Explore the Character of Lincoln

LARA Eras

Read about the different stages of Lincoln's growth and development, beginning with what the landscape was like before the founding of the city by the Romans in the mid first century AD. Discover more about Lincoln's role as a medieval market centre, or as a manufacturing centre during the Industrial Revolution. Use the interactive LARA Map (Lincoln Archaeological Research Assessment) to find out more about what we know about Lincoln's past, as well as some of the unanswered questions that exist about the city's complex archaeology.

  • Era 1 - Early Medieval
    By the mid-fifth century the area of the formerly prosperous Roman city was more or less deserted, a casualty of the collapse of the imperial system. Production and international trade on a large scale ceased as the province of Britain was handed over to its own fate. Consequently the Roman system was in terminal decline before the Germanic settlers from across the North Sea appeared in any number, and Lincoln’s urban functions had come to an end before the Anglo- Saxon takeover of Eastern England. These new settlers brought with them a building tradition in timber, a pagan religion, and a society and an economy in which towns on the Roman model had no place.
    Early medieval presence was minimal within the city. The evidence we have is confined to a handful of pottery and a small number of burials. Between the later Roman period and the arrival of the Saxons there is no evidence for what could be described as civic life.
    South gate of the Lincoln in the Anglo Saxon period
    A view of the south east part of Anglo Saxon Lincoln (from Vale, David., 1997. Lincoln a place in time. Lincoln: FLARE)
    Based on the slight evidence we have for the early church within the city, there is the need to investigate whether or not there was a continuous Christian community in the city between the presumed Romano-British Christian community of the 4th century and documented arrival of St Paulinus in 628 AD. This debate is focused mainly on the known early church site at St Paul-in-the-Bail on the site of the former Roman forum. However,  it is strongly suggested that the Roman forum space at Lincoln was selected for burials because it was at the centre of the walled Roman enclosure and because the former forum was presumably clearer of rubble and offered less intractable soil conditions, rather than because it was known once as a church site. This in turn raises the possibility that the burials may have been pagan rather than Christian. There may have also been a second early church site in the lower city around the junction of Silver Street and High Street. There is also evidence for two early Anglo-Saxon burial grounds in Lincoln (at Silver Street and the Greetwell ‘villa’). They seem to represent examples of the same ritual behaviour that has been observed on dozens of other former roman sites. This ritual was to clear a space within the ruins of a building and dig into the rubble a small number of burials. This re-use of Roman monuments can occur at any date between the 5th and 8th centuries, so this behaviour cannot be used as a dating mechanism. This does however indicate that the ruins of Roman Lincoln were not merely abandoned in the Anglo-Saxon period, rather they had become a location, between the living and the dead.
    Due to our lack of information about the city area at this date, we can only have suspicions about settlement sites in the vicinity. Perhaps then, Lincoln in the sub-Roman period quickly reverted to the natural role it had played since the Bronze Age; that of a cultural centre. This role was one of an important symbolic place for local peoples, rather than a place where people lived and worked.
     
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.
  • Era 2 - Early Modern
    Lincoln underwent a number of dramatic transformations during the Early Modern Era, the first of which was already underway by the mid 14th century. The collapse of the cloth industry between 1275 and 1300 AD is accredited with bringing a halt to the prosperous times of the High Medieval Era (850-1350 AD). The loss of the wool staple in 1369 to the Port of Boston in the south of Lincolnshire, alongside a decline in population due to the Black Death in the mid 14th century, meant Lincoln was a much quieter place than it had been. The area of land that the city occupied reduced considerably, and many areas once used for housing and industry reverted to agricultural use, including land within the former walled city. Several parishes had no inhabitants at all, and consequently many churches were demolished around the beginning of the Early Modern Era. Furthermore, the city’s vital trade link in the form of the Fossedyke Navigation fell into disrepair, reduced its capability as a trading centre.
     
