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Making History in Lincolnshire
The diverse and rich heritage of the large county of Lincolnshire has attracted attention from antiquarians since the sixteenth century. The Tudor travelling scholar, John Leland, noted, in particular, surviving medieval features and finds of Roman coins on a visit to the city of Lincoln in 1544, and he was followed by William Camden. The coverage in Camden’s Britannia, first published in 1586, was revised and much augmented by Richard Gough (1789; reprinted 1806). Gough in turn had relied on the work of two Lincolnshire-based antiquaries, William Stukeley and Thomas Sympson. Stukeley, originally from Holbeach, was a physician and later a clergyman, and was a friend of Isaac Newton. Among the maps that Stukeley produced for his Itinerarium Curiosum (1724) was one of Lincoln’s Roman remains and an engraving of Trinity Bridge at Crowland, both included in this exhibition. Sympson, who held posts at the cathedral, noted the Roman hypocaust uncovered near to Exchequergate in 1739-40 and helped to record the details. The accurate watercolour depiction of this discovery by the Society’s engraver George Vertue also features in the exhibition.

Lincolnshire’s lost heritage

The Lincolnshire botanist and antiquary, Sir Joseph Banks, became a leading member of the Society in addition to his role as President of the Royal Society. He collected artefacts, including some found in the River Witham in 1787, and it was he who presented to the Society in 1800 the Roman bronze foreleg from an imperial equestrian statue. Among other nineteenth-century finds of note from the river east of Lincoln were the Witham Shield (now in the British Museum) and a remarkable lost Anglo-Saxon hanging-bowl, while chance finds from further north in the county included prehistoric boats and Roman villa mosaics. The county’s monastic houses have also been the subject of archaeological attention for centuries.

A formal structure for archaeological research in the county was only established in 1946, and that was superseded with the foundation of professional units from the early 1970s. The City of Lincoln, the Fens and the Witham Valley, Anglo-Saxon cemeteries, together with medieval settlement, are among projects since that date that have all produced discoveries of national importance.

In about 1740 a Roman underfloor heating system discovered to the west of Lincoln Cathedral by workmen digging a cellar. Unusually for the time, George Vertue, the Society's engraver, showed excavations of the remains in perspective, with a plan, elevation and details precisely measured. The hypocaust can still be seen below the Deanery.

Excavation of a Hypocaust at Lincoln
Collection of Bronze Age Weapons

Discovered prior to 1747 while firewood was being collected on Burringham Moor, North Lincolnshire, these weapons were later presented by the landowner to a local antiquary, Mr George Stovin. Stovin notified the Society of Antiquaries of these discoveries, for which this illustration was made. The Society was unable to keep such items due to a lack of storage space. The current whereabouts of these finds is unknown.

These drawings depict a right leather shoe, human hand and a long bone belonging to a female body buried in the peat, possibly the victim of human sacrifice. The find was made on Amcotts Moor, Isle of Axholme, North Lincolnshire, in 1747, and reported to a local antiquary, George Stovin, who had the body removed. While the bog body was reburied in a local churchyard, the shoe, hand and long bone were sent to the Society of Antiquaries in London. The shoe is of Roman type dating to the late third to fourth centuries AD. The left shoe remains in the possession of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society.

Drawing of a Roman Shoe
Horkstow Roman Mosaic

The Roman villa at Horkstow was discovered in 1796 when three mosaics dating from the mid-fourth century AD were found. They were surveyed and published by the Society's Director, Samual Lysons. The Mosaic of the Painted Ceiling is the second largest in Britain after Woodchester; its unusual coloured background imitates the interior of a dome. This engraving shows the much damaged central compartment, and there have been other losses since discovery. The remaining fragments are in Hull City Museums.

Cast bronze left foreleg and hoof of a horse, probably from a life-sized official Imperial statue of an emperor on horseback. The fragment was discovered in Lincoln in the late eighteenth century, but the exact find-spot is uncertain. It was presented to the Society of Antiquaries in 1800 by the famous botanist and antiquary Sir Joseph Banks FSA, a member of Lincolnshire gentry. This is the first time the leg has been back to Lincoln since its presentation to the Society over two hundred years ago.

Part of leg from equestrian statue
Plan of Lincoln

William Stukeley drew this plan in the course of one of his journeys through England looking for historical remains, and published it in the resulting book Itinerarium Curiosum (1724). The author intended to give an impression of Lincoln when it was a Roman centre of provincial government, the colonia Lindensium. He also depicted medieval walls and monuments as well as the outer city areas. The map is dedicated to Joseph Banks junior, the grandfather of Sir Joseph Banks.

