Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Hull Castle, South Blockhouse and part of late 17th century Hull Citadel Fort at Garrison Side

A Scheduled Monument in Drypool, Kingston upon Hull

We don't have any photos of this monument yet. Why don't you be the first to send us one?

Upload Photo »

Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 53.7416 / 53°44'29"N

Longitude: -0.3261 / 0°19'33"W

OS Eastings: 510497.40379

OS Northings: 428545.154389

OS Grid: TA104285

Mapcode National: GBR GQQ.R4

Mapcode Global: WHGFR.Y6WZ

Entry Name: Hull Castle, South Blockhouse and part of late 17th century Hull Citadel Fort at Garrison Side

Scheduled Date: 16 March 1972

Last Amended: 11 August 2003

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020426

English Heritage Legacy ID: 34710

County: Kingston upon Hull

Electoral Ward/Division: Drypool

Built-Up Area: Kingston upon Hull

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): East Riding of Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Hull, Drypool St Columba

Church of England Diocese: York


The monument includes the buried remains of a significant part of Hull
Citadel, an artillery garrison fort constructed between 1681-1690. It also
includes the buried remains of the earlier defences built by Henry VIII in
1541-42 that were incorporated into the Citadel. A book `Town and Gun' by
Audrey Howes and Martin Foreman published in 1999, draws on extensive
surviving documents concerning these fortifications, as well as details
uncovered through numerous small scale archaeological excavations
undertaken since 1969.

The monument lies in two seperate areas of protection. The northern area
includes the remains of Hull Castle. The southern area includes part of
the Citadel and the remains of the South Blockhouse. Further nationally
important remains of the Citadel survive to the north of the A63, although
they are not included in the scheduling owing to the extensively built up
environment overlying them.

Kingston upon Hull was founded by Edward I in 1293 on the west bank of the
River Hull at its confluence with the Humber. Founded as a commercial
enterprise as well as a supply base for his campaigns against Scotland, it
quickly became a major port with international trading links, outshining the
older established inland ports of Beverley and Hedon. In the following century
the town was fortified with a brick built town wall and a substantial outer
ditch. However, Hull's independent spirit in defiance of the Crown was
demonstrated during the Pilgrimage of Grace, a popular uprising against
Henry VIII in 1536-37 when Hull fell into the control of the rebels. In
response to this the King ordered the refurbishment of the medieval defences
and in 1541-42, his military engineer John Rogers constructed three
blockhouses linked by a curtain wall on the eastern bank of the River Hull.
These defences not only protected the eastern approaches to the town but also
dominated both the anchorage on the river and the town itself. The middle
blockhouse, larger than the other two, became known as Hull Castle. The buried
remains of this, along with that of the South Blockhouse and the curtain wall
connecting the two, form part of the monument and are shown in detail by
several 17th century plans and illustrations. A century later Hull once more
defied the Crown when on 23 April 1642, King Charles I was refused access to
the town and thus the second largest arsenal in the country that it contained.
In the subsequent English Civil War, Hull withstood two Royalist sieges and
remained in the control of Parliament. Following the Restoration of the
Monarchy in 1660, the defence of Hull was neglected despite the threat of
Dutch raiding during the Anglo-Dutch Wars. It appears to have been domestic
unrest which finally prompted the refortification of the town with rebellion
in Scotland in 1679 and unrest fuelled by the conspiracy theory known as the
Popish Plot. Major Martin Beckman, second to the Chief Engineer Sir Bernard de
Gomme, surveyed the defences in 1681 and was immediately commissioned to
strengthen them. His design plan for the triangular artillery fort is
preserved by the British Library. Between 1681-83 the Castle and South
Blockhouse were repaired and incorporated into a new defensive work
overlooking the harbour and town. The eastern, landward defences were
constructed in 1683-84, complete with a broad wet moat. The following year the
fort, referred to as Hull Citadel, was rapidly put into a state of readiness
in response to rebellions in Scotland and the south west. Perhaps
demonstrating that civil unrest rather than naval attack was deemed the most
serious threat, it was not until 1686-90 that the defences facing the Humber
were built. At the time, however, this last side of the Citadel fronted
directly onto the Humber, with the tides and ground conditions posing serious
engineering difficulties.

