The Western Heights

Napoleonic War Heritage In Kent, One Of Dover's Many Places Of Interest

This is our Western Heights feature, it's one of the many historical attractions in the Dover area. We welcome your comments if you've visited this attraction or have some thoughts about local places of interest in general. Our contact details are at the bottom of the page. For more suggestions of places to visit in and around the area check out our Discover Kent page.

The Western Heights In Dover

Most people know Dover Castle on the Eastern Heights overlooking the Docks but fewer people are aware of the fortifications on the Western Heights across on the other side of the valley. The fortifications were mainly built during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th Century when the threat of invasion from France was at its highest.

The first defenses were erected from 1779 to 1783 when earthworks were put up but with the end of the war in 1783 work stopped. With Britain at war again with France in 1793 it was agreed that major fortifications should be built on the Western Heights including two forts connected by a deep defensive ditch and a bastion covering the ground between the forts.

Building work began on the Drop Redoubt in 1804 and in 1808 the first defenders were billeted. A redoubt is a detached fort and the word drop is thought to have a local connection with this area of Dover. Building work continued over the next few years but ceased again in 1815 when peace was declared.

The final phases of the fortifications did not start until 1860 when the threat of war with France loomed again. Caponiers ware added to each of the 4 corners of the Drop Redoubt. These projected out from the walls and provided a clear field of fire into the fifty foot deep ditches through its rifle and cannon slits. When completed the heights could accommodate about 4000 men. Marked footpaths run across the heights and a number of short or longer options are available for viewing the area.

Work is slowly progressing on opening up the vast area. There is huge amount of work to be done in renovating and repairing the buildings and defenses and parts of the area are overgrown and inaccessible. It is however still well worth a visit.  For me the scale of the building was the most impressive part of my visit.

The Western Heights can be reached via York Street in Dover or Military Road in Aycliff.


There is free access to the Western Heights.

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