    View of Great Bargate where High street crossed Sincil Dyke in c.1730
    Fig. 1 View of Great Bargate  bridge which carried High Street over Sincil Dyke in the south of the city. The drawing emphasis's Lincoln as a 'one street town' (from Vale, David., 1997. Lincoln a place in time. Lincoln: FLARE)
     
    By the mid 15th century Lincoln’s population is likely to have amounted to about 2000 inhabitants, if not less. However, the city did not collapse, and the population appears to stabilise at around 2500 people until the end of the Early Modern Era in the mid 18th century.
    During this period of the city’s decline the Dean and Chapter (the governing body of the Cathedral) extended its influence by acquiring land in many parts of the city.Several buildings in the recently constructed fortified precinct around the Cathedral, known as ‘The Close’, show signs of extension and aggrandisement around this time. The continuing prosperity of the Dean and Chapter was important in maintaining trade within the Bail, the city’s commercial centre between the Castle and the Cathedral. Despite the overall decline of the city,  Lincoln remained as an important centre for the social elite, and many urban residences were built during the Early Modern Era, often amalgamating smaller tenements into large holdings. Buildings of this Era are marked out by being more often of a cheaper timber construction, rather than in stone. However, from the 15th century brick began to be used, with its first appearance in the form of the surviving Chancery in Minster Yard. 
    The Dissolution of the Monasteries in the mid 16th century marked another transformation in the city’s character. The loss of many of its religious houses during this time had social and economic consequences for Lincoln. Land and buildings were surrendered to the King and were sold off to private investors, and many buildings were left to ruin. The number of churches in the city declined further as the number of parishes was reduced by an Act of Parliament in 1549. The Cathedral and Close survived the Reformation, although the Cathedral’s many chantries were dissolved.
    Consecutive efforts were made to reinvigorate the city’s flailing economy during the Early Modern Era. A commission was set up to return the Fossedyke to a navigable state, and local politicians petitioned powerful patrons and even King Henry VIII to relieve the city of some of its fiscal burdens. With no dominant manufacturing industry and a dilapidated infrastructure, it is likely that Lincoln relied heavily upon its markets and fairs. The wool trade remained a mainstay of Lincoln’s economy, alongside the small scale manufacture of agricultural goods for a local market. The 17th century continued to prove an unfavourable time for Lincoln , with political and social unrest . During the Civil War the city changed hands five times between 1643 and 1648. Many of the city’s surviving medieval buildings were badly damaged during various skirmishes that took place. Although repairs were made to the Fossedyke in 1672, neither the wool trade nor any other major industry managed to grow significantly. Due to its remote location and poor connections the city continued to be bypassed by trade, losing out on the lucrative and growing agricultural trade deriving from the rural county that surrounded it. Instead, the potential financial rewards went straight to London or took the major route ways of the River Trent, the Great North Road (through Newark), or the sea. However, eventually it was Lincoln’s sustained position as a market centre within a vast agricultural hinterland , as well as improvements to the Fossedyke, that finally came to its rescue at the beginning of the 18th century. The increased productivity of land, as a result of the Agricultural Revolution, fuelled the re-establishment of Lincoln as a county centre. Works to the Fossedyke between 1740 and 1744 re-opened a vital artery re-connecting the city with the River Trent and a wider trading network. These changes paved the way for the more prosperous times of the Industrial Era (1750 – Current Day).
     
