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London Wall: section of Roman wall and Roman, medieval and post-medieval gateway at Aldersgate

A Scheduled Monument in Aldersgate, City of London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5167 / 51°30'59"N

Longitude: -0.0968 / 0°5'48"W

OS Eastings: 532153.543568

OS Northings: 181465.23064

OS Grid: TQ321814

Mapcode National: GBR QB.FH

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.84PN

Entry Name: London Wall: section of Roman wall and Roman, medieval and post-medieval gateway at Aldersgate

Scheduled Date: 27 April 1976

Last Amended: 28 November 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018882

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26330

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Aldersgate

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Midlands

Church of England Parish: St Vedast Foster Lane

Church of England Diocese: London

Details

The monument is situated beneath Aldersgate Street and number 10 Noble Street
(the former site of Aldercastle House) and includes the buried remains of
part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London, and the city
gate of Aldersgate.

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 a fragment of Roman walling to the east of Aldersgate
Street, approximately 7m in length (which represents part of the north
western side of the London Wall circuit) as well the remains of the Roman,
medieval and post-medieval gateway of Aldersgate. The scheduling also
includes elements of the pre-wall Roman city ditch, the Roman city wall
ditch, the internal rampart and the medieval city ditch.

Excavation has shown that the Wall stands on a foundation trench filled with
puddled clay and flint, capped by a layer of rubble, and rises from an
external sandstone plinth. The Wall itself has a rubble and mortar core and
is faced with squared blocks of Kentish ragstone banded at intervals by tile
courses.

An excavation at the site by A Oswald in 1939, located in the centre of
Aldersgate Street, uncovered a mass of ragstone masonry which projected
northwards beyond the line of the Town Wall and represented part of the
western tower of the Roman Aldersgate gateway. It had been roughly keyed into
the fabric of the Wall and also overlay the Wall footings. It is thus
considered to be a later, Roman insertion which postdates the construction of
the Town Wall. Excavations at other gateways on London Wall, as well as at
the site itself, provide evidence for the Roman ground-plan of this gateway,
which will survive as a buried feature. It has a double carriage way,
separated by a central spine, and flanked by two D-shaped projecting guard
towers.

Part of the medieval gateway was uncovered in 1922-3 by A Clapham, when the
remains of a 15th century barbican with a polygonal tower at its north
eastern angle were located. This gateway was rebuilt in 1617 when square
projecting towers and pedestrian footways were erected either side of the
carriageway. It was repaired following damage caused by the Fire of London in
1666, but was finally demolished in 1761. The medieval and later gateway
appear to have been located on the site of the western half of the Roman
gateway.

Further archaeological excavation on the former Aldercastle House site (Now
10 Noble Street) in 1997-9 located the west-east wall running north of, and
parallel to, the southern property boundary. In addition, to the north of the
monument were found the traces of a north-south Roman road which, if
projected on the same line, would have crossed the monument and passed
through the conjectured position of the Roman east gate. A complex sequence
of city ditches, from the 1st to 17th centuries, were also located within the
monument boundary.

Further sections of London Wall are known to survive approximately 21m to the
west and 31m to the east of the monument and are the subject of separate
schedulings.


The surfaces of the road and pavements as well as No 10 Noble Street are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 has indicated that the buried remains of the
fragment of the Roman Wall and the Roman, medieval and post-medieval gateway
beneath Aldersgate Street survive well. They will provide valuable
information on the construction techniques employed during both the Roman and
medieval periods. The gateway is the only Roman one known on the Wall circuit
which has been added to the Town Wall subsequent to the latter's
construction, and thus provides evidence that additions were made to the Wall
during the Roman period. Together with the remains of the medieval and later
gateway, it will also contribute towards our understanding of the development
of a major routeway into the city and its defences from Roman times through
to the post-medieval period.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Lyon, J, Cripplegate Fort EC2, City of London: an assessement of archaeol, (2003)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1957), 101-4
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965), 101-4
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...31
Butler, J, 'Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society' in The City Defences at Aldersgate, (2001)
Butler, J, 'Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society' in The City Defences at Aldersgate, (2001), 41-111
Fox, G E, 'Archaeologia' in Notes on a Recent Discovery of Part of the Roman Wall of London, (1889), 609-16
Fox, G E, 'Archaeologia' in Notes on a Recent Discovery of Part of the Roman Wall of London, (1889)
Other
Grainger, I, A watching brief on the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Aldersgate, (1992)
Grainger, I, A watching brief on the Scheduled Ancient Monument of Aldersgate, (1992)
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,

Source: Historic England

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