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Leicester Town Wall

In the civil parish of Leicester.
In the historic county of Leicestershire.
Modern Authority of Leicester; City of.
1974 county of Leicestershire.
Medieval County of Leicestershire.

OS Map Grid Reference: SK585040
Latitude 52.63245° Longitude -1.13777°

Leicester Town Wall has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are no visible remains.


No remains of medieval town wall based on and extended from Roman wall. Said to be raised in 1174. (Bond)

The Medieval Town defences of Leicester were built in the 13th century, were ruinous by 1587 and are now entirely buried. The walls were built with some reused Roman masonry. (PastScape)

Murage grants in 1286, 1291 and 1316.

'Detailed accounts, as well as leases of gates and towers, suggest that building work was far more extensive than the (three) murage grants suggest.' (Turner)

Legecestria is a most wealthy city, and emcompast with an indissoluble wall, of which if the foundation were strong and good, the place would be inferiour to no city whatsever. That the walls, being faulty in the foundations, when they were undermind, and the props burnt that supported them, fell in great pieces, which remain to this day in the shape of rocks for bigness and solidity; such was the indissoluble tenacity of the morter. (Matthew Paris)

For the story of the defences in the post-Roman period one has to turn to documentary evidence, but even this is meagre. The first mention of the defences is the account of the sack of Leicester in 1173 when Henry II ordered the destruction of the castle and town defences. It is generally thought that the damage to the walls would have been localised and limited; the recorded expenditure on the demolition are two payments of only 11s 9d and 40s and there is no mention of any major reconstruction works. The recent excavations revealed a localised area of wall destruction that might be one of the 12th century breaches. The near-contemporary account by Matthew Paris describes how the walls were sapped and then toppled by burning the timber props. At Westbridge wharf the granite footings of the town wall survived intact for most of the length revealed, except for a short stretch. Here there were signs of conflagration with fire reddened earth and fire-cracked foundation stones.
The gates were removed because they interfered with trade. The towns hay markets was held outside the walls from before this because of this problem. Large hay carts would have great difficulty getting through medieval gateways and even small carts could get stuck; horse drawn vehicles are not particularly manoeuvrable. The size of horses and carts increased throughout the medieval period.
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This record last updated 15/08/2017 15:56:48

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