Lindum Colonia

Lindum Colonia

The Newport Arch is a surviving part of the north gate to the Upper City.
Shown within England
Alternate name Lindum, Colonia Domitiana Lindensium
Location Lincoln, Lincolnshire, England
Region Britannia
Coordinates 53°14′02″N 00°32′17″W / 53.23389°N 0.53806°W / 53.23389; -0.53806Coordinates: 53°14′02″N 00°32′17″W / 53.23389°N 0.53806°W / 53.23389; -0.53806
Type Settlement
Builder Domitian
Founded Around 80
Abandoned End of the 5th century
Periods Roman Imperial

Lindum Colonia, was the Roman name for the settlement which is now the City of Lincoln in Lincolnshire. It was founded originally as a Roman Legionary Fortress during the reign of the Emperor Nero (58-68) or possibly later.[1] Evidence from Roman tombstones suggests that Lincoln was first garrisoned by the Ninth Legion, Hispana which probably moved from Lincoln to found the fortress at York around c.71 A.D. Lindum was then garrisoned by the Second Legion Aduitrix, which then went on to Chester in 77-8 A.D.[2]

Probably under the reign of Domitian and most likely after 86 A.D., the fortress became a Colonia, a settlement for retired soldiers sanctioned by the Emperor.[3] The Colonia now developed and a second enclosure, often referred to as the ‘‘Lower Colonia’’ was added between the Upper Colonia and the River Witham. Evidence has been uncovered for the Forum, baths, temples, buildings and shops of the Colonia which was enclosed by walls. The walls of the Upper Colonia started to be built in the earlier part of the 2nd century A.D.,[4] while the Lower Colonia was walled in either the late 2nd or early 3rd centuries. The Roman settlement also spread to the south of the river Witham in the area known as the Wigford. In the early 3rd century A.D. with the re-organisation of the Roman Empire, a case can be made that Lindum Colonia had become the provincial capital of Britannia Secunda and possibly a Bishop from Lincoln was present at the Council of Arles in 314.[5] In the 4th century A.D. Lincoln continued to develop and there is increasing evidence for Christianity, but in the 5th century, following the departure of the Romans, Lindum declined and was largely deserted.


The name is a Latinized form of a native Brittonic name which has been reconstructed as *Lindon (lit. "pool" or "lake"; cf. modern Welsh llyn).[6] The primary evidence that modern Lincoln was referred to as Lindum comes from Ptolemy’s Geography which was compiled in about 150 AD, where Lindum is referred to as a polis or town within the tribal area of the Corieltauvi. In the Antonine Itinerary, a road book of the mid-2nd century A.D., Lindum is mentioned three times as Lindo in the Iter or routes numbered V, VI and VIII. Then, in the Ravenna Cosmography, a listing of towns in the Roman Empire compiled in the 7th century AD., Lincoln is referred to as Lindum Colonia.[7] As the Roman colonia for veteran soldiers at Lincoln is thought to have been established during the reign of the Roman Emperoer Domitian (81-96), it has been suggested that the full name of the Colonia would have been Colonia Domitiana Lindensium, but, as yet, there have been no Roman inscriptions found that confirm this.[8]



Tombstone of Gauis Valerius, a standard bearer of the Ninth Legion. Found on the South Common, Lincoln

The Romans conquered this part of Britain in AD 48 and shortly afterwards built a legionary fortress, possibly south of the River Witham. This was soon replaced, around the year 60, by a second fort for the Ninth Legion, high on a hill overlooking the natural lake formed by the widening of the River Witham (the modern day Brayford Pool) and at the northern end of the Fosse Way Roman road. That pool is very likely to have given Lincoln its name.[9]


Roman north wall of Lindum Colonia

The Ninth Legion, Hispana was probably moved from Lincoln to found the fortress at York around 71 A.D.. Then, after a probable short occupation by the Second Legion, who had moved to Chester by 77-78A.D.[10] the Legionary fort would have been left on a care and maintenance basis. The exact date that it was converted into a colonia is unknown, but a generally favoured date is 86 A.D.[11] This was an important settlement for retired legionaries, established by the emperor Domitian within the walls and using the street grid of the hilltop fortress, with the addition of an extension of about equal area, down the hillside to the waterside below. The town became a major flourishing settlement, accessible from the sea both through the River Trent and through the River Witham. Public buildings, such as the forum with lifesize equestrian statues, basilica, and the public baths, were erected in the 2nd century. The hilltop was largely filled with private homes, but the slopes became the town's commercial centre. They gained stone walls, like the upper region (including the Newport Arch), around 200. There was also an industrial suburb over the river which had pottery production facilities. The town had the best developed sewerage system in the province and a fine octagonal public fountain and part of its aqueduct have been partly uncovered. There were temples dedicated to Apollo and Mercury. On the basis of Lindum's size and the patently corrupt list of British bishops who attended the 314 Council of Arles, the city is sometimes considered to have been the capital of the province of Flavia Caesariensis which was formed during the late-3rd century Diocletian Reforms. However, it is now thought more likely that Lincoln would have been the administrative capital of Britannia Secunda and that York was the capital of Flavia Caesariensis.[12]


