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Nottingham Town Wall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Chapel Bar; Cowlane Bar; St John's Bar; Swine Bar

In the civil parish of Nottingham.
In the historic county of Nottinghamshire.
Modern Authority of Nottingham; City of.
1974 county of Nottinghamshire.
Medieval County of Nottinghamshire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK568399
Latitude 52.95039° Longitude -1.15115°

Nottingham Town Wall has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.


Medieval town defences, which excavation has revealed to have consisted of a wall and ditch, probably built between 1267 and 1334.
There is no tangible evidence of a continous defensive wall and ditch along the steep (south) town cliff (5) or across the low ground fronting on Broad Marsh or between Lister Gate and St Nicholas's church. The scarp south of St Mary's continued westward as a minor feature as far as Lister Gate; whether it was entirely natural or improved in the 12th century is at present unknown (Lobel 1969).
(Centred SK 578399) Excavations in 1970 located the NE portion ofthe Norman ditch where it joined into the north side of the pre-Conquest defences (not the east as expected), both continuing on the same course. Excavations some 590 yards further east located the NE corner of the burh (SK 53 NE/3) with the Norman ditch superimposed; in both places the pre-Conquest ditch was completely filled before the Norman ditch was cut. Minor re-cutting was evident in the late 12th and 13th centuries. There was no evidence of a town wall (DoE 1970). (PastScape)

Archaeological excavations and other interventions have failed to locate evidence of the wall existing on the east side of the town. It is suggested that the wall never actually existed for this part of the town. The cliffs to the south of the Post Conquest town acted as a natural defence. (pers corr Scott Lomax - Urban Archaeological Database Office for Nottingham)

Short sections remain of C12 earth and stone walls based on, and expanded from Saxon burh of 921. First murage granted 1267 and others were received until C15.
The walls were built between 1267 and 1337. During this period murage had been levied in order to fund the work. One small stretch of the wall survives and is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is on public display and is visible through a display screen accessible from Maid Marion Way. The wall was predominantly during the 17th century and a stretch of it is visible on John Speed's map of 1610. The part shown on the map is that to the west of the town. Later maps, including Thoroton's map of 1677 does not illustrate the wall, though the Chapel Bar gateway, at the north west of the town, is clearly visible. This gate was demolished in 1743.
If the town wall was meant foremost as a defensive structure a complete circuit, that could reduce the chance of infiltration by spies, agents and saboteurs, would be important. However if the wall was mainly about ensuring tax and toll collection from traders with carts and pack horses then all that is needed is to block or gate the readily accessible routes into the town, as appears to be the case.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:20:06

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