during the Civil War, and served for some days as
the prison of Charles I. Towards the end of the seventeenth century it
mounted nearly thirty guns. Several alterations have been made to it
from time to time. Both Hurst Castle and Cowes Castle were built with
materials derived from the fabric of Beaulieu Abbey.

_Calshot Castle_ was a small fort built in the time of Henry VIII with
stones taken from the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey. Its special function
was to defend Southampton Water. Certain additions were made during
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but the site chosen for the castle was
most unsuitable, owing to proximity to the sea-shore.

_Cowes_ (_West_).--The fortress here, built in 1539, possessed a
semicircular battery and mounted eight pieces of heavy ordnance. Its
situation was excellently chosen for defensive purposes.

_Sandown._--The blockhouse here, erected between 1537 and 1540, was
built on a site close by the sea, and received much damage in
consequence. It appears to have possessed a landing-stage, as in the
year 1618 timber was supplied for mending the pier and planking the
platform. Sandown Fort was built on a site a little more remote from
the sea in 1631-2.

_Yarmouth_ (_Little_).--This castle, which was built somewhat later
than other members of the group to which it belongs, was finished in
1547. The need for it seems to have been suggested by a raid by the
French in the Isle of Wight in 1543. In 1586, and again in 1599, it
was strengthened by the addition of earthwork defences.

_Weymouth or Sandsfort Castle._--This castle is situated on an
eminence to the south of Weymouth, and commands extensive views over
Portland Bay or Road. It was erected by Henry VIII in 1539 or 1540.

_Portland Castle._--As early as the reign of William Rufus a castle is
supposed to have existed here. It has long been known by the name of
Bow-and-Arrow Castle, although locally it is sometimes called Rufus's
Castle. Its origin and date are not quite clearly known, but it is
evidently a work of considerable antiquity, and was probably intended
for the defence of the coast.

Henry VIII built a new castle here in 1520, on his return from the
interview with Francis I, usually called "the Field of the Cloth of
Gold." Its purpose was to protect the coast here in connection with
Sandsfort or Sandsfoot Castle.

In 1588 the fortress was garrisoned in expectation of a landing by the
Spanish Armada. It figured, too, in the Civil Wars of the time of
Charles I.

_Holy Island._--Of the two castles on Holy Island, one, known as the
Fort of Beblowe, was erected in or soon after the year 1539, and
doubtless belongs to the great series of coast defences set up by
Henry VIII. The other castle belonged to a subsequent period, and is
believed to have been built in 1675.

It is a remarkable fact, that of all the blockhouses built on the
coast, or even in the estuaries of rivers, by Henry VIII, built, as we
know from documentary evidence, at enormous cost, there is absolutely
no record of any of them having been of real value in destroying the
enemies' shipping. From some not a single shot was ever fired, except,
perhaps, during the Civil War, when King and Parliament were at
variance, and also upon the occasions of public rejoicings, such as
royal birthdays, proclamations of peace, etc.

It says much for the intimate knowledge of the distribution of our
defences that the Dutch, when they invaded our shores in 1667, steered
clear of these castles, and made straight for the Medway, rather than
for Portsmouth or Dover, or the east coast of Kent, where there were
castles of the Henry VIII period, and later, guarding the shores.

One point in the construction of these blockhouses which must arrest
the notice of every one who pays any attention to the subject, is the
excellent illustrations they afford as to modification of military
architecture due to the introduction of gunpowder. This explosive
substance which revolutionized military tactics as soon as the art of
using it and of making suitable fire-arms had reached perfection, was
probably invented or discovered in the thirteenth century. For many
years, however, its possibilities were imperfectly understood, and its
employment was more dangerous to those who used it than to those
against whom it was used.

The castle-building towards the end of the fourteenth century--say the
reign of Richard II--was distinctly influenced by the new force
employed in attack and sieges. Curves become the fashion instead of
flat walls, and by the sixteenth century, when Henry VIII erected this
great series of blockhouses, we find that every means was taken to
avoid presenting much surface to the action of cannon-shot. The walls
were all curved to ensure the shot glancing off, and the whole
structure was sunk in a moat, and built in very strong masonry, and
with no more height than was necessary.

