Cirencester Town Wall

Has been described as a Possible Urban Defence

There are masonry footings remains

NameCirencester Town Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryGloucestershire
Modern AuthorityGloucestershire
1974 AuthorityGloucestershire
Civil ParishCirencester

Scant remains of Roman stone wall re-utilized by medieval town. (Bond)

Medieval Borough founded in 1133 with town defences of Roman origin. (PastScape)

The defensive "wall", at first built only of earth, was later faced by an external wall of stone and extra stone towers were added. Most of these defences have disappeared, but their line on the eastern side can be traced in the form of an earthen bank alongside the river in the Abbey Grounds (where a section is exposed to view) and along Beeches Road to the City Bank Playing Field in Watermoor, where a footpath runs along the top of the bank. Most was progressively removed after the withdrawal of the Romans as building stone or for road repairs in the district. (Cirencester Official Website)

Cirecestre, corruptely for Churnecestre, peraventure of Ptoleme cawlled Coriminum, stondeth in a botom apon the ryver of Churne. Be lykehod yn times past guttes were made that partes of Churn streame might cum thorow the cyte, and so to returne to their great botom. The cumpace of the old waul, cujus pauca adhuc extant vestigia, was nere hand ii. myles. A man may yet walking on the bank of Churne evidently perceyve the cumpace of fundation of towers sumtyme standing in the waul; and nere to the place wher the right goodly clothing mylle was set up a late by the Abbate, was broken down the ruine of an old tower toward making of the mylle waulles, in the which place was fownd a quadrate stone fawllen down afore, but broken in aliquot frusta, wherin was a Romaine inscription, of the which one, scantly letterd, that saw yt told me that he might perceyve Pont. Max. (Leland)

The evidence that the Roman defences were utilised in the medieval period (other than as a quarry) is scant. There is no documentary evidence of any attempt to maintain the walls and Leland reports the walls as ruinous in the 1540's

Cirencester was attacked by King Stephan in 1142 but nothing in the short report of this attack in the Gesta Stephani suggests anything beyond embanked defences of the castle Some parts of the wall, such as those forming the Abbey precinct, may have been maintained (The surviving remains and the sections described by Leland were part of this precinct wall) but it seems unlikely the Roman walls were actually maintained as a contiguous defensive circuit for the town in the medieval period.

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 ReferenceSP023021
Latitude51.7188491821289
Longitude-1.96192002296448
Eastings402300
Northings202100
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 157 (listed as Roman walls not later used)
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 53, 258
  • Salter, Mike, 2002, The Castles of Gloucestershire and Bristol (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 19
  • 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. 185
  • 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
  • Burrow, Edward J., 1919, The Ancient Entrenchments and Camps of Gloucestershire (Cheltenham and London) p. 58-9

Antiquarian

  • 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. 189
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1906, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 3 p. 101 online copy

Journals

  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Baddeley, 1922, Transactions of the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society Vol. 44 p. 101-15 online copy