Castles, Fortresses & Associated Works => Sheppey => Topic started by: kyn on May 07, 2011, 21:32:07

Title: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on May 07, 2011, 21:32:07
Nobody seems 100% sure that this fort was ever constructed but I have found some plans (possibly only proposed plans) of the fortification  :)

Thought to have been drawn 1574
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7225Medium.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7226Medium.jpg)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 08, 2011, 07:46:26
Great find :)

I read that the construction was started but never finished because the area was unstable?
They did some ground work and started on the foundations then stopped because it started sinking.
Eventually it was "washed away".
I think it was when I was looking for that zoomable map thing I read it..
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 08, 2011, 09:11:23
Sorry, and embarresed to ask, where was/is Swaleness? I don't know Sheppy as well as I could or should being as I have lived in the Canterbury area most of my life. Sentinel S4.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 08, 2011, 11:03:21
The Fort would have been about here.. http://www.bing.com/maps/?v=2&cp=51.42086235833653~0.7409242264716065&lvl=14&dir=0&sty=s&sp=Point.sk3tkrh1tk4b_Untitled%20item____&form=LMLTCC
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on May 08, 2011, 13:08:43
Couple more from roughly the same date as above
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7359Medium.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7360Medium.jpg)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 08, 2011, 13:17:09
 :) Where did you find them?
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: sheppey_bottles on May 08, 2011, 13:48:11
Found this re the Fort at the mouth of the Swale where it meets the medway....

http://homepage.mac.com/philipdavis/English%20sites/1668.html

And this... Click Swaleness fort link and also Aerial.

http://castlefacts.info/contentpages/castledetails/castlemapindetail.asp?country=England&countyid=22&County=Kent&castleid=1895&castlename=Swale%20Ness%20Fort&latitude=51.4228&longitude=0.7288&uin=11668
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on May 08, 2011, 14:21:30
Paul, the plans are from National Archives.  Still a couple more to come  :)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 08, 2011, 14:31:02
Cant wait :)

I bet He had to drag you there (NOT!) :)

Meanwhile I found that Zoomify link fing... http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/unvbrit/a/zoomify82828.html

It shows the location and the Fort layout is totally different ... Cant find the article I read though :(
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on May 10, 2011, 20:31:37
(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7385Medium.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF7386Medium.jpg)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 10, 2011, 20:37:42
It looks like they started to build this design. There is a similar shape in the marsh. I just checked it out on GE. I really wish this would have been built then we would have had best part of 500 years of water forts to compare.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: LenP on May 10, 2011, 22:44:15
How wonderfully evocative:

'A mayne bank for the sea in raging tempest.'
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 17, 2011, 11:53:15
Found that info about the Fort..I'd love it to be wrong... :)

http://extranet7.kent.gov.uk/ExploringKentsPast/SingleResult.aspx?uid=MKE3250
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 16:27:32
Paul suggested to SentinalS4 that the fort would have been near Queenborough Spit, just north of Deadmans Island, and referred to this Bing map:

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness01.jpg)

the blue arrow 1 marking the spot.

Do you have evidence of this? Were you thinking that owing to erosion the shoreline would have been out there 400 years ago, or were you expecting the fort to be on the mudflats in tidal water? Assuming you're correct I have evidence of erosion to the N and E sides of Deadmans Island, and there's a wall fragment right on the shore today (arrow 2 on the Bing map above).

Paul's liink to the KCC page reveals that some 5000 foot of wall were constructed and paid for. That corresponds to a circular feature with a diameter of 500 yards or so. To judge 500 yards, that's about the distance across the West Swale from the Deadmans Island shore to the Queenborough seawall immediately opposite (map above). It would also fit nicely between the north shore of Deadmans Island and Queenborough Spit, with the wall fragment in the right place for the southern boundary. At this point I need to find some early 19th c OS maps to compare the shoreline then, and where that wall fragment continued to.

SentinalS4 suggested a location he found on GoogleEarth, presumably south of Shepherds Creek and south of my arrow 3 above, an enclosure with walls intact. The 500 yd diameter circle would fit into that enclosure but I haven't measured the actual total length of those walls. Within that enclosure is a mound (my arrow 4), and other earthworks not shown on the Bing map. There are similar mounds in various places on the Sheppey marshes and I've always understood they were refuges for sheep during floods.

Does anyone know more about the name Swaleness. Are there other references apart from the fort? I haven't searched yet, it would be nice to know if it was an established name or invented for the fort. Deadmans Island is a recent name, dating from the 19th c.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness02.jpg)

This is a map of the same area, illustrating a booklet published by Settle Speakman & Co in 1957. It looks like a 6 in. OS map, with additions to show the company's business. The map is basically from around 1920 or 1930 (anyone familiar with Queenborough will recognise that there are no houses in Borough Road or Dumergue Ave, and there are no playing fields at the end of Castlemere Ave). Coronation Crescent is outlined but in a different style from the OS map itself as though it might be a later modification of the original.

I've put my arrows in the same places with the same numbers.

