Climate change risk for coastal castles

Climate change risk for coastal castles

The collapsed wall of Hurst Castle

A section of Hurst Castle in Hampshire collapsed in February 2021

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

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

They include Tintagel in Cornwall and Hurst Castle in Hampshire

He asks for money to repair the walls and improve defenses against more powerful storms and waves.

“It appears that the entire natural dynamics of the coast in some places has been accelerated by climate change,” Rob Woodside, director of properties at English Heritage, told BBC News.

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

There is a broad consensus among scientists that even as greenhouse gas emissions that warm the earth are drastically reduced, global sea levels will continue to rise for several hundred years. Higher sea levels mean more powerful waves approaching the shore and faster coastal erosion.

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

Castle of Evil

Castle of Evil

Maritime defenses have now been put in place to protect Hurst Castle

Originally built by Tudor King Henry VIII between 1541 and 1544, a section of the east wing of Hurst Castle collapsed into the sea in February 2021 after its foundations were eroded. As part of the efforts to defend the castle, 5,000 tons of granite boulders were placed to form a barrier, or “lining”.

The wall of Henry VIII’s Hurst Castle 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 in Tintagel. It has been attacked by the wind and the sea since its construction in the 13th century. There are regular falls from the cliffs and English Heritage says funding is urgently needed to repair the damage caused by last winter’s storms.

Piel Castle

Piel Castle

Piel Castle in Cumbria was built to protect Barrow-in-Furness from Scottish pirates and marauders.

The 14th-century Piel Castle sits on a low island about half a mile offshore in Morecambe Bay. Much of the island has already been lost due to erosion and part of the castle fell into the sea in the 19th century. English Heritage says the castle keep and ramparts are now at risk from both erosion and flooding.

Bayard Fort Bay

Bayard Fort Bay

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

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

Walls of the garrison

Walls of the garrison

The Garrison Walls were progressively built to strengthen the defenses of the Isles of Scilly after the defeat of the Spanish Army in 1588

The shape of the Garrison Walls creates grip points or “armpits” where the tide is concentrated. English Heritage says these sections 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 access to Southampton

Calshot Castle sits on a small vulnerable spit of land in the Solent River. The site is at a low level, which makes it vulnerable to sea level rise and erosion.

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