Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Lincoln Castle

Lincoln Castle

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Lincoln Castle'
Start a new discussion about 'Lincoln Castle'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Lincoln Castle is a major castle constructed in Lincoln, England during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror on the site of a pre-existing Roman
Roman Britain
Roman Britain was the part of the island of Great Britain controlled by the Roman Empire from AD 43 until ca. AD 410.The Romans referred to the imperial province as Britannia, which eventually comprised all of the island of Great Britain south of the fluid frontier with Caledonia...

 fortress. The castle is unusual in that it has two motte
Motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

s. It is only one of two such castles in the country, the other being at Lewes
Lewes Castle
Lewes Castle stands at the highest point of Lewes, East Sussex, England on an artificial mound constructed with chalk blocks. It was originally called Bray Castle.-History:...

 in Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

. Lincoln Castle remained in use as a prison
Prison
A prison is a place in which people are physically confined and, usually, deprived of a range of personal freedoms. Imprisonment or incarceration is a legal penalty that may be imposed by the state for the commission of a crime...

 and law court into modern times, and is one of the better preserved castles in England; the Crown Courts continue to this day. It is open to the public as a museum
Museum
A museum is an institution that cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, cultural, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities...

.

Norman castle



When William the Conqueror defeated Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson
Harold Godwinson was the last Anglo-Saxon King of England.It could be argued that Edgar the Atheling, who was proclaimed as king by the witan but never crowned, was really the last Anglo-Saxon king...

 and the English at The Battle of Hastings on the 14 October 1066, he continued to face resistance to his rule in the north of England. For a number of years, William's position was very insecure. In order to project his influence northwards to control the people of 'Danelaw' (an area traditionally under the control of Scandinavia
Scandinavia
Scandinavia is a cultural, historical and ethno-linguistic region in northern Europe that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, characterized by their common ethno-cultural heritage and language. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula,...

n settlers), he constructed a number of major castles in the north and midlands of England. It was at this time that the new king built major castles at Warwick
Warwick Castle
Warwick Castle is a medieval castle in Warwick, the county town of Warwickshire, England. It sits on a bend on the River Avon. The castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068 within or adjacent to the Anglo-Saxon burh of Warwick. It was used as a fortification until the early 17th century,...

, Nottingham
Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle is a castle in Nottingham, England. It is located in a commanding position on a natural promontory known as "'Castle Rock'", with cliffs high to the south and west. In the Middle Ages it was a major royal fortress and occasional royal residence...

 and York
York Castle
York Castle in the city of York, England, is a fortified complex comprising, over the last nine centuries, a sequence of castles, prisons, law courts and other buildings on the south side of the River Foss. The now-ruinous keep of the medieval Norman castle is sometimes referred to as Clifford's...

. After gaining control of York, the Conqueror turned southwards and arrived at the Roman and Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 city of Lincoln.

When William reached Lincoln (one of the country's major settlements), he found a Viking commercial and trading centre with a population of 6,000 to 8,000. The remains of the old Roman walled fortress located 60 metres (200 ft) above the countryside to the south and west, proved an ideal strategic position to construct a new castle. Also, Lincoln represented a vital strategic crossroads of the following routes (largely the same routes which influenced the siting of the Roman fort):
  • Ermine Street
    Ermine Street
    Ermine Street is the name of a major Roman road in England that ran from London to Lincoln and York . The Old English name was 'Earninga Straete' , named after a tribe called the Earningas, who inhabited a district later known as Armingford Hundred, around Arrington, Cambridgeshire and Royston,...

     - a major Roman road and the Kingdom's principal north-south route connecting London and York.
  • Fosse Way
    Fosse Way
    The Fosse Way was a Roman road in England that linked Exeter in South West England to Lincoln in Lincolnshire, via Ilchester , Bath , Cirencester and Leicester .It joined Akeman Street and Ermin Way at Cirencester, crossed Watling Street at Venonis south...

     - another important Roman route connecting Lincoln with the city of Leicester
    Leicester
    Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

     and the south-west of England
  • The Valley of the River Trent
    River Trent
    The River Trent is one of the major rivers of England. Its source is in Staffordshire on the southern edge of Biddulph Moor. It flows through the Midlands until it joins the River Ouse at Trent Falls to form the Humber Estuary, which empties into the North Sea below Hull and Immingham.The Trent...

     (to the west and southwest) - a major river affording access to the River Ouse
    River Ouse, Yorkshire
    The River Ouse is a river in North Yorkshire, England. The river is formed from the River Ure at Cuddy Shaw Reach near Linton-on-Ouse, about 6 miles downstream of the confluence of the River Swale with the River Ure...

    , and thus the major city of York.
  • The River Witham
    River Witham
    The River Witham is a river, almost entirely in the county of Lincolnshire, in the east of England. It rises south of Grantham close to South Witham, at SK8818, passes Lincoln at SK9771 and at Boston, TF3244, flows into The Haven, a tidal arm of The Wash, near RSPB Frampton Marsh...

