Record Details

NHER Number:5486
Type of record:Monument
Name:King's Lynn Town Defences

Summary

The town defences are based on a series of earthwork banks that were formed in the saltmarsh that once surrounded the town, and the line of the defences to the east follows the line of an old sea bank. Stone walls were constructed in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The walls were strengthened in the 16th century, and St Ann's Fort was constructed in 1570. Only a few fragmentary remains of the fort survive. The defences were replanned during the Civil War but construction was interrupted by a siege laid by Parliamentary troops and the earthworks were left unfinished until 1645. The line of the defences can be followed in modern streets and property boundaries, and the Civil War defences were closely based on the line of the medieval defences. In the 18th century several sections of the walls were demolished, but some stretches of wall are still standing, as well as the town gates, including the well-known South Gate. Monitoring and recording at 17 Littleport Street in 2012 confirmed the line of a section of the medieval town wall and identifed deposits relating to its demolition.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 6216 2004
Map Sheet:TF62SW
Parish:KING’S LYNN, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Town defences, walls and gates, etc. Mostly 17th century on medieval sites, but including medieval work.
Not all scheduled, see description.
See full details in file.
E. Rose (NAU), 11 March 1981.

1985.
See (S1) showing this is probably all of 1436.
Medieval and post medieval sherds, medieval tiles, bone, etc., found.
E. Rose (NAU), 22 November 1985.

Ordnance Survey description in file.
Information from (S2).
R.J. Rickett (NAU), 26 March 1990.

Specifications and record for restoration (1996) in file.

1998. Desk-based Assessment.
Examination of land adjacent to King's Lynn railway station.
See report (S10) for details.
P. Watkins (HES), 23 February 2015.

February 2001. Trial Trenching.
Evaluation of land adjacent to King's Lynn railway station. This work sought to examine the 13th century and Civil war defences and any surviving evidence for medieval occupation. Trenches across the line of the Civil War defences located deep deposits with 18th century fills continuing below 2.6m. Trenches to examine the medieval defences located a massive ditch 3.4m wide and 20m+ wide. This is probably the River Gaywood/Parfleet diverted to form a moat in front of the wall. A second feature may be a robber trench for the wall itself.
A single trench on the Blackfriars Road frontage revealed evidence for buildings and domestic waste, and possibly a cellar of pre-16th century date.
See report (S3) for further details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S8).
The archive associated with this work has been deposited with the King's Lynn Museum (KILLM : 2003.43).
D. Gurney (NLA), 12 December 2001.

See (S4).
J. Allen (NLA), 20 June 2005.

29 September 2005
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the planting of semi- mature trees, repairs to masonry and advance excavation on a number of tree planting pits for investigative purposes.
See (S5) and (S6) for further information
H. White (NLA), 6 March 2009

13 May 2008.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning the removal of organic growth and consolidation of any loose material on top of the wall.
See (S7) for further information.
H. White (NLA) 9 January 2009

1 May 2009.
Scheduled monument consent granted concerning repairs and conservation of the town walls in Kettlewell Lane.
See (S7) for further information
H. White (NLA), 6 May 2009

October-November 2010. Watching Brief.
Monitoring of groundworks associated with construction of new Public Transport Route between Boal Quay and Wisbech Road.
This work was focused on the two locations where the new transport route would intersect with the postulated line of the town’s Civil War defences (TF 6181 1929 and TF 6191 1915). In the event no evidence for these earthworks was identified at either location. This negative result was however probably at least in part due to the relatively shallow formation level of the development.
See report (S12) and NHER 37297 for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 9 April 2018.

February-April 2012. Watching Brief.
Monitoring and recording confirmed the line of a section of the medieval town wall and identified deposits relating to its demolition. Post-medieval pottery, glass and building material was also recovered.
See report (S9) for details. The results of this work are also summarised in (S11).
The associated archive has been deposited with the Norwich Castle Museum (NWHCM : 2013.92).
E. Bales (HES), 27 August 2012. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 16 May 2019.

May 2015. Excavation.
Small excavation at the Globe Bowls Club, St John's Walk, Blackfriars Road (TF 6239 2000).
This work revealed a substantial north-to-south aligned linear feature believed to have been a robber trench associated with the medieval town wall - a now demolished section of which is known to have passed through this site. This probable trench was cut through a raised clay silt deposit that was interpreted as the remains of the earthen bank that served as the town's defences prior to the construction of the wall between the 13th and 15th centuries.
See report (S13) and NHER 62653 for further details.
P. Watkins (HES), 13 April 2018.

