One of the must-see attractions for anyone visiting the city, Lincoln Castle is absolutely brimming with history. The castle was built by William the Conqueror in 1068, following the Battle of Hastings, as he attempted to bolster his position in the north and the Midlands with a series of strongholds that also included the fortification of Warwick, Nottingham and York.
The Lincoln Castle that we can explore today stands in the place of a former Roman fortress and has been intertwined with the city’s heritage for nearly a millennium. Towering more than 100 feet above the countryside to the south and west, the site was of clear strategic importance. It was also sited at one of the country’s major crossroads, bisecting the road from London to York, while also having great waterway connections.
Lincoln Castle has changed a lot over the years and played a vital role in the history of the county. Pay a visit and you’ll see that there are three main attractions. First of all, the Medieval Wall Walk gives you the opportunity to walk the full circumference of the castle’s walls. Pedometers will tell you that the journey adds up to around a third of a mile. While wandering, you’ll get some wonderfully impressive views of the cathedral, the city and its surrounding countryside – especially if you fancy clambering up the Observatory Tower. You’ll also have the chance to explore some of the castle’s towers and dungeons, and learn about some of the brutal battles that have taken place amidst the castle grounds.
The castle’s second attraction is the Victorian Prison. In the thirty years spanning between 1848 and 1878, men, women and children were held here for crimes ranging from cold-blooded murder to the stealing of a waistcoat. The prison has undergone some seriously extensive refurbishment over the years. Today, it’s an incredible way to immerse yourself in what it could have possibly been like for prisoners behind bars during the Victorian period. Spanning three floors, you can visit the cells themselves, watch specially commissioned films, delve into interactive exhibits and try to spot which areas were used for the filming of Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife.
The third and final main attraction of the castle is the Magna Carta. One of the most important documents in world history, it enshrined the principle that the king must act within the boundaries of the law. One of only four original copies dated 1215, Lincoln’s is actually owned by Lincoln Cathedral but is on permanent loan to the castle, which is now the only place on the planet where you can see it alongside the 1217 Charter of the Forest. As you’d expect from a document of such global significance, you can’t really leave it out willy-nilly for anyone to get their mitts on. No, it’s housed inside the David PJ Ross Magna Carta Vaul, which is the focal point of the castle following its £22 million restoration.
One last thing, if you’re planning on paying a visit to Lincoln Cathedral too, be sure to look into the joint ticket that allows you to explore both attractions while saving you over 25% on separate ticket prices.