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Episode 36 - Lincolnshire

Where is Lincolnshire?

In our thirty-sixth episode we talked about lots of interesting places and things in Lincolnshire, so here are some pictures and links if you're interested in finding out more!

Lincoln Cathedral

First built in 1072, Lincoln Cathedral is one of Europe’s finest Gothic buildings.

Once described by Victorian writer John Ruskin as "out and out the most precious piece of architecture in the British Isles and roughly speaking worth any two other cathedrals we have", Lincoln Cathedral is not to be missed.

With the Norman invasion of Britain in the 11th century, William the Conqueror commissioned Remigius de Fécamp, the first Bishop of Lincoln, to build Lincoln Cathedral. Foundations were laid in 1072 and on May 9th, 1092, it was consecrated, two days after the death of Bishop Remigius.

At the time of its consecration, Lincoln Cathedral was the head of the largest diocese in England - extending from the Humber to the Thames. 

After fires and earthquakes had demanded rebuilding of some of the cathedral, it took on a Gothic style of architecture. When the central spire was eventually raised in 1311, it became the tallest building in the world, taking the mantle from the Great Pyramid of Giza.

This lasted until 1549 when the spire collapsed in a storm.

One of the Lincoln Imps

Despite its size, the cathedral is filled with intricate detail. In Lincoln Cathedral the architects of the Gothic style perhaps reached the pinnacle of their art; it is an absolute must-see for anyone visiting Lincoln.

Lincolnshire Sausages

Whether you’re having a full English breakfast, bangers and mash, toad in the hole or a sausage casserole, you can’t beat Lincolnshire sausages!

Plump, juicy and bursting with flavour, there’s a lot to love about our county delicacy. As the name suggests, the sausages were first created right here in Lincolnshire and they’re still very much associated with the region to this day.

The powerful flavour of sage gives the Lincolnshire sausage its unique taste. Its open texture owes to an emphasis on coarsely grinding the meat used in making the sausage.

It is thought that it was first created in the 19th century. Unfortunately, however, no one knows exactly when, or by whom. The earliest recorded reference to a recipe for Lincolnshire sausages dates back to May 1886. However, the award-winning Grimsby butcher John Petit has claimed that his family recipe is the first, dating back to 1810.

Although its origins are still disputed, there’s one thing that no one can doubt: the popularity of the Lincolnshire sausage. The sausage recipe has proved a huge hit ever since it was first created. As such, they are now readily available all over the UK.

The Kingdom of Lindsey

The Roman city of Lindum Colonia was founded in the eastern section of the tribal territory of the Corieltavi.

Popularly known as Lindum (modern Lincoln), this seems to have produced Caer Lind Colun in the Brythonic language, with 'caer' meaning 'fort', and 'lind colun' being a shortening of Lindum Colonia.

The Barnetby le Wold Bull Rider

The city may have been the core of a post-Roman kingdom or an independent district under a Romanised magistrate in the early fifth century, but evidence for the history of the region until the tenth or eleventh centuries is extremely sketchy.

British Museum video about The Witham Shield

It might just as easily have remained under Britain's central administrative control, but perhaps not for long.

A kingdom seems to have been founded circa AD 480 by a newly-arrived group of Angles, perhaps intermingling with Germanic peoples who had been settled there beforehand as foederati, as well as with the native population.

Lincoln Museum

Located in the heart of the city, Lincoln Museum offers a unique insight into the history and archaeology of Lincolnshire, alongside an impressive art collection and a wealth of treasures at the Usher Gallery.

The Fiskerton Log Boat, c.400 B.C.

Lincoln Museum offers artefacts from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages, Roman, Saxon, Viking and Medieval eras.

Spilsby Brooch, c.9th century

The Usher Gallery boasts a wide collection of ceramics, clocks, watches, silver and miniatures as well as artwork from esteemed artists like Turner, Lowry and Grayson Perry.

Roman Knife Handles

Lincoln Castle

Built almost 1000 years ago by William the Conqueror, Lincoln Castle has witnessed some of the most dramatic events in English history.

