Ancient Monuments

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Tower Hill West

A Scheduled Monument in St Katharine's & Wapping, Tower Hamlets

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Latitude: 51.5088 / 51°30'31"N

Longitude: -0.0785 / 0°4'42"W

OS Eastings: 533447.445264

OS Northings: 180625.580297

OS Grid: TQ334806

Mapcode National: GBR VF.J9

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.LBCP

Entry Name: Tower Hill West

Scheduled Date: 30 August 1985

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1001980

English Heritage Legacy ID: LO 158

County: Tower Hamlets

Electoral Ward/Division: St Katharine's & Wapping

Built-Up Area: Tower Hamlets

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: All Hallows-by-the-Tower

Church of England Diocese: London


A section of Roman road, settlement remains and part of a medieval bastion, 88m south-east of All Hallows Church.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 26 September 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes a section of Roman road, settlement remains and part of a 15th century bastion surviving as below-ground remains. It is situated on a gentle slope of London Clay immediately adjacent and east of the Tower of London on the north bank of the River Thames.

The Roman road crosses the centre of the site on an east-west alignment and settlement remains survive to the north and south. Great Tower Street, to the west of the site, is situated on the original alignment of the Roman road. Partial excavation has revealed Roman quarry pits and ditches, dating from the 2nd to the 4th century AD, as well as fragments of painted wall plaster and opus signinum. These are indicative of high-status buildings in the vicinity. The quarry pits are likely to have been sources of gravel and brickearth for local building works. The Roman remains on the site are sealed by late Roman cultivation layers, which are in turn cut by later medieval activity. This includes three post-holes and a rubbish pit containing 11th century pottery, indicative of some form of occupation at this time. Archaeological evidence suggests the site was abandoned by about the 13th century. In the late 15th century, the lower half of Tower Hill was enclosed to protect the western entrance to the Tower of London. A large bastion, known as the Bulwark, was built by Edward IV as a defence against, and a base for, artillery. It was a brick structure extending north from the Tower dock some distance up Tower Hill. The Bulwark was demolished in 1668 but the buried structural remains are known to survive in good condition in the southern part of the site. The northern part of the site, adjacent to the Bulwark, is known to have been occupied in the late medieval and early post-medieval periods. These buildings were demolished as a fire break during the Great Fire of London in 1666 but the site is likely to contain remains associated with this later activity.

In the mid-19th century a warehouse occupied Tower Hill. It was demolished in 1951 and Tower Hill is now a public open space. Archaeological watching briefs and partial excavation were carried out on the site in 1985-6, 1999-2000 and 2002.

The site is within the bounds of London Wall, the Roman and medieval city wall, which was situated a short distant to the east. Fronting onto the River Thames to the south was the Roman wharf.

Immediately adjacent to the site, at All Hallows Church, are the remains of a Roman dwelling constructed of ragstone with half-timbered partitions and tessellated floors. Re-used Roman stone in All Hallows Church was probably robbed from buildings in the immediate vicinity.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The site at Tower Hill includes a number of multi-period archaeological remains, namely a section of Roman road, associated settlement remains and part of a medieval bastion.

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglo-Saxon and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts.

Despite some disturbance in the past, the section of Roman road at Tower Hill survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its use, occupation and history. A large part of the site has not been excavated and retains potential for further investigation.

The monument at Tower Hill includes settlement remains associated with a Roman road. Roadside settlement was often established along major communication routes during the Roman period. The reuse of these road ways in the medieval period meant that they continued to be a favourable site of later occupation.

Despite some disturbance in the past, the Roman settlement at Tower Hill survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its use, occupation and history. A large part of the site has not been excavated and retains potential for further investigation.

The site at Tower Hill also incorporates part of a medieval bastion relating to the Tower of London. A bastion is a flanking tower, or projection from the main walls of a defensive work from which a garrison can defend the ground in front or on the flank. In this case the bastion served to enhance the defences on the west side of the Tower of London and guard the main landward entrance.

Despite some disturbance in the past, the part of a medieval bastion at Tower Hill survives well. It is known to contain archaeological and environmental information relating to its use, occupation and history. A large part of the site has not been excavated and retains potential for further investigation.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Historic Royal Palaces, , 'A Stage One Grant Application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, 11, 33-35' in , H M Tower of London: Tower Environs Scheme, Approaching the Tower, (1999)
Keevill, G, 'Historic Royal Palaces Monograph No.1, 1-16, 121' in The Tower of London Moat: Archaeological Excavations 1995-9, (2004)
NMR TQ38SW723. PastScape 405246.,

Source: Historic England

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