London Wall: section of Roman and medieval wall at St Alphage Garden, incorporating remains of St Alphage's Church
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 08-Dec-2019 at 17:51:27.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 32446 81628
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.
Partial excavation has indicated that the standing and buried remains of the Roman and medieval Wall at St Alphage Garden survive well. A study of the Wall's many phases of rebuilding has allowed the development of the site to be better understood and provides an insight into the construction techniques employed during the Roman and medieval periods. The buried deposits in the southern part of the site will provide information on the occupation of this area by Cripplegate Roman fort and will contribute towards our understanding of the relationship between the fort and the Roman town Wall. The section of berm and infilled ditch beneath the public garden to the north and the earlier fort ditch will also increase our understanding of the relationship between these features, whilst the standing remains of the church north wall and its buried foundations will retain valuable evidence for the development and use of the church and its associated graveyard.
The monument is situated at St Alphage Garden, approximately 65m south east
of St Giles' Church, and includes the standing and buried remains of part of
London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London, and part of the
northern wall of Cripplegate fort. It also includes the buried and standing
remains of an early medieval church dedicated to St Alphage.
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 northern side of the Wall's circuit and
is aligned east-west. It includes a fragment of the Wall, approximately 56m
in length, of which the western 6m and the most easterly section survive as
buried features. Excavations along the line of London Wall's north western
circuit following World War II bomb damage recovered evidence to indicate
that the construction of the Wall differed in this area from that along the
rest of its circuit. Here, the north and west walls of the Cripplegate Roman
fort, built between AD 120 and 150, provided existing defensive boundaries.
These were thickened to conform to the standard width of London Wall and
incorporated within its circuit. This was achieved by constructing a narrower
town wall against the internal face of the existing fort walls. The latter
rises from a foundation of compacted rubble which forms a raft supporting the
main body of the Wall. Internally it was strengthened by a rampart and
externally by a `V'-shaped ditch measuring approximately 3m wide and 1.5m
deep. The ditch has become infilled over time but will survive as a buried
feature. A 56m long section of ditch adjacent to the Roman Wall at St Alphage
Garden has been included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship
between this feature and the Roman Wall.
The town Wall generally stands on a foundation trench of puddled clay and
flint which has been inserted into the fort's internal rampart. The
foundations are capped with ragstone which form a raft supporting the main
body of the Wall. The Wall itself rises from a triple tile course on its
internal face. It has a rubble and mortar core faced with Kentish ragstone
and is banded at intervals by further tile courses. The remains of both the
fort wall and Roman London Wall at St Alphage Garden are no longer visible
above the ground surface, but excavation has indicated that they survive as
buried features and they are therefore included in the scheduling.
The Roman masonry at St Alphage Garden originally stood to a higher level but
it has been truncated by medieval additions and rebuilding. The medieval
stonework is visible above the present ground surface, constructed of roughly
squared blocks of ragstone with fragments of flint and tiles, laid roughly in
courses. It tapers upwards and its outer face appears to be battered. The
external face of the wall retains putlog holes used to secure timber
scaffolding during its construction and several phases of rebuilding are
visible within the fabric of the medieval masonry. In 1477, during the War of
the Roses, Mayor Ralph Jocelyn ordered large scale repairs to London Wall
between Aldgate and Aldersgate and the brick crenellations are thought to
date from this period. These are the only crenellations to survive on the
Documentary evidence indicates that an 11th or 12th century church, dedicated
to St Alphage, occupied the central part of the site until it was dismantled
in 1536. Alphage was an Archbishop of Canterbury murdered by the Danish Army
threatening London in 1012-13. He may have been canonised as early as 1023.
The existence of a church here is implied as early as 1068 but is mentioned
by name in 1125. It was built against the internal face of London Wall which
formed the church's northern wall. Evidence of the church fabric can be seen
on both faces of the Wall in the western part of the site. The outer (north)
face exhibits a slightly different alignment to that to its east and is
differently faced with a decorative ragstone course and knapped flint
construction. On the inner (south) face of the Wall, a wall scar marks the
eastern extent of the church. There are also no brick crenellations on the
church wall. The foundations of the church will survive as buried features
and are included in the scheduling.
The associated graveyard, which is believed to have continued in use until
the 17th century, will provide evidence for a demographic study of the
medieval and post-medieval population, and that part of the graveyard
immediately to the east of the site of the church is therefore also included
in the scheduling. Approximately 20m to the west of the monument are the
buried remains of the Roman fort's northern gateway, known as the Cripple
Gate, and these are the subject of a separate scheduling.
The surfaces of all paths, paved surfaces, the stairs in the eastern and
southern parts of the site, modern walls (such as the garden wall), signage
and all garden furniture are excluded from the scheduling. However, the
ground beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Grimes, W, The Excavation of Roman and Medieval London, (1968)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...220
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...33,220
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...33,101
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983)
Westman, A, 'Archaeology Today, pgs 17-22, Dec1987' in The Church of St Alphege [in Archaeology Today], , Vol. 8 (ii), (1987), 17-22
Westman, A, The City Wall at St Alphege Garden EC2, 1987, Unpublished Level 3 Archive Report
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