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Swansea Town Walls

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Abertawe; Seinhenydd; Sueineshea; Suenesel; Swinesey; Sweyneseye; Swyneseye

In the community of Castle.
In the historic county of Glamorgan.
Modern authority of Swansea.
Preserved county of West Glamorgan.

OS Map Grid Reference: SS657929
Latitude 51.61911° Longitude -3.94286°

Swansea Town Walls has been described as a certain Urban Defence.

There are masonry footings remains.


In his charter of 1306, William de Bros promised not to take a murage tax (for wall building) from the burgesses of Swansea without their consent. In 1317 and again in 1328, the King gave the burgesses the right to charge tolls on goods coming into Swansea and to use the money to build walls or pave streets.
Swansea's town walls were standing, at least partially, by 1332, when St. David's Hospital was established, as it was given plots of land "next to the wall of Sweynes".
A deed of 1499 speaks of a burgage plot "extending to the high road called Frog Street on the north, and as far as the Town Ditch to the south". The boundaries of two burgages in Frog Street and Fisher Street (1449) were formed by the Town Ditch.
A gate may have existed in the defences at the point where Frog Street joined Wassail Street, as Cromwell's 1650 survey of Swansea refers to "Wassal Street, without the gate", and an entry in the town Account Books for 1658 records the disbursement of 11s 2d "for 28 bushells of lime to mend the old gate at Wasell Street".
Swansea's town walls, gates and the town ditch appear in records through to the start of the eighteenth century.
The town defences subsequently disappeared during redevelopment of the medieval town. Specific features which have been rediscovered during development and excavations are referenced by the PRNs cross referenced to this one.
There is no visible evidence of the walls above ground but two murage grants are recorded in 1317 and 1338. John Pencok's land grant of 1498 describes the "town fosse" as lying west of his land. Morgan (1899) proposed that the wall followed the old bailey wall along College Street and turning south to Waterloo Street (formely called Old Walls). Excavations have exposed sections of the wall in several places. The corner house to the north-west of Church Street in 1897. In 1926 two sections were revealed in Quay Street and a 20 foot high wall with half a round tower during demolition in King Street and Welcome Lane. Jones thought it be part of the town wall and Llewelyn Morgan considered that it may be 14th century. It runs in line with the Castle wall and another similar section runs south from King's Street. A flight of steps had been built against the tower from the High Steet to the Strand. Excavation in the 1970s (SS656934) revealed a 20 metre section of the town ditch running e-w under King's lane. The ditch was U shaped in section with a narrow bottom 30 cms wide, 3 metres below the present surface. It contained pottery sherds, shellfish and iron slag. Further work revealed that the ditch cut through an earlier Medieval ditch also U shaped and 2.5 metres south. A Medieval sherd was also found in this earlier ditch. Excavation at SS 65529295 revealed the walls at Whitewalls. Eight and twelve courses of the wall survived. It was constructed of roughly dressed local stone and was 1.09m wide with a ditch in front about 10 metres wide. East of it were the foundations of a building running parallel with it. Finds include 13th - 14th century pottery. (Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust HER)

Murage grants are recorded for AD 1317 and 1338 for the town of Swansea. The defences of Swansea have been demolished (apart from one possible tower) and most of their line built over. However, excavation has revealed much of their extent and form. The grant of murage in 1338 was cancelled after 4 months because it was provoking the threat of violent attack on the town by disgruntled tax payers. The walls seem to have been built in the early C14 and to be standing by 1332. The area enclosed was fairly extensive. Swansea was a prosperous medieval town and seems to have been able to fund the maintenance of the town walls from normal town incomes without the surtax of murage.
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This record last updated 28/06/2017 18:13:03