The Citadel became a major arsenal and included most of the 117 guns recorded
at Hull in 1716. However, it was allowed to decay in the early 18th century
with only some ad hoc renovations taking place in response to the Jacobite
Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. In 1802 the Henrician North Blockhouse, which had
been damaged during the Civil War and never fully repaired, was finally
demolished. It is not known if any buried remains of this structure still
survive and thus the North Blockhouse is not included in the monument. Between
1804 and 1815 various improvements and repairs were carried out on the fort
which was now mainly used as a depot and barracks. In 1805 the Castle was
turned into an armoury and the following year the South Blockhouse was
converted into a naval store.

By 1811 the Citadel housed nearly 800 men, up from 400 in 1797 and 200 in
1688. The military occupation of the fort was wound down between 1848 and
1860. It was surveyed in detail by the Ordnance Survey in 1850 and the guns
fired for the last time to salute the Prince of Wales's wedding on 12th March
1859. By this time rifled artillery, with its longer range, had made the
siting of the Citadel defensively ineffective against naval bombardment. The
commercial development on the east side of the River Hull had also compromised
the Citadel's eastern defences from landward attack. In 1863 the Crown sold
off the site and the buildings were levelled the following year. However, the
substantial nature of the defences made them difficult to clear and instead
they were buried beneath a raised ground surface that later formed a railway
marshalling yard. A series of excavations from 1969 have shown that
substantial archaeological remains of the Citadel along with remains of the
earlier Henrician defences still survive. It is these remains that form the

In overall design, the Citadel enclosed a triangular enceinte, or defended
area. Extending from each corner there was a low lying, straight sided
angular bastion each linked to the next by low, straight curtain walls and
ramparts. Further protection was provided by a broad wet moat around the
north east and north west sides. On the south side, until silting in the
late 18th century, the Citadel fronted straight onto the Humber. The
ramparts of the north bastion and north eastern curtain were principally
constructed from rammed earth which excavation has shown now survives as
dense clay layers buried below later deposits. These ramparts also
included stone and brick features, some of which have also been uncovered
by excavation. Features that have been investigated archaeologically
include the original main gate, which was in the centre of the north east
curtain, as well as two of the sallyports which provided access to
batteries sited at the base of the ramparts. The Henrician Hull Castle
lies towards the northern apex of the monument, within the north bastion.
The South Blockhouse lies towards the apex of the south western bastion.
Both have been investigated by small scale excavations revealing parts of
their ground plans, details about their construction and evidence for
later modifications. They both have substantial outer walls built with
chalk and limestone rubble mortared corework faced with brick, with
limestone blocks used for quoins and other architectural features. In
style they are unique for England, with small segmental pointed bastions
(bastions with two curved sides coming to an outward facing point), rather
than the more typical rounded form of the period. During the construction
of the Citadel, both appear to have had their ground floor handgun loops
and the canon embrasures bricked up, and in 1805-6 they were provided with
new cobbled floors. The north western curtain between these two strong
points was also mainly of rammed earth construction, however it utilised
the earlier Henrician curtain wall, which excavation has shown to have
been 3m thick, as a retaining wall. The rampart was topped by a battery of
27 gun embrasures overlooking the River Hull and the town. Along its base
was a walk protected by a parapet for troops with handguns, and to either
side were base flank batteries. Remains of these will survive as
archaeological features. The southern side of the Citadel was very solidly
constructed to withstand the Humber tides. Parts of the southern curtain
and the two southern bastions have been exposed by small scale
excavations. The remains uncovered have confirmed the 17th century
documentation of the building works and provided additional information.
The walls are substantial, built on a timber lattice foundation supported
by timber piles, they are mainly of brick with a lower outer facing of
massive limestone ashlar blocks. To the rear, the walls are supported by
irregularly spaced brick buttresses. The excavations typically exposed the
top 1.5m of the lower ashlar facing without reaching the foundations. In
addition, the ground plan of an 1805 traversing gun position was
identified in the south west bastion, and the footings for a sallyport and
casemated magazine in the south east bastion were also uncovered.
Following excavation, part of the ground plan of the south east bastion
was marked out on the ground for public display and a small section of
walling was reconstructed, topped by an original sentry box. These
features are also included in the monument. The original main gate to the
Citadel was located in the centre of the north east curtain and has also
been partly exposed by excavation, uncovering one of the guard chambers
flanking the gate. By 1735, this gate was disused, replaced by an entrance
at the south west bastion, and during the Napoleonic Wars the guard
chambers served as magazines. In the interior of the Citadel was a broad
parade ground with buildings along the insides of the western and eastern
curtain ramparts. On the west side were two large barrack blocks and
associated buildings such as wash houses. Officers were provided with
separate accommodation in a pair of buildings on the south side of the
parade ground. Excavation evidence suggests that archaeological remains of
these buildings and associated structures also still survive in situ.

