Appendix III

Minor Fortifications on Farnish

Glib Gap Tower

The Watch Tower at Glib Gap commanded the central 'crossroads' as it were of the interior of Farnish. Mere trackways, they were nevertheless heavily traveled. Only the side facing the cliff overlooking the glen of the River Nell in Borwood is now standing to anything like its original height (Jeremiah Poole under Cromwell, again, is responsible for that). The ground plan to the left is a conjectural reconstruction.

This must always have been a miserable place, exposed as it is to gales from any direction and unprotected by trees. It was probably built in the 15th Century (there are no records), but apparently on the site of an older wooden structure. It consisted of a simple three-story tower, with a spiral stair turret, an L-shaped barracks block, and a low parapet wall or berm around a small courtyard -- which may have contained stabling at one time for horses and mules making the traverse along the Hogsback ridge. It is still occasionally used as a sheepfold in stormy weather.

Poole's Redoubt

There is a small blockhouse for cannons overlooking the bad-weather Landing north of Gelling. It, and the stone warehouse opposite, as well as the stone quay, were constructed by Jeremiah Poole after he had established a beach-head here under orders from Oliver Cromwell to subdue this side of Farnish.

After the Civil War, this added benefit to what had just been a cove to beach fishing boats in, was too good to abandon, so has been modified over the years to serve as an alternate 'port' for the town of Gelling when there are southwesterly gales preventing the use of that harbor. There are now a few houses in addition and a small breakwater extended out from the west side of the warehouse (not shown on the plan).

Glash Hill Folly

The Glash Hill Watchtower on Southend is actually a folly built in 1807 by Lord Farnisham's younger brother, Commodore Fransham. It is constructed to look like one of the characteristic round Irish church towers built in the Dark Ages and early Medieval times, along with artificial 'monastic' ruins. The Commodore actually intended it as a watch tower against French naval intrusions in the Irish Sea, but he was also an enthusiastic amateur archeologist and made it as accurate as the current state of knowledge allowed (except for the unfortunate mistake of the rectangular layout) .

The site was garrisoned for several years by several of Fransham's ex-shipmates who had lost limbs in battle and had been callously abandoned by the Navy. Later on it was proposed to convert it into a lighthouse, but its siting, being so high up and too far inland to be effective, caused that proposal to be abandoned. What amuses us today is that the 'ruins' disguised a well-defended small fort (the gray oblongs are gun emplacements that were replaced by anti-aircraft guns 1941 and the south range actually has two stories underground as bunkers!). The 'churchyard' is full of Celtic-style round crosses. It is still remarkably well preserved and is a popular place to visit in the summer (although a considerable hike from Farnisham).

Pig's Head Watch Tower

This small battery and tower house is located on the prominent eminence called Pig's Head just east of Farnisham. It was built on the site of an ancient Viking tower (foundations embedded in the current tower) in the late 1600's. Now in very ruinous condition, although very picturesque viewed from a distance at sea, it had a small gun battery (one 60-pounder and a few mortars); it was always purely military in function -- an outlying defense for Farnisham Castle.

Crudburn Bastle Tower

This tiny three-storied tower has a cellar on the ground floor, a living room where food was also prepared (there is a hatch down to the cellar), and a sitting/bedroom. A stair caphouse leads to a small parapet defending the entrance side.

The three hamlets on the north side of the island were 'defended' by little tower houses called Bastles, built in the 17th Century. Only Crudburn survives, Buckle in Glen Ward having been stripped down into a barn and Goshwin built over by the Glen Lunge Estate. Crudburn bastle is now part of the Glen Cleft farm, with later accommodations attached to the building extending to the south and west (the tower forming the NE corner of the enclosed farmyard).


(1) Prehistoric: Very few remains from this period -- some earthen embankments around Fling Point, tumuli or burial mounds (7 or 9, depending on what day you count them) along the Borwood side of Neckbone and Hogsback, but no identifiable stone circles. (2) Bronze, Iron, Dark Ages: Both Gelling and Farnisham castles were built on the site of hill forts from this period. Barely any signs, apart from the embankments, remain, and they have not been excavated, so could be anywhere from 1000 to 2000 years old. There was a rath, or stone fortlet on the site of Glew Farm which is only evident from its tumbled perimeter wall. (3) Medieval: just the three castles (Glib, Gelling, and Farnisham), or if you stretch a point, the Glib Gap watch tower. (4) Pre-Industrial: Some of the Farnish farmhouses, especially in the remoter areas, were built along the lines of Northumbrian "Bastle" houses in the 16th and 17th Centuries; these are stone-built with strong walls on the ground floor and very few window openings, with the family quarters on the upper story (animals were housed below), entered via an outside staircase. Poole's Redoubt. Also an emplacement for cannon was built in Gelling Harbor in the 18th Century, but barely anything remains (it forms the base of the World War memorial, with a Napoleonic-period cannon mounted in concrete by its side, with Poole's cannon on the other side). There was similar construction around Farnisham itself, much better preserved, but there will be a separate Appendix for this town. (5) Regency: the pseudo-Irish monastary ruins with round tower at Glash Hill. Embellishments at Farnisham Harbor, including additions to Farnisham Castle. (6) Modern: During World War Two, several machine-gun pill-boxes were built along the north coast in the little hamlets as a precaution against 'back-door' infiltration, and likewise some of the sheepfolds in the hills had similar additions. Glash Hill was fitted up with radar and anti-aircraft guns and there was even a small airstrip nearby (still is, now a gliding club and private aircraft field). Farnish was considered by its location to be a risk to Allied shipping into Liverpool and was garrisoned by nearly 1000 home guards (Dad's Army). (8) Now: Supposedly there is an ICBM missile silo hidden somewhere on the island, probably on one of the Skiggs, but we can't say. There are also rumors about secret bases in the caves of East Fast, including the true site of Superman's arctic fortress -- that we can absolutely deny.