Dover Castle

Close by Dover, Kent. Maintained by English Heritage.

The first ramparts on the site of Dover castle date back to the Iron Age. The remains of a Roman lighthouse (pharos) and an Anglo-Saxon church can be found inside the walls. However, the bulk of the masonry dates to the twelfth century or later.

Beseiged in July 1216 during the civil war following the signing of the Magna Carta, Dover Castle held out with difficulty until October, when the death of King John brought about a truce. During the seige, a mine brought down the North Gate, and subsequent rebuilding and strengthening took account of the incident. The constable, Hubert de Burgh, changed the castle's purpose. Before, castles had been thought well-made if they provided a strong place in which a garrison could not be easily assaulted by a besieger. de Burgh turned Dover into a place of active defense, in which fortified gatehouses and underground passages leading to numerous sally ports allowed the defenders to easily attack detachments of the beseigers.

In the mid-1700's, a war scare (France and Spain had united against England again) brought a full garrison back after over a century of neglect. A few of the outer curtain towers were shortened to provide clear fields of fire for the emplaced artillery. During the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic war periods (1792-1815), nearly all the remaining towers were shortened to rampart level, and the keep was strengthened and served as a gun platform.