It is hard to imagine now, since it lies in the heart of the County of Lincolnshire, 30 miles from the nearest coastline, but the City of Lincoln was once an important port. In fact it had been a port since pre-historic days, thanks to the widening of the River Trent at Lincoln into a pool or harbour. In Roman and Viking times, and right through the Middle Ages, Lincoln was one of the wealthiest cities in Britain.
It’s original name (not so original actually) was Lindo, the Celt word for ‘The Pool’. The Romans latinised it into Lindum and then Lindum Colonia. We then Britannised it into Lincoln. The Fosse Way, one of the main Roman roads in Britain, ran through here from the south to the north. Today it bears the more prosaic Anglo-Saxon name – ‘the A1’. But it is still typically, and seemingly endlessly, Roman.
The only problem with straight roads that entirely ignore geographical features is that they have more ups and downs than Kingda Ka.
Anyway, we took this road from Londinium all the way to Lindum Colonia. Lincoln Cathedral, built on one of the only real hills for miles, dominates the town. Here it is from the High Street.
This is the High Street.
The walk up to the Cathedral was a lot tougher than it looked. Here we are about halfway.
But the road up is lined with historic buildings. This is the 12th century so-called 'Jew’s House'.
Sadly, the Lincoln Jews, one of the most important Jewish communities in England at the time, suffered from the widespread anti-Semitic riots and those that were not thrown into the Tower were expelled towards the end of the 13th century. Here’s another part of the road up.
This area is actually known as Steep Hill, Uphill. The Romans had much prettier names for places, didn’t they. But, before they converted to Christianity and before they even knew what a cathedral was, the Romans had taken to this hill as a perfect site for a massive fort, which would oversee the whole region and keep an eye on the north-south supply route. The castle was rebuilt, for the same reasons, after the Norman Conquest. Here is the main entrance.
This is the view over the town and surrounding countryside from just outside the Castle.
And this is the inner castle.
Here is the square in front of the Castle.
It’s a pity David Cameron didn’t know that Magna Carta is the name of a pub. The Lincoln pubs, by the way, (for me, as a Southerner) had odd names. This is the City Vaults.
And this is the Treaty of Commerce.
Lincoln remains proud of its wealthy commercial past. But today, most major industry has gone and its economy is again dependent on the commerce with which it first began, and tourists like me. It remains a city in the middle of nowhere, but is a first stopping off place for arrivals by ship at the great ports of Eastern England. Modern trade is thus with the Baltics.
But back to Uphill. The Cathedral itself is of unusual design, with three towers, the central of which has the tallest spire in Europe and was long considered the tallest man-made structure in the world. It dates from the 11th century, although much of it was rebuilt after a surprising earthquake in 1185. I suppose all earthquakes are surprising, but it is rare to have one in UK. You can see the three towers from here.
It is a very lovely building. Here are a couple more shots.
And it is in remarkably good condition.
The next day we continued our journey up the Fosse Way.