The comprehensive gazetteer and bibliography of the medieval castles, fortifications and palaces of England, Wales, the Islands.
The listings
Other Info
Print Page 
Next Record 
Previous Record 
Back to list 

Bath City Wall

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;

In the civil parish of Bath.
In the historic county of Somerset.
Modern Authority of Bath and North East Somerset.
1974 county of Avon.
Medieval County of Somerset.

OS Map Grid Reference: ST75196489
Latitude 51.38251° Longitude -2.35787°

Bath City Wall has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2* listed building protected by law*.


The Medieval defences re-used the line of the Roman defences and much of the medieval wall was a refacing of existing Roman walls. Parts of the town wall are extant. The walls were extant in 1138 and were removed in the C18. The medieval town covered 23 acres. (PastScape)

East Gate
City gate. Medieval, or possibly C9-C10, restored probably in 1899 when the adjacent Empire Hotel was built.
MATERIALS: Coursed limestone, paved on the top surface over the arch.
EXTERIOR: Narrow archway, now well below street level, approx. 2m in width, 1m deep and 2-2.5m in height. Jambs chamfered on outside face, appear to be medieval. Cranked arch of three stones on corbels, relieving arch above and horizontal courses over. Inner face arch is similar, but segmental. Full extent of reconstruction in 1899 uncertain, but close in appearance to C18 engravings, and to photographs of c1890. The Eastgate of Bath has minor gate on Boat Stall Lane going down to quay and Bathwick ferry, and was left open for the convenience of citizens. Portion of wall with crowning battlements survived alongside until 1899 (qv Upper Borough Walls).
HISTORY: The city wall originated in C4 towards the end of the Roman period. It was repaired in the early C10, and was then kept in use until the Civil War. Pepys reported that it was in good condition in 1668, but it gradually decayed until most was demolished in the C18: the Corporation demolished the north and south gates in 1755, and the south gate followed in 1776. This is also known as the Lot Gate, from the Early English ludeat, or postern gate. Its narrowness suggests that this was never a principal entrance, but is nonetheless of great significance as the only surviving medieval gate in the city. (Listed Building Report)

From the pentagonal plan of the city it has been suggested that the medieval walls were built on the foundations of the Roman city wall (Lewis). Until recently no serious investigation of this theory had been made except for the observations of Pownall in 1795 during commercial excavations in the Upper Borough Walls. (Pownall). He claimed to have seen the medieval wall superimposed on the remains of the Roman city wall and described it in detail. His theory was contested by Irvine in 1874 (Irvine), but cannot be lightly dismissed.
Several fragments of the medieval wall still survive. The East Gate (ST 76 SE 104) is the only remaining gateway. The length of wall opposite the Mineral Water Hospital is largely a reconstruction of the medieval wall. By far the best length, over 160ft, could until 1963 be seen on the site cleared by an air-raid in 1940. This was the SE corner of the medieval city. The remains of this wall now lie buried below the floor of the new Woolworths store.
By the end of the C18 the wall had become the back walls of tenement houses built on the line of the city ditch. The course of the city wall today is identified by the streets known as the Lower and Upper Borough Walls. Until recent years the N, S, and W walls were known as the 'Rampires'. It is not known when the walls were built. The Saxon defences probably consisted of a bank and ditch, possibly incorporating the remains of the Roman wall. Domesday Book, 1086, makes no reference to fortifications at Bath. The next mention of the defences occurs in 1138, by which time the walls had been built. King Stephen ordered them to be heightened and outworks constructed.
The medieval city wall was located during excavations in 1951 by the Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society, and in 1961 by Michael Owen (PastScape– ref. Wedlake, 1966)

Site of Anglo-Saxon town burh of 1000 hides. Some repairs recorded in early C13 and in 1369 the mayor and bailiff were given powers to levy the inhabitants and enforce work on the walls.
Links to archaeological and architectural databases, mapping and other online resources

Data >
PastScape   County HER   Scheduling   Listing   I. O. E.
Maps >
Streetmap   NLS maps   Where's the path   Old-Maps      
Data/Maps > 
Magic   V. O. B.   Geology   LiDAR   Open Domesday  
Air Photos > 
Bing Maps   Google Maps   Getmapping   ZoomEarth      
Photos >
CastleFacts   Geograph   Flickr   Panoramio      

Sources of information, references and further reading
Most of the sites or buildings recorded in this web site are NOT open to the public and permission to visit a site must always be sought from the landowner or tenant.
It is an offence to disturb a Scheduled Monument without consent. It is a destruction of everyone's heritage to remove archaeological evidence from ANY site without proper recording and reporting.
Don't use metal detectors on historic sites without authorisation.
The information on this web page may be derived from information compiled by and/or copyright of Historic England, County Historic Environment Records and other individuals and organisations. It may also contain information licensed under the Open Government Licence. All the sources given should be consulted to identify the original copyright holder and permission obtained from them before use of the information on this site for commercial purposes.
The author and compiler of Gatehouse does not receive any income from the site and funds it himself. The information within this site is provided freely for educational purposes only.
The bibliography owes much to various bibliographies produced by John Kenyon for the Council for British Archaeology, the Castle Studies Group and others.
Suggestions for finding online and/or hard copies of bibliographical sources can be seen at this link.
Minor archaeological investigations, such as watching brief reports, and some other 'grey' literature is most likely to be held by H.E.R.s but is often poorly referenced and is unlikely to be recorded here, or elsewhere, but some suggestions can be found here.
The possible site or monument is represented on maps as a point location. This is a guide only. It should be noted that OS grid references defines an area, not a point location. In practice this means the actual center of the site or monument may often, but not always, be to the North East of the point shown. Locations derived from OS grid references and from latitude longitiude may differ by a small distance.
Further information on mapping and location can be seen at this link.
Please help to make this as useful a resource as possible by contacting Gatehouse if you see errors, can add information or have suggestions for improvements in functality and design.
Help is acknowledged.
*The listed building may not be the actual medieval building, but a building on the site of, or incorporating fragments of, the described site.
This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:28

Home | Books | Links | Fortifications and Castles | Other Information | Help | Downloads | Author Information | Contact