Monday, April 16, 2012

Question from Bron - Bonfire beacons warning of the Armada

I understand that a system of bonfires was set up, which were to be lighted to warn people once the Armada approached. Is there a map of these sites? Was this system used before, in English history? Would it only have been effective at night? What were people supposed to do, once the bonfires were lighted?

Thank you.


  1. If you Google ‘Armada beacons’ there is quite a lot of information. A neat little article on the Yorkshire coast by John Rushton that answers some of your questions can be found at:

    Lighting the Holderness beacons for the Spanish Armada
    The Holderness beacons and plans to prevent invasion of England by the Spanish Armada.

    This is the last paragraph:

    If the coastal watchmen saw a great number of ships giving "vehement suspicion to be enemies", and not to be doubted that they meant to invade, two out of the three beacons at shore sites and one of two beacons inland were to be lit. This was a warning for every man to "put himself in and be ready". The third stage would come if the great number of ships appearing to be enemies came to land to invade, then all three beacons were lit at the coast and all pairs of beacons inland. All beacons were burning. Captains of the Mustermen would lead their forces to the place where the first beacon was lit. Meanwhile, the country folk were to drive all cattle, sheep, horses and victuals inland, to deny them to the enemy.

  2. I did a post on this topic a while back.

    Relies on the same source as above, but with extra info on a particular beacon hill.

  3. Thank you both so much!


All comments are moderated so your replies may not show up immediately. Please be patient. Thanks!