The watchers and the watched
There have been watchers on the walls for centuries. In 1627 two watch towers were built near the Cathedral after the guards complained about having to do duty in the rain. In the 19th century the bastions became gardens and most watch towers were demolished: one still survives near here. During the Troubles the British army erected sangars close to the walls to watch over the city. The towers combined accommodation for soldiers with high technology communications equipment which allowed them to see for miles. The sangar in Bishop Street, part of the wider Border control, was clad in stone to 'blend in' with the historic townscape.
Looking in, looking out
In 1987 artist Antony Gormley installed three cast iron figures on the walls as part of a temporary exhibition. One side of each figure looked into the city and the other out towards the Fountain, the Bogside and Ebrington Barracks. The figure represented the two communities divided by religion, culture and politics but united by faith and by being members of the human race. The hollow eye sockets invited the viewer to explore the two opposing landscapes. The figures provoked strong local reaction. At the end of the exhibition the figures that stood here were sold. Gormley gifted one figure to the city which now stands outside the Millennium Forum.
A maze of tunnels runs under the city. They were built in the 17th century to allow soldiers to move around without having to go above ground. The sally port or entrance to the Wapping Tunnel, which led to the Cathedral can still be seen near here on the outside of the walls.
Restoring the cannon
All the surviving cannon have been restored to their original glory in the last decade, including these two guns gifted by the Merchant Taylors' Company of London in 1642. Craftsmen cleared the barrels of centuries of rubbish including parts of a clay pipe, a George III penny, an American cent, a pocket watch, three glass marbles and the bones of a small rodent. Roaring Meg was relieved of 'litres of malodorous soup' which had accumulated in her bore. Stripped of layers of paint and corrosion, the cannon were bathed, sponged and accurately mounted on field carriages of a mid-17th century design.