Martello Towers

L.W. Cowie describes how, early in 1805, a series of strong points were built along the British coast-line, to defend against Napoleon’s army, then arrayed across the Channel.

Over the centuries, since prehistoric times, round stone towers were built on the Mediterranean coasts, usually on prominent capes or headlands, to give news of the approach of the Barbary coast pirates and other dreaded raiders. Warning to the local people was usually given by lighting a fire on the flat roof of the tower; but on the western Italian shores the alarm was commonly sounded by striking a bell with a hammer (martello), and the towers became known as ‘touri di martello’.

During the year 1793 the British government received an appeal from General Pasquale de Paoli, the leader of the Corsican insurgents who were fighting against the French troops concentrated in the north of the island. Three British ships-of-the-line and two frigates were sent there in September.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.