Exploring Kent's Past

Link to printer-friendly page

It should not be assumed that this site is publicly accessible and it may be on private property. Do not trespass.

Monument details

HER Number:TR 15 NW 116
Type of record:Monument
Name:Canterbury city walls

Summary

The city walls of Canterbury are some of the most interesting and in places best preserved, of their kind in southern England. The whole of the medieval city wall was on the same line as the Roman city wall, built in the late third century. Structural remains of four Roman gates are known, the Worth Gate, the Riding Gate, the London Gate and the Queningate. All except the London Gate were re-used in medieval times. There are good grounds for supposing that Roman gates also preceded the medieval North Gate and West Gate, a seventh gate may have preceded the Burgate. Documentary evidence records the wall in 605 and 1011, when the Danes were "thrown from the wall", suggesting that they were then of a defensible height. Since the beginning of the twelfth century a stretch of wall, nineteen feet six inches high was incorporated in the nave of St Mary's Church. Repairs and building took place between 1153 and the late fifteenth century. Twenty- four medieval towers have now been identified. The city wall has disappeared over much of the area between the West Gate and Worth Gate.


Grid Reference:TR 14851 57782
Map Sheet:TR15NW
Parish:CANTERBURY, CANTERBURY, KENT

Monument Types

Associated Finds

  • COIN (Roman - 43 AD to 409 AD)
Protected Status:Scheduled Monument 1004200: City wall and bastion in Westgate Gardens; Scheduled Monument 1003554: Canterbury city walls; Scheduled Monument 1004201: City wall (site) and ditch on Rheims Way

Full description

If you do not understand anything on this page please contact us.

City Wall City Wall (Course of) Various Bastions and Gates. (See Map diagram). (1) TR 152582, TR 145573. City Wall, Canterbury. Scheduled monument 23. (2) (TR 14625812) to TR 14705819) The City Walls along Pound Lane under the Wool Store, burnt down November 1977, and still surviving about 9ft high; and a rectangular tower at Pound Lane ("Sudbury Tower" on OS 25" 1957) are part of scheduled monument 23 additional to the length previously scheduled (TR 15165822 through E and S to TR 14475746). (TR 14475746 to TR 14425756) The sites of the City Wall and ditch, a tower ("Bastion" at TR 14455750 on OS 25" 1957 and postern gate "Postern" at TR 14475746 on OS 2" 1957) now occupied by the open grassland of a public open space are scheduled monument 349. (3) (TR 1457. Sited to locality only) The presence of a coin of Tetricus found in the rampart bank had a bearing on the date of the town walls. (4) The city walls of Canterbury are some of the most interesting and in places best preserved, of their kind in southern England. The whole of the medieval city wall was on the same line as the Roman city wall, built in the late third century. Both the wall and Roman bank are contemporary. In a number of places the city wall survived to a height of eight to twelve feet above the footings and at one point near the North Gate (TR 15 NE:160) still stands up to the base of the parapet at a height of nineteen feet two inches. It was generally seven feet six inches wide and built of coursed flint and mortar with no tile bonding-courses. Traces of two external wall-towers have been excavated. Structural remains of four Roman gates are known, the Worth Gate (TR 15 NW:187), the Riding Gate (TR 15 NW:141), the London Gate (TR 15 NW:166) and the Queningate (TR 15 NE:122). All except the London Gate were re-used in medieval times. There are good grounds for supposing that Roman gates also preceded the medieval North Gate (TR 15 NE:160) and West Gate (TR 15 NW:155), a seventh gate may have preceded the Burgate (TR 15 NE:85). Documentary evidence records the wall in 605 and 1011, when the Danes were "thrown from the wall", suggesting that they were then of a defensible height. Since the beginning of the twelfth century a stretch of wall, nineteen feet six inches high was incorporated in the nave of St Mary's Church (TR 15 NE:153). Repairs and building took place between 1153 and the late fifteenth century. Twenty- four medieval towers have now been identified. The city wall has disappeared over much of the area between the West Gate and Worth Gate. (5)

From the Register of Scheduled Monuments:

West Gate: built between 1375 and 1381. Two storeys and is flanked by drum towers, with loops(?) in three stages, pointing in all directions. The gateway itself has stone quadripartite vaults with intermediate ribs. Outer opening was defended by a portcullis and stout doors as well as by deep machiolations which were versed from the parapet. Appears to have been no barrier in the inner opening towards the city. Lateral doorways admit to the lower stages of tower and in the case of that in the N to a mural stairway leading to upper floors and parapet. The upper storey formed a large guardroom and had a wide fireplace in the S row built in and apparently a doorway communicating with parapet walk in the N.

