Shrewsbury Town Wall

Has been described as a Certain Urban Defence

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameShrewsbury Town Wall
Alternative Names
Historic CountryShropshire
Modern AuthorityShropshire
1974 AuthorityShropshire
Civil ParishShrewsbury

The street immediately below the castle was crossed by two gates 40yds apart the lower gate, known as Castle or North Gate, stood just below Meadow Place. Removed some time before 1825. The gate was described thus in 1808 by Owen: Flanked with round towers and having a chamber over its pointed arch. A part of the southern tower is still (1808) standing, and in an elegant canopied niche, once within the chamber, is the figure of an angel bearing a shield with the arms of England and France quarterly. It appears from the union rose which embellishes the niche that the gate was not older than the time of Henry VII. A drawbridge was placed in front of it in the Civil War (Owen). Known, in the state described, from various illustrations, notably J Buckler's, published in Owen & Blakeway (1825), and various MS drawings in Owen's Etchings, vol.3 (SRRC); these illustrations show that the towers were semi-circular in plan to the front (north/outside), rectangular within; one of the drawings shows the main arch as being of a pointed four-centred form. 'Topographer', writing in 1898, noted an entry in the Corporation Order Book for the demolition of the Lower Gate in February 1773; the south tower was retained until its demolition in 1825. The cellars of Castle Vaults P.H. (16-17 Castle Gates) were investigated by a UAD field visit in 1996 to determine whether any of the gate structure was incorporated: while much stonework was present, it appeared to have been re-used to build a sub-structure contemporary with the (19th-C) standing building. (Shropshire HER)

The town walls date from the 13th century (though earlier phases of town defences for Shrewsbury have been suggested, little is known about these). In 1218 Henry III ordered the townsmen to strengthen and enclose the town

Many repairs and alterations were subsequently made and are evidenced in the documents (Vaughan 1994)

Where the 13th century town wall has been identified, it has a number of distinctive characteristics. It was constructed of red and purple sandstone blocks bonded in a greenish, gritty mortar, was of about 1.8m width and had a chamfered plinth course near the base of its outer face (Barker 1960) (Hannaford 2001)

The early defences of the town had relied primarily on the river, with its limited crossing points, and the castle to guard the narrow land access to the north. With the unrest at the beginning of the 13th century the town was provided with a defensive circuit consisting of a stone wall with an external ditch. This work was finished by 1242, when rights of murage are first recorded and excess stone was granted to the Dominican Friars. Where they have been investigated archaeologically, the preparation works for the building of the wall removed all earlier deposits and features. A clay bank up to 7 feet high and 30 feet wide was created - though this could conceivably be of an earlier period than the wall itself. The wall was 4.5 feet (1.37m) thick and had a rubble core. Its external face had a chamfered plinth which varied in height from 2 feet to 2.5 feet (0.61m-0.76m), stepping down to conform to the slope. An original wall height of 15 to 20 feet has been postulated. By the 15th century, however, timber framed houses were being built behind and on the wall, and some parts of the wall, behind Pride Hill and Castle Street, had beed demolished and reused as foundations for town houses. This may have been a result of the pacification of Wales, after which Shrewsbury's strategic importance declined (Nash 2004). (Shropshire HER)

Gatehouse Comments

Site in loop of river, the castle at the isthmus. Wall followed top of slope. Some parts survive, with a square tower and a water-gate. Defences date back to Saxon times. First murage granted in 1220 and continuously thereafter until middle of C15. The medieval Welsh bridge is described by Leland as 'at one end of it is a large gate which allows access to the town; at the other end, facing Wales, is a might strong tower which prevents enemies from getting on to the bridge."

