London Wall: remains of Roman wall, bastions and city gate of Aldgate from 17 Bevis Marks to India Street
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Location Description:
- The monument is centred on TQ 33548 81165
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Location Description:
- The monument is centred on TQ 33548 81165
- Greater London Authority
- City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
- Non Civil Parish
- National Grid Reference:
Part of the Roman wall known as London Wall and the city gate of Aldgate
Reasons for Designation
The part of London Wall from 17 Bevis Marks to India Street, including remains of the Roman wall, bastions and city gate of Aldgate, is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Historic interest: London Wall was pivotal to the protection of London from the Roman period until far into the Middle Ages and was a key factor in determining the shape and development of the city; * Survival: this part of London Wall incorporates standing remains (within basements) that are up to nearly 2.5m high above the level of the plinth, as well as the buried remains of several bastions and a gateway; * Documentation (archaeological): this part of the Wall has been recorded through several excavations, providing important information regarding Roman and medieval civil engineering and construction techniques; * Potential: the Wall retains potential for further investigation, and the buried remains of the city gate of Aldgate, in particular, will provide an insight into the development of one of the principal routeways into London from the Roman through to the post-medieval period; * Group value: this part of the Wall holds group value with the other surviving scheduled sections of London Wall and more widely with the scheduled Roman amphitheatre and public bath houses.
London Wall was constructed as part of an extensive programme of Roman public works between approximately AD 190 and AD 225. The Wall was about 3km long and enclosed an area of nearly 330 acres. It served to form the basis of the protection of the town far into the medieval period, and was also a key factor in determining the shape and development of both Roman and medieval London. The uniformity of design and construction of the C2 wall suggests that it was planned and built as a single project. It enclosed the whole of the landward side of the town from Tower Hill to Blackfriars, incorporating an existing military fort at Cripplegate. It was laid out in straight sections, linking the major routeways into London, and gateways were constructed at the points of entry at Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Newgate and Ludgate. The defensive nature of much of the Wall's circuit was strengthened by an external ditch, with the exception of those areas where the marshland around the Walbrook acted as a natural defensive feature. Internally, it was strengthened by a bank of earth.
The Roman Wall was built on a trench foundation of puddled clay, and included a rubble core interspersed with bonding tile courses. It is known to have stood to a height of approximately 4.4m above a sandstone plinth, and is considered to have been surmounted by a parapet walkway. Excavation has indicated that defensive bastions were added to the Wall in the C3 AD, and a number were also added during the medieval period when the Wall was repaired and refortified. By the mid-C16, however, with the continued expansion of London, its function as a town boundary and defence had ceased. London Wall survives in various states of preservation. Some parts of the Wall, especially along the eastern section, still stand to almost full height and the bastions are also clearly visible. Other parts are no longer visible above the present ground surface, but in these areas sections of the Wall survive as buried features, and sufficient evidence exists for their positions to be accurately identified for much of its length.
The part of London Wall between 17 Bevis Marks and India Street was situated at the north-east of the defensive circuit and includes the buried remains of the gateway at Aldgate. The Roman gateway is considered to have had two semi-circular arches framed by two square towers. It was known as Ealdgate (Oldgate) in the Anglo-Saxon period. In 1108-47 it was altered or rebuilt and in about 1215 semi-circular flanking towers were added. The room above it was leased to Geoffrey Chaucer in 1374-85. It was at this gateway that an uprising led by Thomas Fauconberg against Edward IV was halted in 1471 and through which the defenders pursued the enemy. The gateway was rebuilt in 1607-9 when the towers were replaced with rectangular ones and a walkway was constructed. It was demolished, except for the lower footings, in 1761.
The Wall along this section is recorded in various documentary sources. An account by John Stow (c.1525-1605) records that the external ditch was re-cut in 1213 and the Wall was repaired in 1215, 1282, 1328 and 1477. The Wall is shown on a C16 plan of Holy Trinity Priory, the 1561 Agas map and on Ogilby and Morgan’s map of 1677. Bastion number 7 was seen by a Mr Woodward in 1707 and described as standing 26 feet high. In 1753-6 William Maitland described bastion number 6 as being 21 feet high and in perfect condition, and bastion number 5 as eight feet high. Although most of the upper part of the Wall has since been lost, the lower part has been revealed during building work, including that at the north end of Jewry Street in 1861 and 1995-6, under Duke Street in 1887, under Sir John Cass College (Jewry Street) in 1900 and 1933, and at Aldgate in 1907.
