Within two years of the Norman Invasion, the building of Lincoln Castle had begun.
When William the Conqueror was crowned King William I he was still having trouble with uprisings against his rule throughout the country. In order to protect his interests he built castles and one of those was Lincoln Castle. He built it on the same spot the Romans chose 1,000 years earlier for their stronghold because it was on a hill and it was strategic in securing his holdings in the south.
In the beginning it was constructed of wood but this was soon replaced by stone because there was a problem with fire with the wooden structure. Even in the beginning the castle had two mottes. Mottes are mounds of earth on which towers are built. Usually castles only had one motte. Roman walls were covered up with earth and the stone walls were built on top. Inside the castle walls is the bailey. During medieval times there would have been many buildings in the bailey to house soldiers, horses, workshops, and houses. Today the bailey is a large grassy area with a few buildings such as Cobb Hall, Lucy Tower, the bath house, and a prison. Also present is the Crown Court building.
The castle has been the site of two seiges. The first was in 1141 between King Steven and Empress Matilda when they were fighting over who should rule England. The second seige was in 1217 during the reign of King John. King John had all sorts of problems with his subjects and ended up signing the Magna Carta. One of the four known remaining copies of the signed Magna Carta is held in the castle and can be viewed by visiters. The Magna Carta is housed
in the prison building. Also in this building is the prison chapel. You will find the seating in the chapel very strange. Prisoners were locked into little compartment like seats so they could not see each other while they were attending the service.
The castle was used as a prison from 1787. Public hangings took place on top of Cobb Hall for all to see..
The street leading to the castle (and the cathedral) is called Steep Hill. I think you can guess why it is called that. It is steepest towards the bottom. The entrance that is used today is the east entrance.
Visitors can walk around the outside of the walls for a view of the enormous ramparts and views of Lincoln and the cathedral. You can have a guided tour if you like. They are free of charge and done by volunteers during the summer months. Personally I prefer to wander around at my own speed but lots of people really like tours.
From April through August the Lincoln Castle presents special programs such as medieval jousting, re-enactments, and open-air theatre and concerts. The summer schedule for 2007 is not available yet but as soon as it is, I will post it here.