Risk of climate change for coastal castles

Risk of climate change for coastal castles

Risk of climate change for coastal castles

Collapsed Hurst Castle wall

Part of Hurst Castle in Hampshire collapsed in February 2021

Castles that have stood for hundreds of years are at risk of being damaged by climate change, warns the charity English Heritage.

The charity, which manages over 400 historic sites across England, highlighted six castles threatened by coastal erosion and rising sea levels.

They include Tintagel in Cornwall and Hurst Castle in Hampshire

It appeals for money to repair walls and improve defenses against storms and stronger waves.

“It appears that the whole natural dynamic of the coastline in some places has been accelerated by climate change,” Rob Woodside, English Heritage’s Estates Director, told BBC News.

“What we’re trying to do now is essentially buy time, so with places that we value, and people want to take care of, we put measures in place to protect them.”

There is broad agreement among scientists that even if the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the earth are reduced dramatically, the global sea level will continue to rise for several hundred years. Higher sea levels mean stronger waves that come closer to the coast, and faster coastal erosion.

These are the six sites that, according to English Heritage, are most at risk:

Hurst Castle

Hurst Castle

Naval defenses are now put in place to protect Hurst Castle

Originally built by Tudor King Henry VIII between 1541 and 1544, part of Hurst Castle’s east wing collapsed into the sea in February 2021 after the foundations were eroded. As part of the work to defend the castle, 5,000 tonnes of granite blocks have been set in place to form a barrier, or “cladding”.

Henry VIII’s Hurst Castle wall collapses in Lymington

Tintagel

Tintagel

Tintagel in Cornwall is inextricably linked to the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

Erosion is not a new problem at Tintagel. It has been under attack from wind and sea since it was built in the 13th century. Cliff falls are common and English Heritage says funding is urgently needed to repair damage from the storms this winter.

Piel Castle

Piel Castle

Piel Castle in Cumbria was built to protect Barrow-in-Furness from pirates and raiders from Scotland.

Fourteenth-century Piel Castle sits on a low-lying island about half a kilometer off the coast in Morecambe Bay. Much of the island has already been lost to erosion, and part of the castle fell into the sea in the 19th century. English Heritage says the castle and bastions are now vulnerable to both erosion and flooding.

Bayard’s Cove Fort

Bayard's Cove Fort

Bayard’s Cove Fort is particularly vulnerable to flooding from rising sea levels.

For 500 years, this Tudor fort in Devon has guarded the narrow entrance to the Dart estuary as the last line of defense to protect Dartmouth from attack from the sea.

Garrison walls

Garrison walls

The garrison walls were gradually built to strengthen the defenses of the Isles of Scilly after the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588

The shape of the Garrison Walls creates pinch points or “armpits”, where the tide focuses. English Heritage says these parts are extremely vulnerable to erosion and will be breached in the coming years if not protected.

Calshot Castle

Calshot Castle

Calshot Castle was built by Henry VIII to defend the approach to Southampton

Calshot Castle is situated on a vulnerable short stretch of land in the River Solent. The area is at a low level, which makes it vulnerable to rising sea levels and erosion.

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