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Dartmouth Castle was built in 1481 as a chain tower to protect the harbour. This comprised a circular stone tower (part of an earlier building - see below) to which a square tower was added. The bottom part of the round tower was built of large limestone rubble but the upper sections used slate, the same material as the square tower. The round tower is a three storey building with an entrance leading directly to the ground floor and living quarters on the first floor. It was modified between 1509 -1547 to take artillery as part of Henry VIII's modernisation of England's coastal defences. An iron chain, probably stolen from Fowey, stretched across the estuary from the tower to a cliff near Gimmerock where it was fixed to a rock. When raised from the bottom of the channel to the waterline, using a roller in the tower, it prevented shipping passing through the harbour. The chain tower was flanked on both sides by gun platforms. The surviving openings in the platform walls are 18th century remodellings. At the basement of the tower are seven ports for guns facing the sea, considered to be the earliest surviving examples of this type of gunport in England. They are rectangular and splayed internally to allow the gun to be traversed within the external opening. Hinged shutters were originally provided on the outside of the openings. The castle lies on the site of an older 14th century enclosure castle. This is believed to have taken the form of a ring of towers connected by a curtain wall and entered through a rectangular stone gate tower. The remains of this include part of the curtain wall, a circular tower -now part of the later building and rock cut moat, though more may survive as buried features. A coastal battery (see associated record), known as the 'Old Battery', is situated to the south of Dartmouth Castle. It is a 19th century artillery fort built on the site of earlier 16th and 18th century fortifications. Dartmouth Castle is in the care of English Heritage.

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