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North Watchtower, or Fitzwilliam Watchtower at Sunrise, Dover Castle, Kent, UK

Selected for Google Maps and Google Earth

Comments (5)

John Latter on June 26, 2011

The Eastern Outer Curtain Wall (North) runs for 180 yards (1) from Avranches Tower (out-of-shot, left) to the Fitzwilliam Gateway (Fitzwilliam's Gate; out-of-shot, right) and then on to the Norfolk Towers that stand above St John`s Tower at the northern end of Dover Castle.

Between Avranches Tower and the Fitzwilliam Gateway are two small watchtowers, each about 23 feet wide and projecting from the curtain wall by 10 feet or so. The one above on the right is the North Watchtower, 15 yards from Fitzwilliam's Gate, and to the left: 44 yards from the South Watchtower, and 97 yards from Avranches Tower.

The ivy-clad North Watchtower has "triple-loop" embrasures that are characteristic of crossbow use (Avranches is a crossbow tower).

Unlike the South Watchtower, the centre window in this watchtower doesn't appear to have been modified in 1756 when John Peter Desmaretz (J P Desmaretz, c. 1686-1768) remodelled the whole of the Eastern Outer Curtain Wall (North), thereby giving clear fields of fire to the two artillery positions of Four Gun Battery (near the Saxon church of St Mary-in-Castro and the Roman Pharos) and Bell Battery (between the Inner Curtain Wall and Pencester Tower); nor altered during, or prior to, the Napoleonic Wars by Lieutenant Colonel William Twiss (Royal Engineers).

Anyway, in plan view a triple-loop window looks like this:

outer moat


tower interior

From a single position within the tower, a crossbowman is able to shoot straight ahead ("upwards" in the magnificent diagram), or at an angle to either side.

The 1786 book, "The History of Dover Castle" (2) doesn't mention the South Watchtower (Avranches Watchtower), but says of the North Watchtower:

Not many paces from the former (ie Fitzwilliam's Gate), to which it is connected by a wall or curtain, stands a small watch-tower, without any bed-room or place to rest in during the night; but there was a place hard by, to which the watchmen might resort, till the parole was given out at night. Whoever was in possession of the estate of Swinfield was bound to maintain a watch here.

Excerpt from the 1813 book, "The History of the Town and Port of Dover and of Dover Castle" (3):

Watch Towers: As these towers never had any knights appointed to them, nor any land given to keep guard in them, they might have been a part of the Saxon masonry left standing in the curtain.

Excerpt from the 1828 book, "A Short Historical Sketch of the Town of Dover" (4):

Watch Towers: The two next towers in the curtain are watch towers, that never had any commanders appointed to them, nor any accommodations for resident captains. They were probably considered as appendages to the two adjoining towers; or they might occasionally be made places of defence.

This "rare view" was taken from the counterscarp (5), or outer moat embankment, at 6.28 am on Tuesday, 31st May, 2011.

Alternative names: Avranche's Tower, Averanches Tower, Averenches Tower, Averanche's Tower, Averenche's Tower, Maunsell's Tower, Maunsel's Tower, Albrincis Tower.

Above the Eastern Outer Curtain Wall on the left is the 12th Century Norman Keep, built in the 1180s with AD 1180-1185 often being the range quoted.

The length of the sides and height of the corner towers vary, but the Keep, or Great Tower (night view) is approximately 100 feet square, over 80 feet high, and has walls up to 21 feet thick. It was designed by Henry II’s architect, ‘Maurice the Engineer’ (or mason), based on designs used by Gundulf, Bishop of Rochester (alt. Gundulph).

Part of the Union Jack flag flying from the South Tower (Flag Tower) can be seen in the crenellations between the East Tower on the left and the North Tower on the right.

In 2010, English Heritage created a re-presentation of a medieval Royal Palace, or Royal Court, occupying the upper two floors of the Keep:

The King`s Hall (Great Hall or Throne Room; second floor)

The King`s Chamber (Solar, second floor)

The Guest Hall (or Lower Hall; first floor)

The Guest Chamber (first floor)

Standard entry for Dover Castle photos (May, 2011)

Dover Castle is a Grade I Listed Building (6).

The following is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under the terms of the Click-Use Licence (PSI licence number C2010002016):

Building Details:

Building Name: DOVER CASTLE

Parish: DOVER

District: DOVER

County: KENT



LBS Number: 177823

Grade: I

Date Listed: 07/03/1974

Date Delisted:

NGR: TR3249141696

Listing Text:


TR 3241 1/47

TR 34 SW 7/47



Norman keep C.1155 of rag-stone ashlar blooks picked out flints with Caen stone dressings. Around the keep are ranges of C18 (=18th Century) houses of 2 to 3 storeys ashlar with a flint galleting. Round headed windows. Surrounding these ranges are 2 concentric rings of walls and towers dating from Mediaeval times. Beneath the castle are a whole series of subterranean passages dating from the C13 (13th Century) and improved for defence during the Napoleonic period. Ancient Monument.(Abridged).

