Lincoln Castle is a major Norman castle and is one of the few places in the world where you can see an original Magna Carta. Learn more about visiting this historic English castle.
I first visited Lincoln Castle on a cold snowy day during my year studying abroad. As we slipped over the icy streets, the castle made an imposing figure on the snowy, overcast backdrop.
Lincoln Castle is very much worth the visit, and in this guide I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting. Learn about what to see while you’re there, Lincoln Castle history, and where to stay nearby.
Lincoln Castle Overview
Lincoln Castle is a major Norman castle built in 1068 in Lincoln, England.
If you love British history, you’ll definitely want to visit this castle because it’s home to an original 1215 Magna Carta.
Lincoln Castle History
This impressive Norman castle was built during the late 11th century by William the Conqueror on the site of a pre-existing Roman fortress, which you can still see the remains of throughout the city of Lincoln.
This is an unusual castle because it has two mottes, the raised earthen mounds with towers built atop. Only one other castle in England has this structure.
The castle has been a seat of justice since it was first built. William the Conqueror’s right-hand man, the Lincolnshire sheriff, presided over the castle’s shire court.
In the Victorian period, the castle was used as a “separate system” prison. This type of prison isolated each prisoner in an attempt to encourage encourage them to reflect, repent, and reform.
Criminal trials are still heard by Lincoln Crown Court today in the castle’s 1826 Gothic Revival courthouse.
You can’t talk about Lincoln Castle without talking about Magna Carta. When I visited, the castle was under renovation in years-long preparation for the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. One of the four remaining originals of Magna Carta is housed in Lincoln Castle.
In 1215, King John met with rebel barons in Runnymede to agree upon the charter that promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown.
Neither party kept their word, though, and the First Baron’s War ensued, ending in 1217 when the Magna Carta was re-issued along with a smaller Charter of the Forest that incorporated some clauses of the 1215 Magna Carta.
Lincoln Castle is the only place in the world where an original 1215 Magna Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forest can be seen side by side.
Touring Lincoln Castle
Since Lincoln Castle was under construction while I was there, I wasn’t fully able to experience the castle. But you can!
A free guided tour is available with your admission. The tour covers the bailey of the castle and gives you 45 minutes of in-depth history on the castle.
If you want to explore on your own, that’s fine as well. You can walk the entire circumference of the castle’s curtain wall. On the walk, you’ll see Lucy Tower, once the burial ground for prisoners that were hanged at the wall; the Observatory Tower, with the perfect view of the city; and Cobb Hall, where you will see where the public hangings were performed.
You can also explore the castle’s Victorian Prison and see what life was like behind bars of a “separate system” prison.
And of course you can visit the Magna Carta Vault where you’ll see and learn about Magna Carta, Charter of the Forest, and complimentary documents.
Visiting Lincoln Castle
Admission: Tickets to Lincoln Castle costs £16 for adults; £15 for seniors 66+, students, disabilities, and unemployed; £8.50 for children ages 5-16; and free for children under 5.
You can also purchase a Medieval Wall Walk ticket for £11 for adults, £10 concession, £6 for children, and free for children under 5.
Hours: Lincoln Castle is open in the summer (April — October) from 10 a.m. — 5 p.m. and in the winter (November — March) from 10 a.m. — 4 p.m.
The copy of Magna Carta occasionally is taken off display for a conservation rest period, so double check that it’s there when you want to visit.
Hotels Near Lincoln Castle
Find a place to stay near Lincoln Castle. Here are the closest hotels to this medieval castle:
- The White Hart Hotel
- The Castle Hotel
- The Tower Hotel
- The Lincoln Hotel
- Premier Inn Lincoln City Centre
Lincoln Castle FAQ
When was Lincoln Castle built?
Lincoln Castle was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror.
What type of castle is Lincoln Castle?
Lincoln Castle is a Normal fortress in a double motte and bailey style.
Who owns Lincoln Castle?
Lincoln Castle is owned by the Lincolnshire County Council.
More England Resources
- A Day Trip to Burghley House in Stamford, England
- One Day in York, England: 24 Hours in York Itinerary
- One Day in Lincoln, England: 24 Hours in Lincoln Itinerary
- 18 Best Things to Do in Grantham, England
- 23 Free Things to Do in Cambridge, England
Ready to visit Lincoln Castle in Lincoln, England? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book your flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find accommodation: You can find top hotels in Lincoln using Booking.com.
- Get packing: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need with my packing list resources.
Have you visited Lincoln Castle in Lincoln, England? Let me know about your trip below!