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Mount Batten: 17th century artillery tower, Civil War breastwork, and World War II remains

A Scheduled Monument in Plymstock Radford, Plymouth

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.3594 / 50°21'33"N

Longitude: -4.1299 / 4°7'47"W

OS Eastings: 248593.423815

OS Northings: 53217.8544

OS Grid: SX485532

Mapcode National: GBR NX.VM0X

Mapcode Global: FRA 2872.WCF

Entry Name: Mount Batten: 17th century artillery tower, Civil War breastwork, and World War II remains

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1981

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29630

County: Plymouth

Electoral Ward/Division: Plymstock Radford

Built-Up Area: Plymstock

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon

Details

The monument, which corresponds to the surviving limestone plateau of Mount
Batten, includes a 17th century artillery tower, and a Civil War breastwork as
well as sundry World War II remains. The headland of Mount Batten projects
into the upper eastern reaches of Plymouth Sound and the Cattewater opposite
the harbour and has provided a natural location for the seaward defences of
the city of Plymouth over the preceeding centuries.
The 17th century artillery tower of three storeys was built on the headland
perhaps between 1645-60 as part of the defences of Plymouth Sound and is named
after Captain Batten, the Parliamentarian naval commander at Plymouth during
the Civil War. It is a circular tower 9.1m high, 14m in diameter, and with
walls approximately 1m thick; it has a castellated parapet with embrasures for
ten guns. It is entered by a modern external stair and has original internal
stairs leading to the roof and basement. A Civil War earthwork was noted close
to the tower in 1882; this earthwork is thought to date from the siege of
Plymouth from 1643-45 and may be part of a Parliamentarian retreat-work shown
on a contemporary Royalist map. It survives as a slight bank and ditch on the
south western side of the seaward slope of the headland.
During World War II the need for effective air and coastal defence saw the
area of Mount Batten given over to both air and sea defence structures. These
structures include the remains of two Light Anti-Aircraft gun emplacements and
a signal identification panel on the area of the plateau south west of the
artillery tower, and two L-shaped anti-submarine searchlight batteries of
brick and shuttered concrete construction which survive intact minus their
searchlights; they lie just above the high water mark of medium tides on the
south west rock bench of the headland.
Excluded from the scheduling are all Department of Environment and post World
War II signposts, the modern external flight of stairs on the artillery
tower, all post-World War II walls, fencing, tarmac, concrete surfaces, make-
up for modern surfaces, railings, and modern steps, although the ground
beneath all of these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Plymouth's position on the south coast and at the western approaches to the
English Channel has made it vulnerable to military attack over a period
extending back to the 15th century and the limestone headland of Mount Batten
has played a role in the defence of Plymouth from the 16th century. Its
strategic position in relation to Plymouth Sound was recognised during the
threat of Spanish invasion during the 1580s. Later, during the Civil War, an
earthwork was constructed on the headland by the Parliamentarian forces
resisting the siege of Plymouth by Royalist forces. Following the victory of
Parliament the Mount Batten artillery tower was constructed to overlook
Cattewater and the Sound, perhaps in readiness for the war with the Dutch. The
tower survives well and illustrates the strategic importance of Mount Batten,
a point further illustrated three centuries later by the number of World War
II emplacements located on the headland as defence against attack from both
air and sea. The part Mount Batten played in the defence of Plymouth is well
documented, and identifies the importance of the site over five centuries
as one of the nation's most important naval ports and dockyards.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 136-7
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 138
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 136
Gray, T, Stoyle, M, 'History Today' in A Cavalier Cartographer, , Vol. 44(3), (1994)
Other
Report No 96.27, Dyer, M and Rance, C, Mount Batten Headland Public Open Space - Arch Assessment, (1996)
Title: Map of Defences of Plymouth
Source Date: 1716
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
Kings Mss 45 f34
Title: Plan of Citadel and Defences
Source Date: 1668
Author:
Publisher:
Surveyor:
Mss 16731D

Source: Historic England

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