History of Lincolnshire

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North Kesteven
South Kesteven
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Lincolnshire specific articles
Diocese of Lincoln

Lincolnshire, England derived from the merging of the territory of the ancient Kingdom of Lindsey with that controlled by the Danelaw borough Stamford. For some time the entire county was called 'Lindsey', and it is recorded as such in the Domesday Book. Later, Lindsey was applied only the northern core, around Lincoln, and emerged as one of the three 'Parts of Lincolnshire', along with the Parts of Holland in the south-east and Kesteven in the south west.

In 1888 when county councils were set up, Lindsey, Holland and Kesteven each received their own separate one. These survived until 1974, when Holland, Kesteven, and most of Lindsey were unified into Lincolnshire, and the northern part, with Scunthorpe and Grimsby, going to the newly formed non-metropolitan county of Humberside, along with most of the East Riding of Yorkshire.

A further local government reform in 1996 abolished Humberside, and the parts south of the Humber became the unitary authorities of North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. These areas became part of Lincolnshire for ceremonial purposes such as the Lord-Lieutenancy, but are not covered by the Lincolnshire police. These two authorities are in the Yorkshire and the Humber region.

The remaining districts of Lincolnshire are Boston, East Lindsey, Lincoln, South Holland, South Kesteven, North Kesteven and West Lindsey. They are part of the East Midlands region.

Pre-Roman and Roman

Lincolnshire before the Romans was occupied by a subdivision of the Iceni tribe, called the Coritani or Corieltauvi. There have been several small pre-roman barrows discovered near to Boston and Frampton.

The Romans had established permanent government in Lincolnshire by AD 43, but the tyrannical rule of the Roman sub-prætor Ostorius Scapula so inflamed the Coritani and their neighbours in Yorkshire, the Brigantes, that they conducted a simmering low key rebellion lasting well into AD 70.

Eventually, the Governorship of Britain was given to the Deputy of the Prefect of Gaul and the title Vicar of Britain created. He resided at York, and the sub-district of Flavia Caesaeriensis, which comprised Lincolnshire and parts of the Midlands created.

Once established, the Romans set about improving Lincolnshire. They created the Car Dyke, a series of semi-natural and artificial boundary ditches which run from the River Welland at Market Deeping for 64km to the River Witham at Washingborough. Dug the navigable Foss Dyke, running from the River Witham at Lincoln to the River Trent at Torksey. Constructed hard standings and walkways across the fens and also built inland ports such as the Brayford Pool at Lincoln.

The main Roman forts in Lincolnshire were:

The Romans built three main roads through Lincolnshire:

Other roads of Roman origin are the Salters' Way, continuing the line from the Leicestershire border across Ermine Street near Old Somerby, to the then coast at Donington. King Street including The Long Hollow road, joined Ancaster to the fen edge and Durobrivae near Peterborough. Two roads linked Lincoln to the coast across the Wolds. This was used as part of the defence system set up to protect the Saxon Shore and re-used by William the Conqueror in conjunction with Lincoln Castle. There are also scores of smaller sections of roads branching off from the three major routes which are certainly Roman as well, linking Ermine street with the Wolds and King Street with the coast. Also, Mareham Lane continued the fen-edge line of King Street northwards.

When the Romans departed in the fifth century, all these works gradually fell into ruin and disrepair.

The Saxons and the Danes

The Britons, left to their own devices by the Romans, quickly fell into anarchy, but external attacks by the Picts and Scots forced the Britons to organise into military dictatorships, and cooperate to repel the threat. However, the size of the military threat was such that they were forced to hire Saxon Mercenaries to help then, and no sooner had the Picts and Scots been defeated and repelled, then the Saxons turned on the Britons, who were by now led by Vortigern and the legendary King Arthur.

