Beverley Gate and adjacent archaeological remains forming part of Hull's medieval and post-medieval defences


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
The monument lies at the western end of Whitefriargate, extending north from Prince's Dock to the infilled Queen's Dock, bound to the west by the infilled lock which linked the two docks.


Ordnance survey map of Beverley Gate and adjacent archaeological remains forming part of Hull's medieval and post-medieval defences
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
The monument lies at the western end of Whitefriargate, extending north from Prince's Dock to the infilled Queen's Dock, bound to the west by the infilled lock which linked the two docks.
City of Kingston upon Hull (Unitary Authority)
Non Civil Parish
National Grid Reference:


The remains of the medieval town gate which was barred to Charles I on 23rd April 1642, an event leading up to the outbreak of the English Civil War. The monument also includes sample sections of the adjacent town wall, rampart and ditch.

Reasons for Designation

Beverley Gate and the adjacent archaeological remains forming part of Hull’s medieval and post-medieval defences is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Period, documentation: being a firmly located and well understood section of Hull’s nationally important medieval defences; * Potential: partial excavation has left most of the monument undisturbed but has demonstrated that the unexcavated portions will retain significant, well preserved archaeological remains, particularly waterlogged deposits within the infilled town ditch; * Historical: being one of the four principal medieval gateways into the town, the one that was closed to King Charles I on 23rd April 1642 in the lead-up to the outbreak of the First English Civil War; * Architecture, rarity: forming a major component of Hull’s medieval defences, of interest because by European standards, relatively few English towns possessed effective defensive circuits, Hull’s thought to have been the single largest use of medieval brickwork in the country.


In 1299, Edward I created the royal borough of Kingston upon Hull. Edward II granted permission to fortify the town in 1321 with the initial ditch, rampart and timber defences (including Beverley Gate) completed by 1332. Several grants of murage (taxation levied to fund the defences) were made between 1341 and 1404 which saw the defences rebuilt using an estimated 4.7 million bricks for the walls alone, probably in excess of 5 million including the gates, representing perhaps the largest single use of brickwork in medieval England. Archaeology and early depictions show that the medieval defences extended around three side of the town, being open to the River Hull to the east. A wet moat spanned by drawbridges protected the battlemented town wall which revetted the original clay rampart. Beverley Gate was one of four defended gateways, the wall also including around 30 interval towers and at least four smaller postern gates. These formidable defences succeeded in deterring any attacks during the Wars of the Roses in the C15.

Hull’s defences were strengthened after 1541, possibly including work to Beverley Gate, after falling to rebels without a fight during the Pilgrimage of Grace of 1536. Works in response to invasion fears in the 1580s may date the construction of a new bridge across the town ditch at Beverley Gate, with another scare in 1626-29 thought to have prompted the construction of a pair of two storey guard chambers that were added to the rear of the gatehouse. In 1638-42 the town’s defences were further enhanced with the addition of hornworks or half-moon batteries set in front of the gateways, linked by breastworks and protected by a substantial outer ditch.

Rebellion in Ireland in 1641 saw the depletion of the arsenal in London, leaving Hull with the country’s largest store of arms and ammunition. In 1642 parliament installed Sir John Hotham as governor of Hull with instructions to withhold its arsenal from the king. On the 23rd April, King Charles and his escort were refused entry into the town at Beverley Gate, an act of defiance that is regarded as a key event of the outbreak of the English Civil War. Hull successfully resisted a siege by a Royalist army in July 1642 and again in September-October 1643, remaining in Parliamentarian hands throughout the war.

