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London Wall: section of Roman wall at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey

A Scheduled Monument in Farringdon Within, City of London

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Latitude: 51.5154 / 51°30'55"N

Longitude: -0.1017 / 0°6'6"W

OS Eastings: 531816.477001

OS Northings: 181314.306249

OS Grid: TQ318813

Mapcode National: GBR PB.9Y

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.653N

Entry Name: London Wall: section of Roman wall at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey

Scheduled Date: 9 May 1974

Last Amended: 28 November 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018884

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26334

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Farringdon Within

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: St Sepulchre Holborn

Church of England Diocese: London


The monument is situated within the basement of the Central Criminal Court to
the east of the Old Bailey and includes the standing 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 western side of the Wall's circuit and
includes a fragment of Roman walling, some 7m in length and 1.5m high visible
within a basement. Excavation has shown that the Wall was constructed on a
foundation trench of puddled clay and flint with a capping of ragstone which
forms a raft supporting the main body of the Wall. The Wall itself rises from
an external sandstone plinth and has a rubble and mortar core faced with
Kentish ragstone, banded at intervals by tile courses.

The Roman Wall within the Central Criminal Court survives to include the
first triple tile course, above foundation level. Part of the foundations are
visible above the basement floor and the ragstone courses and the triple tile
course can also be seen on the east face. Part of the rubble core is also
visible, accessed through a hatch into a service corridor which is located to
the west of the Wall.

A bastion (number 20) originally projected from the external (west) face of
the Wall and excavation between 1966-68 recovered evidence for a turret on
the internal (east) face of the Wall. Two medieval defensive ditches were
also found; the earlier probably dating to the 12th or 13th century. The
later extended approximately 20m from the Wall base. An internal medieval
rampart was also recorded. However, all of these features are considered to
have been so modified by later development at the site that they are not
included in the scheduling.

Approximately 64m to the north and 50m to the south further sections of
London Wall are known to survive as buried features and are the subject of
separate schedulings.

The basement floor of the Central Criminal Court, post-medieval and modern
walls, and modern service fittings are excluded from the scheduling, although
the ground beneath them is included.

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 in 1966 has indicated that the standing remains of
the Roman Wall within the Central Criminal Court survive well. Detailed
archaeological recording during the excavation provides a valuable insight
into the construction techniques employed during the Roman period. Part of
the medieval rampart bank, a Roman internal turret and two external medieval
defensive ditches were also found during the excavations. However, these
features were destroyed during the subsequent redevelopment of the site.
This section of Wall is particularly significant being the only known
fragment of Roman walling currently visible on the western side of the London
Wall circuit.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Merrifield, R, London: City of the Romans, (1983)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...
'TLAMAS' in Archaeological Finds in the City of London [Transactions..1969], , Vol. 22, (1970)
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983)

Source: Historic England

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