Oswestry Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are no visible remains

NameOswestry Town Wall
Alternative Namesde Alba Monasterio; Osolvestre; Osewaldestre; Oswaldestre; Croes Oswald; Beatrice Gate; New Gate; Black Gate; Williow Gate
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishOswestry

The Medieval town defences of Oswestry were built from 1272 by order of King Edward I and were one mile in circumference. The walls were slighted during the Civil War, but the gates survived. Excavations in 1973 have recovered the foundations for part of the walls. First murage granted in 1257. Leland says walls were one mile in circumference and contained no towers. Early C15 Beatrice Gate destroyed 1782, medieval Black Gate demolished 1771, early C14 New Gate demolished 1781, medieval Willow Gate demolished 1782. These gates remained standing after the wall was demolished and continued to be the site for taking tolls into C17.

The town walls of Oswestry were built in 1272 by order of King Edward I, although the first murage grant was received in 1257. They originally ran from the castle along Arthur Street, Welsh Walls, English Walls and King Street. Leland said that the walls were one mile in circumference and contained no towers, although a deed of agreement of 1782 states that "the Towne was formerly walled round and had several strong towers ... and four gateways".

The walls were destroyed after the Civil War, but the gates survived. (Turner 1971; Leighton 1881-2; Price 1815).

A section of the town walls was observed in 1973 on English walls at SJ 29012947. The wall was reported as being seven feet thick. (Salop Sites & Mons SA 493 (I Burrow 29.9.76)).

Part of the walls was uncovered in June 1973 by excavations for new premises for Messrs Mumford near the Golden Tankard public house. The wall was plotted on the OS 1:500 town plan (1874). The plan shows the line of the wall as found, and what the position of the wall would have been if it had continued on the same line towards the New Gate. This line seems to show that the buildings inside the wall were set out parallel to the wall and not, as one would have expected, at right angles to the street (Day 1973)

No trace of the town walls or of the gates survive

The site of the walling observed in 1973 is now occupied by a modern building housing a hairdressing salon (F1 ASP 05-OCT-79).

Murage grants to meet the cost of fortifying towns were first recorded in 1230 but it was not until 1257 that a 'muragium' or 'wall tax' was obtained for five years to build a wall around Oswestry. It is unlikely that a stone wall could have been built in five years. In 1283, the wall was either damaged in raids or still incomplete, a further twenty years of murage was allowed to complete the wall (Pratt 1981).

An excavation of part of the wall in December 1983 and Jan 1984 was conducted by the Border Counties Archaeological Group and Civic Society with assistance from the Manpower Services. An eight metre length of wall and moat was uncovered, together with a substantial amount of Medieval pottery ( Popular Archaeology 1984). (PastScape)

An archaeological excavation on top of the motte undertaken in 1988 revealed a metre thick layer of demolition rubble dating to the 17th century, whilst in a trench dug at the base of the mound a small section of a substantial wall, thought to be part of the 13th century town defences, was found. This wall is approximately 2m wide, aligned south west-north east, and is built of mortared rubble with its eastern side faced with dressed sandstone blocks. An opening though the wall was uncovered and is believed to mark the position of an original postern gate. The wall would appear to overlie the remains of the motte ditch and it thus post-dates the construction of the motte. This section of the town wall has been consolidated and remains have been exposed. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

Map reference is for probably location of New Gate.

- 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 ReferenceSJ290297
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink

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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 115
  • Duckers, Peter and Anne, 2006, Castles of Shropshire (Stroud: Tempus) p. 124
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 83, 147, 204, 266
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 64
  • 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. 436
  • 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. 207-8
  • Watkin, I., 1920, Oswestry with an Account of its Old Houses, Shops, etc, and Some of their Occupants p. 111-112
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 240
  • Cathrall, Wm, 1855, History of Oswestry (facsimile printed 1987 by Galley Books)
  • Price, W., 1815, History of Oswestry p. 26, 27 [online copy > http://books.google.com/books?id=SYIHAAAAQAAJ


  • Camden, Wm, 1607, Britannia hypertext critical edition by Dana F. Sutton (2004)
  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England (Sutton Publishing) p. 394-6
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 3 p. 74 online copy


  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Frost, P., 2005, 'Oswestry, land off Chapel Street' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 48 p. 41-43
  • Reynolds, P.N., 1984, 'Oswestry town wall' Shropshire Archaeological Society newsletter 20 p. 11–12
  • 1984 Feb., 1984, Popular Archaeology p. 5
  • Youngs, S.M. and Clark, J., 1981, 'Medieval Britain in 1980' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 25 p. 213 download copy
  • Pratt, D., 1980, 'Search for town wall' West Midlands Archaeology Vol. 23 p. 105-8 view online transcription
  • James, C., 1979, 'The town walls, Oswestry' Shropshire News Sheet Vol. 10 p. 10
  • Day, W., 1973-74, 'Oswestry town walls' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 59 Part 3 p. 278-9
  • Hogg, A.H.A. and King, D.J.C., 1967, 'Masonry castles in Wales and the Marches: a list' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 116 p. 71-132
  • Roberts, 1885, Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 8 p. 145-86
  • Leighton, S., 1881-2, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society Vol. 5 p. 163-5

Guide Books

  • Border Counties Archaeological Group, 1981, Oswestry Town Wall

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1247-1258) p. 609; (1272-1281) p. 247; (1281-1291) p. 57; p. 108 (murage grants)
  • - < >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]. < >


  • Dalwood, H. and Bryant, V. (eds), 2005, The Central Marches Historic Towns Survey 1992-6 Download online copy
  • Worthington, M., 1989, Oswestry Castle and Town Wall: Report on the Excavations in 1988