_Martello Towers._--One of the last types of masonry fortifications to
be erected, as distinguished from structures which are known as forts
and redoubts, was also in idea one of the most ancient. Martello
Towers, of which so many were built on the coast of Essex, Kent, and
Sussex, were based on the model of a tower on Cape Martello, on the
Gulf of San Fiorenzo, in Corsica. They are built of solid masonry,
but contain vaulted rooms for the garrisons. They are furnished with a
flat platform on top for two or three guns, and access to them is by
means of a ladder leading to a side doorway, about twenty feet above
the level of the ground. In some cases a deep ditch was cut round the

Many of these coast defences were erected on the south-eastern shores
of England as a protection against the expected naval invasion under
Napoleon I.

The whole coast in the neighbourhood of Folkestone, Sandgate, and
Hythe, and at other points, was defended in this way by Martello
Towers, forts, and earthworks, with a view of resisting Napoleon's
invasion. At the same period a great military canal was constructed
from Hythe, extending inland to Appledore, and then on to Rye in

                                PART V

                        MISCELLANEOUS DEFENCES

                          THE NAVY
                          THE CINQUE PORTS
                          DEFENSIVE CHAINS, ETC.
                          THE COASTGUARD

                               THE NAVY

The scope of the present volume is to review the defensive works which
have been carried out in various ages for the protection of our shores
against incursions of enemies: the story of our naval exploits does
not primarily come within it.

The first duty of our English navy is, and always has been, offensive,
as well as defensive. In times of peace we have been accustomed to
regard our Navy as our first line of defence, and this is a perfectly
accurate description of its functions. But it is obvious that these
functions have always been different from, and in most periods
independent of, what is generally understood by the term
coast defences.

Yet, again and again, the coast fortresses have assisted the
operations of our war-ships when resisting the enemy, and to a
certain extent the two forces have always been, and possibly always
will be closely connected.

Reference to the story of the Roman fleet for the defence of the shore
of Britain, and also to the English navy under King Alfred, has
already been made, but the beginning of the English navy may be traced
to a somewhat later period. It had its origin in the Cinque Ports.

                           THE CINQUE PORTS

The association of certain towns on the south-east shores of England
for the purpose of coast defence is of great antiquity. In the oldest
Cinque Ports charter on record, granted in the sixth year of Edward I,
reference is made to documents of the time of Edward the Confessor,
indicating an origin before the Norman Conquest.

In early times there were, as the name implies, five ports included in
this confederation, viz.: Hastings, Sandwich, Dover, Romney and
Hythe. Almost immediately after the Norman Conquest, Winchelsea and
Rye were added with status equal to the original towns. Thereafter the
precise title of the corporation was "the five Cinque Ports and two
ancient towns." In addition to these seven head ports, there were
eight corporate members, viz.: Deal, Faversham, Folkestone, Fordwich,
Lydd, Pevensey, Seaford and Tenterden, and no less than twenty-four
non-corporate members.

The jurisdiction of the Cinque Ports extended from Reculver on the
north coast of Kent to Seaford on the south coast of Sussex. It will
be noticed that at least three of the corporate members are situated
at some little distance from the sea coast. Faversham, Fordwich, and
in a greater degree Tenterden are inland towns, although two are
placed on river-courses which afford access to the sea.

As will presently be seen, men as well as ships were contributed by
the Cinque Ports for the defence of the realm, and Tenterden received
its charter in 1449, in order that it might assist Rye to discharge
its obligations. Hence it is that we find a corporate member situated
so far from the coast.

The Cinque Ports were established primarily for the defence of the
sea-board on the south-east of England, but in the course of time
their purpose was extended. In these early times, when England
possessed no regular navy, it was the men of the Cinque Ports who
guarded our seas. They provided, in return for many privileges they
received from the Crown, almost the only form of naval defence which
England possessed until the reign of Henry VII. Until that period
nearly all the men and ships which guarded our shores from the enemy
were furnished by the Cinque Ports, and even after the time of Henry
VII they rendered important assistance to the regular navy.

The men of the Cinque Ports seem to have carried on a certain amount
of privateering at various times, but there have been times when their
skill in seafaring and their undoubted courage have been employed in
work of the utmost value in the defence of England. A celebrated
occasion occurred in the year 1217, when Hubert de Burgh, having
selected the best seamen of the Cinque Ports, set out with about
sixteen large ships and twenty small ones to attack the approaching
fleet of Louis the Dauphin of France, the numbers of which were no
less than eighty large and many smaller vessels. Hubert de Burgh had
grasped the important principle of naval strategy that in order to
free his country from the danger of invasion, it was above all things
necessary to attack and destroy the enemy's force at sea.

