Lincoln Council has announced a new event to celebrate the city's rich historical past. The Lincoln Festival of History, which will take place from 4 to 6 May, will be divided into three sections, each exploring a particular era of the city's history. 

With preparations well underway for the upcoming festival, The Viking Herald learns more from Kirstin Griffiths, assistant officer for events, tourism, and culture. 

A celebration of history 

Lincoln, located in England's East Midlands region, has a long and fascinating history that dates back more than 2,000 years. Today, the stunning Lincoln Cathedral and the castle take pride of place among the city's monuments, though Lincoln also has a wealth of other historical buildings and sites. 

"We wanted to do something to celebrate the magnitude of Lincoln's history and highlight our stance as a historic city," Kirstin tells us. 

"Lincoln boasts some incredibly famous heritage sites such as the cathedral and the castle, as well as some hidden gems. It also has a rich history of Roman and Viking settlements." 

"Yet we had never done an event before which explored this and put Lincoln on the map as a historic tourist destination." 

One of the best-preserved Norman castles in England is the Lincoln Castle, which was constructed by William the Conqueror in the 11th century and takes pride of place among the city's monuments. Photo: Peter R Foster IDMA / Shutterstock

Three special eras 

Indeed, during Roman occupation, Lincoln was one of the most important towns in England – parts of the old Roman city wall and aqueduct can still be seen today. 

Then, after languishing in relative obscurity for several centuries, the city returned to prominence in the Viking Age when it was conquered by the Great Heathen Army and later became part of Norse rule under the Danelaw

The city continued to thrive in the Norman era, which saw the construction of the magnificent cathedral and Lincoln Castle. 

The new event has been purposely designed to incorporate these three notable eras. 

The Colosseum Quarter will present aspects of Roman history, the Realm of the Relics will explore both the Medieval period and the art of archeology, and the Viking Mint will present aspects of Norse life and the Viking influence on Lincoln. 

Entertaining Viking battle sequences will be held throughout the day, adding to the immersive experience of the event. Photo: Vikings of Middle England

The Viking zone 

As Kirstin explains, the Viking Mint zone is inspired by the Viking influence on the city. 

"The crumbling Roman ruins of Lincoln became an excellent spot for Viking settlers, and Lincoln became a very important Viking trading settlement by around the year 900," Kirstin says. 

"There are still reminders of Viking settlement in street names across Lincoln, including Danesgate, Flaxengate, and Saltergate." 

The Domesday Book of 1068 also records a number of Scandinavian surnames, and evidence of Norse brooch-making and metalwork from the era has been uncovered. 

In addition, archeologists have uncovered Viking coins made in both Lincoln and the nearby village of Torksey, where the Great Heathen Army spent the winter of 872-3. 

Given this significant past, the organizers were keen to showcase not only broader themes but also unique local stories. 

"The Viking Mint zone will be a Viking living history encampment with a free have-a-go coin minting activity that includes a Lincoln coin design. We want to demonstrate the real history of Lincoln's Viking coin mint," Kirstin tells us. 

"There will also be Viking tents with reenactors displaying calligraphy, games, armory, jewelry, and more, and fun Viking battle sequences throughout the day." 

Lincoln Cathedral was completed in 1092. It suffered severe damage in an earthquake in 1185 and was then rebuilt in the Gothic style over the following centuries. Photo: DrMoschi (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Plenty more to explore 

As Kirstin points out, even the biggest Viking enthusiasts should take the time to explore the other areas available. 

"In the Colosseum Quarter, you will find Roman living history and reenactment, including a Roman Market consisting of a blacksmith, a baker, a carpenter, basket weaving and more," Kirstin adds.

"The Realm of Relics is a zone of discovery with fun archeological digging activities by Up An At Em History and supported by the city's universities, who will be able to show the scientific and educational side of archeology. We will also have medieval axe-throwing activities!" 

In addition to the three themed zones, the festival will include historical reenactments at the castle, craft activities, and tours at Lincoln Cathedral. 

Other highlights of the event include talks and displays at the Lincoln Museum and a Time Traveller's Ball. 

Attendees can expect Viking tents showcasing calligraphy, games, armory, jewelry, and other aspects of Viking culture. Photo: Vikings of Middle England

The first of many? 

The three-day festival will take place during the first weekend of May, and the organizers hope to attract a wide range of people to the event. 

"The event has something for everyone," Kirstin tells us. "We want to demonstrate Lincoln's history to residents and visitors in both fun and educational ways." 

"We would like to bring vibrancy to our city and deliver a fantastic experience to people of all ages and dispositions." 

Naturally, Kirstin and the rest of the team hope the Lincoln Festival of History will become a regular annual event. 

"We expect visitors to consist of history lovers, families, and anyone else interested in learning about history and enjoying a fun and exciting event." 

"We aspire to entertain residents and attract visitors and hope that if we do this event again, it will continue to grow and boost tourism."

You can follow the events on Lincoln's Facebook page for more information and updates on the festival.

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