After William the Conqueror's victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he faced continuing resistance and ordered the construction of a castle at Lincoln as part of his strategy to control the rebellious north of the kingdom.

The castle's commanding position not only afforded far reaching views, it also served as a reminder to the local population that the Normans were in charge.

Centuries earlier, the Roman invaders had built their legionary fortress on this hilltop. In 1068, the Normans constructed their motte and bailey castle here, re-using the remaining stone walls of the later Roman city, Lindum Colonia.

The castle walls were built in stone in the late 11th century, replacing the temporary wooden palisade. Lucy Tower, a permanent stone 'shell' keep replaced the first wooden keep on the earth mound.

Tattershall Castle

Rising proudly from the flat Lincolnshire fens, Tattershall Castle, with its huge Gothic fireplaces and church-like windows, was designed to impress. Built by Lord Ralph Cromwell, Treasurer of England, it was designed to show off his wealth, position and power.

The Great Tower is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of English medieval brickwork and was saved from exportation to America by Lord Curzon of Kedleston in 1911.

Crowland Abbey

Crowland Abbey was a monastery of the Benedictine Order in Lincolnshire, sixteen miles from Stamford and thirteen from Peterborough. It was founded in memory of St. Guthlac early in the eighth century by Ethelbald, King of Mercia, but was entirely destroyed and the community slaughtered by the Danes in 866.

Refounded in the reign of King Edred, it was again destroyed by fire in 1091, but rebuilt about twenty years later by Abbot Joffrid. In 1170 the greater part of the abbey and church was once more burnt down and once more rebuilt, under Abbot Edward. From this time the history of Crowland was one of growing and almost unbroken prosperity down to the time of the Dissolution.

Richly endowed by royal and noble visitors to the shrine of St. Guthlac, it became one of the most opulent of East Anglian abbeys; and owing to its isolated position in the heart of the fen country, its security and peace were comparatively undisturbed during the great civil wars and other national troubles.

Lincolnshire Wolds

This is a wonderful area of countryside with some of the most beautiful, unspoilt scenery in the East Midlands.

There are rolling hills and hidden valleys, gentle streams and nestling villages.

Most of the Lincolnshire Wolds was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1973 following considerable local campaigning. This designation means the landscape is some of Britain's finest countryside.

It is a living, working landscape, with woodland, grassland and abandoned chalk pits providing important habitats for rare flowers and wildlife.

Lincolnshire Marshes

Lincolnshire’s grazing marshes stretch from Grimsby to Gibraltar Point just inland from the coast.

The wildlife of the marshes was once rich and varied with vast swathes of seasonally wet grassland crisscrossed by a network of ditches. The land was dry enough for livestock to graze during the summer months, but created ideal conditions for flocks of waders and birds such as lapwing and snipe. Ditches provided ideal habitat for water voles and otters, dragonflies and damselflies.

The area’s culture and history is closely associated with traditional farming methods using livestock to graze fertile, moisture retaining, ancient pastures where species rich hay meadows were cut for forage.

Around the villages, land was cultivated, producing ridge and furrow features. Archaeological evidence shows saltmaking dating from the Bronze and Iron ages and impressive churches mark former wealth and patronage.

Many of the marshes historic features still remain, as do swathes of wet grassland some of which has been recreated in recent years.

St Andrew's Church, Stainfield

St Andrews church was built on the site of the only Benedictine priory in Lincolnshire; finds of sculptural and architectural fragments from the 14th century indicate the site of the priory church and buildings.

An interesting feature is a series of cross stitch embroideries. There are five panels in all, containing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed.

Tattered banners used to hang in the church. Some say they were the battle standards of the Drake family; others that they were embroidered by the ladies of the Tyrwhitt family, and others believe they were the clothes of a wild man, who lived in the woods.

The Wild Man of Stainfield, so the legend says, was asleep on a bank by a pit, but his presence had disturbed a plover’s nest. The parent birds made such a noise that they attracted the attention of Tyrwhitt-Drake as he rode by, who saw the man and killed him.