Although opposed by such unequal numbers the Englishmen skilfully
secured a windward position, bore down upon the enemy as they shaped
their course for the English coast, threw quicklime in their eyes,
poured into the enemy a volley of arrows from the long bows for which
the English were famous, and scattered and destroyed the enemy's
ships, so that only about seventeen escaped; fifty-five were captured,
and the rest were sunk. The credit of this signal victory in an
engagement at sea which may rank as almost the first in English
history, certainly the first subsequently to the time of King Alfred,
belongs to the men of the Cinque Ports.

The strength of the Cinque Port forces in the fourteenth century may
be gathered from the fact that at the Siege of Calais (1347), when the
fleet was called out to assist in the blockade and to defend the
Channel, the following ships and men were furnished by the Cinque

              Ships    Men
  Hastings       5      96
  Sandwich      22     504
  Dover         16     336
  Romney         4      65
  Hythe          6     122
  Winchelsea    21     596
  Rye            9     156
  Seaford        5      80
  Faversham      2      25
  Margate       15     160

Among the privileges of the Cinque Ports to which reference has been
made there are one or two which point unmistakably to an early
origin. One is the right of open-air assembling in portmote or
parliament at Shepway Cross, and afterwards at Dover, where by-laws
were made for the governance of the confederation, the regulation of
the Yarmouth fisheries, and to give decisions in all cases of treason,
sedition, illegal coining, and concealment of treasure-trove. The
ordinary business was transacted in two courts, named respectively the
Court of Brotherhood, and the Court of Brotherhood and Guestling. The
formal installation of a newly appointed Lord Warden took place at the
Breding-Stone at Dover, also in open-air assembly. It is an
interesting fact that these moots or open-air assemblies were summoned
by the sound of a horn.

The Lord Warden, who is the chief officer of the Cinque Ports,
combining therewith the governorship of Dover Castle and maritime
jurisdiction as admiral of the ports, may be regarded as representing
to some extent the ancient office of Count of the Saxon Shore,
although the changes of time and the paramount importance of the
Royal Navy in more recent times in the work of defending our shores,
have tended to rob the office of much of its former importance. At the
present time the actual duties of the post are confined to presiding
as chairman of the Dover Harbour Board.

The freemen or "Barons" of the Cinque Ports are often mentioned in
connection with this subject, and it may be useful to put on record
the following precise account of the subject, written by Mr. Charles
Dawson, F.S.A.


     "The Freemen of each of the Cinque Ports have from ancient times
     been termed 'Barons,' because they held their lands and privileges
     as joint Tenants-in-chief of the Crown, by fealty and special
     Military (Naval) Service. Their title was almost unique, in this
     sense, that as joint tenants of their Baronies they were not like
     the individual Barons of the Realm, but Barons-corporate.

     "When summoned to the King's councils, the Barons were addressed
     collectively by writ, a copy of which was forwarded to each Cinque

     "Simon de Montfort's general summons to Parliament was addressed
     to 'the Earls and Barons of the whole of the Kingdom and of the
     Cinque Ports,' and in the year 1293 the Barons of the Cinque
     Ports claimed of King Edward I to be tried for their alleged
     delinquencies by 'their Peers, Earls and Barons.'

     "The title of Baron did not, of course, apply to every Freeman
     of the Cinque Ports in an individual sense, except so far as
     individuals represented, by election, the whole of their Combarons
     at each respective Cinque Port.

     "In the earlier Parliaments the order of nomination ranked the
     Barons of the Cinque Ports above the Commoners, and with the
     Barons of the Realm, the scale of their fines for non-attendance
     being identical with that of the Bishops and Barons of the Realm.

     "There yet remains one ancient custom which identifies the rank
     of the Barons of the Cinque Ports with the Peers of the Realm,
     namely:--that when their representatives perform their services
     to the Sovereign at the Coronation, within the Abbey Church of
     Westminster, they are entitled to assume their head dress at the
     same moment as do the Peers of the Realm, and immediately after
     the Crown has been placed on the Sovereign's head."

                        DEFENSIVE CHAINS, ETC.

_The Chain at Chatham._--When, early in the seventeenth century,
Chatham had grown to considerable importance as a naval centre, a
curious method of defence was devised. A long and stout iron chain was
placed across the Medway at the western end of Gillingham Reach, near
Upnor Castle, with the idea of effectually stopping the progress of
alien ships up the river beyond this point. When the chain was
originally placed here is not exactly known, but it was repaired in
1606, and soon after abandoned. In 1623 the chain was superseded by a
boom made up of masts, iron, and cordage. A few years later, in 1635,
either a new boom or a new chain was placed across Gillingham Reach.

