White cliffs of Dover
Overview
 
The White Cliffs of Dover are cliff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

s which form part of the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 coastline facing the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The cliffs are part of the North Downs
North Downs
The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills in south east England that stretch from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. The North Downs lie within two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty , the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs...

 formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 107 metres (351 ft), owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 accentuated by streaks of black flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

. The cliffs spread east and west from the town of Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 in the county of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, an ancient and still important English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 port.

The cliffs have great symbolic value for Britain because they face towards Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

 across the narrowest part of the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard.
Encyclopedia
The White Cliffs of Dover are cliff
Cliff
In geography and geology, a cliff is a significant vertical, or near vertical, rock exposure. Cliffs are formed as erosion landforms due to the processes of erosion and weathering that produce them. Cliffs are common on coasts, in mountainous areas, escarpments and along rivers. Cliffs are usually...

s which form part of the British
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 coastline facing the Strait of Dover
Strait of Dover
The Strait of Dover or Dover Strait is the strait at the narrowest part of the English Channel. The shortest distance across the strait is from the South Foreland, 6 kilometres northeast of Dover in the county of Kent, England, to Cap Gris Nez, a cape near to Calais in the French of...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. The cliffs are part of the North Downs
North Downs
The North Downs are a ridge of chalk hills in south east England that stretch from Farnham in Surrey to the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent. The North Downs lie within two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty , the Surrey Hills and the Kent Downs...

 formation. The cliff face, which reaches up to 107 metres (351 ft), owes its striking façade to its composition of chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 accentuated by streaks of black flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

. The cliffs spread east and west from the town of Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

 in the county of Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

, an ancient and still important English
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 port.

The cliffs have great symbolic value for Britain because they face towards Continental Europe
Continental Europe
Continental Europe, also referred to as mainland Europe or simply the Continent, is the continent of Europe, explicitly excluding European islands....

 across the narrowest part of the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

, where invasions have historically threatened and against which the cliffs form a symbolic guard. Because crossing at Dover was the primary route to the continent before air travel, the white line of cliffs also formed the first or last sight of the UK for travellers.

Location

The cliffs are located along the coastline between approximately:
Latitude 51°06'N, Longitude 1°14'E and
Latitude 51°12'N, Longitude 1°24'E.
Shakespeare Cliff marks the point where Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

 most closely approaches continental Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

. On a clear day, the cliffs are easily visible from the French coast.

Geology

The cliffs are composed mainly of soft, white chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 with a very fine-grained texture, composed primarily of coccolith
Coccolith
Coccoliths are individual plates of calcium carbonate formed by coccolithophores which are arranged around them in a coccosphere.- Formation and composition :...

s, plates of calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks in all parts of the world, and is the main component of shells of marine organisms, snails, coal balls, pearls, and eggshells. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime,...

 formed by coccolithophores, single-celled plankton
Plankton
Plankton are any drifting organisms that inhabit the pelagic zone of oceans, seas, or bodies of fresh water. That is, plankton are defined by their ecological niche rather than phylogenetic or taxonomic classification...

ic algae
Algae
Algae are a large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length. They are photosynthetic like plants, and "simple" because their tissues are not organized into the many...

 whose skeletal remains sank to the bottom of the ocean and, together with the remains of bottom-living creatures, formed sediments. Flint
Flint
Flint is a hard, sedimentary cryptocrystalline form of the mineral quartz, categorized as a variety of chert. It occurs chiefly as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks, such as chalks and limestones. Inside the nodule, flint is usually dark grey, black, green, white, or brown in colour, and...

 and quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

 are also found in the chalk.

