Archaeological face-off: London vs Lincoln

By Natasha Powers

Last October I left the smoke to head north and work as Senior Manager at Allen Archaeology. I think it would be fair to say that I got some pretty odd looks when I said where I was going but actually they have a lot in common…They both begin with L for starters…

London and Lincoln both have a mysterious prehistoric past, we know it’s there but only little glimpses of it come through at the edges from time to time.

The archaeology is dominated by the Romans: Londinium and Lindum were joined by Ermine Street. Both cities have considerable and visible remnants of City wall, amended and added to over the years, but here Lincoln wins as it has the only Roman gate still in use for traffic (some of it less than welcome). The City wall actually runs down the back gardens of the terrace of houses I live in, which I think is pretty cool.

Roman City wall, Lincoln

Roman City Wall (and the wall of my garden)

The Saxons also made a home in both places but left the perfectly good Roman ruins in favour of the watery bits downhill.

London might have the Tower and the Crown Jewels, but Lincoln has a newly restored castle and the Magna Carta (paper-y version and pub).

London was a little careless with its medieval buildings – apparently there was some big fire or something, whereas Lincoln’s medieval past is still very much on display, there’s even a bridge with houses on it…ahem…ours didn’t ‘fall down’…and whilst no-one can doubt the architectural or iconic credentials of St Paul’s Cathedral, Lincoln Cathedral is frankly incredible and, of course, home to an imp.

Lincoln Cathedral looking up!

Lincoln Cathedral…it’s big!

All in all I reckon Lincoln can give London a run for its archaeological money…Oh, and I’m still working in an ex-industrial building with a conveniently located pub nearby and a storeroom full of skeletons.