The chain came into great prominence when the Dutch invaded the Thames
estuary and the Medway in 1667. It was fixed up at Gillingham either
on 27 April or soon afterwards. The published accounts are not quite
clear or consistent. The claws for fastening and heaving it up were
expected to arrive but apparently were not forthcoming on the date

Although there had been a great chain here before it does not appear
to have been stretched properly across the river. This was now
attended to under the direction of the Duke of Albemarle, who went
down to Chatham posthaste to complete the defensive works. The chain,
consisting of links made of iron bars, six inches in circumference,
was strained probably in such a way that it would not be visible above
water, and it was perhaps buoyed at intervals. A small battery of guns
was placed on shore at each end of the chain in order to protect it
from injury by the Dutch. The _Unity_, a warship, was stationed to the
east of the chain, whilst on the west side a Dutch prize was sunk, and
several ships were on guard.

The Dutch ships, which had been observed off the English coast 26
April 1667, and off Harwich 8 June, now approached. A letter amongst
the State Papers in the Record Office, dated 20 June 1667, tells us
that the Dutch fleet was seen off Harwich on the 6 June, but the only
result was that a few fishermen were frightened, and that some of the
Dutchmen landed and drove off some cattle. On the 10th the navy came
within shot of Sheerness, and after some hours took the guns. On the
11th, by degrees, twenty or twenty-two Dutch ships were brought up to
the narrow part of the river Medway, where ships had been sunk. Two
and a half hours fighting on the following day made the Dutch masters
of the chain. One guard ship after another was fired and blown up. The
chain was broken by Captain Brackel by order of Van Ghent. Fire-ships
were sent to destroy the English ships. The first hung on the chain,
but the weight of the second snapped it. The Dutch ships went forward
carrying destruction with them. The batteries on the banks of the
river and the guns from. Upnor Castle were now brought into action,
with the result that the enemy soon retired, leaving two ships

The exploits of the Dutch in the Thames and the Medway caused
considerable alarm in London. Pepys, on hearing of the failure of the
chain of Chatham, writes of it as a very serious piece of news,
"which," he says, "struck me to the heart."

Another and rather more precise account of the occurrence is as
follows: On 12 June the Dutch sent up towards Gillingham a division
consisting of four men-of-war, three armed yachts, and two fire-ships.
Several of the ships charging at the same time, broke the chain,
entered the waters beyond and set fire to the Mathias. The Dutch next
dealt with the batteries at either end of the chain, and by means of
their guns quickly silenced them. Great damage was done to the
shipping in the Medway, many vessels being burnt and destroyed.

It seems probable that at least one purpose of the chain was to hinder
the progress of fire-ships which the enemy set in motion against our

In order to defend the government works nearer London, batteries
mounting sixty pieces of ordnance were erected at Woolwich, whilst the
defensive works at Gravesend and Dover were strengthened.

About the middle of the following September workmen were employed in
clearing away the moorings of the chain at Gillingham Reach.

_Chains at Portsmouth, Great Yarmouth, etc._--The chain of Chatham
furnishes a curious example of coast defence, wholly ineffective
against powerful shipping; but it was not a novelty. Portsmouth
Harbour had been at an earlier period provided with a similar form of
defence. Edward VI, on the occasion of a visit to Southsea Castle,
determined to strengthen Portsmouth against invasion by the enemy. He
therefore directed the building of two massive towers at the entrance
to the harbour. To these an immense iron chain was fixed in such a way
that it could be raised and tightened or lowered at pleasure when the
approach of the enemy made this desirable. The fortifications of
Portsmouth were strengthened during the reign of Elizabeth (see p.

_Great Yarmouth._--In addition to a boom and two timber jetties at the
entrance to the haven, Yarmouth possessed a chain for the protection
of its shipping.

_Hull_ possessed a chain, and an actual picture of it is preserved in
one of the Cotton MSS.

_Cowes_ also was defended by a chain.

_Fowey._--For the protection of this town Edward IV erected two towers
to carry a chain which was suspended, doubtless under the level of the
water, across the haven, or mouth of the River Fowey. Subsequently the
people of Fowey incurred the royal disapproval when they attacked the
French during a truce, and accordingly Edward IV had the chain removed
and sent to Dartmouth. It does not seem quite clear whether this
chain, when removed to Dartmouth, was used for the protection of
shipping, but there certainly was a chain bridge at this place in
which, conceivably, the old chain may have been utilized.