The north shore of Deadman.s Island has more salting north of the wall fragment (2), confirming erosion over the past 50-70 years. That shore takes all the storms, with a mile of open water across the Medway to Grain opposite, and much more NE out to the Thames Estuary. The wall fragment is about the same, nibbled by the sea at each end, especially in the NE. This map also shows the earthworks near the mound (4). There's a water basin immediately to the W, and a wall ending in a ring to the NW, all within the enclosure.

Erosion is less obvious in Shephers Creek and along the Swale.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness03.jpg)

This is from Google Earth, of the mudflat from Deadmans Island north to Queenborough Spit dated 2010. This is the site proposed by Paul. Note that I've turned it round so that North is at the bottom. I did this to get the shadows right and improve the sense of 3D. This would be how the satellite took the photograph. (1) is where Paul put his arrow at Queenborough Spit, (2) is the wall fragment, now right on the shoreline. The tide looks as though it's nearly in. (5) is the site of the Flushing Pier (Queenborough Pier on the second map above), marked by piles out in the water. It's about 500 yards from the seawall at (5) to the nearest end of the wall fragment (2). So there's also about 500 yards across these flats for Paul's site.

[To be continued]
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 18, 2011, 16:59:50
Hi, Sylvaticus.
     I have just done a very rough hexagon on GE with the wall (2) providing the base line dimension. It came out closer to 600yrds than 500 but is possible. However, and this is the biggie, none of Kyns plans show a hexagon. They all show other shapes ot incomplete walls. I thought that the earthwork that looks like part of a compass (as in circle drawing) was part of it all on Deadmans Island. As for Deadmans Island I thought that the name came from the days of the black death and those inhabitants of the Island infected were left there to die. I am probably very wrong in that but it is what I heard.
                            Sentinel S4
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 17:34:47
... It came out closer to 600yrds than 500 ... none of Kyns plans show a hexagon ...

SentinalS4, I took the circle as a model as it's easy to calculate and easy to see in one's mind. We have the total length of wall actually constructed before they gave up and assuming a circle we get a diameter around 500 or even 550 yards (for a quicky in the head, 5000/3 is around 1660 feet or 550 yards). I'd expect the builders on the spot had to be practical and make use of local features, especially for circumferance walls, especially in those wet conditions at Swaleness. At the other end of the hierarchy, whoever is paying can also adjust plans to cost.

I found a page on Wikipedia that said the name Deadmans Island came into use during the 19th C. Documented burials are quoted from the hulks at Sheerness. I'd previously heard the RN had used it for burials from the Nore especially French prisoners with cholera. The name could come from the exposure of bones by erosion.

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 18, 2011, 18:07:10
Hi there.
          I think my very rough hexagon, I was going on the fact that the remaining wall is almost three sides of a hexagon, came out to close on 560yrds. Not far off of your calculation.  :) I was only pratting about on GE and not doing an intense study, it was very rough. :) :) :) Also if you back GE to a past date there is a low tide exposure and it seems that the mudbank is not too deep underwater at high tide. I like the idea of a hexagon, look at the remains and you can see corners, as it has a nice geometric quality about it. How easy is it to get out to the spit? Also is anyone brave, or mad, enough to go out there at low tide and get some pics?
                                                                                    Sentinel S4.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 18:45:06
Continuing from above.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness04.jpg)

This is a GoogleEarth photo of the area immediately south of Deadman's island, across Shepherds Creek, in 2010. North is still at the bottom to enhance the 3D effect.

(3) is the northern part of the wall enclosing the area. Just inside the wall at the arrowhead is a barge abandoned in the wall ditch. (3a) is a line of posts that would have reinforced and protected the shoreline when put in. This is also a measure of erosion on this exposed corner. The line continues across and beyond arrow (3) to join the existing shoreline a short way into the creek. A similar line of posts runs out from the Deadmans Island side of the creek ending just below the number 3.

I measured the length of the enclosing walls on a 2.5 in map and found them o total about 3600 feet, a good bit less than the 5000+ that was paid for. Assuming the surveyors and builders were honest when claiming, this would not be the site. Unless the work included other walls, such as along Loading Hope Reach to connect with Tailness Marshes (900 feet) and within the enclosure.

(4) is the mound previously seen (earlier posting) inside the enclosure, the rectangular pool or basin immediately to the right, and the straight wall ending in a ring is just below.

It's very striking how the enclosure is till salting in character, with countless meandering creeklets. At the same time it's nod difficult to distinguish between the natural meandering waterways and the strict geometric shapes of human work. In contrast Tailness Marshes is slightly higher and not cut up by meandering tidal creeklets. The large green pool at the edge of Tailness Marshes is recent and isn't marked on my 1990 2.5 in map.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness06.jpg)

This is a close-up of the mound itself (4) and the rectangular pool or basin (4a), viewing from an altitude of 400 ft where the individual pixels begin to be visible. There are straight ditches 4b and 4c, but not at 90 degrees to 4a - are we looking at preparations for a bastion?