No one seems to be able to set a date when he was supposed to have lived in the woods and kill cattle, sheep and, according to some versions, people too; explanations differ, but whatever the answers to these questions, the story of the wild man of Stainfield continues to interest those who hear it.

The Black Dog of Lincolnshire

In 1938, Lincolnshire folklorist, Ethel H. Rudkin published THE BLACK DOG, in Vol 49 of the journal of the Folklore Society.

Adapted from an earlier talk and several decades of collecting people's accounts across Lincolnshire, it stands as the best overview we have of the Black Dog phenomenon in the county.

In it she says of the people who she spoke to.

"The people who can supply these details are of the hard-working, normal, strong-minded type, who can tell you quite truly and simply what they have seen, because there is no doubt about it in their minds. They know that what they have seen is not a real dog--they will tell you as much."

Meetings with the black dog are often brief, oddly many stories share a similarity where the dog appears quite suddenly popping through a gap in a hedge or a gateway. Some people commuting a certain path might see it almost semi regularly, and in these cases the dogs seems to follow the same fixed route almost like a recording.

The Demon Church

St Botolph’s Church in Skidbrooke is among the most haunted spots in Lincolnshire and is a centre for unexplained paranormal activity.

The isolated, abandoned church has had many dealings with Satanist groups over the past few decades. Because of this, Skidbrooke has been the subject of much publicity due to reports of paranormal activity at the church.

Several ghosthunters have reported unusual goings-on at the building, and the church was nicknamed ‘the Demon church’ after it became popular with the Satanist groups of 1970’s and 1980’s.

In 2004, St. Botolph’s church was in the news for having been the place where animal sacrifices had taken place, and satanic graffiti had been found on the walls.

Visitors have reported seeing a ghostly monk on the site, seeing odd lights and hearing sounds of storms in calm weather, and hearing strange, unexplained noises at night.

The Isle of Axholme and "The Little Men of Wroot"

Map design © Alex Merrick

The Isle of Axholme was once an extremely remote area, and it must have teemed with stories and superstitions. The central part is clay, so giving a more substantial area for habitation than the surrounding wide, deep swamps.

But in these bogs were little islands of firmer ground such as Wroot, called the Island of Wroot in 1157.

The little creeping black flies that often appear before a thunderstorm are known as the "Little Men of Wroot" on account of a folktale that the men of the island were smote during a thunderstorm and cursed into insects.

The Tiddy Mun of Ancholme Vale

Old Norse homesteads stretch in a chain across ancient ridges, and the market town of Brigg (from the Old Norse “bryggja”, meaning ‘jetty’) marked narrow point in the sodden marshland that spilled out from the banks of River Ancholme.

Once called the Lincolnshire Carrs (from the Old Norse “kjarr”, meaning ‘swamp’), this isolated wetland in the shadow of the rolling Humber marked the southern boundaries of the Anglo-Norse world of the Danelaw, leaving their place names, dialect words and log boats behind them, and the boundaries between the world of spirit and the world of men.

These dark lonely waters drew hermits, Anchorites, and the Gilbertine priory of Newstead on Ancholme, and birthed tales of dead men’s voices and cold sepulchral fingers grasping at the ankles of the unwary, dancing will o’ the wisps leading travellers to their deaths, witches who rode blackened branches, and – in the words of folklorist Katharine Mary Briggs – “queer, primeval, dangerous spirits, breathing pestilence.”

According to a tale recorded by the folklorist and novelist Marie Clothilde Balfour in Legends of the Carrs (1891), when the Carrs were drained to reclaim marshland for farming, cows grew sick and died, milk curled, ponies became lame, and walls collapsed in.

Tiddy Mun had once protected the Carr-dwellers from floods, but now their sacred soil and swamp had been violated. Their fury was as unstoppable and insidious as the treacherous swell that had once been his demesne...

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This is a sneaky little comment on the St Valentines Day episode! Eleanor, you must add one more Jeoffry to your list of favorite Jeoffrys/Geoffries/Jeffries! Please do not overlook Christopher Smart's most excellent cat:

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