In medieval England, at least 144 towns and cities had some kind of fortifications, representing around 20% of urban settlements. Many of these walls dated back to the time of the Romans. While many of these walls were used for defence, they also served commercial purposes, such as collecting tariffs from traders entering the city. Compared to the rest of Europe, England had relatively few fortified cities. This was likely due to the country’s stability and lack of significant threats after the Norman conquest. As a result, many city walls fell into disrepair and were demolished in the 16th century, with the exception of a few northern fortifications built during the English Civil War.
Today, the remaining city walls serve as a legacy of English urban history and are often preserved as important cultural landmarks. In this episode, we take a deep dive into the walls of York, Chester, Berwick upon Tweed, Southampton, London and more, exploring their history and legacy in detail.