Colchester Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are major building remains

NameColchester Town Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryEssex
Modern AuthorityEssex
1974 AuthorityEssex
Civil ParishColchester

Late C3 Roman wall which remained in use through the middle ages. Substantially intact. Grant of timber received in 1215. Money for defences was uniquely provided by exemption town from duty to send a member to parliament and his expenses used in 1382, 1388, 1394, 1404 and 1410. Built of layers of septaria, interspersed with 4-fold course of brick, the lowest course going right through the wall, with a core of rubble and cement. Considerable lengths of the wall still reach a height of 15 ft, and it is on average 8 ft thick. The wall was strengthened in each corner and where it was met by the internal streets by an internal solid tower the base of one can be seen in the stretch on Balkerne Hill. The wall was extensively repaired during the reign of Richard II, 1389-1399 when it was strengthened by the addition of external semi-circular solid bastions, 4 of these remain in Priory Street. The wall was further considerably damaged in the 1648 siege.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 1 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL998252
Latitude51.8885688781738
Longitude0.907589972019196
Eastings599800
Northings225200
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved
Photo by Philip Davis All Rights Reserved

Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 54-6
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 23, 30, 40, 65, 70, 92, 128, 133, 134, 202, 230, 240, 260
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 27
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 70-2
  • Cooper, Janet (ed), 1994, VCH Essex Vol. 9 p. 248-51 online transcription
  • 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
  • Crummy, P., 1984, Excavations at Lion Walk, Balkerne Lane and Middleborough, Colchester, Essex (Colchester Archaeological Report 3)
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 148
  • Crummy, P., 1981, Aspects of Anglo-Saxon and Norman Colchester (CBA Research Report 39)
  • 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. 62 download/view online
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 125
  • RCHME, 1922, An inventory of the historical monuments in Essex Vol. 3 (north-east) p. 20-21 online transcription
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 226
  • Doubleday, Arthur and Page, Wm (eds), 1903 VCH Essex Vol. 1 p. 327 online copy
  • Cromwell, 1825, History and Description of Colchester (London) Vol. 1 p. 169-77
  • Morant, P., 1748, History and Antiquities of County of Essex (London) Vol. 1 p. 7

Antiquarian

Journals

  • Górniak, Maruisz, 2006, 'Digging under the Roman town wall' The Colchester Archaeologist Vol. 19 p. 20-22 online copy
  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Crummy, Philip, 2002, 'Britain's first town wall' The Colchester Archaeologist Vol. 15 p. 19-21 online copy
  • Crummy, Philip, 1988-9, 'Colchester's town wall' The Colchester Archaeologist Vol. 2 p. 6-11 online copy
  • Crummy, Philip, 1987, 'Britain's Oldest Town' The Colchester Archaeologist Vol. 2 p. 16-17 online copy
  • Wheeler, R.E.M., 1921, 'The Balkerne Gate, Colchester' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions (new ser) Vol. 15 p. 179-189
  • Laver, 1920, Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 26 p. 22-32
  • Jarmin, 1915, Essex Archaeological Society Transactions (new ser) Vol. 13 p. 105-12 (on the ditch)
  • Duncan, P.M., 1858, 'The history and description of the walls of Colchester' Essex Archaeological Society Transactions Vol. 1 p. 26-58 online copy

Primary Sources

  • 1896, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the twentieth year of the reign of king Henry II A.D 1173-4 (Pipe Roll Society 21) p. 75. (defrayment of cost from fee farm) online copy
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 1 p. 193 (grant of timber)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1381-1385) p. 214; (1385-1389) p. 505; (1391-1396) p. 379; (1401-1405) p. 355; (1408-1413) p. 199; (1413-1416) p. 23 (exemptions from sending MP) online copies via
  • - < >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]. < >