Derry's Walls

Map Reference: C435167 (2435,4167)

Derry City was first fortified in 1600 when Sir H Dowcra was put in charge by Mountjoy. However, the fortifications failed to withstand an attack by the Irish in 1608. When King James 1 granted the area to the London Guilds , known collectively as The Honourable the Irish Society, it was on the understand that they would built a new fortified city, which would be called Londonderry. Between 1613 and 1618 they laid out a settlement in a regular rectangular pattern. In the centre was the Diamond with a market house or tholsel.

The town was bounded by a substantial wall about 1.5km in length and varying in height from about 6 to 7.5m, and in width from about 4 to 8m. There were originally four gates set at the ends of the streets which met at the diamond. They were Bishop Gate, Butcher Gate, Ferryquay Gate and Shipquay Gate. Bishop Gate was rebuilt in 1789 and three more gates, Magazine Gate, New Gate and Castle Gate, were added in the succeeding century. Most of the gates survive although there have been alterations to accommodate modern traffic. Five bastions survive intact and there are remains of two others.

There are also two watch towers, or guerites, on the wall near St Columbís Cathedral, which was built in 1633. The tholsel was an arcaded market house which also served as a town hall. It was built in 1622 and suffered considerable damage during the 1689 siege. It was repaired and modified, but subsequently demolished.

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