Archcliffe Fort


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016420

Date first listed: 19-Oct-1964

Date of most recent amendment: 21-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Archcliffe Fort
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2019. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
Use of this data is subject to Terms and Conditions.

The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1016420 .pdf

The PDF will be generated from our live systems and may take a few minutes to download depending on how busy our servers are. We apologise for this delay.

This copy shows the entry on 17-Feb-2019 at 12:39:45.


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

County: Kent

District: Dover (District Authority)

Parish: Dover

National Grid Reference: TR 31516 40283

Reasons for Designation

The strategic position of Dover at the closest point of the English coast to that of France, has led, from the Roman period onwards, to the development of extensive and complex systems of fortification. Many owed their design and construction to periods of political unrest within Europe, or to specific threats of invasion, both real and imagined. Some were obsolete by the time that they were completed. Their development may also be seen as a response to the changing nature of warfare, with the introduction of guns providing the stimulus for the most radical change.

The defences of Dover fall into two distinct groups: those commanding the heights; and those, such as Archcliffe Fort, in low-lying positions for the immediate defence of town and harbour.

Despite the loss of its seaward defences and the outermost elements of those on the landward side, Archcliffe Fort remains an important element in the story of Dover's fortification. Incorporating the remains of the fort constructed in 1539-40 as part of Henry VIII's maritime defence programme, itself considered to be of national importance, the surviving 17th century defences are of considerable rarity. In addition, the fort will contain buried archaeological deposits providing information about its structure and use.


The monument includes the surviving features of Archcliffe Fort, lying at the foot of Dover's Western Heights and forming part of the coastal defences of the town from at least the 16th century onwards.

The first fort, or bulwark, was constructed under Henry VIII in 1539 and 1540, although the initial fortification of the site may date back to the late 14th century. No trace of remains of these periods can be identified, although the evidence of early plans suggests that the Henrician defences included a pentagonal structure in the approximate position of the present western bastion. This was linked by a ditch to a gatehouse close to the site of the present eastern bastion. There were also buildings within the ditched enclosure.

The remains which survive today represent a substantial part of a bastioned trace fortification, dating from the early 17th century, of which the seaward face, entrance and bastions were modified in the 19th century. The seaward defences, subsequently removed by the construction of the railway in 1928, were modified during 1872 to include positions for five ten inch rifle muzzle loading guns. The landward side of the fort remains intact and largely unaltered. The landward curtain, over 150m in length, includes a ditch and stone-faced earth ramparts on which a new parapet was raised in 1755, and which still show evidence of firing steps. The curtain terminates in two bastions and in its centre is the entrance to the fort, remodelled in 1807-9 and again in 1814-15 when a brick barbican, now largely destroyed by the construction of the A20, was added to its front. During World War II a second vehicle access was cut through the rampart, immediately east of the gatehouse.

The free-standing buildings within the interior of the fort and all modern security fences and fittings are excluded from the scheduling although the ground beneath all these features is included. The monument is in the care of the Secretary of State.

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: 26797

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Welby, D E, The History of Archcliffe Fort, Dover, Kent, (1991)

End of official listing