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The hidden medieval road which linked Lincoln with its thriving port...

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: March 07, 2013

  • Route master: Archaeologists have discovered a 14th century street, unearthed below a former Next store, which ran from the High Street in Lincoln up to the Brayford. Pictures: Allen Archaeology

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On the surface it looks like any other high street but buried under the feet of Lincoln's shoppers lies an exciting piece of medieval history.

For while cash tills have been ringing, archaeologists have been busy uncovering a road 6ft below the city centre.

The 9ft-wide rubble track runs from the High Street towards Brayford Pool which, during medieval times, reached further inland.

And from the deep ruts left by cartwheels it appears the lane was once a busy trade route serving a thriving port.

The dig has also revealed 26ft long wall foundations, possibly from a medieval store or warehouse.

Excited experts are now trying to piece together the past which has been unearthed below the former Next and Sundance Fair Trade units.

Chris Clay, director of Allen Archaeology, based in Branston, believes both finds date from the 14th century.

"This street would have been quite hemmed in by buildings on either side," he said.

"It would probably have been like that narrow passageway a bit further down off the High Street – Swanpool Court – but a little wider. A medieval town was generally quite filthy – people threw their waste into the main streets – so this little lane would have been worse.

"You can imagine houses and shops all along the front of the High Street in the medieval period. The building is on a slightly different alignment to the buildings in the High Street now.

"It is at the back of the site, off the High Street, so it's more likely to be an outbuilding.

"The question really is was this building associated with what was happening on the High Street or whether it was a warehouse or store associated with the Brayford?

"We know the road has been in use for a long time but until we can properly date pottery finds from the site we cannot give it a lifespan.

"Someone could have built across the road meaning that it didn't go anywhere, or it could have been closed off on the High Street."

Archaeologists have a six- week window of opportunity to record as much as possible before work begins to build a new River Island store.

Lincoln-based author Karen Maitland, who penned the medieval thrillers Company of Liars, The Owl Killers and The Gallows Curse, said the finds are remarkable.

"The main character in the book I am working on at the moment is a medieval wool and cloth merchant from Lincoln," she said.

"It is so exciting to think that the warehouse which I imagined my character owning might really have existed."

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  • Summerisle  |  March 12 2013, 8:46PM

    There'll be a Greggs on it before long

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  • Phil1W  |  March 07 2013, 1:38PM

    nolies, My thoughts axactly. All too often we don't hear about the existence of the finds until they've been reburied and built over. Don't we as locals have the right to have a look at what is below our streets etc? Luckily, when they were doing a dig a few months ago at the college it was only surrounded by wire fencing so it was possible to see what the archeologists were doing. If I picked my grandson up from school the first thing we would have to do was go over to have a look at what new things they had found and when one of the guys came over to explain it all to him he loved it. When I was young you always knew when there was a dig going on in the city and you could always watch the progress as they only ever used to put wire around the site. Now they hide everything behind eight foot high boards and do it in secret. I wonder if in future years there wil be a shortage of archaeologists because young people will never know what archaeology is?

    |   18
  • nolies  |  March 07 2013, 10:28AM

    Very interesting,I bet river island and the builders aren't so happy about it though,it would be nice if the public could have a look before they bury it all again.

    |   20