Roman, Anglo Saxon and medieval defences called collectively Exeter City Walls


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Exeter (District Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:
SX 91635 92540, SX 91835 92781, SX 91872 92200, SX 91956 92903, SX 92027 92202, SX 92201 92414, SX 92213 92911, SX 92268 92563, SX 92298 92706

Reasons for Designation

The city of Exeter has been strategically important since its foundation in the Roman Period when the original walled defences were constructed. Exeter was also an Anglo Saxon burh so continued to be a highly influential central place, one of only four in the whole of Devon. Following its capitulation to William the Conqueror, it became a Royal town and was briefly the residence of King John. It was a key military objective during the first English civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Maud and later in the Civil War between the Royalists and Parliamentarians. As a result, its city walls have reflected the need for adequate and significant defence throughout turbulent times and still survive well. The important archaeological end environmental evidence which they will contain is extremely significant.


This monument, which falls into nine separate areas, includes Roman, Anglo Saxon and medieval city walls which define the original extent of the city of Exeter. The walls survive as a roughly rectangular circuit approximately 2.35km in length of which 72% (1705m) is still visible as upstanding fabric. The city walls originated in around 200 AD and some sections still survive up to 2.5m high. The city originally had four gateways, also of Roman origin, as proven by excavations of the South Gate, but were generally dismantled in the 18th to 19th centuries. The Roman walls were repaired and rebuilt throughout the Anglo Saxon, medieval and Civil War periods since the city was besieged at least twice. There are also a number of wall turrets and bastions which may date to the Roman, Anglo Saxon or medieval periods. Traditionally they were constructed by Athelstan, this being derived from writings by William of Malmesbury in around 1130, although their Roman origin cannot be dismissed. During the Anglo Saxon period the walls underwent significant repair and strengthening. The same is true for the medieval period when such works continued as it was prudent to do so. As a result the surviving walls contain a complex palimpsest of successive works dating throughout different periods. Through much of the circuit the walls, turrets and bastions still attain a significant height. Part of the city wall around Rougemont Castle is the subject of a separate scheduling.

Sources: NMR:-SX99SW15 PastScape Monument No:-448309


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
DV 136
Legacy System:


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

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