Dover Castle: The Key to England

12 minutes, color, age range: 11 - 17 years, #490B

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Dover Castle: The Key to England

Dover Castle View from the north

Dover Castle in Kent is one of the largest and strongest castles in Britain, dominating the shortest passage from the continent of Europe to England. The clifftop site has been fortified for two thousand years: the medieval castle follows the outline of an Iron Age hill fort. The keep is the strongest of its time. It was built both as a residence for the king and as a stronghold. This was the first castle to make great use of wall towers, projecting in front of and above the walls. A large range of residential buildings which included a great chamber and hall for the king were built within inner walls around the keep.

After the French laid siege to the castle in 1216 and undermined one of the towers, further changes were made to strengthen the defences. Major alterations were made later when the castle was adapted to the needs of heavy guns during the Napoleonic wars. The look of the castle was changed by cutting down the towers to make gun platforms and to clear the line of fire from the keep. Later changes came when the castle became part of the wider artillery fortifications of Dover harbor. It continued to be modernized through the two world wars, and was in the front line of the Dunkirk evacuation.

Part of the series Evidence on Site

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Credits

Central Office of Information
English Heritage: