Royal Commission Fortification: unfinished battery at Knatterbury


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SX 42138 50064

Reasons for Designation

The Royal Commission fortifications are a group of related sites established in response to the 1859 Royal Commission report on the defence of the United Kingdom. This had been set up following an invasion scare caused by the strengthening of the French Navy. These fortifications represented the largest maritime defence programme since the initiative of Henry VIII in 1539-40. The programme built upon the defensive works already begun at Plymouth and elsewhere and recommended the improvement of existing fortifications as well as the construction of new ones. There were eventually some 70 forts and batteries in England which were due wholly or in part to the Royal Commission. These constitute a well defined group with common design characteristics, armament and defensive provisions. Whether reused or not during the 20th century, they are the most visible core of Britain's coastal defence systems and are known colloquially as `Palmerston's follies'. The Royal Commission unfinished battery at Knatterbury forms part of a unique chain of fortifications on the Rame peninsula and is important because it was never completed and will provide archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the method of construction applied to other fortifications of this period which were finished.


The monument includes a Royal Commission fortification situated on the Rame peninsula at the summit of Wiggle Cliff, overlooking Captain Blake's Point in Whitsand Bay. The fortification survives as the five-sided earthwork remains of an unfinished battery with parts of the outer rampart visible on the western (seaward) side standing to a height of 1.5m. It is separated from an inner rampart bank of up to 2.1m high by a shallow 0.9m wide ditch. Behind the inner rampart is a second ditch of up to 2.4m deep. The inner bank has four rectangular brick and concrete buildings set into it. To the rear of the battery is a scarp of approximately 1.2m high and elsewhere the earthworks survive differentially, but are visible on aerial photographs. The battery was never finished. A small work was proposed on Knatterbury Hill in 1860; land was purchased and some basic ground works commenced but this work was abandoned before 1869. Other similar fortifications in the vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-437736


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
CO 979
Legacy System:


This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

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