Record Details

NHER Number:384
Type of record:Monument
Name:Norwich City Defences

Summary

Norwich’s City walls were built around 1294-1343 and no houses were built outside the wall until 1779 -89. The walls incorporate a number of towers such as the Boom Tower, Cow Tower and Black Tower. The western Boom Tower contains an 18th century coke oven. The Black Tower was traditionally the residence of the Constable and was also used for plague victims in the 16th century. During the English Civil War three of the city’s gates (St Augustine’s, Conesford and Bishop’s) were blocked up with earth. Research into the defences show that the Boom Towers, like the rest of the walls, gradually fell out of serious use, becoming monuments in the landscape, valued for their picturesque character and historical interest. Archaeological deposits may have been limited in this area since the inside of the walled circuit was deliberately kept open for access in the Middle Ages.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TG 2318 0862
Map Sheet:TG20NW
Parish:NORWICH, NORWICH, NORFOLK

Full description

Precinct number.
'The land of the ditches which is between the wood and the water'.
City walls. Built around 1294-1343.
No houses built outside wall until 1779 - 89.
E. B. Green (NCM).

See full details in file.

Material received from Alan Carter archive.
1968: (S1) Photographs showing views of the wall in Barn Road, Fiskers Lane, Chapel Field Road and St. Stephen's Gate.

1975: Detailed information on the city walls and gates. (S2) and (S3) detail repairs made to the city walls and gates from 1590 onwards, including information on the materials used in the repairs and the sources of these materials. (S4), (S22) and (S23) look at the Black Tower, Carrow Hill and Butter Hill. (S5) is a more detailed write up of the city gates: Conisford Gates, Brazon Gates, St Stephen's Gate, St Giles's Gate, St Benedict's Gate, Heigham Gates, St Martin-at-Oak Gates, St Augustine's Gates, Magdalen Gates, Pockthorpe Gates and Bishop Gate. (S6) is some brief notes on the Cow Tower.
See information in file.
K. Robbins (NLA), 26 October 2008.

The western Boom Tower contains what was thought to be a 19th-century coke oven. This has now been re-dated as 18th century and is an important early example. See published article (S7) for a detailed description of this oven, which is also noted in (S24).
Previously listed Grade II* this structure remains part of the Norwich city walls Scheduled Monument. See English Heritage assessment notes (S25).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 29 October 2015.

1991-1992. Building Survey.
Surveys of the city defenses between Bracondale and the River Wensum, prior to consolidation works.
Three stretches of wall and a tower were examined.
See report (S26)/(S27) for further details. This work is noted in (S30).
P. Watkins (HES), 9 November 2015.

1995. Building Survey.
Survey of Black Tower by R. Smith (NAU).
This indicates evidence for former vault on central pier in ground floor; restoration work in 19th century to remove traces of 18th century snuff mill; and notes that this tower and that down the slope to the east both have arrowslits facing the city, which author suggests may indicate there was originally no wall between them. Traditionally this tower was the residence of the Constable and was also used for plague victims in the 16th century - neither of these aspects figure in the report.
See report (S8) for further details. This survey is also noted in (S28).
E. Rose (NLA) 24 July 1996.

2 August 1995. NLA air photography.
Stretches of the city wall, Black Tower and Boom Tower all visible.
S. Massey (NLA) 3 August 2001.

July 1997. Excavation.
Excavation at Chapelfield Road/Coburg Street (former) to assess condition of wall foundation revealed a layer containing post medieval brick apparently passing under wall and bank. Is this part of the rebuilding of 1727?
See report (S9) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S29).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2008.63).
E. Rose (NLA) 10 September 1997. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 27 April 2019.

Reference (S10) notes that St Augustines, Conesford and Bishops Gates were blocked up with earth in the Civil War until 1643. Seven earth bulwarks were planned along the wall and a breastwork along the river from the Boom Tower to the Cow Tower, but these were probably never constructed.
E. Rose (NLA) 5 November 1998.

April 1999. Building Survey.
Detailed survey of section of city wall and tower adjacent to Bull Close Road.
This work was commissioned by Norwich City Council and was intended as a pilot study for a much more extensive detailed survey of the Norwich city walls. It is possible that this proposed survey was not actually undertaken.
See report (S31) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 9 October 2017.

May-June 1999. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of renovation works at 218-242 Queen's Road.
This work revealed what seemed to be the city wall but 5m south of the line of the wall as marked by the OS.
See NHER 26147 for further details.
E. Rose (NLA) 4 Jan 1999. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 8 February 2017.

2003. Desk-based Assessment.
Assessment of a short stretch of the riverside next to the western of the two Boom towers, which refers to the medieval background and construction of the city walls, gates and towers, and to their subsequent history. The Boom Towers, like the rest of the walls, gradually fell out of serious use, becoming monuments in the landscape, valued for their picturesque character and historical interest. They are depicted on maps and recorded in pictures and photographs. Reference is made to these sources. There is a possibility of early medieval evidence on the riverside,although the later history of the site includes brick-built riverside structures, swept away when the present Carrow Bridge was built in 1920, but recorded in pictures and photographs. Archaeological deposits may have been limited since the inside of the walled circuit was deliberately kept open for access in the middle ages, but access to the wall and river could suggest evidence for waterfront structures may have survived.
See report (S11) for further details.
A. Cattermole (NLA) 1 March 2005.

