The Solent provides access to the major harbours of Portsmouth and Southampton. Given the naval sensitivities of the area this seaway was heavily defended by a series of fortifications. The western entrance was defended by Hurst Castle built on a spit of land projecting into the Solent. The earliest phase was a Tudor fort contemporary with Deal and Walmer Castles in Kent. The castle was adapted in the Napoleonic Wars, and expanded in the 1850s, 1860s and 1870s. The English Heritage guidebook is by J.G. Coad.
Yarmouth Castle is located opposite Hurst Castle on the Isle of Wight. This was also a Tudor foundation. The guidebook is by S.E. Rigold.
Calshot Castle is located at the mouth of Southampton Water. This was also part of the Tudor defences of the Solent. During the First World War, Calshot became a seaplane base to protect against submarines. The guidebook is by J.G. Coad.
East Anglia is dominated by a series of Late Roman fortresses around its coast: from Brancaster on the north Norfolk coast, to Bradwell-on-Sea on the mudflats of Essex. These forts, known as ‘The Saxon Shore‘, continued round the coast of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. Several of them became sites of Christian foundations during the 7th century: Burgh Castle, (possibly) Walton Castle (near Felixstowe), and Reculver.
The lecture for the Ipswich Heritage Fortnight (2014) will explore some of the issues on this transformation from Late Roman Britannia to the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia. It will also suggest the way that this important part of East Anglia’s history could form part of a visitor trail.