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London Wall: site of the Roman and medieval gateway of Cripple Gate

A Scheduled Monument in Cripplegate, City of London

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Latitude: 51.5183 / 51°31'5"N

Longitude: -0.0932 / 0°5'35"W

OS Eastings: 532395.473326

OS Northings: 181655.184233

OS Grid: TQ323816

Mapcode National: GBR R9.6X

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.B3KD

Entry Name: London Wall: site of the Roman and medieval gateway of Cripple Gate

Scheduled Date: 26 October 1973

Last Amended: 28 November 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018887

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26326

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Cripplegate

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: St Giles Cripplegate

Church of England Diocese: London


The monument is situated beneath Wood Street, 65m north of the road known as
London Wall, and includes the buried remains of part of London Wall, the
Roman and medieval defences of London, and of the Roman and medieval gateway
of Cripple Gate.

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 the buried remains of both the Roman northern gateway
into Cripplegate fort and a later medieval gateway. The gate at Cripplegate
has never been excavated but is one of three gates mentioned in the Laws of
Ethelred in around 978-1016 AD. The discovery of the fort during excavations
in the 1950s indicated that it was of a standard Roman plan and that the site
of the gateway corresponds with the location of the fort's northern entrance.
Wood Street is on the line of the `via praetoria', one of the main roads of
the fort. The plan of the gateway is considered to be comparable with that of
the excavated western fort gate and comprises a double roadway divided by a
central spine formed by two piers, flanked to the west and east by square
turrets. The gateway was rebuilt in 1244 and again in 1492 and is depicted on
an 18th century engraving. This later gateway also consisted of a central
carriageway but had flanking polygonal towers and a pedestrian footway on its
eastern side, passing through the east tower. The gateway lost its defensive
function in 1660 when its portcullis was permanently wedged open and it
remained a monumental feature until it was dismantled in 1760. Massive
foundations were observed to the north of the wall line here in 1882 although
they remained undated. A watching brief during the excavation of a cable
trench in Wood Street in 2002 also encountered large blocks of masonry which
were interpreted as the medieval gatehouse and approach causeway.

On either side of Cripplegate is an adjoining section of Wall. Originally
forming the north wall of Cripplegate Fort it was widened and strengthened on
its inner (south) face when its function changed to that of the City Wall.
The City Ditch to the north of the Wall also strengthened the defences,
evidence for which has been recorded underneath Roman House to the east of
the monument.

Approximately 22m to the east and 13m west of the monument are further
sections of the London Wall circuit which are the subject of separate

The modern surfaces of the road and pavements of Wood Street are excluded
from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.
Existing services and their trenches are also excluded although the ground
around 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.

The buried remains of the Roman and medieval gateways at Cripplegate and
adjoining sections of Wall, beneath Wood Street, are considered to survive
well. The site has not been affected by later development and has never been
excavated, other than for cable trenches, and therefore the buried deposits
of the gateways will retain valuable information on the construction
techniques employed on these structures and the development of the site
during the Roman and medieval periods.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Lyon, J, Cripplegate Fort EC2, City of London: an assessement of archaeol, (2003)
Merrifield, R, The Roman City of London, (1965)
Schofield, J, Maloney, C (Eds), Archaeology in the City of London, 1907-1991: a guide...103
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983), 318
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,
Museum Of London, Moor House Cable Trench - London Wall, Fore Street, EC2, London Archaeological Archives & Research Catalogue of sites, (2002)

Source: Historic England

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