Cookie Consent by

Receipt for the building of Cow Tower

Location: Cow Tower, Cotman Fields, Norwich, Norfolk, NR1 4AA

Map showing location of Cow Tower

Cow Tower gets its name from 'Cowholme', the name for the meadow that was here before the tower was built. The tower was built for defence purposes in 1398, and is an early example of purpose-built artillery blockhouses. It is also considered a very good example of medieval brickwork.

Listen to the poem

Read the poem

One hundred and seventy cartloads 
of sheep to be delivered 
to the hospital meadows for softness, 
and a winch to hoist the horses up as the tower rises. 
Three boats of hens for filling the small gaps, 
a sack of goats, hard and flinty, 
six bushels of picked geese. 
Thirty-six thousand eight hundred 
and fifty cows, pressed dry and square 
and raised to hold in the geese and sheep 
and hens and goats, tall and solid 
against the butterflies and wasps 
and poppies forcing their way 
across the river. 
Thirty-six pounds for the labours
and animals, an ox’s ability to predict 
the weather a sure hold against
the rain of arrows, the grass
and the cowherd lost to make room
for the hiss and bang of gunpowder, 
a pause in the lapping of water
at the bend in the Wensum, 
where if you’re quiet, for a minute, 
you can hear the hooves
escaping through the tower’s
now-open roof.

Follow the trail

Go to Bishop Bridge for poem 14: At the end of the jurisdiction of the City of Norwich