The city of Lincoln spreads out across the flat, Lincolnshire plain. Three golden coloured stone towers rise majestically above its Cathedral, below which old medieval buildings and narrow winding cobbled streets, lined by shops selling antiques and souvenirs, run steeply down to the lower part of the city. The castle square next to the cathedral is closed on one side by the 14th-century Exchequer Gate notable for the exceptionally fine 16th-century merchant's house with two timber-framed storeys and three gables overhanging a bow windowed ground floor, which houses the city's tourist information centre.
The town is blessed with some of the oldest domestic buildings still in use in Britain, dating from the 12th century. Located in the High Street is the impressive Stonebow, a 16th century Tudor Gothic gateway. The city council still meets in the ancient Guildhall above the gate. Council members are summoned by the tolling of the 600-year-old Mote Bell, the oldest of its kind in Britain.
The ridge on which the Cathedral and Lincoln's Norman castle stand has been fortified since prehistoric times. Its military value was appreciated by the Romans, who made Lindum Colonia (as they called it) the base for the 9th Legion's rule over eastern England.
The city's Newport Arch is the only remaining Roman gateway in Britain still used by traffic. Other surviving Roman structures include the substantial foundations of the East Gate plus a length of the wall and ditch that surrounded the city. In Bailgate there are also stones marking the position of columns that supported a Roman facade almost 100 metres long. However, one of the most remarkable Roman works in Lincoln is the Fossdyke Navigation, the oldest canal in the country, dug more than 1,800 years ago to link the Witham and the Trent. It is still in use today by pleasure craft.
After the Romans withdrew from Britain, Lincoln was captured and colonised by the Angles, then later by the Danes. By the time of the Norman Conquest it was one of the three most largest cities in the country, a formidable military base and the centre of a rich farming area with excellent land and water communications. The wool trade, in particular, produced great wealth, and the local cloth has been immortalised in the Lincoln green said to have been worn by Robin Hood and his merry men.
9 Castle Hill, Lincoln, Lincolnshire, LN1 3AA - Tel: 01522 545 458
The cathedral is the third largest in Britain, after St Paul's and York Minster. Its origins can be traced back before the Battle of Hastings. The spectacular western facade, facing the castle, is framed by twin towers and one of the cathedral's great glories, which is thought to have been designed to symbolise the gateway to heaven.
A statue of the poet Lord Tennyson, the 19th century Poet Laureate, stands on the west side of the cathedral. Lord Tennyson's father was a Lincolnshire rector.
The city's traditional Christmas Market (one of the largest in the UK) contains over 250 stalls, filling Lincoln's cobbled medieval square and surrounding streets, alongside its castle and majestic flood-lit cathedral. Visitors can experience the aroma of mulled wine and roasting chestnuts amid the spectacle of brightly coloured stalls, arrayed with festive goodies and strung with twinkling Christmas lights. The atmosphere is enhanced by carol singers dressed in Victorian costume and performances of Dickens' winter tales.
Usually held on the first weekend in December, see Christmas Markets page for details.
Lincoln Castle, which stands on a hill overlooking Lincoln, is one of just two remaining castles in England with twin mottes. The castle's fine Observatory Tower stands on the smaller of the two mottes. A 19th-century amateur astronomer added a turret to provide wide views across the city and plain. The main larger motte is occupied by the Lucy Tower (named after Countess Lucy, who died circa 1139) which forms the original keep and main defence strong point. The castle is open to the public.
The new Lincoln City and County Museum is located in 'The Collection' on Danes Terrace by Temple Gardens. A Roman villa was found under the building during its construction in 2005/5. The museum contains a variety of archaeological and art collections, including an activity centre for children to play and learn. The large exhibition space in centre of the museum features a changing exhibition of artifacts throughout the season. The museum also incorporates the new Usher Gallery, which exhibits local artists' works from paintings to glass, sculpture and textiles.
Opening times: Mon to Sun 10am - 4pm (closed over Xmas) Free Entry
Location: Danes Terrace, Lincoln, LN2 1LP - Tel: +44 (0)1522 550990 Website
Alford Manor House | Belton House | Boston Stump | Crowland Abbey | Doddington Old Hall | Gainsborough Old Hall | Grimsthorpe Castle | Harrington Hall | Lincoln Castle | Lincoln Cathedral | Tattershall Castle | Waltham Windmill