Beverley Gate appears not to have been strengthened in the 1680s during the period that saw the construction of Martin Beckmann's Hull Citadel on the east bank of the River Hull. The last time that the defences were put into any state of readiness was in response to the 1745 Jacobite rising, although Beverley Gate had been partially demolished ten years previously. Its drawbridge was replaced by a fixed bridge by the 1770s by which time the defences were seen as a hindrance to the prosperity of the town. In 1774 the Hull Dock Company was created and was granted the walls, moats and outer ramparts to the north and west of the Old Town. Within four years the medieval town ditch on the northern side of the Old Town between Beverley Gate and the River Hull had been deepened and enlarged, destroying much of the outer, mid C17 defences to form a 2ha wet dock linked to the river, subsequently called Queen's Dock. The upper surviving portion of Beverley Gate and the town wall with its interval towers north of the Old Town were demolished to a consistent level and buried in upcast from the excavation of the dock to form a levelled quayside. The ground level within the Old Town had risen significantly since the early C14, so this levelling of the site buried substantial remains of the defences. The western portion of the defences, to the south of Beverley Gate, were similarly demolished by 1800 leading to the construction of Humber Dock in 1809 and then Prince’s Dock (originally Junction Dock) in 1826-29 providing a link via a lock cut through the western fills of the medieval town ditch in front of Beverley Gate to Queen's Dock. The lock and Queen’s Dock were infilled in 1930-34, much of the area of the dock becoming Queen's Gardens.

THE DEFENCES IN CONTEXT England is relatively unusual in a European context in that few towns or cities had defensive circuits in the medieval period. Of the approximately 700 urban centres of medieval England, only between a quarter and a fifth had defences, and of those, many were incomplete or included stretches of boundary earthworks that were more symbolic than defensible. The relative importance of the settlement appears to only have had a marginal influence over the provision of defences. Beverley, the eleventh richest medieval town in England, had gateways which were impressively rebuilt in brick in the C15, but the associated bank and ditch are thought to have been relatively modest rather than effectively defensive. Important border towns, such as Morpeth and Hexham, and even strategically significant royal settlements such as Liverpool or Windsor also lacked effective town defences. However, English settlements that were defended tended to prosper. By the end of the medieval period, Hull had developed into the country’s most important provincial port, second only to London. Its defences secured the town during the Wars of the Roses and denied the port and arsenal to Charles I in the English Civil War.

HISTORY OF BEVERLEY GATE AS REVEALED BY EXCAVATION In 1986-89, the northern half of Beverley Gate along with a stretch of nearly 15m of the town wall were archaeologically excavated, generally removing and analysing overlying deposits, whilst leaving undisturbed structural remains in place. These were then conserved for public display as part of a pedestrianisation scheme, presented in a sunken area likened to an amphitheatre approximately 20m by 25m.

These excavations identified oak sill beams and tenoned uprights and braces thought to be part of the early C14 timber-framed gateway. These were found to be encased by later stone and brickwork suggesting that the gateway was originally strengthened with brickwork (but remained timber-framed) in the second half of the C14. Subsequently the timber uprights were sawn off and were overlain in later brickwork. The earliest brick gateway consisted of a passageway 7.6m long and at least 3.8m wide, its earliest depiction (late 1530s) showing it to have been a two storeyed structure surmounted by a small round embattled tower topped by a steeple, the gateway having a drawbridge to span the town ditch. The abutting town wall appears to have been built in the second half of the C14, slightly later than the brick gateway. It was cut into the front face of the early C14 clay rampart and built up on a chalk rubble foundation, the base of the wall having a marked and very neatly formed batter.

Although Henry VIII is thought to have ordered the construction of a barbican at Beverley Gate, the archaeological excavation demonstrated that no such structure was built. A new bridge across the town ditch was built using oak timbers felled after 1580, with evidence that this incorporated a drawbridge section (suggested by the survival of a brick lined pit interpreted as being for counterweights). Sometime before Hollar’s map of Hull, probably drawn about 1638, two large two-storey guard chambers were added to the rear of Beverley Gate. The northern chamber was excavated and found to measure about 3.5m by 3.2m internally. Built into the rampart, the foundations of its west wall were set substantially lower than the base of the town wall to stand nearly 2.5m tall (34 course of brickwork), whilst the east wall rose from foundations set in the top of the rampart. Although no internal floor surfaces had survived the demolition in 1776, parts of a gravel track with a gutter formed from cobbles remained in situ on top of the rampart, along with the footings of a structure interpreted as a sentry box built alongside the town wall. Consolidation work following the 1986-89 investigations saw the replacement of the upper portions of brickwork exposed by the excavations with modern reproductions. Similarly, a timber upright left exposed as part of the public display was replaced with a modern timber: the reburied timbers being left in situ.