White cliffs like those of Dover are also found on the Danish islands of Møn
Møns Klint
Møns Klint, , is a striking landmark and tourist attraction along the eastern coast of the Danish island of Møn in the Baltic Sea. The bright chalk cliffs stretch some 6 km from the park of in the north to the in the south. Some of the cliffs fall a sheer 120 m to the sea below...

 and Langeland
Langeland
Langeland is a Danish island located between the Great Belt and Bay of Kiel. The island measures 285 km² and, as of 1 January 2010, has a population of 13,277. The island produces grain and is known as a recreational area. A bridge connects it to Tåsinge via Siø - a small island with a...

 or the coasts of the island of Rügen
Rügen
Rügen is Germany's largest island. Located in the Baltic Sea, it is part of the Vorpommern-Rügen district of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.- Geography :Rügen is located off the north-eastern coast of Germany in the Baltic Sea...

 in Germany. The cliff face continues to weather at an average rate of 1 centimetre (0.393700787401575 in) per year, although occasionally large pieces will fall. This most recently occurred in 2001, when a large chunk of the edge, as large as a football pitch, fell into the channel. Visitors are, therefore, urged to remain well away from the cliff edge.

Ecology

Several species of cliff nesting birds nest on the cliff face, including fulmar
Fulmar
Fulmars are seabirds of the family Procellariidae. The family consists of two extant species and two that are extinct.-Taxonomy:As members of Procellaridae and then the order Procellariiformes, they share certain traits. First, they have nasal passages that attach to the upper bill called...

 and colonies of Black-legged Kittiwake
Black-legged Kittiwake
The Black-legged Kittiwake is a seabird species in the gull family Laridae.This species was first described by Linnaeus in his Systema naturae in 1758 as Larus tridactylus....

.
However, contrary to the words of the famous song
(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
" The White Cliffs of Dover" is a popular World War II song made famous by Vera Lynn with her 1942 recording—one of her best known recordings. Written in 1941 by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, the song was also among the most popular Second World War tunes...

 ("There'll be bluebirds over the white cliffs of Dover"), bluebird
Bluebird
The bluebirds are a group of medium-sized, mostly insectivorous or omnivorous birds in the genus Sialia of the thrush family . Bluebirds are one of the few thrush genera in the Americas. They have blue, or blue and red, plumage...

s are an American species not found in the UK.

Film and television

  • 28 days before it was released, a biohazard sign was projected on the cliffs to promote the 2007 film 28 Weeks Later
    28 Weeks Later
    28 Weeks Later is a 2007 British/Spanish film sequel to the 2002 post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later. 28 Weeks Later was directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo and released in the United Kingdom and United States on 11 May 2007...

    .
  • In the 1991 film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner
    Kevin Costner
    Kevin Michael Costner is an American actor, singer, musician, producer, director, and businessman. He has been nominated for three BAFTA Awards, won two Academy Awards, and two Golden Globe Awards. Costner's roles include Lt. John J...

    , the cliffs are the landing point of Robin of Locksley's water craft; a welcoming sign of home for the returning prisoner of war.

Literature and publications

  • In Matthew Arnold
    Matthew Arnold
    Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

    's 1867 poem "Dover Beach
    Dover Beach
    "Dover Beach" is a short lyric poem by the English poet Matthew Arnold. It was first published in 1867 in the collection New Poems, but surviving notes indicate its composition may have begun as early as 1849...

    ", the cliffs are a sign of reassuring strength.
  • Rudyard Kipling
    Rudyard Kipling
    Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

    's 1902 poem, "The Broken Men", ends with the lines, "How stands the old Lord Warden
    Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports
    The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports is a ceremonial official in the United Kingdom. The post dates from at least the 12th century but may be older. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports was originally in charge of the Cinque Ports, a group of five port towns on the southeast coast of England...

    ? Are Dover's cliffs still white?", to represent the English exiles' homesickness.
  • In Ian Fleming
    Ian Fleming
    Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer.Fleming is best known for creating the fictional British spy James Bond and for a series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character, one of the biggest-selling series of fictional books of...

