Imposing structures, town walls were made for defensive reasons but also had symbolic significance.

Some medieval towns were protected by walls and other defensive structures

Medieval urban defences

Dr Robert Higham and Professor Oliver Creighton

Compared with medieval castles, defended towns of the medieval period have received relatively little academic attention in recent years. But, while they may seem a less glamorous subject than castles, they have just as much to tell us about the military, social and economic life of the middle ages. Towns might certainly be enclosed in order to provide security and to provide for possible defence. But town walls and gates were also potent symbols of urban wealth and of the separation of urban from rural society. Many towns, on the other hand, had no walls at all. A re-evaluation of of this fascinating subject, which is still part of our present townscapes, built environment and heritage, is the subject of a new book currently being written by Drs Robert Higham and Oliver Creighton.