Royal Commission fortifications at Forder Hill including two musketry lines and a road block


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 42582 50387, SX 42643 50328, SX 42700 50233, SX 42721 50239

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'. Despite some damage, the Royal Commission fortifications at Forder Hill survive comparatively well and represent a simple strategic and relatively inexpensive approach to defending this important area from ground based attack. There form an important part of the defensive chain proposed by the fortifications at a strategically important access point and represent a particularly unusual survival.


The monument, which falls into four areas of protection, includes Royal Commission fortifications consisting of two musketry lines and a road block situated along the northern road access through the Rame peninsula on Forder Hill at the point where all other lines of ground access are impeded by steep river valleys or defended by batteries. This line of defence thus provides cover from ground troops accessing the strategically important area from the south. The northern line survives as a low wall with angled musketry loops designed for kneeling or prone firing positions and was low enough for retreating troops to jump over. The line has been partly broken by the construction of a later building, and in this area only the foundations remain. To the south is a second musketry line which survives as a high stone wall with well spaced musketry loops at standing height. The wall was cut by a gateway in 1973 but apart from this, remains largely intact. Further south still are remains of a road block on either side of the current road and survives as two piers measuring approximately 0.7m square by 1.8m high with recesses for the timber block which would have sealed off the road. One of the piers was slightly damaged by a lorry in 1974. A timber pole to the west is possibly the remains of a flagstaff. Other fortifications in the vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.

Sources: HER:- PastScape Monument No:-437735 and 437734


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

Legacy System number:
CO 980
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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