There is reason to think that chains for the protection of important
centres of shipping were more common than might be supposed from the
few definite particulars of them which have survived. As an effective
defence against the approach of the war-ships of an enemy, however, it
would perhaps be impossible to find a more feeble type of protection.

_Booms._--As we have already observed in dealing with chains, the
necessity must have been felt of supporting such very heavy barriers,
even under water and by means of buoys. The boom, although introduced
quite early, must have been an improvement upon the simple iron chain,
because it contained, to some extent, its own means of support. This
contrivance, a chain of linked up massive timbers reinforced with
iron, and armed with iron spikes was employed, as early as the time
of Queen Elizabeth at Great Yarmouth, and subsequently at many other
ports. Like the chain it, of course, provided an obstruction to
navigation, especially at the mouths of rivers and harbours; but its
massive iron spikes, calculated to pierce and damage shipping, gave it
a distinct advantage over the chain.

_Fire-ships_.--These were ships filled with combustibles and
explosives sent to drift among the shipping of the enemy. In the
action off Gravelines, fire-ships were used with considerable moral
effect against the remains of the Spanish Armada, and they materially
assisted in breaking up the sea-power of the Spaniards. Seven vessels
were charged with combustibles and primed with gunpowder. As they
neared the Spanish ships their appearance created panic. The
Spaniards, in order to avoid the danger of fire, cut their ships
adrift, and serious damage was caused by the collisions which ensued.

In 1667, again, fire-ships were employed in the daring raid made by
the Dutch in the Thames and Medway. This time they were used by the
Dutch near the chain at Gillingham Reach.

_Catamarans._--Another method of firing an enemy's shipping was by
means of a kind of raft charged with combustibles. The idea of the
Catamaran, as regards both its name and construction, was borrowed
from the coasts of India and Ceylon where a raft made of three long
timbers lashed together, the middle timber being the longest, is used
for fishing purpose. As adapted for destroying shipping the Catamaran
may be described as a kind of floating mine. Catamarans were much
favoured by Mr. Pitt, and in 1804 they were employed by the English
against the French fleet, but they proved unsuccessful.

                            THE COASTGUARD

The coastguard force is of great antiquity, although it is not known
at what period it was instituted. In 1403-4 (5 Henry IV, c. 3) it was
enacted by statute

     "That the Watch to be made upon the Sea Coast through the Realm
     shall be made by the Number of the People, in the Places, and in
     Manner and Form, as they were wont to be made in Times past and
     that in the same Case the Statute of Winchester[25] be observed
     and kept."

There is every reason to believe that there was a properly organized
coastguard force at a much earlier period, although precise
information on the subject is not available. Certain manuscripts
relating to the defence of the coast of Norfolk, however, indicate the
existence of a coastguard in that county as, early as the thirteenth

In more recent times the duties of the coastguards included the
suppression of smuggling and the aiding of shipwrecked vessels.
Another purpose was to serve as a reserve to the navy: but in earlier
times the prevention and suppression of smuggling was the main work of
the coastguards. Early in the nineteenth century a coast blockade was
established on the coasts of Kent and Sussex, and detachments of men
and boats were stationed at the Martello Towers on the sea-coast.

It is time, perhaps, to bring these pages on the coast defences of
England to a conclusion, and to review very briefly the chief features
of the subject. There are one or two points which stand out with
peculiar prominence.

Firstly we are struck by the origin, development, deterioration, and
final degradation in the methods of coast defence. In the middle and
later periods of the Roman occupation of Britain the fortresses for
coast defence were built in massive masonry. In the earliest examples
reliance was placed alone in mass and weight, and no attempt was made
to protect the wall by enfilading. In the works built later on this
defect was made good. Protecting bastions gave opportunity of
attacking the invaders in flank, and so protecting the wall. In the
Norman period, again, and particularly in its earlier part massive
keeps of great strength and height were erected for the dual purpose
of resisting the enemy by passive force, and of keeping a good
look-out over the surrounding country or sea, by means of which
movements of the enemy could be discovered.

In the periods which followed, notably from the reign of Henry II to
that of Richard II, the art of building castles was constantly being
improved and developed. Defensive works were adapted to the new forms
and methods of offence.

From that time downward to the first few years of the nineteenth
century there is every indication of decadence. The defences became
more and more feeble. The "chain," as a serious bar to the progress of
unwelcome shipping, reached its most absurd and ridiculous stage
during the time of the Dutch invasion of the Medway in 1667, when the
"Chain of Chatham" was snapped without the slightest difficulty by the
Dutch ships.