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/swaleness07.jpg)

This is the bank just north of the mound. The angle between the bank and the ditch 4c is more acute than 90 degrees, so, again, are we looking at prepartions for a second bastion? Whatever the reason, there is a continuous system of straight ditches from 4b to 4a to 4c to the bank ditches, turning at acute angles.


Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 19:06:48
... if you back GE to a past date there is a low tide exposure and it seems that the mudbank is not too deep underwater at high tide ....

SentinalS4, I didn't know you could look at previous dates on GE, I must look into that, thanks for the tip.

I wouldn't walk across any mudflat. They're particularly treacherous around Sheppey, you can never tell where they're stable and where they're quicksand, and conditions can change quickly. People who go out regularly (to dig for cockles, or for worms) know their patch, and wouldn't venture to the side. And Queenborough spit is isolated, no fire brigade to pull you out.

In any case when the sea pulls down a bank or salting, it's all the same clay that's immediately reduced to a slurry of silt. I haven't seen any suggestion that the builders of Swaleness had got round to using stone. There won't be anything to see. Not like Warden Church below Warden Point, for example.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 18, 2011, 20:10:37
Heres a map from 1870's
It shows how much erosion has taken place in 140 years.
It also shows the Fleet on Sheppey the original 1574 map shows a creek/fleet opposite the site..It could be the same one but re-routed.

(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/spit2.jpg).

Some info on Pastscape http://www.pastscape.org/hob.aspx?hob_id=418850

some pics..


(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/spit.jpg)

(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/DSCF1037.jpg)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 18, 2011, 20:48:27
This is getting good. I have just looked at my 1870(ish) OS online.

A; The wall at where we think the fort could be, out on the point, turns 90 deg and is not part of a hexagon. That would put the 'blunt' end towards the Medway area and the 'pointy' end towards Sheerness.

B; The big enclosure at the end of Deadmans Island is shown but blanked out. All the other saltings and marsh are shown as such and in some detail. In my map it is like the two dockyards and most of Dover; Military owned. That is a guess because it is blank.

I am really enjoying this, thanks again Kyn.

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 21:28:12
Thank you Paul, that was a definite measure of erosion of Deadmans Island. We now have steps from 1870 to 1930 to 1990 to 2010. The effect on the wall is less dramatic but 1870 jast catches a 90 degree bend out to see at the western end.

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 18, 2011, 21:51:11
I know the old maps are not that accurate but I tried a bit of an overlay with the best match I could get.
Black line original shoreline.
Yellow shoreline now.

It puts the fort well into the spit...

(http://i297.photobucket.com/albums/mm223/Paulwp/Capture2-9.jpg)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 18, 2011, 22:27:54
Another point from Paul's 1870 map is the name, today's Deadmans Island was Swaleness then. I was half hoping to see that in view of how recent the name Deadmans Island is said to be. It also confirms the name Swaleness has survived a few hundred years. Swaleness in 1870 could mean the OS were conservative and not quite ready to update to the popular local name.

I have an OS book from 1988, "Kent" in the series Ordnance Survey Historical Guides. It's arranged in atlas form for the whole county, using 1 in. maps published between 1816 and 1844, but all based on the Mudge survey of 1801. Swaleness falls at the edge of four sheets, and is spelt Scale Ness (perhaps Seale Ness, e reproduces poorly on most of the maps). But there's a Deadmans Island too, but further west by Stangate Creek, at the end of Shepherds Creek (which is not continuous but ends behind the shoreline). This is more evidence of erosion, a good bit of the 1801 Deadmans Island has since disappeared at the end of Stangate Creek. Being 1 in scale, a lot of detail has been left off, but Stangate Creek is indicated as the quarantine station, so the shore alongside is an obvious place for burying dead from on board.

Paul's photographs were nice to see, clearly showing the wall fragment and how little salting that remains north of it.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 18, 2011, 22:44:52
(http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m595/Sentinels4/GoogleEarth_Image.jpg)

           I really hope this has worked. The image shoud show Swale Ness at low tide. On the mud flats there are two dark patches indicating that there is less water over them and they dry out faster. Seeing as I have rotated the image to match Sylvaticus it should be noted that the more Northern dark patch would be more or less where the fort should have stood. Also I have noticed in this image there are two wrecks within the enclosure to the South could this be a new defensive measure? :)
           Sylvaticus you will find a clock with a green arrow on the tool bar of Google Earth. Click on this and you can time travel without a TARDIS. There are even late 1940's black and white overheads of London and a few other areas, awesome to see just how much has changed. The shipping on the Thames and in the Royal Docks is just stunning.

 
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 23, 2011, 01:26:42
... on the mud flats there are two dark patches indicating that there is less water over them and they dry out faster ... the more Northern dark patch would be more or less where the fort should have stood ... Also I have noticed in this image there are two wrecks within the enclosure to the South

Thank you SentinalS4 for pointng me to the earlier years in GoogleEarth

I zoomed down to about 500 ft altitude to have a look at your dark patches seen at low water in April 2007 on the Swaleness flat close to Queenborough Spit, a possible location for the fort proposed in 1574.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2007b.jpg)

I've tweeked the contrast to help show up detail, and turned the picture round as before with north at the bottom to get the best 3D effect from the shadows.

