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The Roman Town Wall, Colchester

Description: The Roman Town Wall

Grade: I
Date Listed: 2 December 1971
English Heritage Building ID: 116851

OS Grid Reference: TL9942125504
OS Grid Coordinates: 599421, 225504
Latitude/Longitude: 51.8924, 0.8967

Location: Northgate Street, Colchester, Essex CO1 1PD

Locality: Colchester
Local Authority: Colchester Borough Council
County: Essex
Country: England
Postcode: CO1 1PD

Incorrect location/postcode? Submit a correction!

Listing Text

1. The Roman Town Wall

TL 9925 NW 1/1
TL 9925 NE 2/1
TL 9925 SW 4/1
TL 9925 SE 5/1
TM 0025 SW 6/1
TL 9924 NW 8/1
TM 02 NW 17/1


Probably of the late C3. Originally some 3,100 yds in length, forming a
rectangle of about 1,000 yds east-west, and 510 yds north-south
with rounded corners. Traceable throughout except in the south-west
corner where it was much damaged by the 1648 siege. The 3 most important
visible lengths are on Balkerne Hill on the west including the Balkerne
Gate (qv), in the Castle Park on the north including the north-east
Postern Gate and the great vaulted drain under, and the south-east corner
in Priory Street.

Built of layers of septaria, interspersed with 4-fold course of brick,
the lowest course going right through the wall, with a core of rubble
and cement. Considerable lengths of the wall still reach a height of
15 ft, and it is on average 8 ft thick.

The wall was strengthened in each corner and where it was met by the
internal streets by an internal solid tower the base of one can be seen
in the stretch on Balkerne Hill. The wall was extensively repaired
during the reign of Richard II, 1389-1399 when it was strengthened by the
addition of external semi-circular solid bastions, 4 of these remain
in Priory Street. The wall was further considerably damaged in the
1648 seige, there is much brick patching in evidence in Priory Street,
dating probably from the early C18.

There follows a detailed description of the wall's course and construction
commencing at the Balkerne Gate (qv) in the centre of the west side and
proceeding in a clockwise direction.

All measurements are approximate. All heights are of the outside face
of the wall. The ground level on the inside is often considerably higher
due to the bank of earth built as part of the fortifications.

A. Palkerne Gate to North Hill

455 yds, condition good.

Beginning at the Balkerne Gate (qv) the wall runs due north down the
east side of Balkerne Hill.

30 yds of Roman wall (for details of construction see previous notes),
12 ft high.

15 yds of mediaeval refacing, 12 ft high.

30 yd breach caused in the Civil War.

60 yds of Roman wall, 10 ft high, built on a bank. 40 yd breach filled
by modern red brick wall.

Approximately 280 yds of Roman wall running to the rear of the old
"Coach and Horses Inn" on North Hill, 10 ft high dropping to 8 ft, with
considerable mediaeval repairs, particularly in the north-west angle.

B. North Hill to East Hill

1,100 yds, condition fragmentary. 80 yds of Roman wall considerably
altered. Beginning between No 30 North Hill and No 1 Middleborough.
10 ft high dropping to 3 and 4 ft in yard of No 1. Behind Nos 2 and 4
Northgate Street (Northgate House) 3 ft high; then fading at the rear
of Nos 8, 10 and 12 Northgate Street to the corner of Short Cut Road.

260 yds, no visible remains.

The row of houses, Nos 22A-32 (even) Northgate Street are built on the
course of the wall, it then runs beside or under the road to the corner of
Castle Park. 40 yds with a footpath on top of remains, only modern
facing visible.

15 yds to the park gate, 3 ft high, Roman with much modern facing.

12 yd gap for park gate. 120 yds, Roman wall with much mediaeval and
later facing, 8-12 ft high.

5 yd gap for park gate.

90 yds of Roman wall with later facing, 10 to 12 ft high.

Duncan's Gate (postern) with drain under and remains of fallen tower.

35 yds, Roman, 8 to 10 ft high, running beside No 40 Castle Road.

Modern arch through to Castle Road.

100 yds to the north-east angle, Roman, 8 to 10 ft high, buttressed at

From the north-east angle to East Hill the wall forms the garden wall to
all the houses on the east side of Roman Road (Nos 55-15 odd, Nos 14-2
consec) except for Nos 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, 14, 13, 12 and 11 where it
has been largely destroyed, Thus:-

70 yds, Roman with mediaeval facing, 8 to 10 ft high; along the Private
Burial Ground and Nos 55, 53, 51 and 49 Roman Road.

30 yds, Roman, 6 ft high, behind Nos 47, 45, 43, 41 and 39 Roman Road.

60 yds behind Nos 37, 35, 33, 31, 29, 27 and 25 Roman Road where it has
been virtually destroyed, at first a low wall of a few old stones with
modern brick, then higher but completely rebuilt.

65 yds behind Nos 23, 21, 19, 17, 15, 14, 13, 12 and 11 Roman Road, no
visible remains.

80 yds to East Hill, no significant remains behind Nos 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5,
4, 3, and 2 Roman Road and between Nos 89 and 90 East Hill.

C. From East Hill to Queen Street

490 yds, condition good.