     - a waterway that afforded access to both the Rivers Trent (via the Fossdyke
    Foss Dyke
    The Foss Dyke, or Fossdyke, connects the River Trent at Torksey to Lincoln, the county town of Lincolnshire, and may be the oldest canal in England that is still in use. It is usually thought to have been built around 120 AD by the Romans, but there is no consensus among authors...

     Roman canal at Torksey) and the North Sea via The Wash
    The Wash
    The Wash is the square-mouthed bay and estuary on the northwest margin of East Anglia on the east coast of England, where Norfolk meets Lincolnshire. It is among the largest estuaries in the United Kingdom...

    .
  • The Lincolnshire Wolds
    Lincolnshire Wolds
    The Lincolnshire Wolds is a range of hills in the county of Lincolnshire, England. It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty , and the highest area of land in eastern England between Yorkshire and Kent...

     - an upland area to the northeast of Lincoln, which overlooks the Lincolnshire Marsh
    Lincolnshire Marsh
    The Lincolnshire Marsh is a belt of reclaimed salt marsh and sand dune in Lincolnshire, England and between the Lincolnshire Wolds and the North Sea coast. It is up to seven kilometres wide.-Geology:...

     beyond.


A castle here could guard several of the main strategic routes and form part of a network of strongholds of the Norman kingdom, in Danish Mercia
Mercia
Mercia was one of the kingdoms of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. It was centred on the valley of the River Trent and its tributaries in the region now known as the English Midlands...

, roughly the area of the country that is today referred to as the East Midlands
East Midlands
The East Midlands is one of the regions of England, consisting of most of the eastern half of the traditional region of the Midlands. It encompasses the combined area of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Northamptonshire and most of Lincolnshire...

, to control the country internally. Also (in the case of the Wolds) it could form a center from which troops could be sent to repel Scandinavian landings anywhere on the coast from the Trent to the Welland
River Welland
The River Welland is a river in the east of England, some long. It rises in the Hothorpe Hills, at Sibbertoft in Northamptonshire, then flows generally northeast to Market Harborough, Stamford and Spalding, to reach The Wash near Fosdyke. For much of its length it forms the county boundary between...

, to a large extent, by using the roads which the Romans had constructed for the same purpose.

The castle was built in the south-west corner of the upper walled town, the remainder of which was occupied by the town. The Domesday Book
Domesday Book
Domesday Book , now held at The National Archives, Kew, Richmond upon Thames in South West London, is the record of the great survey of much of England and parts of Wales completed in 1086...

 entry for Lincoln records that of the 1164 residences in the city, 166 were demolished to make way for the castle. Of the 1164 pre-Conquest residences, perhaps 600 will have been in the upper town.

Work on the new fortification was completed in 1068. It is probable that at first a wooden keep was constructed which was later replaced with a much stronger stone one. Lincoln castle is very unusual in having two motte
Motte-and-bailey
A motte-and-bailey is a form of castle, with a wooden or stone keep situated on a raised earthwork called a motte, accompanied by an enclosed courtyard, or bailey, surrounded by a protective ditch and palisade...

s, the only other surviving example of such a design being at Lewes
Lewes Castle
Lewes Castle stands at the highest point of Lewes, East Sussex, England on an artificial mound constructed with chalk blocks. It was originally called Bray Castle.-History:...

. To the south, where the Roman wall stands on the edge of a steep slope, it was retained partially as a curtain wall and partially as a revetment retaining the mottes. In the west, where the ground is more level, the Roman wall was buried within an earth rampart and extended upward to form the Norman castle wall. The Roman west gate (on the same site as the castle's westgate) was excavated in the 19th century but began to collapse on exposure, and so was re-buried.

1141: First Battle of Lincoln



The castle was the focus of attention during the First Battle of Lincoln which occurred on 2 February 1141, during the struggle between King Stephen
Stephen of England
Stephen , often referred to as Stephen of Blois , was a grandson of William the Conqueror. He was King of England from 1135 to his death, and also the Count of Boulogne by right of his wife. Stephen's reign was marked by the Anarchy, a civil war with his cousin and rival, the Empress Matilda...

 and Empress Maud over who should be monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 in England. It was held but damaged, and a new tower, called the Lucy Tower, was built.

1216: Second Battle of Lincoln


Lincoln Castle was again the site of a siege followed by the Second Battle of Lincoln, on 20 May 1217, during the reign of King John
John of England
John , also known as John Lackland , was King of England from 6 April 1199 until his death...

 in the course of the First Barons' War
First Barons' War
The First Barons' War was a civil war in the Kingdom of England, between a group of rebellious barons—led by Robert Fitzwalter and supported by a French army under the future Louis VIII of France—and King John of England...

. This was the period of political struggle which led to the signing of Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

 on June 15, 1215. After this, a new barbican
Barbican
A barbican, from medieval Latin barbecana, signifying the "outer fortification of a city or castle," with cognates in the Romance languages A barbican, from medieval Latin barbecana, signifying the "outer fortification of a city or castle," with cognates in the Romance languages A barbican, from...

 was built onto the west and east gates.

