In 1779 England was at war with America and her allies (France, Spain and the Netherlands) in the American war of Independence. An army of 50,000 waited across the Channel, ready to invade.To defend the vitally important town and port of Dover, simple earthwork batteries were thrown up around the town and on the Western Heights to supplement the now much outdated mediaeval Castle. From this simple and inexpensive beginning grew a massive fortified complex of brick and stone consisting of two massive forts, miles of dry ditches, barracks and a hospital, which were not finally completed until over 90 years later.The complex remained in use until after the Second World War. The barracks were all demolished in the 1960s but the two forts and ditches remain and the Grand Shaft staircase has been restored and is sometimes open to the public. Click on the links below for more information on the Western Heights.