Hereford City Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHereford City Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHerefordshire
Modern AuthorityHerefordshire
1974 AuthorityHereford and Worcester
Civil ParishHereford

About the mid C9 the main part of the town was enclosed with a bank and ditch. The defences were completely rebuilt in earth and timber towards the end of the century and extended. The earth and timber defences were later rebuilt in stone, probably between 901-40. Following the Norman Conquest a new town with a vast market place was laid out to the north of the Saxon burh, but it was not until 1189 that the town was granted its first charter and empowered to fortify the town. The new defensive works included a substantial extension to the north. Originally six gates, sixteen round towers. Remains fragmentary, but including two large towers. Murage grants almost continuous from 1224 until late C15.

Watkins (1920 but taken from the CBA RR 46 journal) gathered together the results of many years observations and established a three stage sequence of development for the defences. It provides the framework for modern archaeological research. Watkins considered the first phase consisted of a rectangular ditch, the south boundary being the river Wye, surrounding the cathedral called the King's Ditch. The second phase was an eastern and western extension to King's Ditch thought by Watkins to be the work of Harold, AD 1055. These were the Saxon defences. The third phase was the construction of the city wall in AD 1264 to take in a larger area to the north and south with the construction of Rowe Ditch. Whitehead (1982) in the same volume looking at the documentary evidence considers it almost certain that Hereford had defences before AD 896 and that Hereford was an important town by 930. There is reference to a ditch built by Earl Harold against the threat of Gruffydd ap Llewelyn referred to by Watkins above, but Whitehead considers it was more a renovation, not new works. In the 13th century documentary sources indicate the defences were in decay and that residents outside the walls had gradually gained the privileges of the town

Whitehead considers the defences were extended and rebuilt in the mid to late 12th century, partly as a response to renewed threat from the Welsh (specifically Rhys ap Gruffydd). (Herefordshire SMR)

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 ReferenceSO510395
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
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 76-8
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) passim_
  • Thomas, A. and Boucher, A. (eds), 2002, Hereford City Excavations - Vol. 4: Further Sites and Evolving Interpretations, 1976-1990 (Logaston Press)
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  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 98
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  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 1 p. 214-5
  • Shoesmith, Ron, 1982, Hereford City Excavations - Vol. 2: Excavations on and close to the Defences (CBA Research Report 46) online copy
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  • 1969, Archaeological Excavations 1968 (HMSO) p. 22-3
  • RCHME, 1931, An inventory of the historical monuments in Herefordshire Vol. 1: south-west p. 119, 126-7 no. 5 online transcription
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  • Craddock-Bennett, L., Murphy, J. and Rouse, D., 2013, ‘New windows onto Hereford’s Saxon and medieval town defences’ Medieval Archaeology Vol. 57 p. 291-96
  • 2011, 'Hereford's city walls repairs move a step closer' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 13 p. 11 (news report)
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Primary Sources

  • Plummer, C. (ed), 1892, Two Saxon Chronicles Vol. 1 p. 186 (refortification by Harold in 1055)
  • The Great Roll of the Pipe for the second year of the reign of King Richard I : Michaelmas 1190 (Pipe Roll Society 39) p. 49 (money to build gates)
  • Hardy, T.D. (ed), 1833, Rotuli litterarum clausarum in turri Londinensi asservati (Record Commission) Vol. 1 p. 263 (grant of timber)
  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1216-1225) p. 473; (1225-1232) p. 228; p. 343; (1232-47) p. 6; p. 114; p. 224; (1247-1258) p. 118; p. 491; (1258-1266) p. 178; p. 409; p. 402; (1266-1272) p. 584; (1272-1281) p. 417; (1292-1301) p. 353; (1301-1307) p. 340; (1313-1317) p. 176; (1321-1324) p. 42; p. 394; (1330-1334) p. 562; (1338-1340) p. 126; (1340-1343) p. 199; (1350-1354) p. 40; (1358-1361) p. 342; (1367-1370) p. 257; (1377-1381) p. 366; (1381-1385) p. 328; (1391-1396) p. 204; (1399-1401) p. 161; (1399-1401) p. 423; (1405-1408) p. 159; (1408-1413) p. 278; (1416-1422) p. 133; (1416-1422) p. 235; (1422-1429) p. 336; p. 543; (1429-1436) p. 226; p. 499; (1436-1441) p. 477; (1441-1446) p. 390 (murage grants) online copies via University of Iowa LibrariesBrewer, J.S. (ed), 1920, 'Henry VIII: June 1510' Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Vol1: 1509-1514 (murage grant) [see online copy >]
  • - < >Also see the Gatehouse murage pages for full details of murage [grants >], [petitions > ] and [other such >]. < >


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