Definition of Martello in English:


(also Martello tower)


  • Any of numerous small circular forts that were erected for defence purposes along the coasts of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.

    • ‘There is a picnic area by the Martello tower and a stepped access to the lower promenade.’
    • ‘We encountered many of them during the walk, along with the plethora of round Martello tower fortifications and Jersey's impressive castles.’
    • ‘The government hoped to defend the mainland by fortifying the coast with Martello towers, embodying the Militia (the home defence force), and extending the Militia Acts to Scotland and Ireland.’
    • ‘Visitors can learn about the pirates of the area, the Martello towers and more current information on fishing in the area.’
    • ‘Beginning at a Martello Tower just outside Folkestone, Nicholas reveals that 74 such towers were built in the early years of the 19th century to defend us against Napoleon Bonaparte, who had already overrun most of Europe.’


Alteration (by association with Italian martello ‘hammer’) of Cape Mortella in Corsica, where such a tower proved difficult for the English to capture in 1794.