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Some Noted Walled Towns page 2

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The wall defences of Norwich were tested time after time during the revolts in the Middle Ages. Yet the influx of Flemish weavers in the fourteenth century, and again under Elizabeth, so increased the city's activity that its limits were fast outgrown. There survive the Boom Towers, some portions of S. Martin's Gate, and long sections of walls. The brick Cow Tower, used as a priory toll-house and then as a cathedral gaol, was resigned to the town and restored in 1390. With the flint Black Tower and some others, it still stands.

King's Lynn had walls protected by a ditch, and the foundations were strengthened with constructional arches on the marshland side. There still remain considerable sections of walling, and the South gate of 1437, with its lofty portal, is well preserved after centuries of use.

On the eastern coast a Roman camp at the mouth of the Yare attested the early importance of a site which became the headquarters of the herring fishery, controlled for centuries by the Cinque Ports. The burgesses of Yarmouth secured from Henry III a charter to build a wall, which after many years of delay was begun. By the fourteenth century it stood complete with a circuit of one and a quarter miles, sixteen towers, and twelve portcullised gates. There remain to this day many fragments of walls, gateways and mural towers.

Roman York is described elsewhere (p. 795). Its mural defences, comparable with Chester's but less lofty, arose at the behest of Edward III on a mourd which represented post-Roman fortifications agairst Pict and Scot. Their circuit of 4,840 yards, greatly surpassing the 1,970 yards of the circumvallation of Eboracum, was preceded by an abbey walling under Henry III, of which two angle-towers remain. York still retains its principal gates; Monk Bar, the tallest, Walmgate Bar, with an Edwardian barbican, the Bootham Bar on the site of a Roman portal, and the Micklegate Bar. There are also a fourteenth-century postern, and others. Between the fourteenth-century brick Red Tower and the Layerthorpe Bridge lay an unwalled stretch where the Fosse, like the Wensum at Norwich, was protected by a river chain.

Newcstle grew up around the castle built by the Conqueror's eldest son. This was replaced by the twelfth-century keep and the later Blackgate of the castle, both still standing. When the first Edward sanctioned a town wall he at first intended to use the fortified enclosure as a base, as was being done in the new castellated towns in Wales. But the line was afterwards replanned to open out a corridor to the quay, for readier access to the river traffic. Yet the proximity of the Scottish menace caused military considerations to prevail in the town walling. This may be seen in the solid square buttress-towers along the length of a furlong which remains in good preservation to this day.

A new spirit now animates most ancient borough corporations, fostered by enlightened public opinion. Under the Ancient Monuments Protection Acts the Office of Works have scheduled town walls, and parts of them, as well as town gates, in Canterbury, Southampton, Winchester, Chester, Lincoln, Norwich, Lynn, Yarmouth, York, Chepstow, Colchester, Rye and Winchelsea, together with Denbigh, Conway, Tenby, Carnarvon and Pembroke. It is fitting that these old walls, among the most interesting relics of the past in our land, should be preserved.

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