First, the mudflat has a streaky structure we'll also see elsewhere in other pictures below. This is possibly a ripple-like structure left by the outgoing tide. There are also deeper channels draining the saltings from Deadmans Island out across the flat. Both these features show through the dark colouring. I suspect we're looking at seaweed here, lying flat now at low tide, but will rise again and stand up when the water returns.

There are also thick lines, straight and curved, crossing the flat in various directions. I'm sure these are tracks left by the keels of vessels crossing in too shallow water.

The next picture shows exactly the same area in December 2003, now covered by the tide which is almost in.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2003b.jpg)

A striking difference. First, a considerable number of circular tracks. Secondly, no dark partch, but plenty of green indicating there's weed there. What kind of vessel would go round and round like this in tight spirals? What about people playing about with water scooters? And why just here? Hoping to find artefacts from the fort, or remains from the cholera graves, or just skylarking?

In any case, neither the weed nor the tracks are relics from the 16th c. But they are relevant for how erosion works here. These spiral tracks had been completely washed out and eliminated by 2007. Assuming the weed patch had been ripped up by the scooters n 2003, it had grown back again by 2007.

The next picture shows the same area now.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2011b.jpg)

The water's edge crosses this picture, leaving the top right corner exposed and dry. The large dark patch of 2007 has gone, but there are smaller patches on what were the edges. Possibly different species of seaweed, some browner, some greener. The spiral tracks have gone, there's just one new circle, and more straight keel marks.

Taken together, these pictures show how the surface of the mudflat changes from year to year, obliterating recent features. While the work done on the fort, 5600 ft of clay wall, was 400 years ago. The wall was 8 feet high and 25 feet wide, the material coming from a ditch dug on either side (the usual procedure in these marshes). If the work was done in the area as it is today between Deadmans Island and Queenborough Spit, the wall fragment on the shore of Deadmans Island might be the last remnant of that 5600 ft of wall (Paul posted recent photos of the wall fragment on 18 May).
The next pictures show that wall fragment in 2003 and 2007.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2003a.jpg)

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2007a.jpg)

The tide was just a few feet from the saltings in 2003, and right out in 2007. There appears to be a thin layer of sand running through the clay a few feet below the surface of the saltings, visible where the covering layer of clay has been washed away. The mud was severely churned by the scooters in 2003, but those tracks were washed away without trace by 2007. Above all, there's no trace of the material eroded from the eastern end of the wall (right-hand end) between 2003 and 2007. That's how quickly it's slurried up and carried away by the tide to be deposited somewhere else as silt - at the bottom of the Medway and the Swale, at the Nore, maybe even on the banks of the estuary or in the North Sea.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: ryththa on May 23, 2011, 16:41:48

Hi, hope you do not mind me joining in with this discusion?

A few of us have only today (23rd May) been researching Swaleness Fort at Sheerness Library! couldn't believe it when I saw these posts.

The library has a collection of copies of useful maps, including a black and white version of the fort plan.

We concluded that the fort was most likely lost under the mud to the north of deadman island (I also agree that the name derives from the burying of bodies from prison hulks etc), as some of the recent discussions seem to suggest.

We also found a few literary references. Rogers. p.g., The Dutch in the Medway, p.33. Rogers gives the date for construction as 1575, fifteen years after Upnor but built for similar purposes, although the designs are quite different and worthy of closer comparison I think. He says that the fort was never properly maintained (which were during this period?) and that it fell into disuse quickly. This might be due to the start of the rise of improved Sheerness defences.

Jones. J, R., The Anglo-Dutch Wars of the Seventeenth Century, mentions a dutch agent called Herman Ghijsen in the pay of De Witt. Also see Herbert Rowan's book, 'John De Witt, Statesman of the True Freedom, 1986. pp. 94 - 103.

This Dutch spy scouted out the medway and its defences in 1664 in readiness for the raid in 1666. Sheerness library just happens to have a copy of a Dutch map made in celebration of the raid in 1667. This clearly shows a construction just where Swaleness fort should be, albeit one that it seems may have been long defunct. I have found no record of it taking part in the defence of the Medway; as yet anyway. It seems it may have been recorded as a marker to help direct the fleet.

This suggests that the fort was still in existance and visible in 1666. Still more than enough time for nature to reclaim any evidence, especially if it was later robbed out to recoup funds for other projects.

Methinks a trip to the records office is needed here.

I also think that parts of the area can be approached, with caution, via a few paths. may be worth a look in the summer.




Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Leofwine on May 23, 2011, 19:09:49
This Dutch spy scouted out the medway and its defences in 1664 in readiness for the raid in 1666. Sheerness library just happens to have a copy of a Dutch map made in celebration of the raid in 1667. This clearly shows a construction just where Swaleness fort should be, albeit one that it seems may have been long defunct. I have found no record of it taking part in the defence of the Medway; as yet anyway. It seems it may have been recorded as a marker to help direct the fleet.