- Philip Davis

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2* 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 ReferenceSJ490125
Latitude52.7050590515137
Longitude-2.75417995452881
Eastings349050
Northings312520
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett All Rights Reserved
Photo by Andrew Herrett 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
Copyright Dave Barlow of Abaroths World All Rights Reserved

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Books

  • Salter, Mike, 2013, Medieval Walled Towns (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 130-1
  • Purton, P.F., 2010, A History of the Late Medieval Siege: 1200-1500 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 300
  • Creighton, O.H. and Higham, R.A., 2005, Medieval Town Walls (Stroud: Tempus) p. 68, 84, 93, 124, 143, 152, 156, 157, 180-1, 265
  • Salter, Mike, 2001 (2edn), The Castles and Moated Mansions of Shropshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 74
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 216
  • 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. 208
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co) p. 239-40
  • Auden, 1905, Shrewsbury (London) p. 45-8
  • Owen, H. and Blakeway, J.B., 1822, History of Shrewbury online copy
  • Owen, H.,1808, Some Account of the Ancient and Present State of Shrewsbury (Shrewsbury: P. Sandford) p. 74- online copy

Antiquarian

  • Speed, John, 1611-12, The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain online copy
  • 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. 388-9
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1908, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 2 p. 81-2 online copy
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription

Journals

  • Creighton, Oliver, 2006, ''Castles of Communities': Medieval Town Defences in England; Wales and Gascony' Ch√Ęteau Gaillard Vol. 22 p. 75-86
  • Carver, M.O.H., 1983, 'Two town houses in medieval Shrewsbury: the excavation and analysis of two medieval and later houses built on the town wall of Shrewsbury' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 61(entire issue)
  • Carver, M.O.H., 1981, 'Shrewsbury town and defences' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 138 p. 42
  • 1970, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 14 p. 185 online copy
  • Carver, M.O.H., 1969-74, 'Early Shrewsbury: an archaeological definition in 1975' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 59 p. 225-63
  • 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
  • Barker, P.A., 1961, 'Excavations on the town wall, Roushill, Shrewsbury' Medieval Archaeology Vol. 5 p. 181-210 online copy
  • 1959, Medieval Archaeology Vol. 3 p. 312-14 online copy
  • Radford, C.A.R., 1957-8, 'The medieval defences of Shrewsbury' Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 56 p. 15-20
  • Morris, 1912, Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club Vol. 5 p. 255-8
  • Davies, 1912, Caradoc and Severn Valley Field Club Vol. 5 p. 269-72
  • Blakeway, 1886, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological Society Vol. 9 p. 285-8
  • Drinkwater, C.H., 1883, Transactions of the Shropshire Archaeological and Natural History Society Vol. 6 p. 257-67
  • Drinkwater, C.H., 1882, 'The Inner wall of Shrewsbury' Archaeologia Cambrensis Vol. 37 p. 42-50 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1891-1916, Calendar of Patent Rolls (1216-1225) p. 238-9; p. 445-6; p. 514; (1225-1232) p. 37; p. 144; p. 271; (1232-47) p. 23; p. 118; p. 448; (1247-1258) p. 146; p. 391; p. 464; p. 579; (1258-1266) p. 559; (1266-1272) p. 13; p. 619; (1292-1301) p. 169; p. 505; (1301-1307) p. 493; (1307-1313) p. 437; (1317-1321) p. 584; (1343-1345) p. 35; (1358-1361) p. 538; (1370-1374) p. 70; (1377-1381) p. 436; (1381-1385) p. 442; (1389-1392) p. 15; (1391-1396) p. 74; p. 709; (1399-1401) p. 187; (1401-1405) p. 189; (1405-1408) p. 118; (1408-1413) p. 165; (1413-1416) p. 106; (1416-1422) p. 124; (1416-1422) p. 308; (1422-1429) p. 140; (1422-1429) p. 519; (1429-1436) p. 180; p. 446; (1436-1441) p. 219; (1441-1446) p. 54; p. 411 (murage grants) 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]. < >

Other

  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 16 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 18 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 16 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 29 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 28 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 28 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 38 online copy
  • Nash, A.F., 2004, Land at the rear of 60 Mardol, Shrewsbury, Shropshire: a report on a watching brief (Marches Archaeology Series 316)
  • Hannaford, Hugh R., 2001, A Watching Brief at St Chad's Church, Shrewsbury (SCCAS Rep. 205)
  • Vaughan, T., 1994, Shrewsbury Town Walls - A Desktop Survey