William Stukeley (1687-1765) was the first Secretary of the Society of Antiquaries and an early student of Stonehenge. His scientific approach combining detailed drawings and accurate measurements earned him the description 'the father of British field archaeology'. Stukeley had strong Lincolnshire connections. He was born in Holbeach, practised medicine in Boston and Grantham and served as a clergyman in Stamford before moving to London in 1747.

William Stukeley
Croyland Bridge, Lincolnshire

The triangular bridge now known as Trinity Bridge, Crowland, is unique in Britain. An earlier timber triangular bridge is recorded here in 943 AD. The present one was built in stone by the monks of Crowland Abbey between c.1360 and 1390. In Stukeley's time, the River Welland and one of its tributaries still flowed beneath it, although he commented: "tis too steep to be commonly rode over". Fenland drainage and river diversion have now left the bridge stranded on dry land.

The abbey was founded in 716 AD; however this undated engraving represents the ruined West Front which was remodelled in the mid 13th cent in a style similar to Westminster Abbey and Lincoln Cathedral. The nave roof collapsed in 1720 due to poor maintenance by the parish which retained it as its church after the Reformation. Through the west window can be seen the south wall of the nave which was demolished in 1743 for building material.

The ruins of the west front of the church belonging to Croyland Abby in Lincoln-shire
Ancient Cross at Somersby

This original watercolour was prepared for publication in Archaeologia, the journal of the Society of Antiquaries. An article was submitted by Rev John Carter, who was a Fellow of the Society and husband to the artist, Ellen Carter. Carter was an illustrator for several periodicals at the time and produced a range of works on archaeological subjects.

This monumental brass illustrates the armour and costume of the period, including a plumed helmet. The ink impression was made by covering the brass with a layer of printers' ink, the excess removed and then overlying it with damp paper. Pressure was applied by means of a heavy object so that the ink in the incised lines of the brass transferred to the paper, leaving an impression in reverse. This was an alternative to the traditional method of rubbing wax on paper over the surface of the brass.

Sir Henry Cholmeley and wife Alice, 1620, Burton Coggles, Lincs.
A plan and survey of the Castle Hill, Wall & Ditches at Folkingham in the county of Lincoln

Joseph Featherstone's earthwork survey of Folkingham Castle is an example of how recording methods of large-scale monuments, ruins and buried remains were becoming increasingly more accurate by the mid eighteenth century. To the left of the scaled drawing Featherstone has included an extract from William Camden's Britannia of 1610, giving a potted history of the castle, including reference to the gift of the castle by William the Conqueror to his nephew Baron Gilbert De Gaunt.

During the late eighteenth century Jacob Schnebbelie was hired by the Society of Antiquaries as its draughtsman. A skilled professional artist, he produced a large body of work for the Society recording artefacts, monuments, historic sites and buildings - much of which was used in Society publications. This watercolour of an 'antique chapel' from Grantham is part of a series that was not subsequently published.

Perspective view of the interior of an antique chapel at Grantham
The South Prospect of the Cathedral church of Lincoln

Daniel King was an engraver who produced a large body of work on English and Welsh historic buildings in the 17th century. Some of his plates were included in the antiquary Sir William Dugdale's Monasticon Anglicanum (1655); however the majority formed the basis of his own publication The Cathedrall and Conventual Churches of England and Wales in 1656. This book was one of the earliest publications to show views of English cathedrals, of which these two aspects of Lincoln are examples.

William Lumby was one of the architects charged with overseeing restoration of Lincoln Cathedral during the late 18th century. It was during these works that Lumby drew several scaled profiles of the Cathedral for publication in the Society of Antiquaries series Vetusta Monumenta. Many of England's great cathedrals were being recorded in such a manner at this time, utilising increasingly accurate survey methods to create a historical record of the state of the fabric before renovations were made.

Lincoln Cathedral
Bronze Age weapons

These spearheads, daggers and looped palstave axe were discovered at various locations across Lincolnshire, including Fiskerton and Lincoln, and were all casual finds. They are very similar to the objects from Axholme illustrated in the drawing.

Two kilometres east of Lincoln the Greetwell Villa may have been the residence of the provincial governor. This box flue tile has a combed decoration on two faces and was discovered during the villa excavations in 1891. The square tiles are from another hypocaust found at Cottesford Place.

