Friday, 23 April 2021

A Day Out in Lincoln

 A detail of the Romanesque frieze at Lincoln Cathedral

After more than 6 months of having my travel restricted during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, having used the Sheffield to Lincoln railway a few times, between Kiveton Bridge and Retford - whilst exploring places around the Chesterfield Canal – I decided to have a day out in Lincoln.
The extent of my day trips from Treeton by public transport

At 58 km from Treeton as the crow flies, it is as far as I had travelled by public transport during the previous 5 years – including trips to Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham and Derby – and I was determined to make the most of the day.
This ancient city is one of my very favourite places and I fell in love with it when first taken there with a ‘prospective father in law’, in an old MG Midget that I eventually owned. I have since lived there twice, take guests there and, on my recommendation, it was added to the field trip itinerary for the Spanish students who attend the Heart of England summer school.
Spanish students in Lincoln

When first living and working there as a Cadet Valuer with the District Valuer/Valuation Office, my first ‘proper job’ after graduating with a geology degree from Nottingham University, I developed an interest in historic buildings and building stone.
At Lincoln, the escarpment of the Jurassic Lincolnshire Limestone Formation known as Lincoln Edge - stretching from Grantham in the south to the Humber Estuary in the north – has been cut through by an earlier course of the River Trent, which is now occupied by the River Witham.
Iron Age remains dating to the 1st century BC have been found at Brayford Pool, but it was the Romans who took advantage of its strategic position. The northern end of the Fosse Way joins Ermine Street and a legionary fortress was built on the escarpment, with the city walls extending down to the river - a settlement that later became known as Lindum Colonia.
The west gate of Lincoln Castle

Fragments of the old Roman walls remain, but it is the mediaeval Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral that now dominate the town and, along with very many other mediaeval churches and secular buildings, these provide good examples of the use of the locally quarried limestone.
A 'burst' stone at the Old Bishop's Palace

Although not having the experience of the weathering and durability of various building stones that I possess now, from casual observations in many old buildings and boundary walls, however, I noticed that plain masonry had very often appeared to ‘burst’ open, with no apparent relationship with the planes of bedding and jointing or atmospheric pollution.
Disintegration of Lincoln stone at the Old Bishop's Palace

As part of a consultancy project for English Heritage, mainly concerning Bolover Castle and Sutton Scarsdale Hall, I was asked to have a quick look at the Old Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln, where this type of weathering was very noticeable. A year or so later, when living in Lincoln for the second time, I was invited up onto the scaffold on the west front of Lincoln Cathedral and very many of the finely carved details had distintegrated in the same way.
The west front of Lincoln Cathedral

I have never encountered similar weathering in any other stone, particularly other stones from the Lincolnshire Limestone Formation such as Ancaster and Clipsham, nor have I been given any plausible explanation for this pattern of weathering and decay.
The Old Bishop's Palace
Although I have seen many examples of the Lincolnshire Limestone where used as a building stone, I have only seen exposures of it in situ during brief visits to the Cathedral Quarry in Lincoln and Glebe Quarry in Ancaster - the source of the stone that I cut for a few months at the Gregory Quarry in Mansfield.
Glebe Quarry at Ancaster

Living so far away from Lincoln and not having a car to undertake more thorough investigations, or having access to laboratory equipment, I assume that this relates to the progressive thinning of the beds from south to north Lincolnshire and the change from a clear water to a muddy facies.

A view of Christ's Hospital Terrace

No comments:

Post a Comment