Kings Lynn Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameKings Lynn Town Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryNorfolk
Modern AuthorityNorfolk
1974 AuthorityNorfolk
Civil ParishKings Lynn

The town defences are based on a series of earthwork banks that were formed in the saltmarsh that once surrounded the town, and the line of the defences to the east follows the line of an old sea bank. Stone walls were constructed in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The walls were strengthened in the 16th century, and St Ann's Fort was constructed in 1570. Only a few fragmentary remains of the fort survive. The defences were replanned during the Civil War but construction was interrupted by a siege laid by Parliamentary troops and the earthworks were left unfinished until 1645. The line of the defences can be followed in modern streets and property boundaries, and the Civil War defences were closely based on the line of the medieval defences. In the 18th century several sections of the walls were demolished, but some stretches of wall are still standing, as well as the town gates, including the well-known South Gate. (Norfolk HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Murage granted 1266, 1294, 1300 and 1339, These, and levys on the towns people, resulted in masonry walls, though these may have replace timber structures. The first grant, in 1266, may have been inspired by troubles during the Baron's War (The town was attacked by the Disinherited) but the walls seem to have been mainly constructed in the early C14. Some artillery defences added 1570 at St Anne's gate.

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceTF621191
Latitude52.7457084655762
Longitude0.401439994573593
Eastings562190
Northings319150
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
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Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved
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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 80-1
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 18, 24, 29, 30, 37, 88, 97, 111, 129, 134-5, 156, 180, 195, 222, 227, 231, 263
  • Salter, Mike, 2001, The Castles of East Anglia (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 58
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 160
  • Kent, Peter, 1988, Fortifications of East Anglia (Lavenham: Ternence Dalton)
  • 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. 311
  • Wilton, J.W., 1979, Earthworks and Fortifications of Norfolk (Weathercock Press) p. 30-1
  • Carter, A., 1977, 'The defences' in Clarke, H. and Carter, A., Excavations in King's Lynn 1963-1970 (Society for Medieval Archaeology, Monograph Series 7) p. 432-8
  • 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. 63 download/view online
  • Parker, Vanessa, 197?, The making of Kings Lynn: secular buildings from the 11th to the 17th century (Kings Lynn Archaeol Survey 1)
  • Turner, H.L., 1971, Town Defences in England and Wales (London) p. 126-9
  • O'Neil, B.H.St.J., 1960, Castles and Cannon: A Study of Early Artillery Fortifications in England (Oxford: Claredon Press) p. 46 plate 12
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 230-1
  • Blomefield, F., 1808, 'Freebridge Hundred and Half: Lynn' An Essay towards a Topographical History of the County of Norfolk Vol. 8 p. 476-533 (tenurial history) online transcription

Journals

  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Château Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Hoare, P.G., Vinx, R., Stevenson, C.R. and Eslers, J., 2002, 'Reused bedrock ballast in King's Lynn's 'Town Wall' and the Norfolk port's medieval trading links' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 46 p. 91-105 download copy
  • James, E.M., 1987, 'A fresh study of the South Gate at King's Lynn in the light of recent restoration work' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 40.1 p. 55–72
  • Kent, P., 1985, 'King's Lynn' Fort Vol. 13 p. 49–60
  • Kenyon, J.R., 1981 'Early Artillery Fortifications in England and Wales: a Preliminary Survey and Re-appraisal' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 213
  • Smith, T.P., 1976, 'The date of Kings Lynn south gate' Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 36 p. 224-32
  • Smith, T.P., 1970, 'The medieval town defences of Kings Lynn' Journal of the British Archaeological Association (ser3) Vol. 33 p. 57-88
  • Tingey, 1914, Norfolk Archaeology Vol. 18 p. 129-48

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1258-1266) p. 596; (1292-1301) p. 74; (1292-1301) p. 491; (1338-1340) p. 240 (murage grants); (1338-1340) p. 110; (1374-1377) p. 459 (power to levy subsidy for defences); (1401-1405) p. 359 (commission of array compelling contribution to defences) 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]. < >