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Swale Ness Fort

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Queenborough.
In the historic county of Kent.
Modern Authority of Kent.
1974 county of Kent.
Medieval County of Kent.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ897729
Latitude 51.42336° Longitude 0.72713°

Swale Ness Fort has been described as a Artillery Fort although is doubtful that it was such.

There are no visible remains.


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. 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. (Kent HER)

This map of the Isle of Sheppey dates from 1574 and is thought to be the work of the cartographer 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 the history 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 I 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 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 or 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)
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:19:30

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