In 1608 the small town of Derry, once named Doire meaning Oakgrove, was in ruins after the onslaught by the Irish rebellion against the invasion of the English. Elizabeth 1 ordered the building of walls to safeguard a new town against powerful local chiefs trying to recapture their lands. So between 1613 and 1618 the City of London Companies funded the building of the city’s walls to bring thick, strong defences for the people within. To repay the London Companies for this, the prefix London was set against Derry and so became Londonderry.
Built of local limestone the walls are 1.5 kilometres long and in places up to 8 metres high. Originally there were 4 gates with portcullis and drawbridge and later 3 more were added to accommodate a growing population and more traffic. Built out from the walls are two platforms and eight bastions. Some of these held up to four cannon, many of which have been carefully restored and now sit on field carriages as if ready for firing.
In testament to those early builders, the walls have never been breached even with the sustained pounding by cannonballs, other weapons of war and tunneling which occurred during the siege, hence the name, The Maiden City.
The walls provide a full circuit to stroll around that has history at every step and also a viewpoint for every aspect of the City of Derry/Londonderry and beyond. The walkway passes over the original gates, by watchtowers and many ancient buildings including churches, chapels and cathedrals.