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.
  • Era 3 - High Medieval
    Development of the city between c.850 and c.1350 is one of the most intensively investigated Eras in Lincoln’s archaeology. In the early 9th century, Lincoln had a small population and much of the Roman city was in ruins. It is likely that many of the inhabitants of the city may have been resident on a seasonal basis, or passing through for trade.
    The Danish arrived towards the end of the 9th century, and by the mid 10th century Lincoln soon became one of the ‘Five Boroughs’ of the East Midlands (‘Danish Mercia’), together with Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Stamford. All of these became ‘shires’ (areas settled or governed by armies) based in the boroughs - except Stamford, whose shire was incorporated into that of Lincoln. By the end of the 10th century much of the area within the city walls, which although ruined were still standing, appears to have been levelled out and the ground occupied by a population of perhaps one or two thousand people. Much of this population would have been engaged in manufacturing, commerce and trade and many would have lived in the city permanently. It seems that commerce quickly became the dominant factor in city life in the High Medieval Era, transforming the city between 880 and 950 AD. It was also fundamental changes within the pattern of trade and commerce, which brought the prosperous High Medieval Era to an end between 1250 and 1350.
    The new town of Lincoln prospered and was a place of national importance. Shortly after the arrival of William the Conqueror in 1066, Lincoln was chosen for the location of a castle and a cathedral. Lincoln had re-established itself as a market centre and its old Roman walls were still defensible, meaning it was a strategic settlement during the years of the Norman Conquest.
    Market places were a dominant factor in the development plan of the city. It is suggested that the first markets, within the walls, were originally accommodated within the existing street pattern, often utilising road junctions, and therefore did not have purpose-made market places. However, following re-design of the street layout in the 11th century, it appears that several markets migrated towards open spaces on the steep upper hillside of the north escarpment. These market areas may represent early acts of planning, which perhaps shows evidence of early civic authority. In addition, several other markets were held outside the walls along main roads leading into and out of the city. Consequently, Lincoln developed a number of suburbs based around these markets such as Newport, Eastgate and Lower Wigford.
    The network of roads leading into the city today was largely established in the High Medieval Era, although some have earlier origins in the Roman Eras. The major long-distance routes can be distinguished as they pass through the city. Where they coincide with market places, the archaeology can perhaps tell us the most about Lincoln’s long distance trade. The archaeology around smaller ‘intermediate’ roads, which linked the city with other settlements in the region, can tell us about a different scale of trading network and about Lincoln’s role as a local centre. Lincoln was no doubt an important market centre for villages in the surrounding rural areas. However, like many other Medieval settlements, the city had its own fields too. Several of the common fields, which were used by residents of the city, still survive around the edges of the city.
    By the final quarter of the 13th century, serious decline was well underway. The loss of foreign markets for the cloth trade, and the competing prominence of other ports in Lincolnshire, including Boston to which Lincoln lost its wool staple in 1369, resulted in a period of economic decline. By the 15th century the town had changed out of all recognition: More than half of the population had been lost either as a result of the Black Death or for other reasons. At the beginning of the Early Modern Era (1350-1750 AD) the basis of the city’s economy had dwindled from the supply of international markets to the supply of regional and local ones.
  • Era 4 - Industrial
    Lincoln’s current townscape has been strongly influenced by several stages of growth during the Industrial Era right up to the present day. This Era is split up into six shorter periods, each of which relates to a specific phase of Lincoln growth over the last 250 years.
    The Early Industrial Period (1750-1845)
    In the late 18th century Lincoln’s economy rallied, the population expanded and the city entered into what was to be a prolonged phase of growth and redevelopment that would last until the First World War. The impetus for Lincoln’s revival is largely accredited to the improvement and re-opening of the Fossedyke Navigation in 1740 and improvements to the River Witham, reconnecting the city with the water going trade networks along the River Trent. However, the country’s economy as a whole was prospering from the effects of the Agricultural Revolution, and sat in the centre of a huge agricultural county, Lincoln was well placed to act as a market centre. At the beginning of the 19th century many of the city’s former open fields were enclosed during this period of agricultural improvement, and former wetland was made fit for farming by a series of drainage schemes. Heavy engineering, mining, food processing, manufacturing and other industries sprang up around the city, some growing from existing small scale enterprises, others the result of major investment by entrepreneurs. Industry was predominantly based in low-lying parts of the city that allowed easy access to the River Witham and the wider waterways network of the East Midlands. Brick works and quarrying located near to the natural resources on and at the top of the escarpment slopes.
    View of terraced properties along Lindum Hill. They are consistently two bays in width and three storeys high but there is a staggered roof line due to the gradient of the hillside.
    Fig. 1 Houses dating to the Early Industrial period along Lindum Hill
    The population of Lincoln expanded steadily during the Early Industrial Period, increasing the size of the city’s workforce bringing about a new entrepreneurial elite. Many of the workers lived to the rear of shops and larger houses, in courts and yards, often living alongside animals in cramped conditions. In contrast, the emerging middle and upper classes, orchestrators and profiteers of the city’s industrial growth, built new large residences on the escarpment slope away from the industrial areas of the lower city. Several of the houses located along newly constructed main roads such as Lindum Hill, which was built in 1785. One of the greatest expressions of the wealth and prosperity of the early Industrial period was Boultham Hall and its surrounding parkland, which was built by Richard Ellison in 1830.
    Despite the city’s expansion during the Early Industrial Period, parts of the city still appeared rural in the early 19th century, and Lincoln was still peripheral to the national industrial economy.
     
