The Needles  Hampshire


In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described The Needles like this:

NEEDLES (The), a group of insulated chalk rocks offthe W extremity of the Isle of Wight; flanking Alumbay and the entrance to the Solent, 3½ miles S S W of Hurst castle, and 4¾ S W of Yarmouth. They originallyformed the extreme W point of the middle range of the Isle of Wight downs; they were insulated by the dis-integration of the rock in the direction of the strata's fissures; they have a wedge-shaped form, which resulted from a highly inclined northward dip of their strata; theystretch out seaward, nearly in a straight line with thepromontory of which they once formed a part; they will, in course of time, be extended landward, by the insulation, from the headland, of other masses similar to themselves; they are, at present, five in number, thoughonly three rise boldly from the sea; they formerly included a tall, slender, conical pinnacle, about 120 feethigh, known as Lot's wife, which fell in 1764, and the stump of which now forms a dangerous reef; and they took their name of Needles originally from that pinnacle, but may be said to take it now from numerous spirelets which are presented on the profile of their E side. ...

The one of them nearest the land became insulated between 1815 and 1820; and the mass composing it was previously connected by an arch with the main cliff. The western-most one is surmounted by a lighthouse, erected in 1859, with a light at an elevation of 474 feet above the sea, and visible at a distance of 11 leagues; has a graceful form; and commands, from the lantern, a most remarkable and romantic view. The Pomona 50-gun frigate, on her homeward voyage from Persia, was wrecked on that rock in 1811.

The Needles through time

The Needles is now part of the Isle of Wight district. Click here for graphs and data of how the Isle of Wight has changed over two centuries. For statistics about The Needles itself, go to Units and Statistics.

How to reference this page:

GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of The Needles, in The the Isle of Wight and Hampshire | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.


Date accessed: 06th December 2021

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