That map sounds interesting!  I have two Dutch maps made around that time commemorating the raid, but sadly no sign of the fort on either, though one does show several forts/batteries on Sheppey.   Out of interest does the map show the whole attack, right up to Chatham?
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 23, 2011, 22:46:49
Just been looking at another post by Kyn. That of Col Debbeigs proposed forts in 1780. There is no sign at all of Swaleness Fort. Everything else is shown but there is nothing indicating any structure on Swaleness. Sentinel S4.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 24, 2011, 03:09:31
Hy Ryththa, thanks for contributing. Your Dutch map was a good find. Will you be able to post a copy here? The information I have is that the Privy Council approved drainage and banking of Swaleness in Sept 1574. Earthworks were created but the fortifications were not built and the project was abandoned. The plan was to station the fleet at Swaleness in readiness for a Spanish attack. Eventually the Armada didn't come until 1588 and was defeated elsewhere. This information came from the descriptions to maps at the British Librarythat I'll be posting soon. The KCC link posted earlier in this thread leads to a ref. that 5600 ft of bank were built and paid for in 1575, before abandoning the project. This all suggests to me that it would have looked like any other part of the marshes, an area of saltings enclosed within an earth wall with ditches either side to provide the material. There's a fragment of wall remaining on the northern shore of Deadmans Island, precisely in the right place if the site really was between there and Queenborough Spit.

Do you mean "the fort was most likely lost under the mud" should be taken literally? I think it's more likely to have been just washed away. Remember the mud flat slopes down towards low water level, while the original saltings and the earth walls would have continued horizontally out to the spit. The difference means an enormous volume of clay that's no longer there.

I'm not sure there are paths that go out there. I've zoomed in with GoogleEarth to scan the whole area. The walls are probably intact from the bridge to Tailness, but beyond that there are several breaches were the tide moves in and out in deeper channels. Plan it carefully. Paul posted photographs a few days ago, showing the wall fragment and the condition of what's left of Deadmans Island.

An afterthought regarding the Dutch attack and Swaleness, a Dutch painting of the view from Sheerness across the Swale and Medway during the battle:

http://www.nmm.ac.uk/collections/explore/object.cfm?ID=BHC0294

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 24, 2011, 12:13:05
Please nobody go out on the mud It is DANGEROUS and theres nothing to see but mud...
Some of the mudpools are 10ft deep..
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 24, 2011, 17:30:05
... there are two wrecks within the enclosure to the South could this be a new defensive measure? ...

Hi SentinalS4, yes, there are two boats in the enclosure south of Deadmans Island, I'd only spotted one of them. These are barges, presumably dumped there in the late 1930s or after 1945, like so many others round Sheppey and Chitney, and presumably elsewhere along the Medway and the Thames. There must be topics about this elsewhere on this site if you need to know more. They do provide an indication of
the size of the walls and the size of the wall ditch. I assume this is what Swaleness Fort looked like once the earthworks were completed in 1575 and then abandoned. Those wrecks are also a measure of the size of the breach in the wall, it is, or was, navigable for these vessels, at least at high spring tides.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2011c.jpg)

This shows the remains of Deadmans Island (DM2) with the wall fragment (W) today, and the enclosure between Shepherds Creek (SC) and Loading Hope Reach of the Swale (LHR). Once again, I've turned the
Google photo round with North at the bottom to enhance the 3D effect of the shadows (the satellite was looking at the northern face of the walls and salting edges). The two barges are at B and B. This enclosure had a hard for landing (H), opposite Queenborough Hard (QH), a manmade strip of shingle to land and walk on at various states of the tide. Queenborough hard was eventually built up with stone. This enclosure has never had a name on any map I've seen. As children we gave the name "Deadmans Island" to everything visible from the seawall, which effectively meant this enclosure stretching from opposite Queenborough Creek to the Flushing Pier. Structurally, this enclosed area is an extension of Tailness Marshes (TM). While on the subject of placenames here, I was confused at first by only having seen small parts of too few maps. I now know that Shepherds Creek was formerly open only into the Swale. By 1969, it was just a few feet from the Medway further west. Before that the Medway shoreline was continuous from the Swale all the way west to Stangate Creek. The earliest appearance of "Deadmans Island" is on the first 1 inch OS survey of 1801 and is located at the Stangate Creek end (DM1), subsequently it was also added at the eastern end (DM2), and eventually it was discontinued at the Stangate end. Effectively, Deadmans Island was hardly a strict island, but was the continuous strip of saltings outside (north of) the established wall from Stangate Creek, round Tailness Marsh, along Loading Hope Reach and round the unnamed enclosure opposite Queenborough.