    Post-railway Expansion Period (1846-1868)
    The arrival of the railways in 1846 that heralded the mass expansion of Lincoln’s industries and its resident population. The city quickly expanded well beyond it medieval footprint, and between 1841 and 1871 its population doubled. The railways linked Lincoln with national trade networks and ensured a reliable supply of raw materials such as steel, and means to export goods. Manufacturing and heavy engineering was well established in the city prior to the arrival of the railways, which was no doubt an influential factor in new industries setting up on Lincoln. Large enterprises often specialising in agricultural machinery, such as Clayton and Shuttleworth ironworks, prospered in Lincoln, setting up again close to the newly arrived railways and river. Many industries that grew up in Lincoln had strong links to the agricultural land surrounding the city. Tanneries, glue factories, and brewing industries all found a place in Lincoln’s growing economy.
    Doughty’s Oil Mill, constructed in 1863, is a reminder of the prominence of trade along the River Witham in the Post-Railway Expansion period. The building is around six storeys high
    Fig.2 Doughty's Oil Mill facing the River Witham, built  in 1863
    Small terraced houses were built to house the growing workforce, moving some people out of the squalid conditions of the Early Industrial Period. Few of these early terraced houses survive in Lincoln today, as many were later destroyed as housing was improved once again in the early 20th century.
    Surviving terraced houses at 1-5 Alfred Street dating to the Post-Railway Expansion Period. The properties are fairly plain in decoration and built from red brick with stone plinths bellow windows.
    Fig. 3 A short run of some early terraced houses in Witham to High Street Character Area
    A second hall, Hartsholme Hall, with surrounding parkland designed by Edward Milner was built in the south of the city by Joseph Shuttleworth, whose fortune was made in Lincoln’s heavy engineering industry.
    In material terms Lincoln had remained relatively unaffected by the Napoleonic wars, making small scale preparations to defend against a potential invasion in the early part of the 19th century. Following the Militia Act of 1852 new barracks (now the Museum of Lincolnshire Life) were built along Burton Road. These were eventually replaced by the Sobraon Barracks further along Burton Road built in 1890.
     
    Late Victorian/Edwardian Period (1869 – 1919)
    Lincoln continued to expand rapidly during the latter half of the 19th century and up to the beginning of the First World War in 1914. Lincoln’s population continued to grow, increasing by 40% between 1871 and 1881. The city’s overall footprint expanded accordingly, as new industrial buildings and workers housing were built. Terraced houses were rapidly built in many parts of the city, particularly in areas within walkable distance of the factories. Monk’s Road, High Street, Burton Road all formed the basis for large-scale residential expansion of the city. Houses were built along and off Newark Road, connecting the city with Bracebridge and Boultham. In the north of the city, as well as along Newark Road in the south, detached and semi-detached houses were built to house a new middle and upper class of white collar workers and professionals.
    The Late Victorian/Edwardian period was also a time of great civic works. Parts of the city centre were re-designed, such as Corporation Street and the impressively large Corn Exchange. The Arboretum, surrounded by terraced housing of the same date, was opening in 1872. A new hospital, water tower and a prison were built, and the city underwent major improvements in its waste disposal and water supply infrastructure, most obviously see today by the water tower immediately north of the castle.
    Southerly views over the bandstand towards Shuttleworth House, a tall block of flats and Doughty’s Mill, a long building with a series of brick work in different shades creating an archway appearance with windows situated within these.
    Fig. 4 Lincoln's Arboretum, opened in 1872
    With the advent of the First World War Lincoln’s engineering industries responded to the demand for military machinery and equipment. Alongside armaments and military vehicles Lincoln was one of the largest centres for aircraft production and was the birthplace of the modern military tank. After the war industries struggles to regain their share of the heavy agricultural engineering market, and the city sunk into a prolonged period of economic decline and unemployment.
     
