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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #32 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.



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.



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.

Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #31 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..
Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #30 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


Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #29 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.
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Offline Leofwine

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #28 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?
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ryththa

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #27 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.





Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #26 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.



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.



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.



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.





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.

Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #25 on: May 18, 2011, 22:44:52 »


           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.

 
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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #24 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.

Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #23 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...

Maybe it's big horse I'm a Londoner. :{

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #22 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.


Offline Sentinel S4

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #21 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.

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Offline Paul

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #20 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.

.

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

some pics..




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Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #19 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.

Offline Sylvaticus

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Re: Swaleness Fort
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2011, 18:45:06 »
Continuing from above.



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.



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?



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.



 

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