English-Channel Signal System - 1558

English-Channel Signal System - 1558 Famous Historical Events World History Medieval Times Ethics

If an enemy approached Britain by way of the English Channel, the country needed a fast-moving, effective warning system.  

A series of signal stations, like the one depicted in this image, dotted the island’s southern coast.  Individuals manning the stations lit one or more fire baskets attached to a wooden pole which protruded through the roof.  

When observers at the next-closest station saw the fire signal, they would immediately light their fire basket.  Word of impending danger would quickly spread as each new signal operator lit his flame.  

Historical records tell us it took about 40 minutes for all of the signal stations between Plymouth (in the south) to Carlisle (in the north) to have flaming fire baskets.  That means about 40 minutes passed between the time the first observer saw danger until the ruling King or Queen could be informed.

The stone signal station in this picture still stands.  Locals refer to it as a "Beehive Beacon Hut." 

Built in 1588, or perhaps earlier, it is located at Culmostock Beacon in Devon (a shire, or county, in southwest England).

Click on the image for a better view.

Media Credits

Image, described above, by Tony in Devon.  Online via Wikimedia Commons.  License:  CC BY 3.0



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"English-Channel Signal System - 1558" AwesomeStories.com. Jul 26, 2014. Jan 26, 2020.
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