80 yds, Roman, 12 ft high with mediaeval stone and modern brick facing along
St James' Churchyard to the mediaeval Bastion (see previous notes).
70 yds, Roman with mediaeval stone repairs, 12 ft high, to smith-east
angle and second mediaeval bastion.

50 yd breach (Civil War) rebuilt in C18 in red brick, 12 ft high.

200 yds to Bastion V. Roman with extension repairs. Height varies
between 12 and 8 ft.

40 yds, Roman, 8 ft high, with red brick Bus Depot above.

25 yd gap through bus depot buildings.

25 yds to St Botolph's Street, between Nos 48 and 50, no visible remains.

D. Queen Street to Scheregate

285 yds to Scheregate, condition good.

60 yds to Bastion behind No 10 Short Wyre Street. Between Nos 1 and la
St Botolph's Street and then behind Nos 1-10 (consec) Short Wyre Street.
These houses have their rear walls built on the Roman wall, including
the Bastion under No 10, but little remains of the original stonework.

225 yds from the Bastion to the Scheregate. Destroyed behind No 11
Short Wyre Street.

Roman, 6 to 8 ft high behind Nos 27-14 (consec) Eld Lane. Gap with modern
filling behind No 13 Eld Lane.

Roman, 10 ft high to No 6A Eld Lane.

Breach between No 6A and No 5 Eld Lane. C18 red brick wall, 10 ft high.

Roman, 10 ft high, to Scheregate behind Nos 5-1 (consec) Eld Lane and
between No 1 Eld Lane and No 2 Scheregate Steps. Incorporated in the
buildings, partly destroyed and partly invisible.

Scheregate (qv) - mediaeval,

E. Scheregate to Head Street

225 yds, fragmentary to Head Street,

Between No 3 Scheregate Step and No 6A Sir Isaac's Walk, no visible

20 yds beneath the car park. 6 ft high, but mostly rebuilt, some stonework.

Visible stonework behind No 6 Eld Lane.

Bottom garden wall behind Nos 36 to 48 (consec) St John's Street, running
under the southern side of Eld Lane. Very fragmentary.

Running through buildings to Head Street. No visible remains, probably
quite destroyed.

F. Head Street to the Balkerne Gate

400 yds, fragmentary. Running at rear of Nos 3-33 Crouch Street, and
Nos 2, 3, 4 and 5 Church Walk, the rear walls of the latter being built
above the Roman wall. No visible remains, probably largely destroyed. 30 yds,
10 ft high, behind Nos 35, 36 and 37 Crouch Street forming garden wall
of St Mary's Cottage, Church Walk.

South-west angle destroyed. 20 yds, Roman, 6 ft high, behind No 8
Balkerne Lane,

25 yd gap.

20 yds Roman to postern gate behind, 10 ft high, behind Nos 14, 15 and 17
Balkerne Lane, No 17 is built into the postern gate.

From the postern gate to the Balkerne Gate, 100 yds, Roman, 12 ft high,
in good condition, running behind Nos 18 and Nos 25 to 31 (consecutive).

The following buildings are connected with, and have possible ownership
of, various portions of the Roman Wall.

A. Buildings structurally connected with visible remains

Balkerne Lane

No 17
The Hole in the Wall Public House.

Church Walk

Nos 2, 3, 4 & 5.

Eld Lane

Nos 1, 1b, 1c, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6a, 7, 11, 17, 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25,
26 and 27.


No 1

Northgate Street

Nos 2, 4, 10 and 12.

North Hill

Nos 30 and 31.

Queen Street

Eastern Counties Bus Depot.

Sir Isaac's Walk

No 6.

Short Wyre Street

Nos 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

B. Buildingss with possible invisible remains incorporated in the
foundations: nothing certain.

Crouch street.

Nos 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25, 27, 31, 33 and 41.

East Hill

Nos 89 and 90

St Botolph's Street

Nos 1 and la.


Nos 2 and 3.

Short Wyre Street

Nos 1, 2, 3a, 3b and 11.

Sir Isaac's Walk

Nos 6a and 6b.

C. Buildings not directly connected with the wall but it forms part
of the property boundary.

Balkerne Hill

Gilberd Lodge.

Balkerne Lane

Nos 8, 18, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31.

Castle Road

No 40.

Crouch Street

Nos 35 and 37.

East Hill

Church of St James.
Nos 89 and 90.

Eld Lane
Nos 1a, 6, 8, 9, l0, 13, 14, 15 and 19.

High Street

Easthill House.

Queen street

Eastern Counties Bus Depot.

Roman Road

Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, 35, 37, 39, 41, 43,
45, 47, 49, 51, 53, 55 and the Private Burial Ground.

The following of the foregoing buildings are of merit in themselves,
and can be found listed under their respective streets.

Balkerne Lane

No 17
The Hole in the Wall Public House.

Church Walk

St Mary's Cottage.

Crouch Street

Nos 17 and 19.
No 37.

East Hill

Church of St James.
No 89

Eld Lane

No 1
Nos 3 and 4
No 5.

High Street

Easthill House.


No 1.

Northgate Street

Nos 10 and 12.


No 2.
No 3.

Sir Issac's Walk

No 6a.
No 6b.

Listing NGR: TL9942125504

This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.

Source: English Heritage

Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.