The approach the Lincoln, its hill crowned by the Castle and Cathedral, is one of the most magnificent in Britain. Lincoln's Cathedral is perhaps the most beautiful and elegant of all Britain's great medieval churches and the Castle is well-preserved and intricate. One of the best approaches to these twin attractions which face each other across the top of the hill is from Steep Hill, a winding very appropriately named street from the more modern centre of Lincoln laying around the River Witham at the bottom of the hill.
Lincoln was founded by the Romans as Lindum, a settlement for retired Army veterans. By the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 it was one of England's largest towns. The earliest Castle was constructed in one corner of the Roman fort atop the hill by William I around 1068. The Domesday Book tells us that 166 houses were cleared to make space for the stone Castle which almost immediately followed William's initial construction.
The curtain wall was almost certainly built by Henry I and was in place by 1115. Lincoln Castle has two mottes, a feature it shares only with Lewes Castle in Sussex. Unlike at Lewes both mottes still form an intrical part of the Castle. The larger one is crowned by a handsome shell keep known as the Lucy Tower, the smaller motte (oddly on the same side of the curtain wall as the other) is crowned by the "Observation Tower" (pictured left in the photo), which despite the addition of a Victorian turret dates back to the 14th century.
Although the Anarchy wasn't very wide spread in Lincolnshire, the City of Lincoln itself was the scene of a great deal of violent struggle. The Earl of Chester held the Castle for Queen Matilda and during a battle in 1141 King Stephen himself was taken prisoner outside the Castle and held there for some time. In 1217 Prince Louis of France, on his return trip to England, laid siege to Lincoln Castle, unsuccessfully. This led to the construction of the two Gatehouses (one at the rear is now blocked up) as well as more extensions to the walls and towers.
The main Gatehouse (pictured) was heavily altered in the 14th Century, but by then the Castle had become the county court assize and gaol, a function it carried on until 1878. The whole of the area around the top of the hill was fortified during the late 13th and early 14th centuries.
Surprisingly the Civil War passed Lincoln by and allowed this wonderful Castle to survive in its present form. Today it is one of the essential Castles to visit in England and the City is one of the most picturesque places Britain possesses.
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