    Inter-war period (1920 – 1945)
    The city’s engineering industries fragmented and declined during the Inter-war period, moving away from steam power and striking up new initiatives, some based on the internal combustion engine. The railway continued as a vital link with the national economy, but high unemployment continued throughout much of the 1920s and 1930s.
    The population of the city changed little during the austere inter-war years, increasing from 66,000 to 69,000 between 1921 and 1951. Nonetheless, considerable improvements were made to housing conditions in the city. Many of the city’s slums were cleared, and new large public housing estates were built such as those in St. Giles, Boultham and Swanpool. These housing estates were located in the north and south of the city, accentuating the Lincoln’s linear shape.
    The Arts and Crafts style of architecture placed a strong emphasis on regional vernacular architecture and exaggerated ‘traditional’ elements such as tall chimneys and steeply pitched roofs
    Fig. 5 House in Swanpool Garden Suburb
    By the Second World War the city’s fortunes turned, and Lincoln’s heavy engineering industries, mostly located in the south east of the city expanded. In 1941 RAF Skellingthorpe, a Bomber Command Station, was opened in the southwest of the city.
     
    Post-war (1946-1966)
    Like many other cities in England, Lincoln experienced considerable redevelopment during the Post-war period. Major infrastructure projects were undertaken, such as Pelham Bridge in the south of the city and Wigford Way, which was opened shortly after the end of the period in 1972. Increasing use of the motorcar, which had begun in the previous Inter-war period, transformed the streets of the city. New street furniture, car parks and signage sprung up around the city. Many villages around Lincoln expanded, as people able to commute into the city sought more space and a higher standard of living.
     View from bus station over Pelham Bridge and the surface level car park. South Common and the south escarpment can be seen in the background.
    Fig. 6 Pelham Bridge (in the left hand side of the image) surrounded by car parking
    Several parts of the city centre were redeveloped and the city’s fabric began to encounter larger scale buildings constructed of modern materials, most noticeably concrete. Outside of the city centre the city continued to grow though the construction of expansive public housing estates such as Ermine East and Ermine West, as well as Birchwood which was built on the site of the former RAF Skellingthorpe airfield. Each stage of the construction of the Birchwood Estate in the south west of the city was highly experimental in its own right, illustrating changing attitudes and approached towards the design of public housing in the Post-war period. In the early part of the period, ‘homes for heroes’ were rapidly erected for returning troops. These often pre-fabricated homes still survive in many parts of the city.
    After the end of the Second World War Lincoln’s industries increasingly struggled with the growing foreign competition. However, heavy engineering remained the city’s main employer, with many long serving companies diversifying into new markets, including cars and gas turbine engines.
     
    Modern period (1967 – today)
    Redevelopment of the city gathered pace during the early part of the Modern Period, with several new developments completed in the city including City Hall, the Bus Station, and several other developments along and off High Street in the city centre. Growing use of the private motor-car generated the high levels of traffic still experienced in parts of the city, leading to the creation of a bypass around the west of the city. An additional consequence was the loss of one of two railway stations in 1985, and with it a direct service to London.
    The city has continued to expand, largely through the construction of expansive privately built residential housing estates on greenfield land around the fringes of the city. Within the city centre plots have been redeveloped on a piecemeal basis, with new additions to the High Street and other commercial parts of the city. Many former industrial sites have been comprehensively redeveloped, most notably around the Brayford where the industrial warehouses on the north side have been cleared for commercial use, and Lincoln University has overwritten a landscape of railway sidings along the pool’s southern side. Several other industrial areas close to the city centre have also begun to be redeveloped for residential, and to a lesser extent commercial use. South eastern parts of the city centre have similarly expanded to incorporate new commercial buildings, in particular the large scale retail units typical of out of town retail parks.
    The Think Tank, completed in 2009, is two storeys high, uses a two-tone paint that changes colour from different angles, has a green roof and is set around a central courtyard with seating.
    Fig. 7 Lincoln's 'Think Tank' was built in 2009 on former industrial land in the west of the city
    Lincoln’s economy has changed considerably since the beginning of the Early Industrial Era, diversifying into education, retail and manufacturing. However, the city’s obsession with engineering lives on in the form of Siemens, Lincoln’s main employer, who occupy part of the old Ruston’s engineering premises in the east of the city. As an historic city, Lincoln is an important tourist destination in the U.K, but is still regarded by some as ‘off the beaten track’ with limited transport links to the remainder of the East Midlands and beyond. With new and improved transport links forecast for the near future, and status as one of England’s major centres for residential growth, the future of the city will continue to change at pace.
     
