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Travelogue G15

January 5, 2016

In the interest of precision, I should now note that I was not so much before the Wall as above, across from or merely near. Given its contemporary existence as isolated elements and fragments, it was beyond me to establish, at a glance, the Wall’s bearing. I gave myself over to contemplating the piece then before me, the remains of a tower perhaps ten meters in height. I would have approached to inspect more closely, but between the tower and myself lay a black railing and a small passage of water, heavy with reeds. Although there ran behind the tower a paved footpath, I would have had no more luck there as green gate and fence barred entry.

So, I leaned on the black railing and contented myself with what I could see the other side of the inlet. If I had recognized it as a medieval tower, this owed to the preservation of similar structures in my adopted home, far from the plains. Certainly, the appearance differed. A base of large stones and mortared joints supported a second band of smaller, tan stones through which the occasional lookout or window linked the air inside with that out. Upon these two lower bands had been raised a third of larger, light-grey stone. From the red patches since revealed to the open air, it was clear that a brick construction backed and provided structure to this uppermost band.

At two-thirds of the tower’s height bulged a ring of long stones, laid horizontally. It gave me to think that the ring marked what had once been the crown, three meters or so below where the wall now ended. Along with the change in color and material, everything lent itself to the observation that the builders had added to the tower with the passing years and had made it higher and stronger as medieval London outgrew bounded Londininum in population and scale.

This led me to a further conclusion. Where one tower had stood, a wall had surely joined, for, contrary to my stairwell reverie, towers did not simply rise in isolation. So, the thoroughfare bearing the name “London Wall” undoubtedly ran in the space opened up by its removal. It occurred to me that, if one fragment had survived, perhaps others had as well. It seemed worth the limited time which remained to me that morning to set off deeper into the heart of the 1960’s era, brick housing complex in the court of which I then stood.

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