Post-medieval


As in Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

 and other places, the castle was used as a secure site in which to establish a prison. At Lincoln, the prison Gaol was built in 1787 and extended in 1847. Imprisoned debtors were allowed some social contact but the regime for criminals was designed to be one of isolation, according to the separate system
Separate system
The Separate system is a form of prison management based on the principle of keeping prisoners in solitary confinement. When first introduced in the early 19th century, the objective of such a prison or "penitentiary" was that of penance by the prisoners through silent reflection, as much as that...

. Consequently, the seating in the prison chapel is designed to enclose each prisoner individually so that the preacher could see everyone but each could see only him. By 1878 the system was discredited and the inmates were transferred to the new jail in the eastern outskirts of Lincoln. The prison in the castle was left without a use until the Lincolnshire Archives
Lincolnshire Archives
Lincolnshire Archives is the county record office of Lincolnshire, England. It was established as a county service in 1948 by the Lincolnshire Archives Committee, which had been formally constituted on 24 October 1947 with Sir Sir Robert Pattinson as chairman...

 were housed in its cells.

William Marwood
William Marwood
William Marwood was a hangman for the British government. He developed the technique of hanging known as the "long drop".-Early life:Marwood was originally a cobbler, of Church Lane, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England.-Executioner:...

, the 19th century hangman
Hangman
Hangman may refer to:* Hangman, an executioner who carries out a death sentence by hanging* Hangman , a game of guessing a word or phrase one letter at a timeIn literature:* Hangman , an enemy of Batman...

, carried out his first execution at Lincoln. He used the long drop
Hanging
Hanging is the lethal suspension of a person by a ligature. The Oxford English Dictionary states that hanging in this sense is "specifically to put to death by suspension by the neck", though it formerly also referred to crucifixion and death by impalement in which the body would remain...

, designed to break the victim's neck rather than to strangle him, to execute Fred Horry
William Frederick Horry
William Frederick Horry, also known as Fred Horry was the first person to be hanged by Victorian hangman William Marwood, and the first to fall using the long drop method. He was hanged at Lincoln Castle, Lincoln, England on 1 April 1872, aged 28, for the murder of his wife, Jane Horry. Related to...

 in 1872. Until 1868, prisoners had been publicly hanged on the mural tower at the north-east corner of the curtain wall, overlooking the upper town.

Present day


Lincoln castle remains one of the most impressive Norman castles in the United Kingdom. It is still possible to walk around the immense 12th century walls with its ramparts providing a magnificent view of the castle complex, together with panoramic views of the cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral is a historic Anglican cathedral in Lincoln in England and seat of the Bishop of Lincoln in the Church of England. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 249 years . The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt...

, the city, and the surrounding countryside.

Another attraction is the opportunity to see one of the four surviving originals of the Magna Carta
Magna Carta
Magna Carta is an English charter, originally issued in the year 1215 and reissued later in the 13th century in modified versions, which included the most direct challenges to the monarch's authority to date. The charter first passed into law in 1225...

, sealed by King John after his meeting with the Barons at Runnymede
Runnymede
Runnymede is a water-meadow alongside the River Thames in the English county of Berkshire, and just over west of central London. It is notable for its association with the sealing of Magna Carta, and as a consequence is the site of a collection of memorials...

 in 1215, a document which is now housed within Lincoln castle. There is also an accompanying exhibition, explaining the origin of the Magna Carta and its far reaching effects. Parts of the prison are also open as a museum, including the 19th century chapel, which is the only original chapel designed for the 'Separate System' (every seat is enclosed) left in the world today. The women's wing of the prison opened to visitors in 2005.

In the castle grounds are the graves of those executed here for various crimes. They have simple markers featuring only the initials of the condemned and the date of death. William Frederick Horry
William Frederick Horry
William Frederick Horry, also known as Fred Horry was the first person to be hanged by Victorian hangman William Marwood, and the first to fall using the long drop method. He was hanged at Lincoln Castle, Lincoln, England on 1 April 1872, aged 28, for the murder of his wife, Jane Horry. Related to...

 is buried in the Lucy Tower, along with many other criminals' graves.

The grounds also contain remains of Lincoln's Eleanor cross
Eleanor cross
The Eleanor crosses were twelve originally wooden, but later lavishly decorated stone, monuments of which three survive intact in a line down part of the east of England. King Edward I had the crosses erected between 1291 and 1294 in memory of his wife Eleanor of Castile, marking the nightly...

, an oriel window
Oriel window
Oriel windows are a form of bay window commonly found in Gothic architecture, which project from the main wall of the building but do not reach to the ground. Corbels or brackets are often used to support this kind of window. They are seen in combination with the Tudor arch. This type of window was...

 moved from Sutton Hall and incorporated into the main gate, and the Bust of George III.

At the western end of the castle is an ivy clad building built in 1826 as the Assize courts. These are still used today as Lincoln's Crown Courts.

The castle's grounds are used for music concerts and other public entertainment.

The castle is now owned by Lincolnshire County Council and is a scheduled ancient monument
Scheduled Ancient Monument
In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorized change. The various pieces of legislation used for legally protecting heritage assets from damage and destruction are grouped under the term...

.

External links