London’s Medieval walls


After the departure of the Romans the area within the city walls was deserted, the Anglo-Saxons preferring to settle around the area we know today as the Strand to the east. It was not until the later anglo-Saxon or early medieval times that much was built within the old Roman city. It is believed that a religious community was established within the walls in the 7th century. This would later become St Paul’s Cathedral and this may have begun a return to occupation within the walled area.


It was not until the Medieval period that the wall was rebuilt as a defensive screen. The walls were repaired, strengthen and crenellated. In addition more gates were added.

The only surviving Medieval gate tower in London's wall (Tower Hill)
The only surviving Medieval gate tower in London’s wall (Tower Hill)

The moat was filled in during the 16th century and during the 17th and 18th centuries much of the remaining wall was either demolished or incorporated into new brick buildings.



Many of the London names come from the wall. There are place named after gates, for example Aldgate and Newgate, and those named after the ditch, eg Shoreditch and Houndsditch. In the 1960 when the northern area of the city was redeveloped the major artery road was called London Wall, as for much of its line it follows the line of the old city wall.

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