Upper Eastern Section, Pre-Napoleonic Earthworks, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (1)

John Latter on November 20, 2009

Looking west along a large part of the eastern two-thirds of the pre-Napoleonic Earthwork that runs between the North Centre Bastion and the Outer Bastion on the Western Heights above the town of Dover in England.

The pre-Napoleonic mound comes in from the bottom between the leafless tree on the right and the dark area of the Upper Ditch on the left, and then veers towards the centre of the photo after passing beneath the patch of brambles.

After the clump of trees, the earthwork returns to the original course and then runs straight as a die until it almost reaches the East Moat of the Outer Bastion

Left of centre on the skyline is the low wedge-shape of one of the 'chocolate-bar segments' of the Outer Bastion.

The above photo is a 'zoomed shot' that has resulted in the centre section, which runs between the briar patch and the clump of trees, being fore-shortened.

I like the apparent, "Progression of Autumn" along the mound from the vibrant green of the trees in the top-left of the photo to the leafless tree at bottom right.

Standard information for the Pre-Napoleonic Earthworks:

Click on the Earthworks tag to see all photos of this location.

The apparent length of this east-west pre-Napoleonic mound and flanking ditches is about 275 hundred yards. It runs parallel to, and some 50 yards downhill from, the North Lines (or Moats) that connect the North Centre Bastion* (behind the viewer) to the Outer Bastion (in front).

On Google Earth (and on location) the earthwork can be seen to have been truncated to the west by the later construction of the Outer Bastion; the ground drops away on the other side of the Outer Bastion so the earthwork almost certainly once terminated within it confines.

Today's North Centre Bastion and Detached Bastion are a 'second edition' (built 1858 - 1867) with the earthwork now stopping well short of the Detached Bastion's west flanking moat. Before this mid-Victorian alteration, however, the earthwork extended much further to the east.

The original North Centre Bastion (built 1804 - 1815), for example, was constructed around the earthwork which created a dog-leg in the moat (or cross ditch) that seperated the Detached Bastion (as it was then) from the North Centre Bastion proper.

An 1859 map indicates the eastern end of the earthwork terminated near the Outer Bridge of the North Entrance, and that today's moat from the east side of the North Centre Bastion to the Outer Bridge may have replaced it.

As far as I am aware, this is the only pre-Napoleonic earthwork still identifiable as such on the Western Heights of Dover, Kent, UK.

I grew up in Westbury Road and Clarendon Place which lie below this part of the Western Heights and since childhood had vaguely assumed the earthwork was a First World War or Second World War construction.

The ditch above the mound is shallow ("Man-sized") while that below it is much deeper ("No Men here, thank you."). In other words, I thought it was a simple trench built to fill the gap between the North Centre Bastion and the Outer Bastion - it never occured to me that the construction dates might be the other way around!

The Wikipedia entry for the Western Heights states they were "First given earthworks in 1779" without giving any of their locations.

An English Heritage "Archaeological Investigation" (Report No. 7 - North Centre and Detached Bastions), on the other hand, specifically refers to the earthwork in the above photo, states how it existed before the first North Centre Bastion and was subsequently incorporated into it, etc., but also says it is only probable that it dates from the 1770s and 1780s.

  • The North Centre Bastion is also known as "Dead Man's Island" and "Smokey".

Click to see a video of the North Centre Bastion.

Click to see a video of the North Entrance.

John Latter / Jorolat

Dover Blog: The Psychology of a Small Town

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

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on November 20, 2009
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/11/19 11:39:14
    • Exposure: 0.008s (1/125)
    • Focal Length: 40.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/13.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash