Friday, 18 March 2011


Right back at the start, when I was planning ENCOUNTERS, I knew at least one of my characters was going to find themselves in an hermetically sealed room. When I researched Suffolk looking for a suitable place to site my prison cell I was delighted to discover a Martello Tower was just down the coast - exactly where I wanted it to be.

These coastal defence forts were built by the British Army during the nineteenth century. The army built towers using this design, all over the British Empire, from Ireland to Canada, and many still survive. 

The name Martello originates from a circular stone tower built in Corsica, at Mortella Point. French troops occupied the island, and the Corsican patriots pleaded for British help to drive the French out. The tower fell after several days concerted effort and its strength impressed enough for the British army to build a lot of them.

Do you want to try describing a castle that looks like it was made from three buckets of very solid sand? ;)

Not a castle, the tower’s flat top was hemmed with a single low rail and two security guards – but they were probably detachable. The three curving walls they could see from the side made it look as if a child had emptied large buckets of sand there - three or four times. Built onto a shingle beach, access to the tower was across a wooden drawbridge. It would be easy to defend.


  1. Awesome structure, looks like something you could find in my fantasy romance. I liked your description.

  2. Great description Elaine! Now I have something to picture! Plus its always good to learn something new. :)

  3. Fascinating! I love discoverin neat historical tidbits like this! Now i have to look up what hermetically sealed means...

  4. Hi Wendy
    I bet the Martello Tower would be an excellent addition to a romantic fantasy :)

    Hi Summer
    :D It's very round. The tower reminds me of shamrock too. ;)

    Hi Margo
    Ever watched ET? The room - plastic nasty - is an hermetically sealed room. ;)

  5. Elaine, I love Twitter. I saw your tweet and wondered what you were talking about. I'd never heard of a Martello Tower, so I clicked on the link. Thank you for the photo and the history lesson. I write YA paranormal. The Maretllo Tower sparked my imangination. Thanks again...
    And I had no idea you weren't in the states when I saw your tweet. You gotta love Twitter.


  6. You described it very well. Great wordsmithing :)

    Just like some of the others, I'd never heard of the Martello Tower either, but boy, the wonderful ideas and imagination it brings to mind.

    It does look like an overturned bucket of sand. I like it.

  7. Hi E Van Lowe
    I'm glad you found your way over from Twitter. I am glad you travelled "transatlantic" the very quick way :D
    Martello Towers look amazing - unlike anything else that was built for protection. It reminds me of a stunted triple lighthouse.

    Hi Angela
    Thank you :) It was the colour that sparked the idea, even more than it's shape. I kept picturing a little flag poked in at the top ;)

  8. Well Done! I've see them myself so your description was just right. Good luck with your writing

  9. love the pic; it immediately stirred my imagination, made me wonder, if it was a prison, how many people would it hold? Who are they? what did they do? And who guards them? What a great find!

  10. Hi Jamara
    Thanks *grins The tower was at once a traditional looking castle but like nothing I'd ever seen before.

    Hi Marcy
    That's what it did for me too :) The Towers were easier to defend than to take with thier smooth, curving walls and small windows. Like a lighthouse, I bet the design made it less likely to be eroded by the sea too.

  11. Excellent image and location. I love that type of research. I also love towers.

  12. Hi Shelby
    *snap Towers and castles and lighthouses are amazingly atmospheric. I couldn't believe such a perfect building was, already, exactly where I wanted it to be.
    I love finding just the right place or object. The scientific research for my highly plausible life-forms was much more intensive.

  13. Love Martello Towers - great idea, Elaine. Is that the one in Aldeburgh? We were there on holiday last year. I think you can hire it out as a holiday home!