Portland Castle


Portland Castle
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Portland Castle - Photo ©
Mark Murphy, 3 november 2007

Portland Castle is one of the Device Forts, also known as Henrician Castles, built in 1539 by Henry VIII on the Isle of Portland to guard the natural Portland anchorage known as the Portland Roads. The castle lies in the far north of the island, in the village now called Castletown, near Fortuneswell. The castle is under the care of English Heritage.

The castle artillery forts stretched all around the Kent coast, along the south coast of England, down to Lands End. Strategic sites were chosen protecting possible landing points of an invasion. The area today known as Portland Harbour was a weak point, and Portland castle was built. The entire harbour fell under artillery range from Portland Castle and nearby Sandsfoot Castle.

Portland Castle was designed as a squat building, offering less of a target, with a traditional rounded wall towards the sea, designed to deflect incoming ordnance. The land side was moated.

The castle's first action was during the attempted invasion by the Spanish Armada. The second encounter between the Spanish fleet and the Royal Navy was off the isle of Portland.


Portland Cannon

Portland castle saw its next action during the English Civil War. Although the Isle of Portland was a Royalist stronghold, the Parliamentarians took control of the castle at the outbreak of the war. The following year, Portland castle was in Royalist hands following an invasion by the Royalists disguised as Parliamentarians. The castle stayed in Royalist hands despite a four month siege and an attempt to take the castle by force. A second attempt succeeded with a negotiated surrender.

Further action was seen during the Anglo-Dutch war with the Battle of Portland, an inconclusive three day sea battle.

Portland castle was armed for the last time during the Napoleonic Wars.

References

Lawson, Susannah (2002), Portland Castle (Guidebook), English Heritage, ISBN 1-85074-725-3

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