PRINCIPAL FEATURES The buried and excavated remains of Beverley Gate and an adjacent section of town wall, rampart and defensive ditch, along with related archaeological features and deposits. DETAILS In the 1986-89 excavations, archaeological levels were found to be covered by 0.8m-1.2m of overburden beneath the modern street surface. The uppermost archaeological levels included a gravel path set on the top of the rampart along with footings interpreted as a sentry box built against the battlements forming the top of the town wall. Similar in situ remains of the upper surface of the rampart are expected to survive within the unexcavated parts of the area of the monument. Although the town wall and Beverley Gate were levelled in 1776, substantial remains survive in situ because of the build-up in the ground surface since the C14. The town wall survives to 22 courses, built up from chalk rubble foundations to stand about 2m tall, the base being around 3m below the modern ground surface. This wall is carefully built in brick, laid in English bond, being 1m thick but widening to about 1.6m thick at the base with a neatly built batter. It was truncated in 1776 to a level slightly below the base of the battlemented parapet. Although a proportion of the brick walling exposed by the excavations was subsequently replaced with modern reproductions as part of the consolidation, a similar level of survival is expected within the unexcavated areas of the monument. Undisturbed archaeological remains also extend below and behind the areas of rebuilt brickwork. The top of the sill beams of the timber framed gateway, the approximate early C14 ground level, were also found about 3m below the modern ground surface. These timbers uncovered in the excavation are believed to remain in situ, along with similar timbers within the unexcavated portion of the site. Excavation of a succession of road surfaces through the gateway showed how the street level rose by about 1.5m during the course of the C18 up until the construction of the C18 dock. The town ditch was also investigated, but because of the great depth, only the upper 1.6m of fills in the town ditch were excavated (down to about 5m below the ground surface) only reaching the upper fills containing post-medieval finds. The unexcavated parts of the town ditch within the area of the monument are expected to be waterlogged and are likely to retain well preserved organic material. Finds recovered during the excavation included a wide range of pottery demonstrating Hull’s extensive trading links, and a wide selection of other items, including preserved organic remains including leatherwork. Similar remains are expected to survive within the unexcavated parts of the monument. EXTENT OF SCHEDULING This is focused on Beverley Gate, but extends to include sample lengths of the town wall and rampart to both north and south, as well as that portion of the town ditch to the west that was not removed by the excavation of the lock linking Prince’s Dock to Queen’s Dock. The two docks have been used to define the north and south extent of the scheduling, providing suitable samples of the defences to the north and south of the gate. The line of the rear of the medieval rampart, its eastern extent, is unknown and so for ease of depiction, the eastern boundary has been drawn to follow the wall of modern buildings, cutting across Whitefriargate as a straight line. EXCLUSIONS All modern street furniture such as railings, bollards, street lamps, signage and bins are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included. The early C20 building, Bridge Chambers, partially overlies the southern side of Beverley Gate, the ground under this building is thus also included within the scheduling, although the building itself is excluded. Also excluded from the scheduling are all modern paving, steps, pavements and road surfaces. For the area outside the sunken ampitheatre constructed to display the remains after the 1986-89 excavations, the top 0.5m of deposits immediately below the modern ground surface are also excluded from the scheduling. Services such as gas and water pipes, electricity and telecommunication cabling and ducting are also excluded from the scheduling, however any service trenches deeper than 0.5m are included for the support and protection of the archaeological deposits through which they may be cut. Although the late 1980s excavations found the uppermost archaeological levels to be covered by 0.8-1.2m of overburden, there is potential for undisturbed archaeological deposits to survive elsewhere within the scheduled monument at shallower depths.


Books and journals
Hull City Council, , Beverley Gate, the birthplace of the English Civil War, (1990)
Oliver Creighton, , Robert Higham, , Medieval Town Walls, (2005)
D.H.Evans "Excavations at the Beverley Gate, and other parts of the town defences of Kingston-upon-Hull" 2015


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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