Ancient Monuments

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Beacon and pillbox on Beacon Hill

A Scheduled Monument in Hoo St. Werburgh, Medway

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Latitude: 51.4149 / 51°24'53"N

Longitude: 0.5264 / 0°31'35"E

OS Eastings: 575780.547193

OS Northings: 171463.432571

OS Grid: TQ757714

Mapcode National: GBR PPH.7WM

Mapcode Global: VHJLN.2PNP

Entry Name: Beacon and pillbox on Beacon Hill

Scheduled Date: 6 June 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011767

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25468

County: Medway

Civil Parish: Hoo St. Werburgh

Built-Up Area: Chattenden

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Frindsbury All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Rochester


The monument includes a beacon and pillbox situated on the summit of a hill on
the northern bank of the River Medway, overlooking the river estuary and its
The beacon is a large, circular mound c.30m in diameter and surviving to a
height of c.6.5m. The mound originally supported a fire basket, or brazier,
set on a pole, although this superstructure no longer survives. The site of
the beacon is shown on two maps of Kent dating to c.1570.
Situated on the flattened summit of the mound is a World War II pillbox which
was used mainly as a look out post for the observation of approaching enemy
aircraft. The pillbox is a low, octagonal building measuring c.4m in diameter,
constructed of reinforced concrete. The interior is entered by way of an iron
door on the southern side of the building, and an iron ladder gives access to
the flat roof, which is edged with iron railings. A large, square, central
well through the roof provided for the mounting of a light anti-aircraft gun,
which no longer survives. Each of the eight walls is pierced by rectangular
machine gun slits, protected on the inside by top hung, iron shutters. The
floor is of concrete sleepers interspersed with wooden beams.
The modern fence which crosses the monument is excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath it is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Beacons were fires deliberately lit to give a warning, by means of smoke by
day and flame by night, of the approach of hostile forces. They were always
sited in prominent positions, usually as part of a group, chain or line which
together made up a comprehensive early warning system covering most of the
Beacons were extensively used during the medieval period. Their use was
formalised by 1325 and although some were used later, for example at the time
of Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 or during the Napoleonic wars, the system was
in decay by the mid 17th century.
Beacons were initially bonfires of wood or furze, but later barrels of pitch
or iron fire baskets mounted on poles were used. The poles were occasionally
set on earthen mounds. Access to the fire basket was by way of rungs set in
the pole, or by a stone ladder set against the beacon. More unusual beacon
types include stone enclosures and towers, mainly found in the north and south
west of England. Some beacon sites utilised existing buildings such as church
Beacons were built throughout England, with the greatest density along the
south coast and the border with Scotland. Although approximately 500 are
recorded nationally, few survive in the form of visible remains. Many sites
are only known from place-name evidence. Given the rarity of recorded
examples, all positively identified beacons with significant surviving
archaeological remains are considered to be of national importance.

Despite some disturbance, the beacon at Frindsbury Extra survives
comparatively well and will contain archaeological remains and environmental
evidence relating to the monument and the landscape in which it was
constructed. The siting of a later pillbox directly on the earlier beacon site
illustates the continuing importance of Beacon Hill as an early warning and
defensive site into the 20th century.

Source: Historic England


RCHME, TQ 77 SE 6,

Source: Historic England

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