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.
  • Era 5 - Prehistoric
    The Jurassic limestone ridge running north-south through Lincolnshire formed the basis for an early route way, which clung close to its western “scarp” (the ‘Lincoln Edge’). Tens of thousands of years ago, two separate phases of glacial action deepened and widened the gap through this ridge. The resultant valley, about a mile wide, is occupied by the River Witham and its attendant marshes, at the point where it met the River Till flowing from the west. At the meeting of the rivers a lake formed, which is now know as the Brayford Pool. The development of this land in recent years has yielded much information about the changing landscape from the Mesolithic Period onwards.
    As of yet, there is limited evidence for settlement during the Prehistoric Era as a whole, although this does not mean that the place was of no interest to prehistoric peoples. There is circumstantial and topographical evidence, as well as archaeological finds to show that the river crossing was a focus of activity from at least as early as the Bronze Age. We would expect the importance of the Lincoln river crossing to be reflected in activity in the surrounding countryside.
    Our understanding of the area in Prehistoric Era is based heavily on our understanding of the distinctive topography of the Witham Gap. The Era spans a long time and the character of the landscape around what we now know as Lincoln will have changed enormously. The nature of the developing landscape around this Era defined the role of the area that was to become Lincoln.
    The Witham Shield dating to c.300-400 BC
    Reference:
    In terms of landscape, the area we know today as Lincoln was a distinctive place in its region throughout prehistory, and it needs to be further explored to determine whether this was matched by equivalent regional cultural importance. The fact that there is little evidence of occupation in the Witham Gap during this Era does not mean that the area was of no importance, but possibly that people who lived elsewhere travelled to it. These people may have visited the area occasionally, and when they did so the investment, in contemporary terms, was spectacular. The Bronze and Iron Age metalwork finds from the river demonstrate the great importance of the valley at this point. Dredging of the Witham in recent times has brought to light some remarkable treasures, the most famous being the Witham Shield, dating to 400-300 BC. The evidence we have from the Iron Age suggests that the area was of considerable symbolic importance to the peoples in whose territory it lay, demonstrated by the massive triple boundary ditches discovered on the north Escarpment.
     