As before and see stone by stone survey by Canterbury Arch. Trust Castle to Northgate (A28): this is a long stretch of upstanding city wall of the 14th century. The walls and towers are of flint construction with some later brick repairs in places. For most of its length the walls are circa 4m high trough the stretch adjacent to the castle is less substantial, being circa 2.5m high. St Radigund St (additional area): short fragm,ent of unscheduled wall discovered when former Bligh's garage was demolished. At present waste ground and in poor condition.

This is the stretch of wall running parallel to Church Lane from Northgate to St Radigund St. The eastely part is in the wall of St Mary Northgate Hall and stands to a reasonable height while the W part is only the lower part of the wall in a small piece of formal garden. Rectangular tower: the rectangular tower, called Sudbury tower, is of flint with stone quoins. Towards the W end of this section of city wall the flint walling gives way to brick (6).

From the Register of Scheduled Monuments (DKE 19263 KE 348)

The site of the City Wall of Roman 'London' Gate. Bastions and ditch in a public park (excavated by prof S Frere in the 1950s).(6)

From the Register of Scheduled Monuments (DKE 19264 KE 349)

Site of City wall and tower, postern gate and ditch, now a public open space, open grassland. Site is a scarp slop under grass, with formal flower bed.


<1> OS Card / NAR index entry, OS 1:2500 1957 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<2> OS Card / NAR index entry, DOE (IAM) List Anc Mons 2 1978 111 (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<3> OS Card / NAR index entry, DOE (IAM) Rec Forms 28.6.78 and map (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<4> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch NL 5 1954-55 251 (B de Cardi) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<5> OS Card / NAR index entry, Arch of Cant 2 1982 plans photos (SS Frere S Stow and P Bennett) (Unpublished document). SKE6461.


<6> English Heritage, Register of Scheduled Monuments (Scheduling record). SKE16191.

Sources and further reading

Cross-ref. Source description
<1>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. OS 1:2500 1957.
<2>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. DOE (IAM) List Anc Mons 2 1978 111.
<3>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. DOE (IAM) Rec Forms 28.6.78 and map.
<4>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch NL 5 1954-55 251 (B de Cardi).
<5>Unpublished document: OS Card / NAR index entry. Arch of Cant 2 1982 plans photos (SS Frere S Stow and P Bennett).
<6>Scheduling record: English Heritage. Register of Scheduled Monuments.

Related records

TR 15 NW 1048Parent of: 18 AND 19 POUND LANE (Listed Building)
TR 15 NW 700Parent of: 6 POUND LANE (SUDBURY TOWER) (Listed Building)
TR 15 NW 109Parent of: Angle of Roman/Medieval Wall (Monument)
TR 15 NE 85Parent of: Burgate (Monument)
TR 15 NE 160Parent of: Gateway (Monument)
TR 15 NW 166Parent of: London Gate - Ro (Monument)
TR 15 NW 134Parent of: M bastion (Monument)
TR 15 NW 150Parent of: M postern (Monument)
TR 15 NW 129Parent of: M tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 146Parent of: M tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 167Parent of: M tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 197Parent of: Medieval tower (Monument)
TR 15 NE 76Parent of: Newin or St George's Gate (Monument)
TR 15 NW 151Parent of: Remains of C14th tower, 16 Pound Lane, Canterbury (Listed Building)
TR 15 NE 158Parent of: Rems of tower (Monument)
TR 15 NE 159Parent of: Rems of tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 141Parent of: Riding Gate (Monument)
TR 15 NW 118Parent of: Romano-British angle tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 183Parent of: St Mildred's Postern (Monument)
TR 15 NW 693Parent of: THE WEST GATE (Listed Building)
TR 15 NE 112Parent of: Tower - Medieval (Monument)
TR 15 NE 106Parent of: Tower (Monument)
TR 15 NE 142Parent of: Tower (Monument)
TR 15 NE 157Parent of: Tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 475Parent of: Tower 17 (Monument)
TR 15 NE 70Parent of: Tower 6 (Monument)
TR 15 NE 71Parent of: Tower 7 (Monument)
TR 15 NE 79Parent of: Tower 8 containing zoar chapel (Monument)
TR 15 NW 732Parent of: TOWER HOUSE (Listed Building)
TR 15 NW 100Parent of: Whitecross Tower (Monument)
TR 15 NW 212Parent of: Wincheap Gate (Monument)
TR 15 NW 187Parent of: Worth Gate (Monument)

Related thematic articles

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund