Castle Square, Lincoln

Lincolnshire Wolds



16th - 18th March 2012


This was where a difference of opinion arose as to the next course of action. Peter Mathews was adamant that we had reached the halfway point and that it was time to turn back. Maeve, on the other hand, was keen to explore more of the Viking Way and so the group split up at this point. Whilst one headed back slightly east of the existing route, Maeve led us towards the A157, which we crossed, close to the site of three deserted medieval villages, Calcethorpe, South Cadeby and East Wykeham, practically one and a half a mile apart from each other, where the path appears to terminate or at least fails to offer an easy return route south towards Scamblesby. We turned back, walked a short distance back along the A157, before picking up a path that led diagonally across Manor Farm, where we stopped for tea in the midst of a field. A sign at the top of the road appeals to motor cyclists. It's clearly obvious along this section of the A157 as it descends tantalisingly down the hill, that it is used as a virtual race track, perhaps not surprising since it lies near the Cadwell Park Motor Circuit. The bottom of the hill at Grimblethorpe Hall, near Gayton le Wold, where the road bends sharply to the left, is the location of a rather quaint set of farm cottages, one of which had a "for sale" sign up at the entrance. I guess I could figure that one out.

Soon thereafter we encountered Martin and Vanda just ahead of us near Glebe Farm, having taken the return upon reaching the church at Biscathorpe. Passing east of Donington on Bain, the route overlooks a valley towards the south-west. A few hundred yards off the path lies RAF Stenigot, a World War II radar station situated halfway between Stenigot and Donington on Bain. It was part of the Chain Home radar network, intended to provide long range early warning for raids from Luftflotte V and the northern elements of Luftflotte II along the approaches to Sheffield and Nottingham and the central midlands. After World War II, the site was retained as part of the Chain Home network. During the 1950s, NATO selected the site, which was then upgraded, for use in it’s Ace High communication programme, a huge communication’s network from Norway to Turkey, which involved adding four tropospheric scatter dishes. The site was decommissioned in the late 1980s and was mostly demolished by 1996.


Gargoyles adorn St Helens Church, Biscathorpe, possibly ecclesiastical figures some of them.





Gargoyles, doorways & stained-glass windows, St Helens Church, Biscathorpe.


Crossing the River Bain just north of St Helens Church, Biscathorpe.


Bikers race along the death-zone on the A157 near Stenigot - is that the justification for the for-sale sign?


Turning right, we elected to walk along the road towards Nob Hill, heading directly towards the River Bain. It's lovely countryside. A turn left and right on the road and we found ourselves on the Viking Trail once more, retracing our steps taken earlier that morning. Back at Brook House Barn, most were n the lounge watching the St Patricks Day rugby match encounter between England and Ireland. I was exhausted at this point, my ankle was swollen, showing the tell-tale signs of a re-occurrence of my thyroid condition, confirmed by subsequent blood tests a week later. The booking for the evening meal was once again split within the group. Martin had booked at the Green Man pub in town, an old coaching inn, a quirky establishment serving somewhat mediocre food. Scarcely able to keep my eyes open, I paid up and was able to bid a hasty exit back to the bunkhouse.

Sunday morning broke to cloudy skies. After packing and cleaning up the accommodation, I drove into Lincoln, where I planned to spend an hour or two exploring Lincoln Cathedral. It was well worth the effort. Parking in the town centre itself, it began to rain as I headed up towards the cathedral. I was spellbound by the vastness and architectural splendour of this magnificent building. A church service was in progress, so it wasn't possible to view the St Hugh's Choir. As I left the cathedral about an hour later, the rain clouds had cleared, giving way, for a period at least, to blue skies and bright sunshine. Regrettably, time was of the essence and I realised that I would have to return to explore this fine city once more, with its deep historical roots. At the rear of this immense building stood a statue of Lord Tennyson, arguably Lincoln's greatest son. "Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die". In the warmth and safety of the car, I made my way down the A1, as the heavens opened and the rain lashed down upon the Lincolnshire landscape once more.


Grimblethorp Hall, near Gayton le Wold.




The fallen antennae of RAF Stenigot radar station.


The earliest origins of Lincoln can be traced to the remains of an Iron Age settlement of round wooden dwellings (which were discovered by archaeologists in 1972) that have been dated to the 1st century BC[citation needed] This settlement was built by a deep pool (the modern Brayford Pool) in the River Witham at the foot of a large hill (on which the Normans later built Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle). The origins of the name Lincoln may come from this period, when the settlement is thought to have been named in the Brythonic language of Iron Age Britain's Celtic inhabitants as Lindon "The Pool". The Romans conquered this part of Britain in AD 48 and shortly afterwards built a legionary fortress high on a hill overlooking the natural lake formed by the widening of the River Witham (the modern day Brayford Pool) and at the northern end of the Fosse Way Roman road (A46). The Celtic name Lindon was subsequently Latinized to Lindum and given the title Colonia when it was converted into a settlement for army veterans. It became a major flourishing settlement, accessible from the sea both through the River Trent and the River Witham, but then fell into decline, largely deserted by the close of the 5th century.

After the first destructive Viking raids, the city once again rose to some importance, with overseas trading connections. In Viking times Lincoln was a trading centre that issued coins from its own mint, by far the most important in Lincolnshire and by the end of the 10th century, comparable in output to the mint at York. After the establishment of Dane Law in 886, Lincoln became one of The Five Boroughs in the East Midlands. Excavations at Flaxengate reveal that this area, deserted since Roman times, received new timber-framed buildings fronting a new street system, ca 900. Lincoln experienced an unprecedented explosion in its economy with the settlement of the Danes. In 1068, two years after the Norman conquest, William I ordered Lincoln Castle to be built on the site of the former Roman settlement, for the same strategic reasons and controlling the same road.

(courtesy of wikipedia)


View across the valley along the path just east of Donington-on-Bain.


RAF Stenigot radar station.


Martin and Vanda stroll on ahead along a road near Nob Hill.


Along the road near Nob Hill, not far from the River Bain.


Construction of the first Lincoln Cathedral, within its close or walled precinct facing the castle, began when the see (the official seat of a bishop) was removed from Dorchester. It was completed in 1092 and rebuilt after a fire then subsequently destroyed by an unusual earthquake in 1185. The rebuilt Lincoln Minster, enlarged to the east at each rebuilding, was on a magnificent scale, its crossing tower crowned by a spire reputed to have been 525 ft (160 m) high, the highest in Europe. When completed the central of the three spires is widely accepted to have succeeded the Great Pyramids of Egypt as the tallest man-made structure in the world.

During the Anarchy, in 1141 Lincoln was the site of a battle between King Stephen and the forces of Empress Matilda, led by her illegitimate half-brother Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester. After fierce fighting in the city's streets, Stephen's forces were defeated. Stephen himself was captured and taken to Bristol. By 1150, Lincoln was among the wealthiest towns in England. The basis of the economy was cloth and wool, exported to Flanders; Lincoln weavers had set up a guild in 1130 to produce Lincoln Cloth, especially the fine dyed 'scarlet' and 'green', the reputation of which was later enhanced by Robin Hood wearing woollens of Lincoln green. Outside the precincts of cathedral and castle, the old quarter clustered around the Bailgate, and down Steep Hill to the High Bridge, which bears half-timbered housing, with the upper storeys jutting out over the river.

(courtesy of wikipedia)


View along Steep Hill, Lincoln, just off Castle Square.


View across the gardens of Lincoln Cathedral, with the statue of Lord Tennyson in the foreground.



Stained glass windows in the nave of Lincoln Cathedral.


View of the intricate Gothic ceiling of Lincoln Cathedral, at the crossing.



Views of the knave and along the crossings of Lincoln Cathedral.

Lincoln was home to one of the five most important Jewish communities in England, well established before it was officially noted in 1154. In 1190, anti-semitic riots that started in King's Lynn, Norfolk, spread to Lincoln; the Jewish community took refuge with royal officials, but their habitations were plundered. The so-called 'House of Aaron' has a two-storey street frontage that is essentially 12th century and a nearby Jew's House likewise bears witness to the Jewish population. In 1255, the affair called 'The Libel of Lincoln' in which prominent Jews of Lincoln, accused of the ritual murder of a Christian boy ('Little Saint Hugh of Lincoln' in medieval folklore) were sent to the Tower of London and 18 were executed. The Jews were expelled en masse in 1290.
During the 13th century, Lincoln was the third largest city in England and was a favourite of more than one king. During the First Barons' War, it became caught up in the strife between the king and the rebel barons, who had allied with the French. It was here and at Dover that the French and Rebel army was defeated. In the aftermath of the battle, the town was pillaged for having sided with Prince Louis. However, during the 14th century, the city's fortunes began to decline.

The lower city was prone to flooding, becoming increasingly isolated, and plagues were common. In 1409, the city was made a county corporate. The Dissolution of the Monasteries further exacerbated Lincoln's problems, cutting off the main source of diocesan income and drying up the network of patronage controlled by the bishop, with no less than seven monasteries within the city alone closed down. This was accompanied by closure of a number of nearby parliamentary abbeys which led to a further diminishment of the region's political power. When the cathedral's great spire rotted and collapsed in 1549 and was not replaced, it was a significant symbol of Lincoln's economic and political decline. Between 1642 and 1651, during the English Civil War, Lincoln was on the frontier between the Royalist and Parliamentary forces and therefore changed hands several times. Many buildings were badly damaged. Lincoln now had no major industry, no easy access to the sea and was poorly placed. As a consequence of this, while the rest of the country was beginning to prosper in the beginning of the 18th century, Lincoln suffered immensely. 

By the Georgian era, Lincoln's fortunes began to pick up, thanks in part to the Agricultural Revolution. The re-opening of the Foss Dyke canal allowed coal and other raw materials vital to industry to be more easily brought into the city. Coupled with the arrival of the railway links, Lincoln boomed again during the Industrial Revolution, and several world-famous companies arose, such as Ruston's, Clayton's, Proctor's and William Foster's. Lincoln began to excel in heavy engineering, building diesel engine locomotives, steam shovels and all manner of heavy machinery. Lincoln was hit by a major typhoid epidemic between November 1904 and August 1905 caused by polluted drinking water from Hartsholme Lake and the River Witham. Over 1,000 people contracted the disease and fatalities totalled 113, including the very man responsible for the city's water supply, Matthew Robinson of Baker Crescent. Westgate Water Tower was constructed to provide new water supplies to the city. In the world wars, Lincoln switched to war production. The first ever tanks were invented, designed and built in Lincoln by William Foster & Co. during the First World War and population growth provided more workers for even greater expansion. The tanks were tested on land now covered by Tritton Road (in the south-west suburbs of the city). During the Second World War, Lincoln produced a vast array of war goods, from tanks, aircraft, munitions and military vehicles.

(courtesy of wikipedia)


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