Monument Types

  • SEA DEFENCES (Late Saxon - 851 AD to 1065 AD)
  • BANK (EARTHWORK) (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CANAL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • CELLAR (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • DITCH (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • FISHPOND (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • GATE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • MOAT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • REVETMENT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWER (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOWN WALL (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • BUILDING (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DITCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DRAIN (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROBBER TRENCH (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • RUBBISH PIT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SIEGEWORK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TOWN DEFENCES (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • TANK TRAP (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds

  • HUMAN REMAINS (Unknown date)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • POT (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TILE (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • TOKEN (Medieval - 1066 AD to 1539 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CANNON (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • CLAY PIPE (SMOKING) (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • DRESS HOOK (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • HERALDIC DEVICE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • NAIL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • POT (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ROOF TILE (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • SCABBARD (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • VESSEL (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status

  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building
  • Listed Building
  • Scheduled Monument
  • Listed Building

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. Lynn gates - from seiges to sightseers. 14 July.
---Designation: [unknown]. Ancient Monuments Form. SAM Record. DNF70, DNF223, DNF282, DNF328.
---Publication: Higgins, D.. 2000. Antiquities of Lynn from Sketchbook of Rev Edwards.
---Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 62 SW 17 [6]; 17.2; 17.3; 17.4; 17.5; 17.6 [2]; 17.7; 17.8; 17.9; 17.10; 17.11; 17.12; 17.13;.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Recording Form: [various]. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey Recording Form. Norfolk Defensive Structures Survey.
---Unpublished Document: Schedule Report.
---Monograph: Hillen, H. J. 1907. History of the Borough of King's Lynn.
---Unpublished Document: Talbot, E.. 1968. King's Lynn: The Civil War. Draft notes for talk.
---Unpublished Document: James, E.M.. 1985. Investigations at the South Gates, King's Lynn, December 1984 to April 1985.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1980-1997. [Articles, photographs and an illustration of King's Lynn's South Gate].
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1995. Homes plan could reveal secrets of Lynn's past. 23 May.
---Unpublished Document: Januarys Consultant Surveyors. 1996. Specification for Repair/Remedial Works to Town Walls, Littleport Terrace/Wyatt Street, King's Lynn. April.
---Unpublished Document: Januarys Consultant Surveyors. 1996. Specification for Repair/Remedial Works at Southgates Arch, London Road, King's Lynn.
---Monograph: Pevsner, N and Wilson, W. 1999. Norfolk 2: North-West and South. The Buildings of England. 2nd Edition. pp 474-475; Pl 55.
---Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Medieval. King's Lynn.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
---Article in Serial: Smith, T. P. 1970. The medieval town defences of King's Lynn. Journal of the British Archaeological Association. Third Series Vol XXX pp 57-58.
---Collection: Norfolk Historic Environment Record Staff. 1975-[2000]. HER Record Notes. Norfolk Historic Environment Service.
<S1>Article in Serial: James, E. M. 1987. A Fresh Study of the South Gate at King's Lynn, in the light of recent restoration work. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XL Pt I pp 55-72.
<S2>Record Card: Ordnance Survey Staff. 1933-1979?. Ordnance Survey Record Cards. TF 61 NW 2 [2]; TF 61 NW 55; TF 62 SW 11 [2]; TF 62 SW 16; TF 62 SW 52.
<S3>Unpublished Contractor Report: Garner, D. 2001. WM Morrison Superstore - King's Lynn. Results of Archaeological Investigation Works. Gifford. B2583A.02.
<S4>Article in Serial: Hoare, P. G., Vinx, R., Stevenson, C. R. and Ehlers, J. 2002. Re-used Bedrock Ballast in King's Lynn's 'Town Wall' and the Norfolk Port's Medieval Trading Links. Medieval Archaeology. Vol XLVI pp 91-105.
<S5>Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF282.
<S6>Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF328.
<S7>Designation: DCMS. [?]-2016. Scheduled Monument Consent. SAM Consent. DNF70.
<S8>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2002. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2001. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt I pp 162-177. p 168.
<S9>Unpublished Contractor Report: Cope-Faulkner, P. 2012. Archaeological Monitoring and Recording at 17 Littleport Street, King's Lynn, Norfolk. Archaeological Project Services. 35/12.
<S10>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hawkins, D. 1998. An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment of land adjacent to King's Lynn Station, King's Lynn, Norfolk. CgMs Consulting.
<S11>Article in Serial: Cattermole, A. 2013. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk in 2012. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLVI Pt IV pp 568-576. pp 571-572.
<S12>Unpublished Contractor Report: Hickling, S. 2012. Archaeological Excavation and Watching Brief at Boal Quay to Wisbech Road (Public Transport Route), King’s Lynn, Norfolk. NPS Archaeology. 2552.
<S13>Unpublished Contractor Report: Barlow, G. 2015. The Globe Bowls Club, St John’s Walk, Blackfriars Road, King’s Lynn, Norfolk PE30 1NP. Archaeological Excavation: Research Archive Report. Archaeological Solutions. 4866.

Related records

44112Parent of: Excavation and test pitting at The Walks (Monument)
MNO2221Related to: Watergate of St Ann's Fort St Ann's Fort KING'S LYNN (Revoked)

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