    's third James Bond
    James Bond
    James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

     novel, Moonraker, a chapter is set at the cliffs. The villain attempts to assassinate Bond and Gala Brand
    Gala Brand
    Gala Brand is a fictional character in the James Bond novel Moonraker. She does not appear in the movie version of the novel, however, as the film is an almost total rewrite of the novel. The only other Bond girl of the Ian Fleming novels to share this fate is Vivienne Michel of the novel The Spy...

     by bombing the cliff so they are showered in debris.
  • Jamaica Kincaid
    Jamaica Kincaid
    Jamaica Kincaid is a Caribbean novelist, gardener, and gardening writer. She was born in the city of St. John's on the island of Antigua in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda...

     references the white cliffs of Dover in her essay, "On Seeing England for the First Time."
  • Other poetry includes Alice Duer Miller
    Alice Duer Miller
    Alice Duer Miller was an American writer and poet.-Biography:Alice Duer was born in New York City on July 28, 1874 into a wealthy family. She was the daughter of James Gore King Duer and Elizabeth Wilson Meads. Elizabeth was the daughter of Orlando Meads of Albany, New York...

    's "The White Cliffs", on which the 1944 film The White Cliffs of Dover
    The White Cliffs of Dover (1944 film)
    The White Cliffs of Dover is a 1944 film made by Loew's and MGM. It was directed by Clarence Brown and produced by Clarence Brown and Sidney Franklin. The screenplay was by Claudine West, Jan Lustig and George Froeschel, based on the Alice Duer Miller poem titled The White Cliffs with additional...

    was based.
  • In a 2005 poll
    Opinion poll
    An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll is a survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence...

     of Radio Times
    Radio Times
    Radio Times is a UK weekly television and radio programme listings magazine, owned by the BBC. It has been published since 1923 by BBC Magazines, which also provides an on-line listings service under the same title...

    readers, the cliffs were named as the third greatest natural wonder in Britain.
  • In Shakespeare's King Lear
    King Lear
    King Lear is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after foolishly disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all. The play is based on the legend of Leir of Britain, a mythological...

    , Gloucester, blinded and despairing, asks to be led to the edge of the cliffs of Dover. He wants to commit suicide by leaping over the edge. His disguised son, Edgar, tells him that he is at the edge when they are nowhere near it, and, once Gloucester steps forward and falls down, Edgar tells his father that he has miraculously survived a fall from the top of the cliffs onto the beach. Confused at first but eventually believing him, Gloucester swears he will not consider suicide again.

Music

  • The cliffs were referenced in the popular World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     song "(There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
    (There'll Be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover
    " The White Cliffs of Dover" is a popular World War II song made famous by Vera Lynn with her 1942 recording—one of her best known recordings. Written in 1941 by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, the song was also among the most popular Second World War tunes...

    ". The song was originally performed by Vera Lynn
    Vera Lynn
    Dame Vera Lynn, DBE is an English singer-songwriter and actress whose musical recordings and performances were enormously popular during World War II. During the war she toured Egypt, India and Burma, giving outdoor concerts for the troops...

     and has been covered by many artists.
  • On the album Parklife
    Parklife
    Parklife is the third studio album by the English alternative rock band Blur, released in April 1994 on Food Records. After disappointing sales for their previous album Modern Life Is Rubbish , Parklife returned Blur to prominence in the UK, helped by its four hit singles: "Girls & Boys", "End of a...

    by Blur
    Blur (band)
    Blur is an English alternative rock band. Formed in London in 1989 as Seymour, the group consists of singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree. Blur's debut album Leisure incorporated the sounds of Madchester and shoegazing...

    , the cliffs are the subject of the song "Clover Over Dover".
  • The cliffs were referenced in the song, "Many Rivers to Cross" by reggae
    Reggae
    Reggae is a music genre first developed in Jamaica in the late 1960s. While sometimes used in a broader sense to refer to most types of Jamaican music, the term reggae more properly denotes a particular music style that originated following on the development of ska and rocksteady.Reggae is based...

     artist Jimmy Cliff
    Jimmy Cliff
    Jimmy Cliff, OM is a Jamaican musician, singer and actor. He is the only currently living musician to hold the Order of Merit, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievement in the arts and sciences...

    . The song was featured on the album The Harder They Come
    The Harder They Come (soundtrack)
    The Harder They Come is the soundtrack album to the iconic film of the same name, released in 1972 in the United Kingdom as Island Records ILPS 9202. It was issued in February 1973 in North America as Mango Records SMAS-7400. It peaked at #140 on the Billboard 200.-Content:The heart of the...

