Mount Batten: 17th century artillery tower, Civil War breastwork, and World War II remains


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1017599

Date first listed: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 08-Dec-1997


Ordnance survey map of Mount Batten: 17th century artillery tower, Civil War breastwork, and World War II remains
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
© British Crown and SeaZone Solutions Limited 2018. All rights reserved. Licence number 102006.006.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: City of Plymouth (Unitary Authority)

National Grid Reference: SX 48587 53222


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

Plymouth's position on the south coast and at the western approaches to the English Channel has made it vulnerable to military attack over a period extending back to the 15th century and the limestone headland of Mount Batten has played a role in the defence of Plymouth from the 16th century. Its strategic position in relation to Plymouth Sound was recognised during the threat of Spanish invasion during the 1580s. Later, during the Civil War, an earthwork was constructed on the headland by the Parliamentarian forces resisting the siege of Plymouth by Royalist forces. Following the victory of Parliament the Mount Batten artillery tower was constructed to overlook Cattewater and the Sound, perhaps in readiness for the war with the Dutch. The tower survives well and illustrates the strategic importance of Mount Batten, a point further illustrated three centuries later by the number of World War II emplacements located on the headland as defence against attack from both air and sea. The part Mount Batten played in the defence of Plymouth is well documented, and identifies the importance of the site over five centuries as one of the nation's most important naval ports and dockyards.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument, which corresponds to the surviving limestone plateau of Mount Batten, includes a 17th century artillery tower, and a Civil War breastwork as well as sundry World War II remains. The headland of Mount Batten projects into the upper eastern reaches of Plymouth Sound and the Cattewater opposite the harbour and has provided a natural location for the seaward defences of the city of Plymouth over the preceeding centuries. The 17th century artillery tower of three storeys was built on the headland perhaps between 1645-60 as part of the defences of Plymouth Sound and is named after Captain Batten, the Parliamentarian naval commander at Plymouth during the Civil War. It is a circular tower 9.1m high, 14m in diameter, and with walls approximately 1m thick; it has a castellated parapet with embrasures for ten guns. It is entered by a modern external stair and has original internal stairs leading to the roof and basement. A Civil War earthwork was noted close to the tower in 1882; this earthwork is thought to date from the siege of Plymouth from 1643-45 and may be part of a Parliamentarian retreat-work shown on a contemporary Royalist map. It survives as a slight bank and ditch on the south western side of the seaward slope of the headland. During World War II the need for effective air and coastal defence saw the area of Mount Batten given over to both air and sea defence structures. These structures include the remains of two Light Anti-Aircraft gun emplacements and a signal identification panel on the area of the plateau south west of the artillery tower, and two L-shaped anti-submarine searchlight batteries of brick and shuttered concrete construction which survive intact minus their searchlights; they lie just above the high water mark of medium tides on the south west rock bench of the headland. Excluded from the scheduling are all Department of Environment and post World War II signposts, the modern external flight of stairs on the artillery tower, all post-World War II walls, fencing, tarmac, concrete surfaces, make- up for modern surfaces, railings, and modern steps, although the ground beneath all of these features is included.

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: 29630

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 136-7
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 138
Pye, A, Woodward, F, The Historic Defences of Plymouth, (1996), 136
Gray, T, Stoyle, M, 'History Today' in A Cavalier Cartographer, , Vol. 44(3), (1994)
Report No 96.27, Dyer, M and Rance, C, Mount Batten Headland Public Open Space - Arch Assessment, (1996)
Title: Map of Defences of Plymouth Source Date: 1716 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Kings Mss 45 f34
Title: Plan of Citadel and Defences Source Date: 1668 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Mss 16731D

End of official listing