INVESTIGATION HISTORY The part of London Wall between 17 Bevis Marks and India Street has been partially excavated on several occasions: the gateway at Aldgate in 1968-9, 2011 and 2012; bastion number 7 in 1971; the Wall at Duke’s Place in 1977-78; bastion number 5 below Sir John Cass College in 1992; and the Wall at 37 Jewry Street in 1995-6 and 1998. The excavation at Duke’s Place indicated that the original Roman ground level was c.13m Ordnance Datum (OD), with the bottom of the wall foundation at 11.83 OD.
The standing and buried remains of part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London, in three separate lengths that originally stood as the north-east boundary to the city. These three lengths of London Wall were originally a continuous part of the circuit but have been truncated by later activity. The Wall was constructed on a foundation trench of puddled clay and flint with a capping of ragstone which forms a raft supporting the main body of the Wall. The Wall itself rises from a sandstone plinth and has a rubble and mortar core faced with Kentish ragstone banded at intervals by tile courses.
The first length of this part of London Wall survives as buried remains that run for approximately 74m south-east from 17 Bevis Marks towards St James’s Passage where it has been truncated by a modern subway. The Wall originally continued north-west, beyond 17 Bevis Marks, and a watching brief in 1983 located some fragmentary remains but their extent and character are unknown and they are thus not included in the scheduling. An excavation in advance of the subway development at St James’s Passage revealed that the Wall survives at Dukes Place to a height of 1.7m above the level of the plinth, which is itself situated some 4.2m below the modern ground surface. Near the centre of this length of London Wall are the buried remains of bastion number 7 which projects approximately 5.79m eastward beyond the external face of the Wall. An etching of the site in 1763 shows that the bastion is semi-circular in plan and, at that time, was surmounted with a (probably medieval) polygonal top.
The second length of this part of London Wall runs for approximately 68m south-east from Duke’s Place to the buried remains of the Roman gateway at Aldgate where it then turns south and continues for approximately 25m. At Duke’s Place the Roman Wall survives beneath the ground to 1.7m high above the level of the plinth. It includes the buried remains of bastion number 6 which has a semi-circular plan and projects 5.79m beyond the external face of the Wall. At Aldgate are the buried remains of a Roman, medieval and post-medieval gateway, which provided a means of access into London, and this area is included in the scheduling. An archaeological investigation in 1968 revealed the corner of a Roman wall and a buttress which are considered to be part of the central spine of a gate with a double carriageway. Further excavations have revealed the footings of an associated Roman tower and part of the 1607-9 gateway. Beyond Aldgate the Wall continues for a further 25m to the south. At 37 Jewry Street it has largely been reduced to foundation level. However at 36 Jewry Street the Wall is exposed for 5m within the cellar of the Three Tuns public house and stands some 2.45m high above the level of the plinth which is itself situated approximately 2.7m below the present ground level. Some of the masonry is partly obscured by a modern brickwork facing but the original tile courses are visible in places. The Wall originally extended southwards but the double basements added in the 1930s within the northern part of Sir John Cass College have removed any archaeological remains.
The third length of this part of London Wall runs for 56m south from the single basement of Sir John Cass College to the south side of India Street. Towards the northern end of the site about 1m of the wall survives upstanding to 1.5m high and is displayed within a glass-fronted recess in the basement. However the greater part of this length survives as buried remains beneath the basement and India Street. Partial excavation has revealed the foundations of a bastion (number 5) built into the fabric of the Wall. The mortar of the bastion foundation has been spread over the Wall's sandstone plinth providing evidence that part of the Wall may have been partly demolished at the time of the bastion's construction. The Wall originally continued southwards beyond India Street but a double basement beneath 8-10 Crutched Friars has removed it in that area. Further remains of the Roman wall are known to survive further south and are the subject of a separate scheduling.
EXCLUSIONS The monument excludes: all modern (C19 and C20) buildings but the ground beneath them is included; notice boards, signs and sign posts; fences and fence posts; railings; all tarmacadam or paved surfaces, including pavements, roads and roadways; lamps and lamp posts; bollards; modern drains and drain covers; modern water pipes and electricity cables. However the ground beneath all these features is included.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- LO 26 K
- Legacy System:
- RSM - OCN
Books and journals
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Maloney, J, 'London Archaeology' in Excavations At Duke's Place - The Roman Defences, (1979)
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, (1983)
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Further Discoveries Relating to Roman London, (1983)
Compass Archaeology Report, November 2011: Thames Water Mains Replacement Works. The recording of exposed remains of Aldgate on Aldgate High Street, and Interim Report 34: Crouch Hill 55. ,
Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) Watching Brief Report, December 2012: Aldgate Traffic Lights, Junctions of Aldgate High Street, London, EC3N.,
Museum of London Archaeology Service (MOLAS) Watching Brief Report, February 1996: 87-89 Aldgate High Street & 37 Jewry Street, London, EC3N.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing