Penrith Town Wall

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NamePenrith Town Wall
Alternative NamesPenereth
Historic CountryCumberland
Modern AuthorityCumbria
1974 AuthorityCumbria
Civil ParishPenrith

New post-Conquest medieval defensive circuits, in their final form mainly or wholly of masonry. ? Penerith; C14; Stone walls; Position largely or wholly unknown; Occasional contemporary references only, but sufficient to confirm that defences existed or were planned; no archaeological excavations of defences known. (Bond 1987)

Though it is certain that Penrith was never in a true sense fortified with rampart walls, yet there are traces of a circuit of narrow lanes extending from the castle round the town, in some parts bounded by old substantial walling, and in other places with the house gables and inclosurce so arranged as to resist at all events the entrance of mounted men. The existing names of the main streets indicate the outlets into the country, and the position of the gates or bars, of which there are five, viz., Castlegate, Middlegate, Borogate, Sandgate, Nethergate. (Taylor)

Gatehouse Comments

Licence to crenellate 1346, Murage grants received in 1346 and 1391. It is not certain how much work was done. Taylor is probably correct in suggesting much of the circuit was made of houses. Given map reference is for parish church, which any defences should have contained within them.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceNY516301
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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 157 (slight)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 182, 269
  • Perriam, Denis and Robinson, John, 1998, The Medieval Fortified Buildings of Cumbria (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 29)
  • Bond, C.J., 1987, 'Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Defences' in Schofield, J. and Leech, R. (eds) Urban Archaeology in Britain (CBA Research Report 61) p. 92-116 online copy
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 97
  • Barley, M.W., 1975, 'Town Defences in England and Wales after 1066' in Barley (ed) The plans and topography of medieval towns in England and Wales (CBA Research Report 14) p. 57-71 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London)) p. 109
  • Curwen, J.F., 1913, Castles and Fortified Towers of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 13) p. 189, 196, 219, 500
  • Taylor, M.W., 1892, Old Manorial Halls of Westmorland and Cumberland (Kendal: CWAAS Extra Series 8) p. 250 online copy
  • Turner, T.H. and Parker, J.H., 1859, Some account of Domestic Architecture in England (Oxford) Vol. 3 Part 2 p. 414 online copy


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Curwen, J.F., 1918, 'Penrith Castle. Some suggestions and notes from the Patent Rolls as an addition to Dr. Haswell's description, contained in these Transactions, N.S., vii' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 18 p. 176 online copy
  • Haswell, F., 1907, 'The castle of Penrith' Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society Vol. 7 p. 286-7 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1345-48) p. 69 (licence to crenellate); (1348-50) p. 175; (1348-50) p. 248-9 (murage grants)
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants >], [petitions > ] and [other such >]. < >


  • English Heritage, 2006, Extensive Urban Survey - Cumbria (Cumbria County Council) Download copy