When the Spanish Armada came to England in 1588, orders were given for the beacons to be watched along the long Holderness coast and in other parts of the East Riding. These were sited so that they could be seen, one to another along the coast and inland. Coastal beacons were in groups of three. Inland beacons were sited in pairs. Groups of town ships had responsibility for maintaining each beacon and itsstock of fuel. In the event of a landing, the armed militia of the Wapentakes could muster at agreed places under their captains. This was our early warning system.
Each beacon was to be watched day and night, two people by day and three by night. They had to be wise and discreet , honest house holders over thirty years old. If the coastal watchmen saw any ships at sea or in the river Humber, they had to judge whether their actions, change of course or anything else gave suspicion that they were enemies liable to do harm on land or to our ships sailing on the sea. They might light one beacon to warn our ships or the inland districts. This would not lead those inland to light their beacons.
If the coastal watchmen saw a great number of ships giving "vehement susipion to be enemies", and not to be doubted that they meant to invade, two out of the three beacons at shore sites and one of two beacons inland were to be lit. This was a warning for every man to "put himself in and be ready". The third stage would come if the great number of ships, appearing tobe enemies came to land to invade, then all three beacons were lit at the coast and all pairs of beacons inland. All beacons were burning. Captains of the muster men would lead their forces to the place where the first beacon was lit. Meanwhile, the country folkwere to drive all cattle, sheep, horses and victuals inland, to deny them to the enemy.