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Brandon Hill Fort


Visited October 2010

Location Brandon Hill, Clifton, Bristol
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station      Clifton Down, approx 1 mile
Parking Yes (pay & Display nearby)
Facilities Toilets, play area





Before anyone cries 'foul', I have to admit that this is more of a 'site of' than actual fort, as nothing really is left anymore. It is surprising in a way as this is not the site of an ancient hill fort, but actually Civil War defences, which played an important part in the storming of Bristol during that time. A tree covered mound on Brandon Hill Bristol is all that is left of the strategically vital fort built to defend Bristol during the civil war. The city's defences were inadequate at the start of the  Civil War, and  it was inevitable that Bristol, a parliamentarian city, would be targeted by the Royalists. The medieval defences around the city itself were strengthened, but to the north defensive forts were built which were connected by  a line of earth ramparts and ditches.


The cost to the city was enormous, but futile, as the line was too long to defend successfully. When the Royalists, led by Prince Rupert, came to Bristol they reconnoitered the defences and it was Colonel Washington, an ancestor of the American George Washington who spotted a weakness in the ramparts- a section which lay on what is now Queen's Road had never been finished. Not waiting to knock at the door, the Royalists charged through the gap. A few months later the Parliamentarians took the city back, once again the defences proved to be too long to defend adequately.






These days there is not much to be seen of the Civil War defences. Most of the forts have been long demolished and built over, Brandon Hill Fort and nearby Water Fort can still be identified by various lumps & bumps in the ground, but mostly the people of Bristol enjoy the park at Brandon Hill without realising the history attached to it. Although the ruins of the fort are limited,  some lovely gardens, a children's play area  and Cabot Tower can all be found on Brandon Hill. Cabot Tower is dedicated to John Cabot, who set sail from Bristol in 1497 and discovered Newfoundland. A replica of his ship the Matthew can be visited in Bristol harbour.






Brandon Hill is a nice spot for a picnic, and once you have visited the remains of the Fort, it is an easy jaunt down into the centre to see the remains of Bristol Castle. I would recommend catching a bus back up the hill afterwards though. It was all very well for Prince Rupert- he had a horse to carry him up and down Bristol's steep hills but those of us trying to get kids up  Park Street on nothing but Shank's Pony are grateful for modern day public transport!!


If you are interested in other Civil war sites, the University of Bristol owns the Royal Fort site. The fort is long gone and the buildings there today are still in use by students, but the gardens are open to the public and are a pleasant place for a stroll. 








More info:  Bristol Civil War Defences

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