Record Details

NHER Number:4294
Type of record:Monument
Name:Town wall and defences

Summary

The town walls and ditch date from the late 13th and 14th centuries. Large sections of the wall and eleven of the original sixteen towers are still standing. The ten gates were demolished in the late 18th and 19th centuries. The East Mount was constructed in 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, and a moat was constructed in the 17th century, during the Civil War.

Images

  • No image caption available  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TG 5246 0749
Map Sheet:TG50NW
Parish:GREAT YARMOUTH, GREAT YARMOUTH, NORFOLK

Full description

The town walls were started at the north end in c. AD 1285 and finished towards the end of the 13th century. Alterations to accommodate cannons took place during the first half of the 16th century. The defences have large sections surviving including ten out of 18 towers. The construction is typical flint and brick. The wall has loops and later gun ports and behind the wall itself is a blind arcade which carries the wall walk. When the ramparts were adopted for cannon in the 16th century earthen ramps were thrown up against the level of the wall walk and the towers behind heightened. The most impressive tower is to the south east on Blackfriars Road. It is of well knapped flint with stone gun ports. The upper 15th century section has a chequer pattern, bordered by stone strings, between knapped flint and brick.
See (S1).
S. Howard (NLA), 15 June 2010.

Medieval walls, and ditch in places.
East Mount added 1588; later outer moat to north and other alterations.
Remains in part scheduled.
Excavations 1955, 1972, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1986, 1996.
Finds of medieval and post medieval sherds, etc.
For full details see file.
E. Rose (NAU) 21 October 1997.

1989. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural surveys of the wall section north of Priory Plain and the north-west tower.
See reports (S2) and (S3) for details.
P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

1989/1990. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural survey of the wall section west of St Peter's Plain.
See report (S4).
P. Watkins (HES), 16 February 2014.

1991. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural survey of the south-east tower. Written description of fabric produced, supplemented by measured drawings and photographs.
See report (S5) for details. This survey was also noted in (S6).
P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

1992. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural survey of the stretch of wall on the east side of the Dissenters burial ground and the stretch to the north of the south-east tower. Written description of fabric produced, supplemented by measured drawings and photographs.
See report (S7) for details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S8)
P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

November 1993-April 1994. Watching Brief.
Observation of pipeline from Bryants Quay, Great Yarmouth to Caister Water Works. This pipeline cross the line of the town defences on Lancaster Road. A collapsed section of the town wall was observed and there was evidence for an external ditch.
See NHER 30081 for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 1 April 2015.

1994. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural survey of the stretch of wall east of the former Hospital School. This survey took place during repair and consolidation work by NCC and took the form of a written description of the fabric, supplemented by photographs.
See report (S9) for details.
P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

1994. Building Survey.
Survey of section of wall west of Friars' Tower (including the First Tower).
See report (S10) for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 13 March 2017.

Early 1995. Building Survey.
Archaeological and architectural survey of the stretch west of King Henry's Tower and the stretches of wall immediately to the north. This survey took place during repair and consolidation work by NCC and took the form of a written description of the fabric, supplemented by photographs.
See report (S11) for details. This survey is noted in (S12).
P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

1996. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of construction work on the quay wall in the southern part of the medieval town.
The lowest part of the town wall was exposed, allowing details of its construction to be recorded. The base of the wall had been built upon a wooden frame, subsequently infilled with mortared rubble and flint.
No report received. The results of this work are summarised in (S13).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2018.263).
P. Watkins (HES), 13 March 2017.

April 1997. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with installation of a new storm water drainage system in the churchyard of St Nicholas' Church (NHER 4329). One of the trenches crossed the line of the 'missing' section of town wall, at which point the wall foundations of an octagonal projecting bastion type tower were observed. The basal part of the foundation was faced with limestone blocks. The rest of the fabric of the wall was made up of flint and brick rubble. Two later walls abutted the interior of the tower. This tower can be seen to the south of King Henry's tower on the 1588 plan of Yarmouth's defences. The date of this tower is not certain, but it may have been built relatively early in the construction sequence of the town walls. Fewer graves were observed in the area to the east of the town wall, with these containing wholly articulated burials. This supports the suggestion that this section of the town wall was deliberately demolished (presumably during the 19th century) in order to extend the graveyard.
See report (S14) for further details. This work was also noted in (S15).
J. Percival (NAU) 20 August 1997. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 17 February 2014.

October 1998. Architectural Survey.
Profiles of the town wall north of St Nicholas' church surveyed for Great Yarmouth Borough Council.
This work is noted in (S16).
P. Watkins (HES), 26 January 2017.

April 2005.
A multi-offset ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey was conducted across a section of town wall to the north of St Spyridon's Church. Target foundations appear at c. 1.5m beneath the ground surface and the GPR data support artefactual evidence for the construction 16th century rampart on the interior side of the wall.
See (S17).
S. Howard (NLA), 28 July 2010.

Wooden semaphore station atop south gates. Terminal of the Admiralty's telegraph network line from London to G. Yarmouth. Used to send Naval commands from the Admiralty in London to the fleet stationed here.
W. Arnold (HES), 31 January 2011.

