Ancient Monuments

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Archcliffe Fort

A Scheduled Monument in Dover, Kent

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Latitude: 51.1151 / 51°6'54"N

Longitude: 1.3066 / 1°18'23"E

OS Eastings: 631523.824194

OS Northings: 140285.034975

OS Grid: TR315402

Mapcode National: GBR X35.14J

Mapcode Global: VHLHJ.L7MJ

Entry Name: Archcliffe Fort

Scheduled Date: 19 October 1964

Last Amended: 21 January 1999

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1016420

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26797

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Dover

Built-Up Area: Dover

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


The monument includes the surviving features of Archcliffe Fort, lying at the
foot of Dover's Western Heights and forming part of the coastal defences of
the town from at least the 16th century onwards.

The first fort, or bulwark, was constructed under Henry VIII in 1539 and 1540,
although the initial fortification of the site may date back to the late 14th
century. No trace of remains of these periods can be identified, although the
evidence of early plans suggests that the Henrician defences included a
pentagonal structure in the approximate position of the present western
bastion. This was linked by a ditch to a gatehouse close to the site of the
present eastern bastion. There were also buildings within the ditched

The remains which survive today represent a substantial part of a bastioned
trace fortification, dating from the early 17th century, of which the seaward
face, entrance and bastions were modified in the 19th century. The seaward
defences, subsequently removed by the construction of the railway in 1928,
were modified during 1872 to include positions for five ten inch rifle muzzle
loading guns. The landward side of the fort remains intact and largely
unaltered. The landward curtain, over 150m in length, includes a ditch and
stone-faced earth ramparts on which a new parapet was raised in 1755, and
which still show evidence of firing steps. The curtain terminates in two
bastions and in its centre is the entrance to the fort, remodelled in 1807-9
and again in 1814-15 when a brick barbican, now largely destroyed by the
construction of the A20, was added to its front. During World War II a second
vehicle access was cut through the rampart, immediately east of the gatehouse.

The free-standing buildings within the interior of the fort and all modern
security fences and fittings are excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath all these features is included. The monument is in the care of
the Secretary of State.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The strategic position of Dover at the closest point of the English coast to
that of France, has led, from the Roman period onwards, to the development of
extensive and complex systems of fortification. Many owed their design and
construction to periods of political unrest within Europe, or to specific
threats of invasion, both real and imagined. Some were obsolete by the time
that they were completed. Their development may also be seen as a response to
the changing nature of warfare, with the introduction of guns providing the
stimulus for the most radical change.

The defences of Dover fall into two distinct groups: those commanding the
heights; and those, such as Archcliffe Fort, in low-lying positions for the
immediate defence of town and harbour.

Despite the loss of its seaward defences and the outermost elements of those
on the landward side, Archcliffe Fort remains an important element in the
story of Dover's fortification. Incorporating the remains of the fort
constructed in 1539-40 as part of Henry VIII's maritime defence programme,
itself considered to be of national importance, the surviving 17th century
defences are of considerable rarity. In addition, the fort will contain
buried archaeological deposits providing information about its structure and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Welby, D E, The History of Archcliffe Fort, Dover, Kent, (1991)

Source: Historic England

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