The city and its waterways eventually fell into decline, and, by the end of the 5th century, it was virtually deserted. However, the church of St Paul continued as a place of worship until 450 and its churchyard was in use into the 6th century. When Saint Paulinus visited in 629, it was apparently under the control of a Praefectus Civitatis called Blecca.[13]

Planning, Infrastructure, Trade and Religion of Roman Lincoln

The Roman Aqueduct or Water Supply

Roman Wall at East Bight by the Newport where there was a water storage tank

Roman Lincoln had a very sophisticated water supply. It was fed by the ‘‘Roaring Meg’’ spring to the North East of the city and then ran parallel with the Nettleham Road towards the N.E corner of the Upper Colonia. The ceramic pipes were encased in concrete that provided a waterproof seal and allowed the water to pass through the pipes under pressure. The course of the aqueduct had been well known from the start of the 18th century. William Stukeley had shown the line of the aqueduct on his plan of Lincoln in 1722. The Lincoln antiquary Thomas Sympson had written in the mid 18th century "There must have been some contrivance for raising the water a good deal above its natural level before it would run to Lindum; the spring being evidently lower than the Town: and indeed there are some traces of a Tower, or some such building at the end of the Aquaeduct by the Spring, which one may suppose would have had a reservoir on its Top." In 1782 the artist Samuel Hieronymus Grimm drew sections of the sheathed pipe and also where it emerged from the ground at the spring.[14] Over the years further lengths of the aqueduct have been uncovered and the base for a watertank fed by the aqueduct discovered just inside the Roman Wall to the east of the Newport Arch. This is just to the north of Cottesford Place, where excavations in the 1960s revealed a probable Roma Bathhouse, which could have been supplied with water from this source.[15] Another pipeline, encased in concrete was found in 1857 by the Greestone Stairs, to the east of the wall, and this pipeline had presumably branched off from the aqueduct and supplied water to the Lower Colonia.[16] Thompson calculated that it would be necessary to raise the water about 70 feet at the source at the ‘‘Roaring Meg’’ for there to be sufficient pressure for the water to reach the tank at the East Bight by the Newport Arch. This may imply that there was some form of water tower and the Romans may either have used some form of pump to raise the water, or a revolving bucket and chain system.[17]

Before 2007 it was questioned whether the Roman aqueduct at Lincoln had ever worked as there was no evidence of limescale in any of the lengths of pipe that had been uncovered. Construction on a housing estate close to the Nettleham showed that there was limescale , indicating that the aqueduct had been in use.[18] This length of the aqueduct had ceramic pipes, joined with collared joints , but other lengths of the aqueduct had pipes which were about 7.5 inches in diameter, narrowing to 4 inches and when laid, the narrow or spigot end of the pipe fitted into the broad or socket end of the next pipe.[19]


Pottery Production

Lincoln was an important centre for pottery production. The earliest discovery of a pottery kiln was on the site of the Technical College (now Lincoln College) on Monks Road.[20] This kiln produced Mortaria stamped with the maker's name VITALIS. who was probably working around 90-115 AD.[21] A further discovery was made in 1947 when Graham Webster excavated a kiln site producing gray ware storage jars at Swanpool, to the S.W. of Lincoln.[22] This was followed in 1950 by the excavation of further mortaria kilns found on the Lincoln Racecourse by Phillip Corder. Kilns producing mortaria by a potter called CATTO and also colour painted and rosette decorated pottery are known from South Carlton, to the north of Lincoln.[23] In the 3rd and 4th centuries, Lincolnshire produced a coarse ware ceramic known as Dales ware, which was exported across the north of Roman Britain.[24]