As a matter of fact, as we have seen, the coast blockhouses erected by
Henry VIII have never taken any important part in the defence of our
coasts. This is mainly due, not to their inefficiency, but to the
absence of opportunity. The same is true of the Martello towers
erected along our south-eastern coast when invasion from France, under
Napoleon I, was anticipated.

History is full of accounts of attempted invasions of England. Up to
the period of the Norman Conquest, wellnigh every attempt to land on
our shores was eventually, although not always immediately,
successful. But from the Norman Conquest downward England has always
been strong enough to protect herself from enemies who have attempted
to make a permanent settlement. This is due to the fact that whilst we
have not neglected our coast defences, we have not relied on castles,
forts, and other forms of land defence. We have maintained a powerful
fleet of war vessels as our first line of defence. Experience has made
it abundantly clear that coast defence without the aid of a powerful
navy would be inadequate to protect our shores. Our navy is, and
always must be, the first and most important of our defences, and its
special business is not to act as a simple coastguard force, but to
seek out the enemy's naval force where-ever it may be, and destroy


  Alfred, King, 79-80.

  Anderida, 17, 58-62.

  Angles, The, 75.

  Anglo-Saxon buildings, 77-78.

  Anglo-Saxon burhs, 88-89.

  Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 75, 84-85.

  Anglo-Saxon defensive works, 79.

  Anglo-Saxon mints, 77.

  Appledore, 191.

  Arckcliffe Bulwark, 131.

  Armitage, Mrs. E. S., 89.

  Avon, River (Bristol), 153.

  Bamborough Castle, 98-99.

  Barbican (Gate), Sandwich, 126-127.

  Bayeux tapestry, 89.

  Beblowe Fort (Holy Island), 188.

  Benfleet, Danish settlement at, 82.

  Berwick-upon-Tweed, 97-98.

  Black Bulwark, 132, 161.

  Booms, 210-211.

  Boulogne, 5.

  Bradwell-on-Sea, 25-28.

  Bramber Castle, 141-142.

  Bramber, Danish settlement at, 82.

  Brancaster, 17, 19-22.

  Branodunum, 17, 19-22.

  Breding-Stone, Dover, 201.

  Brighton, defences and gates of, 181-182.

  British fastnesses, 5.

  Broadstairs, 122.

  Burgh Castle, 19, 23-25.

  Caesar, 5.

  Caesar's Camp, 3-5.

  Calshot ("Calste Point") Castle, 169-186.

  Camber Castle, 119, 177-178.

  Camps, prehistoric, 3-5.

  Canterbury, 70.

  Canterbury, Anglo-Saxon coins, 77.

  Canterbury Castle, 119-122.

  Carausius, 14.

  Cardiff Castle, 67-69.

  Carlisle Castle, 154-156.

  Carrnase, 70.

  Castles. _See_
    Yarmouth (Little).

  Catamarans, 212.

  Chains (defensive). _See_
    Gillingham Reach,
    Yarmouth (Great).

  Chanctonbury Ring, Sussex, 5.

  Chatham, chain at, 204-208.

  Chichester, 70.

  Cinque Ports, barons of the, 202-204.

  Cinque Ports, Courts of, 201.

  Cinque Ports, Lord Warden of the, 201-202.

  Cinque Ports, origin and jurisdiction, 196-198.

  Cinque Ports, privileges of, 200-204.

  Cinque Ports and the Siege of Calais, 200.

  Cinque Ports, The, 196-204.

  Coast castles and walled towns, 95-156.

  Coastguard, The, 212-214.

  Colchester, 70.

  Colchester Castle, 111-113.

  Count of the Saxon Shore, 13-16.

  Court of Brotherhood, 201.

  Court of Brotherhood and Guestling, 201.

  Cowling Castle, 113-116.

  Cowes, chain at, 209.

  Cowes (West), defences at, 186.

  Cumberland (Fort), 185.

  Danish incursions, 79-85.

  Danish raids at Canterbury, London, Rochester, Sandwich, etc., 84.

  Danish raiders, 99.

  Dartmouth, bulwark at, 165.

  Dawson, Mr. Charles, 202.

  Deal, 5.

  Deal Castle, 160, 171-173.

  Defensive Chains, 204-210, 215.

  Dover, 6, 42-50.

  Dover, Anglo-Saxon coins, 77.

  Dover, bulwarks at, 166.

