Nottingham Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameNottingham Town Wall
Alternative NamesChapel Bar; Cowlane Bar; St John's Bar; Swine Bar
Historic CountryNottinghamshire
Modern AuthorityNottingham; City of
1974 AuthorityNottinghamshire
Civil ParishNottingham

Medieval town defences, which excavation has revealed to have consisted of a wall and ditch, probably built between 1267 and 1334.

There is no tangible evidence of a continous defensive wall and ditch along the steep (south) town cliff (5) or across the low ground fronting on Broad Marsh or between Lister Gate and St Nicholas's church. The scarp south of St Mary's continued westward as a minor feature as far as Lister Gate; whether it was entirely natural or improved in the 12th century is at present unknown (Lobel 1969).

(Centred SK 578399) Excavations in 1970 located the NE portion ofthe Norman ditch where it joined into the north side of the pre-Conquest defences (not the east as expected), both continuing on the same course. Excavations some 590 yards further east located the NE corner of the burh (SK 53 NE/3) with the Norman ditch superimposed; in both places the pre-Conquest ditch was completely filled before the Norman ditch was cut. Minor re-cutting was evident in the late 12th and 13th centuries. There was no evidence of a town wall (DoE 1970). (PastScape)

Archaeological excavations and other interventions have failed to locate evidence of the wall existing on the east side of the town. It is suggested that the wall never actually existed for this part of the town. The cliffs to the south of the Post Conquest town acted as a natural defence. (pers corr Scott Lomax - Urban Archaeological Database Office for Nottingham)

Gatehouse Comments

Short sections remain of C12 earth and stone walls based on, and expanded from Saxon burh of 921. First murage granted 1267 and others were received until C15. The walls were built between 1267 and 1337. During this period murage had been levied in order to fund the work. One small stretch of the wall survives and is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is on public display and is visible through a display screen accessible from Maid Marion Way. The wall was predominantly during the 17th century and a stretch of it is visible on John Speed's map of 1610. The part shown on the map is that to the west of the town. Later maps, including Thoroton's map of 1677 does not illustrate the wall, though the Chapel Bar gateway, at the north west of the town, is clearly visible. This gate was demolished in 1743. If the town wall was meant foremost as a defensive structure a complete circuit, that could reduce the chance of infiltration by spies, agents and saboteurs, would be important. However if the wall was mainly about ensuring tax and toll collection from traders with carts and pack horses then all that is needed is to block or gate the readily accessible routes into the town, as appears to be the case.

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSK568399
Latitude52.9503898620605
Longitude-1.15114998817444
Eastings456800
Northings339900
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 114-5
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 18, 24, 60, 65, 93, 131, 156, 174, 212, 226, 230, 237, 267
  • 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. 2 p. 382
  • 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 plan p. 64 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 120-1
  • 1970, Department of the Environment Archaeological excavations (HMSO) p. 81
  • Barley, M.W., 1969, 'Nottingham' in Lodel, M.D. (ed), Historic Towns: Maps and Plans of Towns and Cities in the British Isles, with Historical Commentaries, from Earliest Times to 1800 Vol. 1 (London: Lovell) p. 1-8 online copy
  • Stevenson, W., 1906, in Page, Wm (ed), VCH Nottinghamshire Vol. 1 p. 297-8, 313 online copy

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 355, 357
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 147 online copy

Journals

  • Knight, D., Lomax, S. and Young, G., 2013 May, 'Exploring the Origins of Nottingham' Northern Archaeology Today No. 3 p. 1-5 online copy
  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Young, C., 1974, 'Excavations in Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 78 p. 2-3
  • 1973, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 17 p. 170 download copy
  • 1972, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 16 p. 159-60 download copy
  • Young, C., 1972, 'Excavations in Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 76 p. 1-3
  • Ponsford, M.W., 1971, 'Nottingham Town Wall: Park Row excavations 1967' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 75 p. 5-32
  • Carter, Alan, 1971, 'Nottingham town wall: Park Row excavations, 1968' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 75 p. 33-40
  • Young, C., 1971, 'Excavations in Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 75 p. 1-2
  • 1971, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 15 p. 132 download copy
  • Young, C., 1970, 'Excavations in Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 74 p. 2-3
  • (Carter) 1969, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 13 p. 266 online copy
  • 1968, Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 72 p. 1
  • Dawe, A., 1967, 'The pre-Conquest ditch near Bridlesmith Gate' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 71 p. 32-5 (pre-Conquest defences)
  • Barley, M.W., 1967, Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 71 p. 1
  • Barley, M.W., 1965, 'Nottingham town wall: Park Row excavations 1964' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 69 p. 50-65
  • Barley, M. W., 1965, 'Medieval Town Wall, Park Row, Nottingham' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 9 p. 164-7
  • Wildgoose, R.H., 1961, 'The defences of the pre-Conquest borough of Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 65 p. 19-26
  • Barley, M. W., 1959, 'Nottingham Medieval Town Wall, Chapel Bar' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 290-2
  • Owen, L.V.D., 1945, 'The borough of Nottingham, 1066 to 1284' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 49 p. 13-27
  • Heazell, E.H., 1925, 'Old Town Wall, Nottingham' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 29 p. 179-180
  • Stapleton, A. and Dobson, 1912, 'Nottingham Town Wall' Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire Vol. 16 p. 137-149, 157-63
  • Clift, J.G.N., 1907, 'The Walls of Nottingham' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 13 p. 41-50 (plan) online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1266-1272) p. 57; p. 447; (1272-1281) p. 91; p. 393; (1281-1291) p. 197; p. 394; (1317-1321) p. 600; (1321-1324) p. 49; (1327-1330) p. 96; (1330-1334) p. 273; p. 532 (murage grants) online copies via University of Iowa LibrariesStevenson, W.H. (ed), 1882-3, Records of the Borough of Nottingham (London: Bernard Quaritch) (Turner writes 'contains only casual references')
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/murindex.html], [petitions > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/mupindex.html ] and [other such > http://www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/murage/muaindex.html]. < >