Roman Sculpture and Tombstones from Lincoln

See also


  1. "Jones" (2002). Roman Lincoln: Conquest, Colony and Capital, pg 34.
  2. "Jones" (2002).34.
  3. "Jones" (2002).34.
  4. Whitwell J.B. (1970), Roman Lincolnshire, History of Lincolnshire, Vol 2. pg27
  5. "Jones" (2002).119.
  6. Delamarre, Xavier, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Errance, 2003 (2nd ed.), p. 203.
  7. Rivet A.L.F. & Smith C. (1979), The Place-Names of Roman Britain, Batsford, pg.393.
  8. "Jones", (2002),pg. 51-2
  10. "Jones" (2002) pg 31
  11. "Jones" (2002) pg. 51
  12. "Jones", (2002), 119
  13. Bede, History of the English Church and People, book 2, chapter 16. Latin: "16. Praedicabat autem Paulinus uerbum etiam prouinciae Lindissi, quae est prima ad meridianam Humbre fluminis ripam, pertingens usque ad mare, praefectumque Lindocolinae ciuitatis, cui nomen erat Blaecca, primum cum domu sua conuertit ad Dominum." English: "16. Paulinus also preached the Word to the province of Lindsey, which is the first on the south side of the river Humber, stretching as far as the sea; and he first converted to the Lord the reeve of the city of Lincoln, whose name was Blaecca, with his whole house."
  14. "Thompson" (1954), 108-9 and Pl.VII
  15. “Whitwell”, (1970), pp. 31-33.
  16. ”Richmond” (1946), p.37
  17. ”Jones”(2002), pp96-98
  18. Archaeologists Find Evidence Romans Used Lincoln Aqueduct .
  19. ’‘Thompson’’ (1954), 110,- the ceramic pipe, formerly in Lincoln City and County Musem is illustrated on PlateVII, C
  20. ”Baker” (1985), 19 , fig 9
  21. Darling 1984. Darling, M. J., Roman Pottery from the Upper Defences, Lincoln Archaeological Trust. Monograph, 16/2, Council for British Archaeology for the Lincoln Archaeological Trust, London.
  22. Webster G and Booth, Antiquaries Journal, Vol 40, pp214-40
  23. "Whitwell" (1970), pp108-114
  24. Loughlin, N. 1977. 'Dales Ware: a contribution to the study of Roman coarse pottery', in Peacock (ed.) 1977. Pottery and Early Commerce: Characterisation and trade in Roman and Later Ceramics. London, 85-146
  25. RIB 250
  26. RIB 258
  27. RIB 262
  28. RIB 256
  29. RIB 263
  30. RIB 251

Further reading

  • Baker F. T.(1985) A Lifetime with Lincolnshire Archaeology: Looking back over 60 years. The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology.
  • Colyer C. et al (ed. Jones M.J. (1999), The Defences of the Lower City: Excavations at the Park and West Parade 1970-2 and the discussion of other sites excavated up to 1994. CBA Research Report 114.
  • Collingwood R. G. and Wright R.P. rev edition Tomlin R.S.O, (1995), Inscriptions of Roman Britain, Alan Sutton, Stround. ISBN 075090917X
  • Darling M. and Precious B. (2014), A Corpus of Roman Pottery from Lincoln Oxbow Books ISBN 978-1-78297-054-5
  • Jones M.J. et al, (1980), The Defences of the Upper Roman Enclosure. Council for British Archaeology/Lincoln Archaeological Trust. ISBN 0906780004
  • Jones M.J., (2002), Roman Lincoln: Conquest, Colony and Capital, Tempus, Stroud. ISBN 9780752414553
  • Richmond, Sir I. A. (1946) The Roman City of Lincoln and the Four Colonia of Roman Britain, Archaeological Journal Vol. 103, 25-68.
  • Steane K. et al (2016), The Archaeology of the Lower City and Adjacent Suburbs, Oxbow. ISBN 9781782978527
  • Thompson F H.(1954), The Roman Aqueduct at Lincoln, Archaeological Journal, Vol. 111, pp. 106–128.
  • Thompson F H. and Whitwell J.B. (1973), The Gates of Roman Lincoln, Archaeologia Vol. 104, 126-207.
  • Trollope Rev E. and A. Trollope (1860) Roman Inscriptions and sepulchral remains at Lincoln, Archaeological Journal, 1860, pp 1–21.
  • Webster G. , (1949), The Legionary Fortress at Lincoln, Journal of Roman Studies 39 (1949), 57-78.
  • Whitwell J.B. (1970), Roman Lincolnshire, History of Lincolnshire, Vol 2.
  • Lincoln City and County Museum (c. 1995). A Walk about Roman Lincoln. Lincoln: Lincoln City Council. 
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Lindum Colonia.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/21/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.