Dover; Archcliff Bulwark

Has been described as a Certain Artillery Fort

There are no visible remains

NameDover; Archcliff Bulwark
Alternative Namesbulwark of earth upon the hill behind the pier at Dover
Historic CountryKent
Modern AuthorityKent
1974 AuthorityKent
Civil ParishDover

Surviving features of Archcliffe Fort, lying at the foot of Dover's Western Heights and forming part of the coastal defences of the town from at least the 16th century onwards. The first fort, or bulwark, was constructed under Henry VIII in 1539 and 1540, although the initial fortification of the site may date back to the late 14th century. No trace of remains of these periods can be identified, although the evidence of early plans suggests that the Henrician defences included a pentagonal structure in the approximate position of the present western bastion. This was linked by a ditch to a gatehouse close to the site of the present eastern bastion. There were also buildings within the ditched enclosure. The remains which survive today represent a substantial part of a bastioned trace fortification, dating from the early 17th century, of which the seaward face, entrance and bastions were modified in the 19th century. The seaward defences, subsequently removed by the construction of the railway in 1928, were modified during 1872 to include positions for five ten inch rifle muzzle loading guns. The landward side of the fort remains intact and largely unaltered. The landward curtain, over 150m in length, includes a ditch and stone-faced earth ramparts on which a new parapet was raised in 1755, and which still show evidence of firing steps. The curtain terminates in two bastions and in its centre is the entrance to the fort, remodelled in 1807-9 and again in 1814-15 when a brick barbican, now largely destroyed by the construction of the A20, was added to its front. During World War II a second vehicle access was cut through the rampart, immediately east of the gatehouse. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTR315402
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Calculate Print


  • Harrington, Peter, 2007, The Castles of Henry VIII (Oxford: Osprey) p. 12, 17, 38
  • Coed, Jonathan, 1995, Dover Castle (London: Batsford)
  • Bennett, D., 1977, A handbook of Kent's defences from 1540 until 1945 p. 17-30


  • Coad, J.G., and Lewis, P.N., 1982, 'The later fortifications of Dover' Post-Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 141-208

Guide Books

  • Welby Douglas E. 1991, The history of Archcliffe Fort, Dover, Kent
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1985 4edn, Dover Castle, Kent (London: English Heritage) p. 43
  • Brown, R.Allen, 1966, Dover Castle, Kent (HMSO) p. 42

Primary Sources

  • Gairdner, J. and Brodie, R.H. (eds), 1896, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Vol. 15 p. 131 no. 323 online copy
  • Gairdner, J. and Brodie, R.H. (eds), 1898, Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Vol. 16 p. 223-4 no. 456 online copy


  • Smith, V.C. and Saunder, A., 2001, Kents Defence Heritage