Yesterday’s run took me beneath the impressive walls of the Verne Citadel, perched 151 metres above sea level atop the highest point of the Isle of Portland. This massive fortification originated in the 1840s as a prison camp for inmates constructing the breakwaters of Portland Harbour (although there was likely an Iron Age hillfort on the site beforehand). It was substantially expanded into a defensive site in the 1860s, with prisoners quarrying and digging out the dry ditch. This was yet another ‘Palmerston Folly’, one of a chain of hugely expensive fortifications constructed to defend against a chimeric French invasion at the behest of the then-Prime Minister Palmerston.
The Verne is now a medium security prison and is (obviously) closed to the public. It’s still a pretty impressive sight, viewed from the SW Coast Path which follows its perimeter.