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Unraveling the Medieval Mysteries of Lincoln

submitted on 29 May 2023 by
It's a little-known fact that Lincoln, England, is a veritable treasure trove of medieval mysteries. Once upon a time, this charming city was one of the largest and wealthiest in the land, and it still retains its ancient allure. As an amateur medievalist with the investigatory prowess of a flea, I found myself magnetically drawn to this historic locale to dig up its secrets. Join me as I traipse through the cobblestoned streets of Lincoln, struggling to unearth its medieval marvels and possibly a few laughs along the way.

A Castle and a Cathedral: Lincoln's Dynamic Duo

My journey began at the Lincoln Castle, which was built by William the Conqueror in 1068. As if the castle's ancient stones could speak, I could almost hear them whispering their 1,000-year-old tales. In my excitement, I hopped up on the castle walls and was swiftly, yet gently, reprimanded by a kindly guard. Clearly, the medieval mysteries of Lincoln would not be revealed so easily. Undeterred, I ventured to the nearby Lincoln Cathedral, built in 1072. This enormous and slightly intimidating structure looms over the city like a watchful guardian. Fun fact: Lincoln Cathedral was the tallest building in the world (if you can believe it) for over 200 years until its spire collapsed in 1549. Inside, I was awed by the Gothic splendor and intricate stonework, as well as the tombs of several medieval bishops. More than once, I found myself doing the classic "cathedral shuffle" - that slow, head-tilted-back, mouth-agape walk that comes from being utterly overwhelmed by architectural magnificence.

The Street of Steepness: Heart, Lungs, and Legs Beware

From the castle and cathedral, I embarked on a perilous journey down Steep Hill, which is exactly what it sounds like - an astonishingly steep hill. This charming street is lined with quaint shops and cafes, but I was focused on my own survival as I navigated the uneven cobblestones and tried not to tumble headfirst into a tea room. I could almost hear my ancestors laughing at my modern day misadventures, as they too had once descended this street in their horse-drawn carts (or perhaps on their backs, as I momentarily feared).

Medieval Bishop's Palace: A Step Back in Time

Having survived Steep Hill, I stumbled upon the Medieval Bishop's Palace, which is now in ruins. However, it was once the largest and most luxurious residence in Lincoln. The palace was home to bishops, royalty, and even Richard II. I wandered through the remains of the Great Hall and the chapel, which still exuded an air of grandeur. I also discovered a working vineyard on the grounds, and if there's one thing I know about medieval folk, it's that they loved their wine. In the spirit of historical accuracy, I felt obliged to sample a glass or two.

The Jew's House: A Glimpse at Lincoln's Jewish Heritage

The medieval mysteries of Lincoln continued to unfold as I stumbled upon the Jew's House, a beautifully preserved 12th-century building. Once home to a prominent Jewish family, it's now a restaurant (because, of course, it is). Lincoln's Jewish community was tragically expelled from the city in 1290, but the Jew's House stands as a testament to their history and resilience. I contemplated this poignant piece of history over a plate of roast lamb, accompanied by a medieval minstrel's rendition of "Greensleeves."

The Stonebow and Guildhall: A Gateway to the Past

My final stop on this medieval mystery tour was the Stonebow and Guildhall. The Stonebow is an impressive gateway that dates back to the 14th century. Once a tax collector's office, it now houses the city's mayoral offices. The Guildhall, a 16th-century meeting place for Lincoln's guilds, is perched above the entrance. I climbed the narrow, winding staircase to the council chamber, where I browsed the collection of ancient relics and tried on the mayoral robes and chains (for historical purposes, of course). With my journey complete, I stood atop the Stonebow, gazing out over the medieval landscape of Lincoln. My quest to unravel the city's mysteries had been equal parts enlightening, entertaining, and exhausting. As I bid farewell to the ancient stones, I couldn't help but feel a connection to the countless generations who had walked these cobblestoned streets before me. Lincoln's medieval mysteries may never be fully unraveled, but that's all part of the magic of this timeless city.
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