Lincoln (Friday January 25):
Lincoln is a small city of great historic interest and importance. I went there with all 160 students and several Harlaxton staff and faculty members as part of an academic field trip for the British Studies core course. The Romans came and set up their military fortress here in 48 A.D. Later it became a walled town and was given the status of a colonia, or a chartered town in which soldiers settled upon retirement. The Romans made Lincoln one of the finest cities in Britain introducing an aqueduct that supplied drinking water pumped from a source 1.5 miles away and built an elaborate stone sewage system that was unique in the country at the time. After the Romans left, Anglo-Saxons and later the Danish (Vikings) ruled the city. During the middle ages, Lincoln prospered on the wool trade and later developed as an industrial center in the mid-19th century.
In the last 2,000 years, the ground level of the city has risen by 8 feet. Excavation is gradually revealing parts of the Roman city. Today visitors can tour Lincoln Castle which was begun in 1068, Lincoln Cathedral which is absolutely stunning (I couldn’t stop taking pictures and I’m sure they don’t do it justice!), and Steep Hill which is a very quaint cobbled (& steep) street that now has shops, restaurants and pubs that were fun to explore.
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Liverpool (Saturday January 26):
The next day, I went on another day trip, also organized by Harlaxton, to Liverpool. Before this trip, the only thing I really knew about Liverpool was that The Beatles were from there, but found there is much more to the city than that. Liverpool is a city with medieval origins and was granted “borough status” in 1207 by King John. It remained a small settlement until the 18th century when it rapidly developed as a port and trading city. It became one of the most significant ports in the world — goods passed through Liverpool from across the British Empire and around the globe. With that, Liverpool was also at one point the largest slave trading port in Europe. Between 1695 and 1807, the port sent 5,300 slave ships on their voyages. Today, there is an International Slavery Museum in Liverpool which I found to be very interesting — it touches on West African culture and history, the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, legacies and prominent figures that emerged from it, and modern day slavery issues which includes a campaign center.
Liverpool was also the point of entry for immigrants and so the city prospered from mass immigration in the 19th century, especially from Ireland where people had left to escape the Potato Famine. In the 20th century, as its industrial role waned, Liverpool has become best known for music and sports. I spent my day in Liverpool wandering the city and visited The Beatles Story museum, Albert Dock, the International Slavery Museum, Merseyside Maritime Museum, Liverpool Cathedral, Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, and St. George’s Hall.
Stamford (Wednesday January 30):
Stamford is another town of architectural and historic importance. Its recorded history stretches back well over 1,000 years ago. The first major settlement came to prominence in the 9th and 10th centuries and became famous as a manufacturing center producing pottery and cloth. The town had excellent communications making it a successful place for trade, and it was even mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part 2. By the 13th century, Stamford was among the 10 largest towns in England; in addition to a castle, it had 14 churches, 2 monastic institutions, and 4 friaries, as well as a short-lived university in the 14th century. Many buildings have survived from this period and are still standing today. The arrival of the railway in the 1830s signaled an end to the prosperous trading days and to Stamford’s fortunes. However, the lack of industrialization has preserved Stamford so that the historic urban feel survives to this day.