  Dover Castle, 127-133, 169.

  Dover, Straits of, 13.

  Dubris, 42-50.

  Dunstanburgh Castle, 99-100.

  Earthworks, 3-5.

  East Mersea, Danish settlement at, 82.

  Edward the Confessor, 89.

  Edwardian castles, 96-97.

  England, attempted invasions, 216-217.

  England, Saxon settlement of, 75-80.

  English Coast Defences, general conclusions, 214-217.

  Falmouth, bulwark at, 165.

  Fire-ships, 211-212.

  Fisher Gate, Sandwich, 125-126.

  Folkestone Castle, 133, 166.

  Fort Cumberland, 185.

  Fowey, bulwark at, 165;
    chain at, 209-210.

  Frome, River, 153.

  Gariannonum, 19, 23-25.

  Gillingham Reach, chain at, 204-207.

  Gravelines, fire-ships off, 211.

  Gravesend, bulwark at, 165.

  "Great Castle," the, in the Downs, 165.

  Gosport, bulwark at, 169.

  Harwich, 111.

  Hasting, 81.

  Hastings, 139-141.

  Hastings, Battle of, 87.

  Hastings Castle, 139-141.

  Haverfield, Professor, 63, 70.

  Henry VIII's blockhouses, inactivity in coast defence, 188-189,

  Henry VIII's blockhouses, influence of gunpowder shown in their
    plans, 189-190.

  Henry VIII, coast defences constructed by, 159-191.

  Higham, bulwark at, 165.

  Holy Island, defences of, 188.

  Honorius, the Emperor, 17, 61.

  Hull, 101-102.

  Hull, chain at, 209.

  Huntcliffe, 70.

  Hurst Castle, 183, 185.

  Hythe military canal, 191.

  Ipswich, 107-108.

  Jutes, The, 75.

  King's Lynn, 102-103.

  Lambard, W., on coast defences of Henry VIII, 159-160.

  Lancaster Castle, 153-154.

  Landguard Fort, 180-181.

  Lisle, Sir George, 112.

  Liverpool Castle, 154.

  Lucas, Sir Charles, 112.

  Lymne, 17, 50-58, 77.

  Martello Towers, 190-191.

  Medway Estuary, defences of, 179-180.

  Mersea, West, 27-28.

  Navy, origin and province of, 195-204, 216-217.

  Navy, the English, 80.

  Navy, "the first line of defence," 216-217.

  Navy, under Hubert de Burgh, 130, 198-200.

  Navy, under King Alfred, 80, 196.

  Norman castles built within Roman defences, 90-91.

  Norman castles, types of, 89-90.

  Norman coast castles in England, 87-91, 96.

  Norman fleet, 87.

  Norman invasion of England, 86-87.

  Orford Castle, 108-111.

  Othona, 25-28.

  Peak, near Robin Hood Bay, 70.

  Pevensey, 17, 58-62.

  Pevensey (mediaeval) Castle, 141.

  Pharos, at Dover, 45-49.

  Pharos, at Richborough, 37-38.

  Pharos, at West Mersea, 26-28.

  Plymouth, bulwark at, 165.

  Porchester, 17, 62-64, 67.

  Portland, bulwark at, 165.

  Portland Castle, 187-188.

  Portsmouth, 142-149, 166.

  Portsmouth, chain at, 145, 208-209.

  Portsmouth, Tower of, 169.

  Portus Itius, 5.

  Portus Lemanus, 17, 50-58, 77.

  Portus Magnus, 62-64.

  Prehistoric camps, 3-5.

  Queenborough Castle, 116-119.

  Reculver, 12, 17, 19, 28-35.

  Regulbium, 12, 17, 19, 28-35.

  Richborough, 17, 35-42.

  Rochester, 70.

  Rochester, Anglo-Saxon coins, 77.

  Roman forts, 12, 16-71.

  Roman invasion, 5-13.

  Round, Dr. J. H., 89.

  Rutupiae, 17, 35-42.

  Rye, 138, 191.

  Rye Castle, 166.

  Saltwood Castle, 133-138.

  Sandgate Castle, 174-177.

  Sandown (I. W.) blockhouse, 186.

  Sandown (Kent) Castle, 160, 171, 174.

  Sandsfort Castle (Weymouth), 187.

  Sandwich, 122-127.

  Sandwich, Anglo-Saxon coins, 77.

  Sandwich, Anglo-Saxon defences at, 78.

  Saxon Shore, Count of the, 13-16.

  Saxon settlement of England, 75-80.

