Lincoln Cathedral
Lincoln Cathedral
The city of Lincoln is bypassed by most visitors to the UK, and that's a pity, because Lincoln has a colourful past that is preserved in a fascinating variety of historic buildings, particularly in the ancient medieval core.

The history of Lincoln begins at Brayford Pool, a natural harbour on the River Witham. There was an Iron-Age settlement here as early as 100BC, known as "Lindun", or "The place by the pool".

When the Romans invaded England they recognised the strategic importance of the place and established a garrison. They renamed the city "Lindum", and later "Lindum Colonia", from which derives our modern name of "Lincoln".

Lincoln was a "colonia", or major town, and around 300AD it became the capitol of the Roman province covering eastern England.

Lincoln Castle
Lincoln Castle
When the Romans departed Lincoln was absorbed by the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Lindsey, and still later the Danes established the city as one of the 5 chief "burghs" of the Danelaw.

The Normans also acknowledged Lincoln's natural strategic position, and just 2 years after the Conquest, William the Conqueror began the building of Lincoln Castle atop the steep hill that is the core of the city. In 1072 the church followed suit and the magnificent structure of Lincoln Cathedral was begun.

The cathedral is the 3rd largest in Britain, with a vast nave supported by columns of limestone and marble. The stained glass windows set off a wonderful vaulted roof, and the interior is enhanced with intricate carvings in stone and wood. Look for the notorious "Lincoln Imp" carving in the Angel Choir - a stonemason's joke that has become the official city emblem.

Steep Hill, Lincoln
Steep Hill, Lincoln
Lincoln Cathedral boasts an impressive central tower, the tallest in the country after Salisbury at 81 metres (approximately 250 feet). But this lofty finger of stone pales before the memory of the original tower, which rose twice as high before toppling in a storm in 1547.

Nestled beside the Cathedral are the ruins of the Bishop's Old Palace, reminders of a time when the Bishops of Lincoln were among the most powerful figures in the land. Former Bishops of Lincoln include Hugh of Avalon, later St. Hugh, whose tomb is in the cathedral, and Thomas Wolsey, who was Bishop here in 1514 before going on to become a cardinal and advisor to Henry VIII.

The medieval centre of Lincoln is blessed with an abundance of original 14th and 15th century buildings, as well as a large number of half-timbered Tudor houses.

High Bridge is the oldest bridge in England to have houses built upon it. The structure dates from the 12th century, and looks its age in the most complimentary fashion.

A relative parvenu compared to High Bridge is Stonebow, a wonderful Tudor Gothic bridge that once formed the city's southern gate. The city council still meets in chambers above the archway.

Lincoln Castle still functions as a court, dispensing justice as it has for over 900 years. Within its walls you can see one of the original copies of the Magna Carta, signed by King John in 1215.

incoln has a wide variety of interesting museums, including the Usher Gallery, featuring original poems and memorabilia of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, a native of Lincolnshire.

A Heritage Trail links many of the historic attractions in the city centre, and a leaflet describing the trail is available at the Tourist Information Centre on Castle Hill. The TIC is also the departure point for a variety of fascinating tours of the city, including guided walking tours, open top bus tours, ghost walks, river trips, and horse and carriage rides.

Our top picks for enjoying Lincoln's heritage: