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London Wall: section of Roman wall and medieval bastion in Postman's Park and King Edward Street

A Scheduled Monument in Aldersgate, City of London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5167 / 51°31'0"N

Longitude: -0.098 / 0°5'52"W

OS Eastings: 532067.785131

OS Northings: 181465.452449

OS Grid: TQ320814

Mapcode National: GBR QB.4H

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.841N

Entry Name: London Wall: section of Roman wall and medieval bastion in Postman's Park and King Edward Street

Scheduled Date: 9 May 1974

Last Amended: 28 November 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018883

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26331

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Aldersgate

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: Great St Bartholomew

Church of England Diocese: London

Details

The monument is situated within Postman's Park, on the east side of King
Edward Street and includes the standing (although hidden) and buried remains
of part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defences of London.

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 section represents part of the north western side of the London Wall
circuit and the buried remains of a medieval bastion (bastion 16). It is
approximately 92m in length and aligned roughly east-west.

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. At Postman's Park, most of the internal (south) face of the Roman
Wall has been incorporated within the external wall of Nomura House's light
well to the north of the building and is partly faced with Victorian
brickwork, but several upper courses of Roman masonry (two double courses of
tile bonding within a ragstone wall) remain visible towards the eastern end
of the site.

The western end of the Wall and the whole of its external face survive as
buried features beneath King Edward Street and Postman's Park respectively,
and are included in the scheduling. In 1887, prior to the construction of the
General Post Office, a section of the Wall, approximately 40m long, was
exposed in the central part of the site. It was found to stand to a height of
4.36m above the level of the plinth which itself is now situated
approximately 2m below present ground level.


In the western part of the site are the buried remains of a medieval bastion
which was also located in 1887. It is `D'-shaped in plan, of hollow
construction, and projects approximately 6m from the external face of the
Wall. Its chalk and ragstone foundations abut the Roman Wall indicating that
it is a later addition and this is supported by the prescence of 12th and
13th century architectural fragments within the foundations. The bastion also
overlies a section of the berm and infilled ditch which is associated with
the Roman Wall. These will survive as buried features beyond (to the north)
the external face of the Wall and a sample of sections of both the berm and
ditch are included in the scheduling to preserve the relationship between
these features and the Town Wall.

From archaeological observations within Postman's Park and to the west of
King Edward Street it is clear that the Wall at this location was
approximately 2.4m wide, with a berm of between 3m and 3.7m and a ditch of
approximately 3.7m in width. It is therefore predicted that the northern edge
of the Roman ditch will lie approximately 9.5m north of the visible internal
wall face. In addition, the park will contain the remains of the wider
medieval ditch, a sample of which is also included in the scheduling to
preserve evidence of the development of the defences. Archaeological
observations in 1889, to the immediate east of the monument, demonstrated
that the northern edge of this ditch lay approximately 29m north of the
Wall's internal face.

The area around, and including Postman's Park, was formerly the site of the
graveyards of two local churches, St Leonard's in Foster Lane and St
Botolph's within the park, and the cemetery of Christ Church, Greyfriars in
Newgate Street to the west. A sample is included in the scheduling to provide
evidence for a demographic study of the medieval and post-medieval
population.

Approximately 21m to the east of the monument are the buried remains of the
Aldersgate gateway, whilst 20m to the west is a further section of London
Wall which survives as a buried feature. Both are the subject of separate
schedulings.


The floor of the light well of Nomura House, the Nomura House building, the
memorial and the surfaces of the pathways within Postman's Park, garden and
street furniture, and the tarmac surface of King Edward Street are excluded
from the scheduling. However, the ground beneath all 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.

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 standing and buried remains
of the Roman Wall at Postman's Park and King Edward Street survive well.
Detailed archaeological recording during excavation has provided a valuable
insight into construction techniques employed during the Roman period.

This section of Roman Wall is also one of the most complete sections along
the London Wall circuit. The section of berm and infilled Roman and medieval
ditches beneath Postman's Park will retain buried deposits associated with
the occupation of this area, whilst the burials dating from the subsequent
reuse of the site will allow a demographic study of a discreet medieval and
post-medieval population, providing an insight into the burial practices of
these periods.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Corporation of London, , Postman's Park Conservation Area Character Summary
Grimes, W, The Excavation of Roman and Medieval London, (1968)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965), 312-3
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...
'The Builder' in The Roman Wall of London: The Recent Discoveries At Aldersgate, (1888)
Butler, J, 'Transactions of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society' in The City Defences at Aldersgate, , Vol. 52, (2001), 41-111
Fox, G E, 'Archaeologia' in Notes on a Recent Discovery of Part of the Roman Wall of London, , Vol. 52 Pt 2, (1889)
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983)
Other
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of the Roman , 1984,

Source: Historic England

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