London Wall: site of the Roman and medieval gateway of Cripple Gate


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018887

Date first listed: 26-Oct-1973

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Nov-2006


Ordnance survey map of London Wall: site of the Roman and medieval gateway of Cripple Gate
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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 32395 81655


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.

The buried remains of the Roman and medieval gateways at Cripplegate and adjoining sections of Wall, beneath Wood Street, are considered to survive well. The site has not been affected by later development and has never been excavated, other than for cable trenches, and therefore the buried deposits of the gateways will retain valuable information on the construction techniques employed on these structures and the development of the site during the Roman and medieval periods.


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


The monument is situated beneath Wood Street, 65m north of the road known as London Wall, and includes the buried remains of part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London, and of the Roman and medieval gateway of Cripple Gate. 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. The monument includes the buried remains of both the Roman northern gateway into Cripplegate fort and a later medieval gateway. The gate at Cripplegate has never been excavated but is one of three gates mentioned in the Laws of Ethelred in around 978-1016 AD. The discovery of the fort during excavations in the 1950s indicated that it was of a standard Roman plan and that the site of the gateway corresponds with the location of the fort's northern entrance. Wood Street is on the line of the `via praetoria', one of the main roads of the fort. The plan of the gateway is considered to be comparable with that of the excavated western fort gate and comprises a double roadway divided by a central spine formed by two piers, flanked to the west and east by square turrets. The gateway was rebuilt in 1244 and again in 1492 and is depicted on an 18th century engraving. This later gateway also consisted of a central carriageway but had flanking polygonal towers and a pedestrian footway on its eastern side, passing through the east tower. The gateway lost its defensive function in 1660 when its portcullis was permanently wedged open and it remained a monumental feature until it was dismantled in 1760. Massive foundations were observed to the north of the wall line here in 1882 although they remained undated. A watching brief during the excavation of a cable trench in Wood Street in 2002 also encountered large blocks of masonry which were interpreted as the medieval gatehouse and approach causeway. On either side of Cripplegate is an adjoining section of Wall. Originally forming the north wall of Cripplegate Fort it was widened and strengthened on its inner (south) face when its function changed to that of the City Wall. The City Ditch to the north of the Wall also strengthened the defences, evidence for which has been recorded underneath Roman House to the east of the monument. Approximately 22m to the east and 13m west of the monument are further sections of the London Wall circuit which are the subject of separate schedulings. The modern surfaces of the road and pavements of Wood Street are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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.


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

Legacy System number: 26326

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Lyon, J, Cripplegate Fort EC2, City of London: an assessement of archaeol, (2003)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...103
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983), 318
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,
Museum Of London, Moor House Cable Trench - London Wall, Fore Street, EC2, London Archaeological Archives & Research Catalogue of sites, (2002)

End of official listing