Hypocaust tiles
Fragment of mosaic floor

Many mosaic pavements have been discovered in Lincolnshire, and antiquarian drawings of are for some the only record of their existence. This small fragment of a mosaic, from an unknown site, illustrates the difficulties museums encounter when details of site and discovery are not recorded.

Drawing of Roman funerary vessels by Ellen Carter, wife of local antiquary Rev John Carter. The drawings were published in Carter's report on Roman graves found at Lincoln in the Society of Antiquaries' journal Archaeologia for 1796.

Drawing with funerary vessels found at Lincoln
Wheel cross fragment

An abbey of the Benedictine Order was founded at Bardney in the 11th Century. In October 1536 a local rebellion (the Lincolnshire Rising) broke out against the Dissolution and six monks from Bardney, implicated in the rebellion, were hanged, drawn and quartered at Lincoln in March 1537. The monastery was dissolved in 1538. Excavations in the early twentieth century brought hundreds of tools to light such as these shear and sickle blades and a latch lifter. Much stonework from the original abbey buildings was also found, but this fragment is the only possible evidence so far for the pre-Conquest Abbey.

An abbey of the Benedictine Order was founded at Bardney in the 11th Century. In October 1536 a local rebellion (the Lincolnshire Rising) broke out against the Dissolution and six monks from Bardney, implicated in the rebellion, were hanged, drawn and quartered at Lincoln in March 1537. The monastery was dissolved in 1538. Excavations in the early twentieth century brought hundreds of tools to light such as these shear and sickle blades and a latch lifter. Much stonework from the original abbey buildings was also found, but this fragment is the only possible evidence so far for the pre-Conquest Abbey.

Iron tools
Album on Bardney Abbey excavations

The Reverend Charles Laing, vicar of Bardney, undertook the excavation of Bardney Abbey in 1909 and, together with his team of labourers, worked for six years to unearth the remains of the main abbey buildings. He published a report of the excavations in 1922, but before this put together an album of newspaper cuttings and photographs, annotated with his own notes on the excavations.

This drawing illustrates how Bardney Abbey may have looked in the fourteenth century, before the Dissolution. The artist, David Vale, worked as an architect in Lincoln for most of his working life, where he developed his interest in Lincolnshire's past and his talent in reconstructing it.

Reconstruction drawing of Bardeny Abbey from the East
Probable grave assemblage

In 2007 metal detectorist Dave Robinson discovered a significant group of high-status jewellery near Sleaford dating to the sixth century AD. The finds include gilt copper-alloy brooches, glass beads and a copper-alloy 'girdle-hanger'. These objects would have belonged to a very wealthy female who was part of the elite in society at the time.

In 2006 metal detectorist Keith Kelway discovered a rare group of chariot fittings known as 'terret-rings' east of Lincoln. Terret-rings were attached to the yoke of a chariot or cart and were used as reign-guides. It is possible that the site was a ritual area used for votive offerings of prestige metal work.

Chariot fittings
Possible sword pommel

This object was discovered in September 2009 by Keith Kelway in the 'Terret' field east of Lincoln. No parallel for the object has been found, though it is probably a sword pommel. Swords were important symbols of status and power in the Iron Age.

Much of the earliest Celtic art is found on weapons and horse-trappings, and most of these objects are discovered in circumstances that suggest ritual deposition. This terret-ring has been decorated on both sides with repeated triangular cells filled with enamel. This object would have been a costly offering. It was found by Keith Kelway.

Enamelled Terret ring
Dress hook, Whaplode

This is a newly recognised type of early to mid-Tudor dress hook. Sewn into the cloth, the hook would have been used to secure or close items of female dress.

Wickenby: A new Roman site discovered

Around half of all finds reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme are from previously unknown sites. This group of finds are just a tiny proportion of the circa 1500 finds discovered by Keith Kelway while metal detecting at a site in Wickenby. The site has produced hundreds of Roman coins and many pieces of jewellery suggesting this was a small town or market place. The site was featured on the Time Team TV programme 'Romans Recycle'.

This knife handle has a terminal in the form of a bovine head. This symbol is seen on other pieces of metal work in the Roman period, and may represent power and strength.

Knife handle
Cosmetic mortar

As their name suggests, cosmetic mortars were used to grind cosmetics during the Roman period.

Excavations at the site revealed little evidence for occupation during the medieval period, and only a few finds of this date were discovered, including this good example of a horse harness pendant.

Harness pendant
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Introduction | The Discovery of Britain 
Collecting for Britain | The Art of Recording 
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Timeline | Roll Chronicle | Exhibition venues 

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