Revealing St Anthony Head

St Anthony Head

At the tip of the Roseland peninsula in South Cornwall, overlooking the mouth of one of the world’s greatest natural harbours, is St Anthony Head.

by Bill Makin, Mid-Cornwall General Manager

St Anthony Head has for centuries played an important strategic role in defending Falmouth and the deep waters of the Fal estuary from seaborne attack. The headland still bears the remains of several different phases of military fortification.

Rediscovering a military past

Most of what survives to be seen today dates from the late 19th- and early 20th-century coastal artillery fort built to protect Falmouth at a time of turmoil in Europe. Since the Trust bought St Anthony Head in 1959, we’ve been gradually revealing and restoring elements of its military past. You can stay in the old officers’ quarters, for instance, which were converted to holiday cottages back in the ‘60s, and an accessible track leads along the bottom of the steep rock-cut ditch that formed part of the fort’s defences.

Restoration work

Recently, this work of uncovering the history of the headland received a huge boost. We’ve been working with the South West Coast Path team – with funding from the Rural Development Programme for England as part of their ‘Unlocking our Coastal Heritage’ project – to restore the main gun battery and its magazine, where ammunition was stored for the two 6-inch breech-loading guns above.

See for yourself

The experience of visiting St Anthony Head has been transformed, as the true significance of its fortifications has been revealed. The best way to discover the whole story is to come along on one of the guided tours of the battery, when you’ll get to visit the underground magazine with its hand-cranked ammunition hoists (four in total - one cartridge hoist and one shell hoist per gun). Have a look at the events calendar for dates coming up.

We want a coast that’s rich in culture, alive with reminders of our island heritage.