Pendennis and St Mawes: guidebooks

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Pendennis Castle © David Gill

The castles at Pendennis and St Mawes were built to protect the Carrick Roads and Falmouth in Cornwall. Both appear to have been completed by 1543. They formed part of a wider network of coastal castles, including Deal and Walmer, and the Solent. For further details of the programme of defence see here.

Both castles were placed in State Guardianship in 1920 (from the War Office), and they were requisitioned for military purposes in the Second World War. They were re-opened to the public in 1946.

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1963 (5th impress. 1972)

A souvenir guide was produced in 1963, was continued into the 1970s under the Department of the Environment. This provides a guide to both castles as well as a historical introduction.

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1999 (repr. 2002)

English Heritage produced a colour guide to both castles in 1999 by Richard Linzey. It includes tours of both castles, as well as a page on the National Trust property of St Anthony Head Battery.

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2012 (2nd ed. 2018)

The latest guide by Paul Pattison has extended tours of both castles. There are special topics that include smuggling and piracy, the submarine minefield, as well as St Anthony Head. Foldout plans are printed inside the cover.

Ministry signs on St Mary’s

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Porth Hellick Down © Patrick Taylor

The ancient monuments on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly received Ministry signs. The chambered tomb on Porth Hellick Down is described as ‘the best preserved tomb of all those in the islands’, echoing O’Neil’s guidebook, ‘perhaps the best preserved of all those in the islands’. Again, ‘a few potsherds have been found in the chamber’, follows, ‘a few potsherds have been found in this tomb’.

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Innisidgen © Patrick Taylor

At Innisidgen the sign starts with the same description as Porth Hellick. The description in the guidebook, ‘Nothing is known to have been found in the chamber’, follows the sign, ‘the chamber has long since been rifled of its contents’.

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Lower Innisidgen © Patrick Taylor

The sign at Lower Innisidgen echoes the others.

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Bants Carn © Patrick Taylor

The sign notes, ‘Cremated bones and pieces of pottery were found in the chamber many years ago’, whereas the guidebook states, ‘Four piles of cremated bones were found at the inner end of the chamber many years ago, as well as some pieces of pottery in the passage just outside the entrance to the chamber’.

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Bants Carn Ancient Village © Patrick Taylor

Near to Bants Carn Burial Chamber is a village. The sign and guidebook place it to the 2nd–3rd centuries AD, describing it as ‘Roman period’ or even ‘Romano-British’. The sign and guidebook talks of ’round or oval huts … built of large, well-laid granite blocks’. The guidebook continues ‘Paths and garden plots or small fields may also be detected’.

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Harry’s Walls © Patrick Taylor

A later monument is the artillery fort known as Harry’s Walls.

We are grateful to Patrick Taylor for digitising the images.

Fort George: guidebooks

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Fort George © David Gill

Fort George was constructed after Culloden to place a garrison near Inverness. It became the home of the the Seaforths and then the Queen’s Own Highlanders, followed by the Royal Highland Fusiliers. The Ministry of Defence placed it in the care of the Department of the Environment in 1964. Iain MacIvor prepared the first guidebook in 1970.

There is a double page foldout frontispiece providing an aerial photograph of the fort (taken in 1968). The sections are: 

  • Highland garrisons
  • Fort George Ardersier
  • Building the fort
  • Later history
  • Description

The guidebook is illustrated with black and white photographs along with some plans. 

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1970

MacIvor’s guidebook was updated as a second edition in 1983. 

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1970 (2nd ed. 1983)

The second edition has an extended set of images. The text is similar. For example, the section on the Highland Garrisons comes under a general history section, introduced with the quotation, ‘A large sum of money spended in building’. The description is introduced with ‘Upon this barren, sandy point’.

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1988 (rev. ed. 2006)

MacIvor’s text continues in the Historic Scotland Official Souvenir Guide, revised by Doreen Grove. This contains a guided tour and a history, supported by colour images.

Carisbrooke Castle: Tudor defences

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Carisbrooke Castle, south-west bastion © David Gill

The castle at Carisbrooke on the Isle of Wight had strategic importance in the face of a possible Spanish invasion. Modifications were made to the inner bailey in 1587, and more extensive bastions and outer works were constructed between 1597 and 1602 to the design of the Italian FederigoGiainibelli. These included the creation of arrow-headed bastions.

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Carisbrooke Castle, south-west bastion © David Gill

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Carisbrooke Castle, east bastion © David Gill

Yarmouth Castle: safety first

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Yarmouth Castle © David Gill

Yarmouth Castle on the Isle of Wight retains a number of Ministry signs. One on the upper gun deck reminds visitors ‘to avoid accidents’.

For other types of Ministry warning signs:

For guidebooks to Yarmouth Castle see here.

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Yarmouth Castle © David Gill

Hurst Castle

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Hurst Castle © David Gill

Hurst Castle was built to guard the western approach to the Solent. At the centre lies the Tudor artillery fort constructed between 1541 and 1544.

The coastal defences were strengthened during the 1850s, and the west and east wings at Hurst were added in the 1860s and 1870s. It served as a coastal battery in World War II.

Opposite Hurst Castle was Fort Albert (on the right of the picture below).

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Hurst Castle from Needles Point © David Gill

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Hurst Castle and east wing © David Gill

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Fort Albert, the Needles, and Hurst Castle © David Gill