Martello tower in a car park at Dymchurch, Kent
Martello towers, sometimes known simply as Martellos, are small defensive forts that were built across the British Empire during the 19th century, from the time of the French Revolutionary Wars onwards.
Martello towers were inspired by a round fortress, part of a larger Genoese defence system, at Mortella (Myrtle) Point in Corsica. The designer was Giovan Giacomo Paleari Fratino (el Fratin), and the tower was completed in 1565.
Between 1804 and 1812 the British built a chain of towers based on the original Mortella tower to defend the south and east coast of England, Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey to guard against possible invasion from France, then under the rule of the Emperor Napoleon.
A total of 103 Martello towers were built in England, set at regular intervals along the coast from Seaford, Sussex, to Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
The Martello towers of Great Britain and Ireland can be considered to have been part of a single defensive system, designed to protect the coastlines of the two main islands of the British Isles as a whole.