Monday, April 02, 2007

Lincoln III: Lincoln Castle

The towers of Lincoln Cathedral and the Observation Tower of Lincoln Castle, from inside the castle.

Construction on Lincoln Castle began soon after the Conquest. The Castle and Cathedral, facing each other across the square, were a potent symbol of the power of the new Norman regime. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Lincoln Castle housed a prison, organized on the Pentonville system, in which prisoners were kept strictly segregated. Condemned criminals were hanged on one of the castle towers (known as "the long drop"), and buried inside the old castle keep. The old Georgian prison building now houses a display on the Magna Carta (Lincoln is home to one of four remaining originals, though when we visited it was on its way to the United States for a tour). We visited the Victorian cell block and the eerie prison chapel, in which hooded prisoners were segregated into enclosed, coffin-like pews.

The east gate of Lincoln Castle. The brick building to the left beyond the arch is the Georgian prison building; the colonnaded building straight ahead is the Crown Court.

The castle keep, atop one of the castle's two mottes. Lincoln Castle is one of only two castles in England with two mottes. Inside the keep is a courtyard containing the graves of prisoners executed in the prison in the nineteenth century.

Clara has promised to blog in more detail about Roman Lincoln. I'll let you know when she gets around to it.

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