Monument Types

  • WRECK (Unknown date)
  • TOWER (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN WALL (Medieval to 19th Century - 1066 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SEMAPHORE STATION (19th Century - 1808 AD to 1814 AD)

Associated Finds

  • COFFIN (Undated)
  • COFFIN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • COIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Scheduled Monument

Sources and further reading

---Photograph: 1994. EAC 32 and 33.
---Article in Serial: O'Neil, B. H. St.J. 1942. A Plan of the Fortifications of Yarmouth in 1588. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XXVIII Pt I pp 1-6.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF3.
---Aerial Photograph: Edwards, D.A.. 1995. TG5207/ABM,ABS,ABT.
---Archive: National Archaeological Record.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TG 50 NW 2 [2]; TG 50 NW 3; TG 50 NW 5; TG 50 NW 6; TG 50 NW 7; TG 50 NW 8; TG 50 NW 16; TG 50 NW 17.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N. and Wilson, B. 1997. Norfolk 1: Norwich and North-East. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 516-517, 524; Pl 33.
---Unpublished Document: Great Yarmouth Archaeological Soceity. 1978. Rampart Road, Great Yarmouth.
---Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. Great Yarmouth Town Defences.
---Unpublished Document: Rose, E.. 1984. Report on the Mount and adjacent wall line with regard to the propsed demolition of the General Hospital in 1984.
---Photograph: JV 20 and 25.
---Photograph: CLY 3 to 13.
---Photograph: CNH 17 to 21.
---Photograph: CQH 2 and 3.
---Photograph: CUW 12 and 13.
---Photograph: CVZ 12 to 20.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1962. [Articles on the preservation of Yarmouth town wall].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1977. 2 Yarmouth towers 'going public'. 10 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1979. Pans of coins taken from well. 3 December.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1983. Society defends hospital fortress. 24 May.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Hole in wall plan is rejected. 2 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2003. Authority closes town-wall tower. 8 August.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1984. Hot of the presses - 97 years later. 26 October.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Fortification found and lost. 6 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1990. Town wall featured in centre plan. 13 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1993. New role for ancient tower. 23 April.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1955. The moat that guarded old Yarmouth. 21 July.
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1955. Digging suggests that town wall had moat. 22 July.
---Publication: Eccleston, A. W.. 1959. The Rise Of Great Yarmouth.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. [Illustration of South Gate, Yarmouth].
---Article in Serial: Carter, A. 1980. Great Yarmouth - The Defences. The Archaeological Journal. Vol 137 pp 303-304.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. Yarmouth (Great) [2].
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Slide: Various. Slide.
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1969-1970. [Articles on the restoration of Friars' Tower].
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1969. Walled towns. 17 September.
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1969. South East tower is cracking up. 6 June.
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1969. Round table talk on town walls. 3 April.
---Newspaper Article: Yarmouth Mercury. 1966-1971. [Articles on the preservation of Great Yarmouth Town Wall].
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2014-2015. [Articles on the conversion of South East Tower, Great Yarmouth].
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. Restoration of 14th-century wall begins. 11 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2016. Folklore ritual secrets shown after wall work. 31 December.
---Designation: Department Of The Environment. 1882-1984?. Department of the Environment Scheduling Notification. Notification. DNF3.
---Designation: [Various]. Scheduling and/or Listing Correspondence. Correspondence. DNF3.
<S1>Unpublished Document: Heywood, S. Historic building report for the Town Walls, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.. Building Report.
<S2>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1989. Survey Report. The North-West Tower, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 49.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1989. The Town Wall, Great Yarmouth. North of Priory Plain. Survey Report. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 50.
<S4>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1990. Survey Report. The Town Wall, Great Yarmouth: The Section West of St Peter's Plain. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 47.
<S5>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1991. Survey Report. The South East Tower, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 45.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1992. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 1991. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt III pp 371-379. p 373.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1993. The Town Wall, Great Yarmouth. Survey Report. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 51.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1994. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1993. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt I pp 115-123. p 118.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1995. Report of Survey of the Town Wall, Great Yarmouth to the east of the former Hospital School. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 131.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1995. Report of Survey of the Town Wall, Great Yarmouth, to the west of Friars' Tower including the First Tower. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 126.
<S11>Unpublished Contractor Report: Smith, R. 1995. Report of Survey of the Town Wall, Great Yarmouth to the west of King Henry's Tower. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 157.
<S12>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1996. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1995. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt III pp 397-412. p 401.
<S13>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1997. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1996. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLII Pt IV pp 547-564. p 552.
<S14>Unpublished Contractor Report: Percival, J. and Forrest, K. 1998. Results of Watching Brief at St Nicholas' Churchyard, Great Yarmouth. Norfolk Archaeological Unit. 271.
<S15>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 198.
<S16>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 1999. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1998. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIII Pt II pp 369-387. p 373.
<S17>Article in Serial: Booth, D.A., Clark, R.A., Hamilton, K. & Murray, T.. 2010. Multi-offsetground penetrating radar methods to image buried foundations of a medieval town wall, Great Yarmouth, UK.. Archaeological Prospection.

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