Gurnard Fort

Has been described as a Possible Artillery Fort

There are no visible remains

NameGurnard Fort
Alternative NamesGurnard Castle; Gurnerds fortt
Historic CountryHampshire and the Isle of Wight
Modern AuthorityIsle of Wight
1974 AuthorityIsle of Wight
Civil ParishGurnard

A small fort was built on the west entrance to the Gurnard Luck, mentioned in State Papers as 'Gurnerds fortt'.

In 1365 the Abbot of Quarr received a licence for the abbey to fortify its property. It built enclosure walls and a fortified fishouse at the point. (Isle of Wight History Centre {?Rob Martin})

A fort called Gurnard Castle (Gurnard, SZ 4795) once stood close to the site of the Roman Building (SZ 49 NE 5). It was in a state of complete defence in 1635, but has now utterly disappeared (Kell; Lockhart).

The castle is not marked on Speed's 1611 map of fthe Isle of Wight. Erosion by the sea in this area was formerly so rapid that the site is now probably some distance out in Gurnard Bay (F1 VJB 03-FEB-55).

Gurnard Castle is apparently not mentioned by surveys of fortifictions in the Isle of Wight undertaken in 1559 and 1623 (Kenyon 1979; Kenyon ยง983).

It is possible that the fort was not built until c.1635 (Witherby). (PastScape)

Gatehouse Comments

Gurnard was a landing place and, possible a small port in the late medieval period, until coastal erosion affected the coastline. There was an artillery fort here in the C17. Martin's reference to documentary reference appears to this C17 fort, although he cites this in the context of C14. An account, written in 1883, of an excavation of the fort wrote it 'was probably a work of Henry VIII' and 'It was evidently nothing but an earthen Rampart with two or three small guns on stone platforms'. The site of the fort was rediscover in the C19 when it was already being eroded. It is now lost to coastal erosion. However, the now lost, significance of the land place at Gurnard (Charles I landed here) might suggest it could be one of the site which Quarr Abbey may have fortified in the C14 (see Isle of Wight fortalices). Finds of Elizabethan coins from the C19 excavation might also suggest the gun platform may have been original built in the later C16, in response to the Spanish Armada crises, rather than being Henrician.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSZ471954
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Hooper, Paul, 1998, Our Island. The Isle of Wight 1640-1660 (Cross Publishing)
  • Lockhart, C.S.M., 1870, A General Guide to the Isle of Wight p. 44


  • Kenyon, J.R., 1983, 'The state of the fortifications in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in 1623 (MS BL Harley 1326)' Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society Vol. 39 p. 137-43
  • Kenyon, J., 1979, 'An aspect of the 1559 survey of the Isle of Wight: The 'State of all the Quenes matie Fortresses and Castelles' Post-Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 61-77
  • Kell, E., 1866, ' An Account of the discovery of a Roman building in Gurnard Bay, Isle of Wight' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 22 p. 351-68 online copy


  • ACC 86/51 - Account by Edwin Smith of the excavation of the Roman building at Gurnard, written in 1883.