Listing NGR: TR3249141696

Source: English Heritage.

The English Heritage Pastscape entry for Dover Castle (7):

Medieval castle possibly originating as a pre-1066 motte and bailey castle, remodelled during the reign of Henry II (Curtmantle), to became a castle with concentric defences, one of the first examples of its kind in western Europe.

Much of this work was supervised by Maurice the Ingeniator (Maurice the Engineer, Architect, or Mason) and started with piecemeal additions to the defences during the 1160s and 1170s and major construction work, including the Keep (or Great Tower), walls of the Inner Bailey (Inner Curtain Wall) and parts of the Outer Curtain Wall between 1179 and 1188.

Work during the reign of Henry III included strengthening of the defences and the modernising of the castle's accomodation. Much of this took place between 1217-57 and was supervised by Hubert de Burgh (first Earl of Kent). Additions included construction of St John`s Tower outside the northern defences which was linked to the castle by a tunnel. Limited work on the castle and its defences took place during the 14th and 15th century and by the 17th century it was in neglect.

The castle was in use as a prison for prisoners of war from 1690 and until the 1740s when a programme of modernisation was started. This included the updating of the defences and construction of barracks, supervised by John Peter Desmaretz (military engineer, c. 1686-1768). Further changes took place in response to the Napoleonic Wars. Much of this took place between 1794 and 1805 and was implemented by Lieutenant Colonel William Twiss, and included bombproofing of the keep, installation of additional gun batteries and outworks and the excavation of underground tunnels for communication and additional accomodation (see Casemates Balcony, Entrance to the Secret Wartime Tunnels of Dover Castle).

The castle was also adapted to protect itself from new explosive shells in 1853 and new barrack were constructed. The castle was used during World War I and World War II when features including anti aircraft and search light batteries were constructed. (Abridged)

Dover Castle is located upon the famous White Cliffs overlooking the town and port below. The Normans, beginning with William the Conqueror, built upon earlier Roman and Saxon fortifications on a site first selected by their Iron Age predecessors.

See wikipedia entries for Portus Dubris and Anglo-Saxons

(1) All measurements are approximate and were made using Google Earth, build Updates to Google Earth may cause the measurements to vary a little if any future satellite image is taken from a significantly different angle that of the program version being used.

(2) Although not published until 1786, The History of Dover Castle was written in Latin during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I by William Darell (alt. William Darel), Chaplain to the Queen.

(3) "The History of the Town and Port of Dover and of Dover Castle (With a Short Account of the Cinque Ports)", Volume 1. Dedicated by the Reverend John Lyon, Minister of St Mary the Virgin of Cannon Street, to John Gunman, Esquire, on May 14th, 1813, and published the same year.

(4) Sixth edition published 1828, attributed to Unknown Author or Anonymous:

"A Short Historical Sketch of the Town of Dover, and its Neighbourhood; containing a Concise History of the Town and Castle, from the Earliest Accounts to the Present Time; with a Description of the Villages near Dover, within a distance of Six Miles".

Printed by and for Z. Warren at the Albion Library, 86 Snargate Street, and Marine Library on the Parade.

(5) Outer moat embankment, or earthwork: A scarp and a counterscarp are the inner and outer sides of a ditch used in fortifications. In permanent fortifications the scarp and counterscarp may be encased in stone. In less permanent fortifications, the counterscarp may be lined with paling fence set at an angle so as to give no cover to the attackers but to make advancing and retreating more difficult. See Profile of the European fortress wall from the 16th century.

(6) Grade I: buildings "of exceptional interest, sometimes considered to be internationally important".

(7) Pastscape: Dover Castle (Pastscape Homepage).

Dover Castle appears in the video, "Dover in World War Two: 1942", a ten minute British Ministry of Information film, released by the US Office of War Information, and narrated by the American journalist, Edward R. Murrow.

Click to see all photos of Dover Castle, a Dover English Heritage site and a Grade I Dover Listed Building.

A Middle Ages (5th century to the 15th century) history photo.

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 June 21, 2011
  • © All Rights Reserved
    by John Latter
    • Camera: PENTAX Corporation PENTAX K100D
    • Taken on 2011/05/31 06:28:12
    • Exposure: 0.004s (1/250)
    • Focal Length: 33.00mm
    • F/Stop: f/9.000
    • ISO Speed: ISO200
    • Exposure Bias: -0.30 EV
    • No flash