Legend has it that Arthur almost succeeded in ejecting the Saxons, but died in circa. 520 and the Britons, now lacking a strong leader, were gradually pushed west by the Saxons. This was no easy conquest — it took 111 years from the death of Arthur to the establishment of the Saxon Heptarchy, as the seven kingdoms of Kent, East Anglia, Essex, Sussex, Wessex, Northumbria and Mercia were known.

Mercia was the largest, comprising Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and parts of some other counties. The Druid culture of the Britons that the Romans were quite happy to let alone was now crushed and the pagan sun and moon worship of the Saxons prevailed. This alarmed Pope Gregory I who in 590 he sent Augustine, a Roman monk to England to convert the English. A second mission was sent in 628, which included Paulinus.

The Kingdom of Mercia existed for about 300 years.

The lasting legacy of this period was the division by Alfred the Great of the County into areas of land using Feudal measurement.

In 768, the Danes, lead by Hinguar and Hubba, lead an invasion force and landed at Humberstone, near Grimsby. They burnt, looted, raped and pillaged their way across Lincolnshire, destroying the Abbeys at Crowland and Bardney, and murdering the monks.

The Norman Conquest

The Anglo-Saxon nobility of Lincolnshire was destroyed by William the Conqueror, and the lands divided amongst his followers. He constructed Lincoln Castle, and another at Tattershall, and imposed a curfew on the populace.

The English Civil War

During the war, Lincolnshire was part of the Eastern Association, the Parliamentarian alliance. On its western border lay the Royalist strongholds, of Newark on Trent and Belvoir Castle. Lincolnshire was therefore raided and defended by the respective parties. For a time, Crowland, in the south of the county was fortified for the king.

Lincolnshire was important to the Parliamentarians as it provided access between the great arsenal of Hull and the south and the Eastern Association's heartland in the east of England. It also offered a potential starting line for an advance across the English midlands, cutting the north of England off from the west.

World War Two


In the late 1930s, despite its coastal holiday industry, distant and near water fishing industries, iron mining and smelting, heavy machinery manufacturing, the country's main road and railway lines and growing number of airfields, Lincolnshire was large enough to give an impression of being a largely unvisited, peaceful agricultural backwater until the Second World War, when its extent, gentle topography and relative proximity to the enemy led to a further expansion in the number of Royal Air Force stations in the county. By 1945 the number of RAF bases exceeded 46. Some of these had by that stage been lent to the Eighth United States Army Air Force. The very first airfields had been built for the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service, the first of them at Skegness, on the coast, in 1912, when the RFC was established. Among the more famous Royal Air Force stations in the county was and is RAF Cranwell. This had begun as The Royal Naval Air Service Central Training Establishment, Cranwell; commonly known as HMS Daedalus, commissioned 1 April 1916. It became the RAF Officer Training College after the formation of the RAF in April 1918. RAF Swinderby was a Polish-manned RAF station and from 1964, the RAF's main Recruit Training Camp. RAF Scampton, was the home base of 617 Squadron.

Lincolnshire still has the strongest claim to being the 'home' of RAF Bomber Command, playing host to many squadrons, including the Lancaster bombers of the famous 617 Dambusters squadron who were based at RAF Scampton. There were two Bomber Groups based in the county - No. 1 in the north and No. 5 Group in the centre and south. The Battle of Britain memorial flight is still led by a Lancaster named The City of Lincoln.

Before the war, Sir Frank Whittle had attended RAF Cranwell, near Sleaford, in the late 1920s. Here he formulated his ideas for the jet engine. On May 15th 1941, the world's first true jet-engine flight took place at Cranwell, by the Gloster E.28/39.

Most of the airfields were closed after the war and, although most have been built over, disused airfields, abandoned control towers and crumbling concrete bunkers and airfield buildings remain a physical feature of the county in a number of places. Many people in Lincolnshire have learned to drive a car on the disused concrete airstrips of the county.

Cold War History

RAF Waddington and RAF Scampton formed two of the main bases for the V Bomber Force, flying Vulcans, during the Cold War, while Thor missiles were stationed on former wartime air stations at for example, RAF Folkingham.

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