London Roman Wall | Attraction Guides | History Hit

London Roman Wall

London, England, United Kingdom

Antara Bate

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About London Roman Wall

The London Roman Wall was built between around 190 and 220 AD and stretched for about three miles from Blackfriars to Tower Hill. This defensive wall protected what was then the important Roman city of Londinium.

London Roman Wall history

From its earliest foundation the Roman city of Londinium was almost certainly surrounded by some kind of fortification. Prior to the building of the London Roman Wall, Londinium already had a fort, parts of which were now incorporated into the new wall.

As well as providing defence, the construction of a stone wall represented the status of the city. Excavated coins enabled archaeologists to date the construction of the first stone city wall to between 190AD and 225AD.

The wall was about 2.5 miles long, enclosing an area of about 330 acres. It originally included four city gates with an additional entrance into the legionary fortress at Cripplegate. In front of the eastern face of the wall was a ditch, which was up to 6 feet deep and 16 feet across.

The Roman wall remained standing after the departure of the Roman army in AD 410, through a long period during which the city seems to have been largely abandoned. It was repaired in the late Anglo-Saxon period and survived to be an important feature of the city plan at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Large parts of the wall were incorporated into the medieval defences of the city.

In about 1300 a new postern gateway through the wall was built immediately to the south of the standing portion.

The Roman wall continued to influence the development of the city street plan through the Middle Ages and beyond. By the mid-17th century buildings had been erected against sections of the wall on either side. In time it was obscured and, later, partly destroyed during the construction of new buildings and railway lines.

In 1938 the wall and part of the land on its western side were placed in the guardianship of the Ministry of Works. Since the 1930s several buildings which had formerly hidden this section of the wall have been cleared away, revealing it to view.

London Roman Wall today

Over the centuries, most of the London Roman Wall has been obscured by medieval additions and other development yet there are some well-preserved parts that can still be seen today. The Museum of London has more information on the London Roman Wall.

Getting to London Roman Wall

The wall stands immediately to the north of the Tower of London, at the edge of a small garden to the southeast of Tower Hill underground station. From the station, the garden is accessed just off the path to the Tower of London, and is halfway down the steps to the Tower Hill underpass on the left hand side.

The site is easily accessible by public transport. It is very close to underground and DLR stations, and is just off a number of bus routes.

 

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