Portsmouth Harbour is a large natural harbour in Hampshire, England. Geographically it is a ria. The city of Portsmouth lies to the east on Portsea Island, and Gosport to the west on the mainland. At its north end is Portchester Castle, of Roman origin and the first fortress built to protect the harbour. The mouth of the harbour provides access to the Solent. It is best known as the home of the Royal Navy, HMNB Portsmouth. Because of its strategic location on the south coast of England, protected by the natural defence of the Isle of Wight, it has since the Middle Ages been the home to England's (and later Britain's) navy. The narrow entrance, and the forts surrounding it gave it a considerable advantage of being virtually impregnable to attack from the sea, however, by use of subterfuge of sailing into the harbour with English flags, the French burned Portsmouth in the 1338.
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