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London Wall: the west gate of Cripplegate fort and a section of Roman wall in London Wall underground car park, adjacent to Noble Street

A Scheduled Monument in Aldersgate, City of London

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Latitude: 51.5175 / 51°31'2"N

Longitude: -0.0954 / 0°5'43"W

OS Eastings: 532246.948044

OS Northings: 181558.612818

OS Grid: TQ322815

Mapcode National: GBR QB.Q6

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.94F1

Entry Name: London Wall: the west gate of Cripplegate fort and a section of Roman wall in London Wall underground car park, adjacent to Noble Street

Scheduled Date: 24 August 1961

Last Amended: 28 November 2006

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1018889

English Heritage Legacy ID: 26328

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: St Giles Cripplegate

Church of England Diocese: London


The monument is situated within an underground car park beneath the road
called London Wall, approximately 12m south of Bastion House. It includes the
standing and buried remains of part of the Roman Cripplegate fort and also
part of London Wall, the Roman and medieval defensive wall 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.

The section of Roman walling beneath the road known as London Wall represents
part of the west side of Cripplegate fort and the north west side of the
London Wall circuit. The monument was excavated in the late 1950s and remains
largely visible within a viewing chamber of the underground car park known as
London Wall car park. The construction of the Wall in this area is known to
have differed from that along the rest of the London Wall circuit. Here, the
west wall of Cripplegate fort, built between AD 120 and 150, provided an
existing defensive boundary which was thickened by constructing a narrower
town wall against the internal face of the fort wall to conform with the
standard width of London Wall. This double wall is visible to the north of
the north gate turret. The walls of the fort rise from a foundation of
compacted rubble which forms a raft supporting the main body of the wall.
Internally, it was strengthened by a rampart of about 3.5m width inside which
ran a road about 5m wide, and externally by a `V'-shaped ditch measuring
approximately 3m wide and 1.5m deep. This has become infilled over time. The
later Roman Town Wall stands on a foundation trench of puddled clay and flint
which has been inserted into the fort's internal rampart. Its foundations are
capped with ragstone which form a raft supporting the main body of the Wall
which has a rubble and mortar core faced with Kentish ragstone.

The excavation also revealed the foundations of a double gate forming the
western gateway into Cripplegate fort, of which the north turret and the
central piers remain visible. The north turret is about 4.57m square in plan,
built of ragstone on a plinth of massive sandstone blocks and contains a
guardroom with a doorway at the south east corner. The two central piers
survive as rectangular foundations of ragstone masonry. Only part of the
south turret was excavated and was not preserved. The excavation provided
evidence that the gateway continued in use after the construction of London
Wall, but at a later stage, possibly in medieval times, was blocked with a
ragstone wall, part of which survives.

Approximately 4m to the north and 4m to the south of the monument further
standing remains of London Wall are known to survive, and these are the
subject of separate schedulings.

The floor of the underground car park, all modern railings and signs are
excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is
included. The walls and ceiling of the car park viewing chamber are also
exluded from the scheduling.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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 standing remains of the Roman Wall and west gate of Cripplegate fort
survive well within the underground car park viewing chamber, and retain
information on the construction techniques employed during the Roman period.
This gateway is the only known example on the Wall's circuit which was not
subsequently rebuilt in the medieval or post-medieval periods. It will retain
information to allow its Roman plan to be reconstructed. The combination of
the Cripplegate fort west gate, fort wall and later modifications to form
part of the City Wall means that the monument is of particular importance in
understanding the development of Roman London's defences.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Grimes, W, The Excavation of Roman and Medieval London, (1968)
Lyon, J, Cripplegate Fort EC2, City of London: an assessement of archaeol, (2003)
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...
Maloney, J, 'Roman Urban Defences in the West' in Recent Work on London's Defences, , Vol. 51, (1983)
Harding, C, City of London survey of the scheduled sections of Roman , 1984,
London Archaeological Archive and Research Ce, Catalogue of archaeological sites [LAARC],

Source: Historic England

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