North-West Caponier, North Centre Bastion, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (5)

John Latter on April 6, 2007

A view of the Caponnier (internal view) from the North Center Bastion itself showing the overgrown moat wall in this 'un-reclaimed' section of the Western Heights fortifications. The scale is indicated by my shadow (fame!) on the righthand side.

Some buildings can be seen in the top righthand corner of the photo. These are not as 'close' as you might think, the dark shadow on the annotated satellite view indicates how sharply the hillside drops away beyond the far side of the moat.

It was in making my way to this point that I lost my torch for the second time that day. While making my way along the ridge from the right I came across an apparently nondescript ditch whose abundant brambles and other vegetation, almost reaching the surface of the surrounding ground, gave the impression it might be, at the very most, only a couple of feet deep.

The ditch was too wide to step across and in an countryside untouched by human beings I would have simply have thought, "Easy-peasy - step in, step out!".

But these are man-made ditches and as a kid I remember making such a decision when I came across a ditch near the Drop Redoubt. On that occasion I stepped in ok, but in a blink of an eye I found myself up to my neck in brambles and stinging nettles, wondering where all the pain was coming from.

So I took note of how the far side of the ditch was undercut (indicating it might 'crumble'), and of how the long grass hung over the edge (hit the lip and I might slip), and decided that all I need do was step back and then leap.

Almost everything went exactly according to plan and I landed on the far side safe and sound. Unfortunately, while I was in mid-air, my torch chose that precise moment to leap out of my pocket and plunge into the inky depths below like a rocket on re-entry. I might just as well have thrown myself into the ditch in the first place.

The North Center Bastion is only part of Dover's extensive Napoleonic defenses - click on Western Heights and then check the tag list for all the locations covered (eg Drop Redoubt, Grand Shaft, North Entrance - more will be added as time goes on).

John Latter on April 12, 2007

How I lost the torch the first time (2nd part of first comment)

John Latter on February 28, 2010

There's now a Youtube video slideshow taken from the moat floor showing the base of the caponier after it had been snowing:

The Moats of Dead Man`s Island in Winter, Western Heights, Dover, UK

The photos in the video were taken on Thursday, February 11th, 2010.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

This is the Images of Dover website: click on any red or blue "John Latter" link to access the Entry Page.

John Latter on November 21, 2010

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for the North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion reads (1):

TR 3110 4083 North Centre and Detached Bastions

North Centre Bastion was begun in 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars, as part of the Western Heights fortress in Dover. It remained unfinished at the end of the war in 1815 but was completed to a revised design between 1859 and 1867; this resulted in two linked bastions known as North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion (2).

Both were surveyed and researched by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England between 1998 and 2001 as part of the Dover Western Heights Survey Project (event UID 1316220 and monument UID 467989). See the archive report and plans for full details: Pattison P The Western Heights, Dover, Kent; Report no 5 North Centre and Detached Bastions.

An English Heritage site and Scheduled Monument; the Detached Baastion is also known as "Dead Man's Island".

Photos of the Detached Bastion are included under the North Centre Bastion tag.

(1) Pastscape: North Centre Bastion

(2) The bastions are linked by the South Caponier (see South Caponier interior; South Caponier exterior).

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on April 7, 2007
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX Optio 33LF
    • Taken on 2007/04/01 10:28:56
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 5.80mm
    • F/Stop: f/4.800
    • ISO Speed: ISO100
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash