Pendennis peninsula fortifications


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:


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This copy shows the entry on 25-Jun-2021 at 11:09:29.


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

Cornwall (Unitary Authority)
National Park:
National Grid Reference:
SW 81976 32244, SW 82079 32165, SW 82415 31877

Reasons for Designation

This is one of the finest examples of a post-medieval defensive promontory fort in the country. Pendennis was developed as a strategic naval base from its foundation in the 1540's, until it was demilitarised in the 1950's. The buildings of the Henrician and Elizabethan castle demonstrate developing gunnery methods, as do the batteries. The Civil War defences incorporating hornworks and a redoubt, are prominent and Pendennis had particular significance as a staunch Royalist stronghold, besieged in 1646, and as an important Royalist port throughout the Civil War. The 18th, 19th and 20th century works illustrate important changes in weaponry and defences and in barrack accommodation and domestic use of the grounds. Pendennis, a major naval base for over 400 years, demonstrates the development of coastal defence from Tudor to modern times and having been de-commissioned in the mid-twentieth century, has not suffered losses due to recent demolition or development.


Pendennis peninsula projects south-eastwards into Falmouth Bay and, with St Anthony's Head and St Mawes, guards the entrance to the Carrick Roads, a large natural anchorage with a long and distinguished commercial and naval history. The headland incorporates numerous important defensive structures dating from the Prehistoric period to the 20th century, having been in continuous military occupation from the 16th century onwards. Remains include the probable site of an Iron Age cliff castle; an Early Tudor artillery fort (SW82433178), with tower, chemise and Governor's lodging, and a blockhouse, Little Dennis, at the waterline (SW82743154). The fort and blockhouse were developed in the reign of Elizabeth I (SW82383187) and added to in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. They are both Listed Grade I. There is also a half moon battery, built in the early 19th century and modified in the 20th century, a system of Civil War defences in the form of hornworks and other lines extending from the castle (SW82253206) and a forward defence at Upton's Mount (SW82003228), as well as batteries at Crab Quay (SW82633170) and Little Dennis. 19th century works include additions at Crab Quay battery and Middle Point battery (SW82623181) and generator rooms and stores on the east side (SW82563179), associated with the use of mines in the estuary. In the 20th century a pre-First World War main barrack block, water tower (SW82083216)and forward observation post (SW82083223) were built; batteries were upgraded and zig-zag slit trenches (SW81943227) were dug during the two World Wars. The extensive garrison garden on the south-western side of the headland was developed into a pleasure garden complex in the 19th century (SW82243183) Castle Drive, its associated carpark and visitor area, the road to the fort from the north-west, an area of private housing and quay on the north- east side of the headland (SW82503210), the above ground parts of the modern electricity sub-station within the hornworks, and the coastguard station are excluded from the scheduling as are the barracks and stores, however the ground beneath all these modern standing buildings is included in the scheduling. The 20th century forward observation post has now been demolished and is not included in the scheduling.

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


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

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Morley, B, The Castles of Pendennis and St Mawes, (1988), 2-14
Project proposals in file, Cornwall Archaeological Unit, Pendennis Project proposals,
Project proposals in file, Cornwall Archaeological Unit, The Pendennis Project,
SMR 18709.21 and .22,
SMR 18709.23,
SMR 18709.31,
SMR 18709.41,
SMR 18709.43,
SMR 18709.53,
SMR 18709.55,
SMR 18709.76, .73, .77, .86, .71,
SMR 18709.82,
SMR 18709.85,


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.

End of official listing

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