Roman Wall at Bishopsgate

Above: Looking west in the gardens to the south of St Botolph Without Bishopsgate. The tennis courts in the distance are beside a yellow-brick wall. That wall is on the south side of where the Roman Wall once stood. This is a ground-level view of the lower image taken from Google Maps.

Either side of Bishopsgate, the two streets called Camomile Street and Wormwood Street run at strange angles for a very simple reason –their line followed the ancient Roman Wall. To the east, Camomile Street (whose SE extension becomes Bevis Marks and then Duke’s Place) followed the line of the Roman Wall on the inside, with Houndsditch following the line on the outside. The latter street was so-named – according to John Stow – because people threw dead dogs into the ditch that formed a further defence for the wall. Similarly, to the west, Wormwood Street followed the line of the Roman wall on the inside. Due to St Botolph Without Bishopsgate being so close to the outside of the Roman Wall, no street formed on the outside the wall. However, it is believed that the ditch continued to the west of the gate called Bishopsgate.

Sadly, no trace of the Roman Wall can be seen above ground today. Modern buildings stand over the line of the wall to the east of Bishopsgate (Street). To the west, the line of wall runs beside the gardens to the south of St Botolph but there is no evidence above the ground. There was a section of wall at this point in about 1810. We know this because there are prints showing the wall itself. What happened to it after that time is not known.

Above: Line of the Roman Wall (dotted line) plotted onto a section from Google Maps.

In the image from Google Maps, a dotted line has been drawn where the line of the Roman Wall would be. The view looks south, with St Botolph’s church and tower on the left of the view. It is necessary to show the view looking south because the line of the Roman Wall runs close to the back of the four-storey buildings lining Wormwood Street. The ‘gap’ in the dotted line – where Bishopsgate (Street) is to be seen – would have been where the Roman gate was situated.

Some years ago, the Museum of London decided that there should be a greater public awareness of where the Roman Wall used to stand. They installed about 20 information plaques at relevant sites – especially at points where the Roman gates stood. It seems that the museum plaque for Bishopsgate has been removed.


This entry was posted in /City-Bishopsgate, /Roman Wall (c1). Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Roman Wall at Bishopsgate

  1. Amy says:

    The museum plaque here was lost as a result of the IRA bombing that took place here in the 90s. There also used to be two of the bishops’ mitres (one on each side of the street) but I haven’t been able to determine why the eastern one has disappeared. I’m assuming it’s connected to construction.


  2. Yes, that is true. Those points were covered under the earlier blog titled ‘Bishopsgate (Gate). If you have a photo of the Museum of London plaque then please let me know. You could send a copy to the email address to be found under ‘About’ (on the black bar under the image at the top of page).


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