Guest post by the Museum of London

Visiting the Past: London’s Ancient City Walls

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Did you know that the City of London used to be protected by a great wall dating back to Roman times, the remains of which can still be seen today?

The Romans built a wall around the city of Londinium in around AD 200 but it fell into disrepair after the Roman occupation of Britain ended in AD 410. The city was abandoned for the next 400 years.

London was re-established inside the city walls in the 9th-century and throughout the medieval period the wall was repaired and strengthened. From the 16th-century onwards, London outgrew its ancient walls and much of it was either knocked down or covered by new buildings. The remains of the wall, hidden inside more modern buildings, were revealed after bombing in the Second World War destroyed large areas of the City of London.

Several sections of city wall have been preserved and are well worth visiting. They give a glimpse back in time to Roman and medieval London. Highlights include:

  • Outside Tower Hill Underground station –  the Roman part of the wall is more than  four metres (13 feet) high
  • The courtyard of the Grange City Hotel in Cooper’s Row – the windows (loop holes) used by medieval archers can still be seen
  • St Alphege Gardens, Wood Street – you can see almost the full height of the medieval wall
  • The churchyard of St Giles’ Cripplegate – medieval towers added to the city wall in the 13th-century are still visible
  • Museum of London – two medieval towers and a section of city wall, altered in the 19th-century, stand in a garden next to the museum

Museum of LondonYou can find out more about the ancient city wall on the Museum of London website, or if you’d like to explore the remains of the wall, you can download the London Wall Walk guide.

A guest post by Meriel Jeater, of the Museum of London as part of our Visiting the Past series. More about London’s fascinating history next week.