Western Heights - Dover

Aim:
Recognisance investigation to establish whether this venue is paranormally active and worthy of a future full investigation.

Background:
Western Heights comprises some 5 miles of dry ditches, 3 main works and numerous gun batteries and barracks and examples of some of the finest military architecture you could find. These fortifications span some 170 years, encompassing the French revolutionary wars through to world war two but yet they lie sunken into the hill almost forgotten opposite Dover’s medieval castle.

Construction of the fortifications at Western Heights started around 1780 while England was at war with the American colonies. The earthwork batteries seem to have been constructed by 1784 along with the beginnings of what is now called the Citadel. These works were directed by a Lieutenant Thomas Hyde Page under orders to build simple and cheap fieldworks in order to bring Dover’s defences up to readiness, as well as the modernisation of Dover Castle, Moat’s Bulwark, Archcliffe Fort, Guildford Battery, North Battery, Townsend Battery and Amherst Battery.

Work on Western Heights finished in 1783 leaving the defences in an unfinished state. Following the outbreak of war with France in 1793 huge sums of money were spent on updating the defences although a real threat of invasion by the French didn’t exist until 1803. From 1803 several invasion ‘panics’ produced some of the finest and most impressive military architecture in Europe producing a system of lines or dry ditches.

This site has many years of history and no doubt stories to tell. This site was previously investigated by Kent Paranormal Group.

Apparatus:
Nikon Coolpix 3100 digital camera
Olympus Camedia C160 digital camera
Fuji Finepix S550 digital camera
Fuji Finepix 4900 digital camera
Sony DCR-HC19 camcorder
Gauss EMF meter

Co-Investigators:
Kim, Paddy, Ian and Dave.

Method:
No firm method was applied as the point to the evening was to simply explore the area as one group in order to find/sense any signs of paranormal activity.

Investigation:
We knew it would not be possible to investigate the majority of the structures at Western Heights due to the shear size and of course access problems, so this was to be an outdoor investigation, with the hope of finding some open structures to explore. Effectively this was a night time ramble to gain some information and hopefully get a sense for the place, or even act on any presence we might come across along the way. We arrived at St Martins Battery car park at 9.00pm and moved over to the battery. Despite having a good look around these open gun placements, taking photographs as we went, we could not sense or feel anything. Deciding we had no reason to remain we moved off to the Grand Shaft Barracks.

We arrived at the barracks at 9.30pm despite a few mishaps along the way! These are all but demolished and unfortunately the gates to The Grand Shaft were locked, but we stayed and had a good look around again taking more pictures as we went. Still though there was nothing to report on the paranormal front.

Around 9.50pm we decided that a ramble through the bushes was needed to see if we could find any openings or accessible structures. We were lucky and came across some magazines that we suspected supplied The Drop Battery. The first of these was quite extensive having a long corridor with a few rooms off it. We spent a good few minutes exploring this and the native cave spiders before we left and found another nearby, this was less extensive. Still neither of these provided much along the paranormal line.

At 10.10pm we entered the Drop Redoubt ditch via a very low narrow tunnel. This is a very impressive place where you can see first hand that fine military architecture that was previously mentioned. We exited the tunnel to face a massive high brick cliff being the inner fortress wall, this is surrounded by a huge defensive ditch. We walked along the ditch around the entire fortress but stopped at 10.30pm two thirds of the way round and sat on some steps in a break in the ditch wall. This was our first and only vigil of the night. we sat for half an hour in total silence simply soaking up the atmosphere of the place. There were a lot of natural noises to be heard and at one point the voices of a group of kids in the distance. There was little or no reason to suspect that there might be anything paranormal occurring here as the place seemed so calm and tranquil. Dave at one point felt that there was certainly a presence but a very vague. This was the only sign during our entire time there that there might be spirit activity at Western Heights. Given that we had looked at all the areas we had access to we decided to end our ramble and return to the cars at 11.15pm when we closed the investigation. We ventured onto Oxney Bottom.

Results:
No results were recorded or witnessed. No paranormal phenomena caught on either camcorder or photographically.

Conclusion

This was a good experience but rather lacking in results and we all felt totally at ease with the place. The frustrating part of it was that we all wanted to get into the fortress not walk around it! Given the lack of anything paranormal it was not possible to prove that this venue would be worthy of a full overnight outdoor investigation, but we will be contacting the relevant authorities to discuss the possibility of access to the fortress itself.

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