The sinuous curves are deceptive.

 

There may be a glimpse of the sea between the green hummocks but this isn’t an easy stroll to the sand dunes.

 

There’s a roof top view over the grassy bank…

 

but a hidden drop before you get there…

 

The interlocking green forms may suggest a gentle piece of contemporary land art…

 

but these ramparts were a serious, military project.  They were seriously expensive too,  the largest capital development project of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Berwick was a frontier town, a valuable trophy in the medieval border wars between England and Scotland.  High, castellated stone walls defended the town for four centuries, against the Scots or against the English depending on who had captured the town most recently, but the sixteenth century development of heavy artillery made traditional town walls redundant.  The new defences were massive earth banks faced with sheer stone walls, surrounded by a deep ditch and an outer moat.  Corner bastions allowed hidden canons to be fired either outwards across the ditch or along the line of the wall.

 

The work was begun on the order of Queen Mary in 1558 and continued under Queen Elizabeth’s orders when she came to the throne later the same year. Ten years later when the ‘Franco-Scottish threat’ had subsided and it became clear that James VI of Scotland would succeed Elizabeth as James I of England the unfinished building project was abandoned.

 

The ramparts may have been uncompleted but the scale of the defences is enormous.  This aerial view from English Heritage website shows the full extent of the extraordinary construction.  It’s actually quite beautiful, but that’s accidental.