London Wall: section of Roman and medieval wall and bastion at Noble Street
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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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 32222 81489
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 and survey has indicated that the standing and buried remains of the Roman and medieval Wall at Noble Street survive well. The Wall here retains evidence of the construction techniques employed during both the Roman and medieval periods. The buried deposits on the eastern side of the site will provide information on Cripplegate fort's occupation of this area and contribute towards our understanding of the relationship between the town Wall and the south western corner of the fort.
The monument is situated on the west side of, and running parallel with,
Noble Street. It includes the ruins and buried remains of part of London
Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London, and part of the west side
of Cripplegate fort. Remains of property walls of the late 18th-20th
centuries built using the London Wall as their foundations are also included.
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 represents part of the western side of the Wall's circuit and is aligned
north to south. It includes a section of Roman and medieval walling,
approximately 80m in length, two internal turrets of Cripplegate fort, and
the foundations of a bastion (number 15). Excavations along the Wall's north
western circuit following World War II bomb damage recovered evidence that
the construction of the Wall in this area differed from that along the rest
of the circuit. Here, the north and west walls of Cripplegate fort, built
between AD 120 and 150, provided existing defensive boundaries which 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 walls of the fort
rise 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 been infilled over time and is now preserved as a buried
feature. A section of the ditch which runs parallel to the fragment of Roman
walling is included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between
the fort and London Wall.
The later Town Wall 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 and form a raft supporting the main body of the Wall.
The Wall has a rubble and mortar core faced with Kentish ragstone and is
banded by tile courses. Both the fort and the town walls can be traced in
parts on the ground surface and excavation has indicated that the rest will
survive as buried features. Excavations at the site in the 1940s and 50s
recovered evidence that the two walls fork at the southern end of the site,
the wall of the fort turning through 90 degrees to continue in an easterly
direction and the Town Wall turning westwards. The highest fragment of
standing Roman masonry is situated opposite Oat Lane, towards the southern
part of the site, where facing stones and part of a tile course of the Town
Wall survive above garden level. One section of walling, at the north end of
the monument, stands 4.5m high above ground level; this is mostly medieval in
date and retains some medieval coursed ragstone facing and putlog holes on
its external face. Projecting eastward from the internal face of the Wall are
the remains of the party walls from bomb damaged, then partially demolished,
properties which originally fronted onto Noble Street. They provide evidence
for the later use of the site from the late 18th-20th centuries and are
therefore included in the scheduling. The remains of two internal fort
turrets have been uncovered along this section of the Wall, one positioned
almost halfway between the western gateway to the fort and its south eastern
corner, whilst the second is an angle turret situated within the corner of
the fort. The lower courses of both turrets remain visible on the ground
surface and are included in the scheduling. At the south western end of the
site, where the fort wall turns eastward and the town wall westward, are the
remains of bastion number 15 which projects approximately 8m beyond the
external face of the Wall and is bonded into the Wall faces. It is
`D'-shaped in plan and of hollow construction.
Approximately 18m to the north and 31m to the west, further sections of the
London Wall circuit survive as upstanding and buried features and are the
subject of separate schedulings.
All steps, the terrace, balustrade and bridge over the Roman Wall, located to
the east of the Plaisterer's Hall, are excluded from the scheduling although
the Roman foundations and ground beneath them is included. No 10 Noble Street
and garden furniture are also excluded from the scheduling although the
ground beneath 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
Lyon, J, Cripplegate Fort EC2, City of London: an assessement of archaeol, (2003)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965), 311-2
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...246
Butler, J, 'Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society' in The City Defences at Aldersgate, , Vol. 52, (2001), 41-111
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,
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