I suggested above (13/5) that this enclosure, with its internal earthworks E, was a candidate for the site of Swaleness fort, but everybody's expectations are that it lay north of Deadmans Island and has
been entirely eroded since 1575. Sentinal4 also pointed out the strong similarity in shape between the wall fragment (W) and a segment of the outer wall on one of the building plans for the fort posted by
KYN on 4/5 (the "mayne bank for the defense of the sea in ragying tempest"). I still believe this enclosure represents the appearance of the actual fort earthworks when it was abandoned - an outer
earthen wall and ditch, and possibly a start on internal ditches and walls, but nothing more.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessGE2011ea.jpg)

This shows the whole relevant area from Queenborough Spit (QS) and the West Swale (WS) to Stangate Creek (StC). I've added a circle over the mudflat out to the spit, the circumferance approximating the
5600 ft of bank completed for the fort (assuming it all went into the "mayne bank"), aligning it with the wall fragment (W) on Deadmans Island. A similar circle over the unnamed enclosure south of Shepherds Creek shows that area is comparable in size.

Finally, Paul noted in two postings on 18/5 that the northern end of Swaleness was opposite a fleet on Sheppey at what was until recently Westminster. There are two channels draining the Queenborough and Sheerness marshes. One (C1) meandered north of Queenborough from Barrows Hill and was redirected to an outlet south of the former gasworks (WG). The other (C2) comes down from Sheerness and was directed to an outlet north of the gasworks. This area has now been cleared and is one vast parking space for imported cars.

Queenborough spit (the low water limit of Swaleness) is located opposite Westminster today, and, submerged, can be seen continuing NE between the Swale and the Medway. This brings us back to erosion again. if Swaleness reached as far north as Westminster at the end of the 16th c, was the spit opposite Bluetown? And was Swaleness oposite Bluetown with the spit opposite Garrison Point in 1066? Or has erosion accelerated in recent centuries. It would be useful to have some professional expertise on erosion in the Medway in order to fully understand how those intitial earthworks for the intended Swaleness Fort was swept away. The author of the building plans knew exactly what raging tempests were in this area.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 24, 2011, 17:56:39

Just been looking at another post by Kyn. That of Col Debbeigs proposed forts in 1780. There is no sign at all of Swaleness Fort. Everything else is shown but there is nothing indicating any structure on Swaleness. Sentinel S4.

Perhaps there was no reason for Colonel Debbeigs to be interested in any remains of the abandoned Swaleness Fort site. After 200 years, half of it or more would have already been washed away. The first OS surveys were being started a few years later in the 1790s and published in the first decades of the 19th c.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 24, 2011, 22:19:19
Im sorry i cant see a wall fragment just a ditch? :(

My pics show no walls just earth/London Clay..

All traces of the Fort have long gone or it would be recorded by EH or Wessex Archaeology.

Wessex Archaeology suveyed all around Sheppey/Medway area and nothing shows in their reports.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 26, 2011, 02:29:46
... Im sorry i cant see a wall fragment just a ditch? ... All traces of the Fort have long gone or it would be recorded by EH or Wessex Archaeology ...

Hi Paul, for the quickest response I took the liberty to put some notes on the picture you posted above:

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessPaul02.jpg)

For the sake of anyone not familiar with Queenborough, Paul took this picture across the Swale looking NW across the NE tip of Deadmans Island with the Medway beyond and Grain in the distance. To the right, beyond Deadmans Island, we can just see the mudflat referred to so often in this thread, which continues out to Queenborough Spit off the right side of the photo, and is the expected site of the fort.

(S) is the eastern edge of the Deadmans Island salting extending south to Shepherds Creek, off the picture to the left. (SC) is the crumbling NE end of this salting. Coming to the Wall fragment, (WT) is the top surface of that part of the fragment that appears more or less intact, except that the south face (WS) at this eastern end has been eroded, exposing its internal structure, in particular a distinct horizontal line that I interpret as the original  surface of the salting on which the wall material was deposited. At the left edge of Paul's photo, there is still grass on the south face of the wall. (O) is the outlet of a series of minor channels draining the salting this way. The light-coloured material in the outlet is fine sand or silt that appears to come from a thin layer beneath the surface of the salting and which is washed down to the shore once the sea has exposed it. This channel might be the ditch that Paul refers to, although I can't make out a ditch (i.e. man-made) to the south of this wall fragment when looking at maps or GoogleEarth. There is a ditch along the north side (not visible in the photo). Finally, (C) is the crumbling eastern end of this wall fragment.

A close look at the wall fragment on GoogleEarth, facing south, the letters correspond to those I added to Paul's photo:

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessWallGE2011a.jpg)


I had already seen one report from Wessex Archeology related to the Kingsnorth power station, but I haven't found a reference there to Swaleness, but there is a very interesting review of conditions in the Medway estuary since the ice age, relevant for erosion here. I'll look for more of their reports and return to this point again.

I've no idea what function this wall served, elsewhere such walls enclose an area of salting for some purpose - grazing, saltworks, reclaiming land, flood protection etc. It struck me that the southern part of the wall constructed for the fort site should be located about here. The length of wall built and paid for was 5600 ft, corresponding to a circle with a diameter of 1800ft or a square with sides 1400ft. (for example). Assuming all that work went exclusively into the outer boundary wall. An area that size would cover the entire spit, extending northward from this location. It's 1500ft from this wall fragment across the mudflat to the low tide limit, measured on Google Earth.