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling; these are all
buildings and standing structures, except the reconstructed walling and
sentry box noted above, all fences, telegraph poles, sign posts, street
furniture and playground equipment, and all road and path surfaces. The
ground beneath all these features is, however, included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The increasing use of gunpowder and the development of artillery from the late
medieval period onwards saw fundamental changes in fortification design.
Blockhouses were specifically built to house guns and to protect the gunners
and ammunition from attack. In contrast with the high walls and towers of
medieval castles, blockhouses typically presented a low profile to hostile
canon fire, often with sloped walls to deflect shot. The earliest known
blockhouse dates to 1398, but the majority were built in the first half of the
16th century by Henry VIII, typically to command strategic locations such as
anchorages. Varying widely in layout and design, the main components of a
blockhouse were normally a stone built tower and bastions or gun platforms;
although in some cases only the tower or bastion was present. Distributed
along the east, south and south west coasts, there are 27 examples which are
known to survive as standing structures, ruins or buried archaeological
remains, many incorporated into later military installations.

Hull Castle and the South Blockhouse were amongst the last to be built
nationally. Their unique style using segmental pointed bastions marks an
important Italianate development of the round bastion form. They are also
notable for the survival of contemporary documents, including plans.
Conflicts in Europe saw the rapid development of the use of artillery by
field armies. As numbers of guns increased, becoming more powerful and
accurate at the same time, the stone built blockhouse increasingly became
vulnerable. New fortifications became larger, utilising stone or brick
revetted earthwork ramparts, which could more effectively absorb the
impact of canon fire, surrounded by a broad moat. In England, new
fortifications in the late 16th and 17th centuries typically followed
developments on the continent, particularly the Italian and Dutch schools
of military engineering. Hull Citadel is an example of a very rare
self-contained fort. Only 25 of these sites were constructed nationally
between 1660 and 1865. Of these Hull Citadel, Plymouth Citadel, Tilbury
Fort and Clifford's Fort are the earliest examples and all date from the
late 17th century. In view of the rarity of such sites nationally, and the
important insight they provide into the historic development of defence
strategies, all examples retaining surviving archaeological remains are
considered worthy of protection. The Hull site is notable for its rarity,
the survival of remains from phases of its construction, and the clear
influence the fort had on later land-use. A careful layout of large,
straight sided angle bastions was used so that guns could be positioned
to fire on all of the surrounding area of land without leaving any dead
ground. The tops of the ramparts were wide enough to allow the free
movement of guns and troops, and were typically protected by a stone
parapet, sometimes pierced by gunports known as embrasures. Sometimes
casemates, brick or stone vaulted chambers with an earth covering designed
to make them bomb-proof, were constructed in the body of the ramparts as
further gun positions. Magazines were also sometimes housed in casemates,
but as an explosion in a casemated magazine could breach the surrounding
rampart, gunpowder was frequently housed in separate buildings inside the
fort. At Hull, the castle was reused as a magazine until separate purpose
built magazines were constructed in the early 19th century. Hull Citadel
also had a number of small casemated magazines constructed within the
ramparts, typically adjacent to sallyports which provided access to the
base flank batteries. These batteries, sited at the foot of the ramparts,
were also a common feature of the period, allowing crossfire to be brought
to bear along the foot of the ramparts. Unlike blockhouses, which were not
designed to be inhabited for prolonged periods, artillery forts were
typically provided with a permanent garrison of troops. Consequently,
within the enceinte protected by the surrounding ramparts, there were
barracks, officers' quarters, stores and other auxiliary buildings,
typically around a parade ground.

Excavation of various parts of the Citadel and associated Henrician
fortifications has shown that demolition in 1864 was far from complete.
Substantial and still well-preserved stone and brick structural remains
survive in situ, together with evidence of the earthwork ramparts. In addition
many individual items have been uncovered ranging from a 16th century canon to
waterlogged organic materials such as strips of cloth which would have been
used as wadding for musket balls. Extensive contemporary documents concerning
the Citadel and earlier fortifications also survive, adding considerably to
the monument's importance.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Howes, A, Foreman, M, Town and Gun, (1999)
Foreman, M, Goodhand, S, 'Post-Medieval Archaeology' in The Construction of Hull Citadel, , Vol. 30, (1996), 143-185

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.