London Wall: section of Roman wall and medieval bastion in Postman's Park and King Edward Street

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018883

Date first listed: 09-May-1974

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Nov-2006

Map

Ordnance survey map of London Wall: section of Roman wall and medieval bastion in Postman's Park and King Edward Street
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

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

County: Greater London Authority

District: City and County of the City of London (London Borough)

National Grid Reference: TQ 32068 81465

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

London Wall was constructed as part of an extensive programme of public works between approximately AD 190 and AD 225. 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 2nd century 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 believed to have been surmounted by a parapet walkway. Excavation has indicated that defensive bastions were added to the Wall in the 3rd Century AD, and a number were also added during the medieval period when the Wall was repaired and refortified. By the mid-16th Century, 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 wall's role in the origins and history of England's capital city, its contribution towards an understanding of Romano-British and medieval urban development, and the light the remains throw on Roman and medieval civil engineering techniques, justify considering all sections of London Wall that exhibit significant archaeological remains as being worthy of protection.

Archaeological excavation has indicated that the standing and buried remains of the Roman Wall at Postman's Park and King Edward Street survive well. Detailed archaeological recording during excavation has provided a valuable insight into construction techniques employed during the Roman period. This section of Roman Wall is also one of the most complete sections along the London Wall circuit. The section of berm and infilled Roman and medieval ditches beneath Postman's Park will retain buried deposits associated with the occupation of this area, whilst the burials dating from the subsequent reuse of the site will allow a demographic study of a discreet medieval and post-medieval population, providing an insight into the burial practices of these periods.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

The monument is situated within Postman's Park, on the east side of King Edward Street and includes the standing (although hidden) and buried remains of part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London. London Wall was constructed towards the end of the 2nd century AD enclosing a semi-circular area of approximately 133ha on the north side of the Thames, from the site of Tower Hill in the east, to Blackfriars in the west. For much of its length the defences were strengthened by a berm and ditch, and gateways were built at principal points of entry. The Wall was reinforced and repaired throughout the Roman and medieval periods, and bastions were added. Excavation has indicated that during the later Roman period a riverside wall was constructed parallel to the north bank of the Thames in order to protect the southern part of London. The expansion of the city towards the end of the medieval period led to the decline of London Wall as a defensive feature. This section represents part of the north western side of the London Wall circuit and the buried remains of a medieval bastion (bastion 16). It is approximately 92m in length and aligned roughly east-west. Excavation has shown that the Wall stands on a foundation trench filled with puddled clay and flint capped by a layer of rubble, and rises from an external sandstone plinth. The Wall itself has a rubble and mortar core and is faced with squared blocks of Kentish ragstone banded at intervals by tile courses. At Postman's Park, most of the internal (south) face of the Roman Wall has been incorporated within the external wall of Nomura House's light well to the north of the building and is partly faced with Victorian brickwork, but several upper courses of Roman masonry (two double courses of tile bonding within a ragstone wall) remain visible towards the eastern end of the site. The western end of the Wall and the whole of its external face survive as buried features beneath King Edward Street and Postman's Park respectively, and are included in the scheduling. In 1887, prior to the construction of the General Post Office, a section of the Wall, approximately 40m long, was exposed in the central part of the site. It was found to stand to a height of 4.36m above the level of the plinth which itself is now situated approximately 2m below present ground level. In the western part of the site are the buried remains of a medieval bastion which was also located in 1887. It is `D'-shaped in plan, of hollow construction, and projects approximately 6m from the external face of the Wall. Its chalk and ragstone foundations abut the Roman Wall indicating that it is a later addition and this is supported by the prescence of 12th and 13th century architectural fragments within the foundations. The bastion also overlies a section of the berm and infilled ditch which is associated with the Roman Wall. These will survive as buried features beyond (to the north) the external face of the Wall and a sample of sections of both the berm and ditch are included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between these features and the Town Wall. From archaeological observations within Postman's Park and to the west of King Edward Street it is clear that the Wall at this location was approximately 2.4m wide, with a berm of between 3m and 3.7m and a ditch of approximately 3.7m in width. It is therefore predicted that the northern edge of the Roman ditch will lie approximately 9.5m north of the visible internal wall face. In addition, the park will contain the remains of the wider medieval ditch, a sample of which is also included in the scheduling to preserve evidence of the development of the defences. Archaeological observations in 1889, to the immediate east of the monument, demonstrated that the northern edge of this ditch lay approximately 29m north of the Wall's internal face. The area around, and including Postman's Park, was formerly the site of the graveyards of two local churches, St Leonard's in Foster Lane and St Botolph's within the park, and the cemetery of Christ Church, Greyfriars in Newgate Street to the west. A sample is included in the scheduling to provide evidence for a demographic study of the medieval and post-medieval population. Approximately 21m to the east of the monument are the buried remains of the Aldersgate gateway, whilst 20m to the west is a further section of London Wall which survives as a buried feature. Both are the subject of separate schedulings. The floor of the light well of Nomura House, the Nomura House building, the memorial and the surfaces of the pathways within Postman's Park, garden and street furniture, and the tarmac surface of King Edward Street are excluded from the scheduling. However, the ground beneath all these features is included. Existing services and their trenches are also excluded although the ground around them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 26331

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Corporation of London, , Postman's Park Conservation Area Character Summary
Grimes, W, The Excavation of Roman and Medieval London, (1968)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965), 312-3
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...
'The Builder' in The Roman Wall of London: The Recent Discoveries At Aldersgate, (1888)
Butler, J, 'Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society' in The City Defences at Aldersgate, , Vol. 52, (2001), 41-111
Fox, G E, 'Archaeologia' in Notes on a Recent Discovery of Part of the Roman Wall of London, , Vol. 52 Pt 2, (1889)
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983)
Other
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of the Roman , 1984,

End of official listing