Unique Gun Rooms of Outer Bastion North Moat, Western Heights, Dover, Kent, UK

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (1)

John Latter on March 28, 2010

These gun rooms are unique to the Western Heights fortifications because they are located on the counterscarp, ie they are outside the defence system perimeter and must necessarily be connected to the Outer Bastion (the monolithic block on the right-hand side of the photo) via an underground tunnel or gallery - and where one sub-moat tunnel exists, then there may be others...

This zoomed shot, taken from roughly the same place as the North Moat and Gun Rooms photo, also highlights the difference in the brickwork surrounding the gun room embrasures (which are set in the northern end of the outer East Moat wall, just before the junction with the outer North Moat wall on the left).

At a guess, I would think the rebuilding was the result of subsidence such as once occurred on the east side of the North Centre Bastion, albeit at a different point in time because the replacement bricks are not the same as the original ones.

Covering fire from the North Centre Bastion would inhibit an attacking force from sapping into the gun rooms from above, but they would be susceptible to tunnelling from the side: the glacis slope tothe left is only about 15 yards away.

The Outer Bastion has two other sets of similar gun rooms, both located on the Inner Section: one points eastwards along the connecting moat (Centre Link Moat*) with the North Centre Bastion, and the other points westwards along the connecting moat (West Link Moat) with the Western Outworks.

The North Moat is the outermost of the moats surrounding the Outer Bastion (see East Moat and West Moat).

The western end of a pre-Napoleonic Earthwork is situated on top of the moat above the gun rooms, about 50 yards to the right.

There's a similar photo of the North Moat taken from above the gun rooms which shows a security camera and other features not visible in the above photo.

Standard Information for the Outer Bastion

Click to see all photos of the Outer Bastion.

The Outer Bastion is shaped like three chunks of the five-by-one segment Yorkie chocolate bar, complete with "hanging valleys" between each segment - see the East Moat, Outer Bastion photo.

For ease of reference, the three sections of the Outer Bastion have been termed: Outer Section (nearest the camera), Middle Section, and Inner Section (this last being an integral part of the Citadel). The two "hanging moats" (or cross ditches) are the Outer Traverse Moat (again, nearest the camera) and the Inner Traverse Moat.

Of the five major components* of the extensive Napoleonic and Victorian fortifications on the northern slopes of the Western Heights above the town of Dover, perhaps the least known about is the Outer Bastion - and that takes into account the fact that one component is no longer visible!

At least part of the reason for easily-accessible information is because, like the Citadel itself (the core of the defensive network), the Government has never relinquished control and inadvertently allowed "unofficial" access. Indeed, razor-wire and security cameras can be found all around the moats of the Outer Bastion.

Having stared wistfully at the Outer Bastion for over half a century, this inability to "have a look around" has resulted in a small entry to be made near the end of, "Things I Intend To Give God A Hard Time About", Volume VII.

Despite the apparent lack of surface structures, there are some interesting aspects to the Outer Bastion that will be commented upon under the relevant photos.

*Three of the other components - the Drop Redoubt, North Entrance, and North Centre Bastion - are owned by English Heritage, while the remaining fifth component, the Western Outworks, has been completely buried.

I've made these for YouTube: North Entrance (Video) and North Centre Bastion (Video).

English Heritage's Pastscape entry for the Western Heights states:

The Western Heights were first fortified circa 1779, with field works. In 1781 work was begun to replace them with permanent defences. The Grand Shaft (see TR 34 SW 210) was constructed between 1805 and 1807 and the Citadel and Drop Redoubt were built as separate forts. These were subsequently combined when lines (ie moats) were constructed to join them. Work ceased when the armistice was signed in 1814. The defences were completed following the report of the Royal Commission of 1860.

NB The Detached Bastion is part of the North Centre Bastion complex and known locally as "Dead Man's Island".

*The following terms are being used for ease of reference:

The East Link Moat connects the Drop Redoubt to the North Entrance; the parallel North Tenaille Moat and South Tenaille Moat connect the North Entrance to the North Centre Bastion; the Centre Link Moat connects the North Centre Bastion to the Citadel and Outer Bastion; the West Link Moat connects the Outer Bastion to the now-buried Western Outworks.

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.

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Photo details

  • Uploaded on March 28, 2010
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2009/11/19 11:55:08
    • Exposure: 0.008s (1/125)
    • Focal Length: 55.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/5.600
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: 0.00 EV
    • No flash