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.
  • Era 6 - Roman Colonia
    Towards the end of the first century AD Lincoln became one of a handful of coloniae in England, including Colchester and Gloucester. Colonia is the highest status a Roman settlement could attain, and these cities were inhabited by a prestigious self-governing community of time-served legionaries. The population of Lincoln at this time probably rose to between 5,000 to 10,000 people.
    As a new Colonia the city underwent an impressive programme of public works including a forum and basilica (civic centre), baths and temples. The city was provided with a new system of waterworks including an aqueduct, which tapped a source at least 2km to the north-east. The aqueduct may be the most famous in Roman Britain, but its workings are imperfectly understood, for no-one has explained satisfactorily how water was either brought from the spring known as the Roaring Meg, or came by gravity from higher ground several kilometres further north. The original defences of the military fortress were partly dismantled, and stone walls were erected in their place. In later years the city walls were extended south, down the north escarpment, stopping just short of the northern banks of the River Witham. Throughout the city’s history, the river will have been a busy place for trading, serving as a vital artery connecting the city down to The Wash to the south-east as well as to the west and south-west via the Rivers Till and upper Witham.
    The upper and lower enclsoures of the Late Roman Colonia
    The Roman Colonia (from Vale, David., 1997. Lincoln a place in time. Lincoln: FLARE)
    Settlement extended well beyond the fortified city walls, with a particularly large linear suburb extending up to a kilometre south of the river along the Fosse Way and Ermine Street which linked Lincoln to Exeter and London respectively. Alongside shops and houses, many of Lincoln’s cemeteries were also located along main roads outside of the city centre.
    The archaeology of the Roman City in this Era demonstrates a lifestyle in which ritual, commercial and other motivations were intertwined. The Romans did not separate the parts of their lives in such a way that we do today. Much of Roman ‘public’ life was highly ritualised and it would be misleading to think of private life as being more separated.
    Roman Lincoln provides a very useful example of the interrelationships between the ‘ritual’ and ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘secular’ spheres of Roman life. Within the city there are clearly buildings and areas more-or-less exclusively devoted to one aspect of life rather than the other, but there are also many zones of the city where the two motivations are jostling each other for prominence.
    The busy waterside of the late Roman Colonia
    The Roman waterside and Postern Gate (from Vale, David., 1997. Lincoln a place in time. Lincoln: FLARE)
    The city was a focus for fiscal affairs, but not necessarily economic ones. City buildings of the late Roman Empire, then, had a symbolic and ‘public’ role to fulfil. This may even have been true of the ‘private’ houses of the city’s officers who serviced the imperial governmental structures represented by the ‘public’ buildings, and so we should ask whether late Roman towns like Lincoln were not more like large ritual sites than large settlement sites.
    For a information about a self-guided tour of Roman Lincoln click: http://www.lincoln.gov.uk/romantour
     
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.
  • Era 7 - Roman Military
    At the time of the Roman conquest, Lincoln was selected as one of a handful of locations for major Roman investment. Until recently the only explanation for this was the Roman military engineers’ appreciation of the defensive capacity of the Witham Gap. This argument remains valid, but it is clear that when the Romans arrived in AD 43, the site was already valued for other reasons. The little evidence we have suggests that it was a site of considerable symbolic importance to the Corieltauvi tribe and we could argue that this importance may have been confirmed by the site’s selection for major Roman installations.
    The first Roman military enclsoure on top pf the north escaprment
    The Roman legionary fortress (from Vale, David., 1997. Lincoln a place in time. Lincoln: FLARE)
    When the Roman legion arrived they constructed a fortress of earth and timber at the top of the north escarpment overlooking the Witham Gap, although there is some evidence of an earlier encampment to the south of the river. Moreover, a new river crossing was established on the current line of High Street close to, if not exactly, where the river is crossed today. The event must have caused great stress for the native people as well as offering some opportunities. The new population required vast quantities of food, equipment and building materials, and only some of these could have been transported with them. It is likely that any natives were moved from their settlements, but this might only have been achieved after a period of negotiation with the incoming army.
    Iron-Age Lincoln was not the main political centre for the Eastern Corieltauvi; which was probably at Old Sleaford before it moved to Ratae Corieltauvorum (Leicester). It is also clear that Lincoln was also not the main political centre for the Romans. Instead, at this stage of its evolution, it seems to be a foundation of a distinctive military type, over 50 miles away from the centre of the political territory in which it sits.
    Our preliminary understanding of the layout of the Witham Gap in the Late Iron Age suggests that the area of pools and meres in the west, around the current location of the Brayford Pool, had a great ritual significance to the peoples who lived in the area. This significance is preserved in the Roman place name Lindum, which derives from the Celtic llyn – ‘a pool’ (Cameron 1985, 1-3). The pre-existing ritual significance of the site must be considered in our views of the impact of new military installations at Lincoln for their contemporaries.
    For a information about a self-guided tour of Roman Lincoln click: http://www.lincoln.gov.uk/romantour
    The text is a combined and abridged version of information taken from:
    Jones, M.,2004. Lincoln: History and Guide. Tempus, Stroud.
    Stocker, D. et Al., 2003. The City by the Pool. Oxbow, Oxford.