Chichester's City Walls were built by the Romans in the late 3rd century and, uniquely in Britain, most of their original core remains intact.
Most of what you can see now is the result of 18th and 19th century restoration. The original Roman structures are hidden underneath.
The original Roman town did not have walls. The Walls were built in the later as a mark of civic pride and distinctiveness.
They were a large and impressive structure visible from the sea. The main wall was 7m high, with 14m high bastions added at a later stage every 50m apart. There were four gateways at the North, East, South and West points with two continuous ditches to the front, later replaced by a single, much deeper ditch.
Some of the material to build the Walls came from West Sussex, although much of the stone came from further a-field.
From War to Peace
Following the collapse of the Roman Empire Chichester was abandoned until the Walls were needed by the Saxons as a defence against the Vikings.
During later Saxon times the City Walls were important in protecting the Royal Burgh of Chichester and its Royal Mint.
During the Norman period Chichester became an administrative and ecclesiastical centre with well-defended City Walls, a castle and cathedral. Much of the facing stone from the Roman Walls was used at this time for building within the city.
Throughout the medieval period the City Walls were in turn neglected and refurbished as a defence and refuge, usually against the French or civil unrest.
The City Walls had a significant role in the Civil war. The siege of Chichester resulted in them being bombarded and captured by the Parliamentarians under General Waller. Afterwards the Walls were never used for defence again.
During the Georgian period the gateways and most of the bastions were taken down to make space for development.
Parks and Promenades
From the Georgian period onwards the City Walls found a new civic role as a focus for leisure and recreation.
The remaining stretches of walls were made into a popular promenade, whilst interest in the Walls as a historic monument grew.
The Victorians further stabilised the City Walls for walking, making repairs, planting trees and landscaping Priory Park.
The Walls are now an important leisure resource, and are a good place to appreciate Chichester's trees, parks and gardens.
Protecting the Walls
From the 18th Century onwards the Walls have been recognised and protected for their historic and heritage value.
Interest in 'antiquities' in general grew and some local people became concerned for the first time about protecting the remains of the City Walls.
The Walls were substantially repaired and restored during the Victorian era - much of what you can see now are external repairs from this time.
In the 20th century the Walls became a feature in local planning and transport development issues for the first time. The Chichester Society was founded and the Chichester Walls Walk Trust became active in conserving and promoting them.
The City Walls Partnership was set up in 2006 to protect and promote the Walls, and is a new chapter in their story.
You can help protect the walls by joining the Chichester Walls Walk Trust or making your views known to your local councillor.