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on May 26, 2011, 10:55:35
(http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m595/Sentinels4/george-image8.jpg)1
(http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m595/Sentinels4/george-image6.jpg)2
(http://i1133.photobucket.com/albums/m595/Sentinels4/george-image3.jpg)3

Hi, Sylvaticus.
                  I found these three on a 1870(ish) OS. That is very 'ish' as there are several important rail-links missing that were certainly complete by 1865 but not shown here.
                  1. Not a great definition but it shows the wall on the tip of Deadmans Island, like you I have always refered to the whole lot as Deadmans Island. It shows Shepherds Creek and the lower enclosure. The lower enclosure has nothing in it. It is shown as the nearby military instalations, a blank. Now could this be that it was a tidal pond or did the Army or Navy has dibs in it? If it was a pond then why? If military then again why?
                  2. As above but a larger area. The railway is up and running and goes through to Bluetown and no branch to Sheerness on sea. From West Minster the railway runs along the sea wall with mud flats to one side into the terminus. The dockyard starts the other side of Sheerness pier.
                  3. This is added so no one can ask about the other end of Sheherds Creek. Deadmans Island is shown connected at the Western end to Chitney Marshes.
                  I think there was something there but time and tide have removed all but that short length of mud wall. However; what was that enclosure for to the South?
                                                                                                                  Sentinel S4.

                   














 
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 26, 2011, 12:41:16
Hi Sentinal4, I should't think those blank spaces are so significant. Sheerness Dockyard yes. But the general style of this OS 6in. edition, seen in all three of yours, is a stylized marking of saltings outside the counter walls and nothing within them. And as you point out, this is a feintish reproduction. But there is some detail within that enclosure south of Shepherds creek. From north to south there's a feint "square" (later editions show this as a round walled enclosure at the E end of a wall not seen here), then a rectangle (a large man-made pool), and from this pool a square formation down to the wall in the south (straight ditches connecting the pool with the wall ditch). It was these earthworks, and the size of this enclosure, that at first made me think this might be the abandoned site for Swaleness fort. I assumed this is what the fort site would have looked like when abandoned after erecting the outer wall. I wouldn't expect any military activity here, 19th c. or later. The interior is rendered useless by a maze of meandering channels (just like the saltings outside), intersected by long straight ditches here and there. The wall is shown as intact in 1870, but in the NE where the wall bends is a large channel out to the creek. It's drawn straight here, but on GoogleEarth it looks natural. This is where the wall was sufficiently breached in the 20th c. for your two barges to sail in and be dumped in the wall ditch (which says something about the dimensions of both the wall and the wall ditch). The only military activity I'm aware of close to this enclosure are (1) the RN extension of Flushing Pier to Queenborough Creek for minesweepers in WW2, and (2) the deceptive accumulation of barges around the estuary before D-day. There was one other military activity around 1870 in the area covered by your three map extracts. I don't want to go off topic, but it is related to the intended purpose of Swaleness fort, defending the Medway estuary against expected invasion. At some time before 1905 (when marine painter Wylie published a picture), there was a boom of old ships from Port Victoria (on Grain) to Stangate Creek (at the E end of Deadmans Island), with supporting artillery at the mouth of Stangate Creek. See your third map extract.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on May 26, 2011, 13:30:21
The light coloured area with the slope,I was told this was where small Fishing boats (rowing boats) were kept...?
The boats were dragged up the slope and the earth bank was probably to protect the area in high winds and swells.

I was looking for stone walls not earth banks..  :)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 26, 2011, 16:25:52
... I was looking for stone walls not earth banks ...

No worry, Paul, as far as I know there's no stonework here. As to the planned fort, I understand only the initial earthworks are attested, and the project was abandoned before any stonework was started.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on May 26, 2011, 18:35:49
I just added a second picture to my response to Paul of 24 May.

Imagine now you're flying round this wall fragment at about 200ft altitude and looking down at about 50 degrees (thanks to GoogleEarth):


(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessWallGE2011tiltW.jpg)

Looking west along the wall towards Stangate Creek and Upchurch. Unfortunately the shadows are all wrong from this direction.


(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessWallGE2011tiltS.jpg)

I missed SW, this is looking south towards Rushenden Hill and Iwade.


(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessWallGE2011tiltSE.jpg)

And this is looking SE towards Barrow Hill and Elmley.


(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/SwalenessWallGE2011tiltE.jpg)

And this is looking E along the wall towards Minster. The yellow line is the GoogleEarth ruler for making measurements. The wall is 23ft wide with the ruler set as here and with the GoogleEarth technique. The fort wall that was debited and paid for was 25ft ....

On the other hand a good many other walls on the marshes are around 25ft too.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on July 26, 2011, 21:04:11
During Keith Gulvins trip out to Deadman's Island he took photographs of an area he believes may be the edge of this fort.  He has given me permission to post some of them for everyones benefit.  Keith believes some of the photos that follow show an outside wall of the fort including a bastion.  Whilst out there he also found pottery pieces that he believes could be from the use of the fort.  The items he has found are to be dated and I will post photos of any relevent ones soon.