    , which was a soundtrack for the film of the same name
    The Harder They Come
    The Harder They Come is a 1972 Jamaican crime film directed by Perry Henzell.The film stars reggae singer Jimmy Cliff, who plays Ivanhoe Martin, a character based on Rhyging, a real-life Jamaican criminal who achieved fame in the 1940s...

    .
  • On the 2005 album Picaresque
    Picaresque (album)
    Picaresque is an album by The Decemberists released in 2005 on the Kill Rock Stars record label. It was produced by Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie....

    by the Decemberists, the cliffs are the setting for a suicide pact
    Suicide pact
    A suicide pact is an agreed plan between two or more individuals to commit suicide. The plan may be to die together, or separately and closely timed. Suicide pacts are important concepts in the study of suicide, and have occurred throughout history, as well as in fiction.Suicide pacts are generally...

     in the ballad
    Ballad
    A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads were particularly characteristic of British and Irish popular poetry and song from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa. Many...

     "We Both Go Down Together".
  • In 2010, girl group Girls Can't Catch
    Girls Can't Catch
    Girls Can't Catch were a British girl group. Their debut single "Keep Your Head Up" entered the UK Singles Chart at number 26. Their second single "Echo" was released on 18 January 2010, debuting at number 19 on the UK Top 40 singles chart. The band was dropped by their record company, Polydor...

     filmed their music video for "Echo
    Echo (Girls Can't Catch song)
    "Echo" is the second and final single by British girl group Girls Can't Catch. It was released on January 18, 2010.- Music video :The music video was shot the week beginning November 9, 2009. Fans were allowed to post video ideas for the music video. Whoever won was allowed to visit the girls on...

    " on top of the cliffs.
  • Grammy Award-winning guitarist Eric Johnson's critically acclaimed, platinum-selling 1990 recording, Ah Via Musicom, produced the single "Cliffs of Dover (song)
    Cliffs of Dover (song)
    "Cliffs of Dover" is an instrumental composition by guitarist Eric Johnson which appeared on his 1990 Ah Via Musicom album. The album version of the song is composed in the key of G major, the song was played with a Gibson ES-335 through a B.K. Butler Tube Driver and an Echoplex plugged into a...

    ", for which Johnson won the 1991 Grammy Award
    Grammy Award
    A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

     for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.
  • The cliffs were referenced in the song, "Like A Ship", by the group Traveling Wilburys
    Traveling Wilburys
    The Traveling Wilburys were an English–American supergroup consisting of Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty, accompanied by drummer Jim Keltner...

    . The song was featured on the album Traveling Wilburys Box Set.

See also

  • Albion
    Albion
    Albion is the oldest known name of the island of Great Britain. Today, it is still sometimes used poetically to refer to the island or England in particular. It is also the basis of the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, Alba...

  • Beachy Head
    Beachy Head
    Beachy Head is a chalk headland on the south coast of England, close to the town of Eastbourne in the county of East Sussex, immediately east of the Seven Sisters. The cliff there is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, rising to 162 m above sea level. The peak allows views of the south...

  • Dover, New Jersey
    Dover, New Jersey
    Dover is a town in Morris County, New Jersey on the Rockaway River. Dover is west of New York City and west of Newark, New Jersey. As of the United States Census, 2000, the town's population was 18,188.-Geography:...

  • "On a piece of chalk" by Thomas Henry Huxley
  • Samphire Hoe Country Park
    Samphire Hoe Country Park
    Samphire Hoe Country Park is a country park situated 3 kilometres west of Dover in southeast England. The park was created by using 4.9 million cubic metres of chalk marl from the Channel Tunnel excavations and is found at the bottom of a section of the White Cliffs of Dover...

    ...
  • Seven Sisters, Sussex
    Seven Sisters, Sussex
    The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs by the English Channel. They form part of the South Downs in East Sussex, between the towns of Seaford and Eastbourne in southern England. They are within the Seven Sisters Country Park...


External links

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