June 2005.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning masonary repairs to the Chapelfield section of the city wall.
See (S12) for further details
H. White (NLA), 3 April 2009

The Commission of 1385 at the time of the French Invasion ordered that a wall be constructed along the Wensum to fill up the gap in the existing wall; as far as is known, nothing was done
Rose, E. (NLA), 19 March 2007.

July 2006.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning repairs to brick and flint on the walls.
See (S19)
H. White (NLA), 3 April 2009.

October 2007. Bulls Close Road Section
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the removal of shrubs, the making good of flint work, face pointing of core and facing work to both sides of the wall. Wall head repairs as necessary.
See (S20)
H. White (NLA) 22 January 2009.

November 2007. Paper Mills Yard
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning repairing two holes in the city wall, removing vegetation from the length of the wall fronting the yard and necessary repointing.
See (S20) for further information
H. White (NLA), 22 January 2009.

December 2007. Magpie Road
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the demolition of a modern building attached to the monument and repairs and structural support works.
See (S20) for further information
H. White (NLA), 23 January 2009.

March 2008
Scheduled monument consent granted regarding the demoliton and removal of a building attached to the wall and for repairs to the wall.
See (S21)
H.White (NLA) 22 January 2008.

Monument Types

  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN WALL (structure, Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • WALL (13th Century to 21st Century - 1297 AD to 2100 AD)
  • OVEN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • WINDMILL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BRICK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TG2307 L-N; TG2309 ACG-ACK.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF2.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A. (NLA). 1995. TG 3201ACN - ACX.
---Correspondence: Smith, P.. 2005. Email regarding city walls near Magpie Printers.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 20 NW 100 [16]; TG 20 NW 100.4; TG 20 NW 100.7 [2]; TG 20 NW 100.9, TG 20 NW 100.12 [2].
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 260-262; Pl 32.
---Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1999. The French Borough at Norwich: St Stephen's Parish (west part). An Archaeological Assessment. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 438.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1989-1995. [Articles on the proposed restoration of the Norwich City Defences].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 10 Feb 1995. [unknown].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1956-1998. [Articles on the Boom Tower].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 20 Aug 1999. [unknown].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2001. Divers carry on city walls survey. 14 September.
---*Verbal Communication: Alban, J.. 2007. Lecture at UEA. March 15.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Norwich - Post Roman.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Unpublished Document: O'Neil, B. H. St. J. and Bailey, T. A. 1953. Norwich City Walls. Report of the Ministry of Works, October 1953.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1969. [Articles and a letter to the editor regarding the potential preservation of the wall between Coburg Street and Chapel Field Road].
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1969. Walled towns. 17 September.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2010. Hallmarks of a colourful past - Atmospheric ruins cast long historical shadows. 2 November.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. New life for part of city wall which was hidden for years. 5 January.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1956. Norwich work on ancient buildings. 28 December.
---Article in Serial: Pettigrew, T. J. 1858. On the Walls and Gates of the City of Norwich. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. First Series Vol XIV pp 215-222.
<S1>Photograph: Kent, A.. 1968. City Walls.
<S2>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. Repairs to and work on the City Walls.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. The City Walls.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. Information on the Black Tower.
<S5>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. The City Gates.
<S6>Unpublished Document: [Unknown]. [Unknown]. The Cow Tower.
<S7>Article in Serial: Day, M. 1982. John Bolton's Cinder Oven: An eighteenth century industrial re-use of a medieval tower. Industrial Archaeology Review. Vol 6 No 3 pp 235-240.
<S8>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1995. The Black Tower, Norwich. A Survey. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 161.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 1997. An Excavation on the City Wall at Chapelfield Road, Norwich. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 253.
<S10>Publication: Kent, P.. 1988. Defences of East Anglia. p.181.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Penn, K. 2003. Report on an Archaeological Desk Top Assessment of Riverside to the North of Boom Tower, Norwich, Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 793.
<S12>Designation: DCMS. 2005. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S20>Designation: DCMS. 2007. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S21>Designation: DCMS. 2008. Scheduled Monument Consent.
<S22>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. Information on Carrow Hill.
<S23>Unpublished Document: Harvey, R. D. 1975. Information on Butter Hill.
<S24>Article in Serial: Cranstone, D. 1989. Early coke ovens: a note. Journal of the Historical Metallurgy Society. Vol 23 No 2 pp 120-122.
<S25>Unpublished Document: English Heritage. [unknown]. Coal Industry: Site Assessment. Bolton's Cinder Oven, Norwich.
<S26>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1993. Report of Survey of the City Wall between Bracondale and the River Wensum. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 73.
<S27>Unpublished Report: Smith, R. 1993. The City Wall, Norwich [draft text for NAU report].
<S28>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 405.
<S29>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1998. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1997. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt I pp 193-210. p 203.
<S30>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1994. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1993. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 115-123. p 119.
<S31>Unpublished Contractor Report: Heward, J. 1999. Norwich City Walls. Preliminary Report following the Pilot Study. Purcell Miller Tritton.

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