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1007.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1008.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1009.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1010.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1011.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1012.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1013.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1015.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1045.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1046.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1044.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1043.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1042.jpg)

(http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii34/batgirlphotos/KHF/DSCF1041.jpg)

Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sentinel S4 on July 26, 2011, 22:08:23
That is awesome. Thanks Kyn.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on July 27, 2011, 15:05:46
Exciting Kyn.

So that white stuff was cockle shells.
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Paul on July 27, 2011, 17:14:33
 :)
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: Sylvaticus on July 28, 2011, 02:52:15
The erosion of Swaleness.

A comparison of the Swaleness shorelines on various OS maps.

First, as an example to show the setting, an extract from the OS 1869 6in (from british-history.ac.uk), showing  the buttress-like
seawall fragment on Swaleness opposite Queenborough (or Flushing) Pier. On this is superimposed the shorelines of Swaleness traced
from OS 6in editions of 1897 and 1961 (from old-maps.co.uk). For each year the wall fragment just reaches the shore line at each end,
the rest having been lost in the intervening years.

Note the 90degree bend in the Queenborough seawall immediately north of the pier. This used as a common reference for each tracing.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/KT/MapSwalenessOS6inErosion1869-1961a.jpg)

This comparison shows how much more severe erosion has been on the Medway shoreline (to the left) than on the Swale shoreline (to
the right). Judging from the maps, the seawall fragment also appears to be in worse condition at the Medway end. Erosion of the wall
at the Medway end is exacerbated by tidal water in side channels of Sheperds Creek undermining its southern flank.

The buttress-like shape comes from its otherwise unmotivated angles - 90 degrees at the Medway end and an obtuse angle in the
centre. At the Swale end, the wall must have turned north before reaching deep water. In contrast, at West Point at the bottom of this
map, the seawall could also be called buttress-like, except that the shape is motivated by the shoreline. South of Shepherds Creek, every
angle in the seawall closely follows the changing course of the shoreline.

To complete the series of shoreline tracings, I've also used the Mudge OS 1801 1in map, surveyed in the 1790s (from archivemaps.com).

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/KT/MapKentMudge1801SwalenessDetail.jpg)

This extract shows the Medway estuary, with Swaleness and Queenborough at the bottom. Stangate Creek is just off the left edge. Being
to a smaller scale, the Swaleness shoreline appears smoother and less detailed than on the 6in maps, and the seawall fragment has been
excluded.

Putting all this together. the final picture shows the complete sequence of Swaleness shorelines from 1801 to 1961.

(http://i99.photobucket.com/albums/l282/sidw/KT/MapSwalenessOS6inErosion.jpg)



Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: kyn on July 28, 2011, 17:12:42
Just a reminder, this island is very dangerous due to the mudy marshy nature of the ground, any attempt to visit is not advised.  You will be risking your life!
Title: Re: Swaleness Fort
Post by: HERB COLLECTOR on February 09, 2015, 21:41:26
To replace the now broken link posted by Sheppey Bottles.

http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/English%20sites/1668.html (http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/English%20sites/1668.html)  With more links to maps etc.

"Plans for a bastioned fort at Swaleness, intended to protect against the Spanish attack from Flemish ports, were drawn up by a naval engineer named Lyeth or Lueth in 1574. Swaleness was a marsh and in order to build a fort there it was first necessary to drain and embank the site. This was done in 1575. The making of the great wall of earth 25 feet wide, 8 feet high and 5672 feet in circumference cost 186- 14s-7d. The building of the fort itself appears never to have been proceeded with. (PastScape ref. HKW)

A fort at Swale Ness is shown on a map of c.1572 in the Public Record Office (MPF 240). It is not shown on a map of the Medway defences dated 1688...........

This map (The Lythe map) of the isle of Sheppey dates from 1574 and is thought to be the work of the cartographrt Robert Lythe. Lythe was a cartographer of note as he created the first accurate map of Ireland while under the employ of the Crown and is therefore comparable to Christopher Saxton in his importance in the context of cartography. This map was created for the purposes of defence and also to solve the problem of drainage in the area. The emphasis on streams and waterways suggests a link with the repeated attempts to avoid the silting up of Sandwich Haven by increasing the amount of water it could hold. The works were to be financed by a local levy, hence perhaps the prominence of names which may be a guide to apportionment. Anglo-Spanish relations had been in steady decline since the accession of the protestant Elizabeth l in 1558. In 1574 there was a fear that the Spanish would launch an attack from the Netherlands on ships at Chatham. In the idea of transferring the main fleet to Queenborough was suggested as a precaution. Under the command of Sir William Winter, Surveyor of the Navy and Sir William Pelham, Lieutenant General of Ordnance, and Lythe a survey of Sheppey was carried out. Sheerness and the Isle of Grain were rejected in favour of a new port (fort?)at Swaleness opposite Queenbrough which would prevent a raid from the rear by way of the Swale. Swaleness was a marsh and in order to build fortifications drainage and embanking for the area was necessary. This was authorised by the Privy Council in September 1574. Earthworks were created but the fortifications were not built and in the event the Spanish did not invade until 1588. (British library)"