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Author Topic: Swaleness Fort  (Read 27376 times)

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Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #47 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  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)"

Offline kyn

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #46 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!

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #45 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.



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).



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.






Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #44 on: July 27, 2011, 17:14:33 »
 :)
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #43 on: July 27, 2011, 15:05:46 »
Exciting Kyn.

So that white stuff was cockle shells.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2011, 22:08:23 »
That is awesome. Thanks Kyn.
A day without learning something is a day lost and my brain is hungry. Feed me please.

Offline kyn

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #41 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.






























Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #40 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):




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




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




And this is looking SE towards Barrow Hill and Elmley.




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.

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #39 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.

Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #38 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..  :)
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #37 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.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2011, 10:55:35 »
1
2
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.

                   














 
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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #35 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:



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:




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.


Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #34 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.
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #33 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.

 

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