  Scarborough Castle, 101.

  Scottish invasions, 99.

  Shoebury, Danish camp, 81-83.

  Silchester, 76.

  Southampton, 149-151.

  Southampton Castle, 151.

  South Coast, defences of, 182-191.

  Southsea Castle, 146, 182-185.

  Staithes, 70.

  Straits of Dover, 13.

  Swale, River, 117.

  Swanscombe, Danish settlement at, 82.

  Thames Estuary, defences of, 179-180.

  Tilbury, bulwark at, 165.

  Torne Bay, bulwark at, 165.

  Tynemouth Priory and Castle, 100-101.

  Upnor Castle, 179-180.

  Walled Towns:
    Berwick-upon-Tweed, 97-98.
    Bristol, 152-153.
    Canterbury, 119-122.
    Carlisle, 154-156.
    Colchester, 111-113.
    Dover, 132.
    Harwich, 111.
    Hastings, 139-141.
    Hull, 101-102.
    Ipswich, 107-108.
    King's Lynn, 102-103.
    Lancaster, 153-154.
    Portsmouth, 142-149.
    Rochester, 117.
    Rye, 138.
    Sandwich, 122-127.
    Southampton, 149-151.
    Wareham, 151-152.
    Winchester, 138.
    Yarmouth (Great), 103-107.

  Walmer Castle, 173.

  Walmer, early defences of, 161.

  Walton, 25.

  Wareham Castle, etc., 78, 151-152.

  Warkworth Castle, 100.

  Welsh castles and walled towns, 153.

  Weymouth, or Sandsfort Castle, 187.

  White Bulwark, 161.

  William, Duke of Normandy, 86.

  Winchelsea, 138.

  Wolstanbury Camp, Sussex, 5.

  Wykeham, William of, 117.

  Yarmouth (Great), 103-107.

  Yarmouth (Great), boom at, 211.

  Yarmouth (Great), chain at, 209.

  Yarmouth (Little) Castle, 186-187.


[1] "Commentaries on the Gallic War"

[2] "Their way of fighting-with their chariots is this: first they
drive their chariots on all sides, and throw their darts, insomuch
that by the very terror of the horses, and noise of the wheels, they
often break the ranks of the enemy. When they have forced their way
into the midst of the cavalry, they quit their chariots and fight
on foot: meanwhile the drivers retire a little from the combat, and
place themselves in such a manner as to favour the retreat of their
countrymen, should they be overpowered by the enemy. Thus in action
they perform the part both of nimble horsemen and stable infantry; and
by continual exercise and use have arrived at that expertness, that in
the most steep and difficult places they can stop their horses upon
a full stretch, turn them which way they please, run along the pole,
rest on the harness, and throw themselves back into their chariots
with incredible dexterity." ("Comm. on the Gallic War," iv, xxix).

[3] See below, page 61.

[4] "Victoria History of Suffolk," i, 282.

[5] Archaeological Institute, Norwich volume, 1851, pp. 9-16.

[6] "Victoria History of Suffolk," i, 278.

[7] Proceedings, xvi, 422-429.

[8] Vol. xx, pp. 128-136.

[9] Now occupied by the Royal Military Canal constructed as part of
the defence against Napoleon's threatened invasion.

[10] Proceedings, xxi, 410.

[11] "Archaeologia," lvii, 335-352.

[12] "Notes on the Roman Coast Defences of Britain, especially in
Yorkshire" ("Journal of Roman Studies," ii, 201-214).

[13] "Memorials of Old Kent," p. 180.

[14] "Archaeological Journal," xlvii, 78-81.

[15] "Roman Ports," p. 51.

[16] "Northumberland County History," i, 22, etc.

[17] "Northumberland County History," ii, 196.

[18] Built in 1390.

[19] "Northumberland County History," viii, 150; "Archaeological
Journal," lxvii, 1-50.

[20] "The History and Antiquities of the Ancient Burgh of Great
Yarmouth," by Henry Swinden, 1772, pp. 82, etc.

[21] "Victoria History, Hampshire," iii (plate _op._), 186.

[22] A good account of the castle, with plans, will be found in
"Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire" (4th
series), xii, 95-122, from the pen of Mr. Edward W. Cox.

[23] 1576 edition, pp. 117-118.

[24] The Hermitage bulwark, near Tilbury, Essex.

[25] The Statute of Winchester was passed in 1285.

[26] Rev. William Hudson, in "Norfolk Archaeology," xvii, 150.

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