SOLENT, THE, a strait of the English Channel, between the mainland (the coast of Hampshire, England), and the northwestern coast of the Isle of Wight, forming the western entrance to Southampton Water, Spithead being the eastern. Its length, from the eastern shore of Southampton Water to the Needles rocks off the western extremity of Wight, is 15 m. The general breadth is from i\ to 3 m., but between Stone Point on the mainland and Egypt Point on the north coast of Wight it narrows to ij m.; and 35 m. north of the Needles there springs from the mainland a great shingle bank, mostly only a few yards in breadth above water, but nearly 2 m. in length.
1 The American sole (Achirus fasciatus) is a small flat-fish of inferior quality.
It reduces the breadth of the Solent to a little over m., and broadens at the end, on which stands Hurst Castle, an important fortification dating from the time of Henry VIII. Here Charles I. was imprisoned in 1648. The coast of the mainland is low but picturesque, and is broken by the shallow estuaries of the Beaulieu River and the Lym, with the small port of Lymington upon it. The coast of Wight rises more steeply. On this side the Medina estuary opens northward, and those of the Newtown and the Yar north-westward into the strait. At the mouth of Southampton Water is a projecting bar resembling but smaller than that of Hurst Castle, and like it bearing a Tudor fortress, Calshot Castle. The Solent is frequently the scene of yacht races. The configuration of the coast causes a double tide in the strait.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)