Lincoln Castle Revealed Programme

Lincoln Castle Revealed was an ambitious makeover that brings Lincoln Castle to life like never before through immersive interpretation, compelling architecture and unrivalled historical significance.

Lincoln Castle Revealed Programme

Three Distinct Phases of Work

The first new build development within the Castle for over 150 years.

The highly sustainable, iconic BREEAM Very Good Heritage Skills Centre, an innovative centre nestled in the heart of the castle to teach heritage skills by providing hands on experience and training through taster days, short courses and craft demonstrations.

Conservation of Lincoln Castle Walls

Preserving the historic medieval Castle walls, Lucy Tower, Observatory Tower, Cobb Hall and the Bath House through traditional techniques and installing a complete “Wall Walk” experience which will, for the first time in recent history, offer all visitors to the Castle panoramic views across Lincoln, in particular Lincoln Cathedral accessed through the installation of a contemporary lift tower and staircase.

Lincoln Castle Prison and Subterranean Magna Carta Vault

The refurbishment of the Georgian and Victorian Prison buildings which dates back to the 1700’s to create an interactive visitor centre telling the untold stories of those incarcerated at the Prison. A new build high secure climate controlled subterranean vault featuring a full height enveloping cinematic auditorium. The vault is a hallowed space that evokes respect, anticipation and excitement.

A stand out once in a generation project

  • Archaeology of international significance including a rare and previously unknown Saxon church and associated sarcophagus.
  • Delivered on a live site open to visitors with heavily restricted access
  • Public engagement and interaction
  • First new build in confines of the Castle for over 150 years
  • BREEAM Very Good
  • Economic regeneration
  • Use of traditional skills alongside modern construction methods
  • Providing access to never used before areas of the castle for visitors, including disabled access to the Castle Walls

Design and Aesthetics

Heritage Skills Centre

The Heritage Skills Centre was designed to be as unobtrusive and sympathetic as possible and reflects the natural curvature of the banking within the castle.  The building height is just below the south lawn wall and the building remains invisible to visitors whilst on the lawn until they peer over to “reveal” the Skills Centre.  The green roof flows naturally with the lawn and surrounding banks. The green roof also provided credits to achieve BREEAM Very Good. The Heritage skills Centre has been well received because of its unique design, architectural flair and purpose to provide a training centre for traditional crafts. See for yourself click here to watch “Revealing the Heritage Skills Centre” on YouTube Click Here.

Wall Walk Experience

Lincoln Castle has been a recognisable part of the Lincoln skyline since it’s foundation in 1086. A thousand years later, the Castle & its buildings had suffered extensively from the ravages of time, neglect and inappropriate repair.

Because of the historical significance of the site, and its statutory protection as a Scheduled Monument, a comprehensive design philosophy was developed which underpinned the whole project. Works combined the use of traditional stone, and historic lime mortars, with stainless steel, used both structurally and decoratively.

Lincoln Prison

External works were undertaken to remove and remodel the access ramp, high level masonry repairs were undertaken to the ventilation chimneys and internal reordering to create shop ticketing and visitor infrastructure. Internally, the Victorian prison is a vast soaring space with huge atmosphere. It was built in 1847 at the same time as the chapel and was designed to reflect new ways of thinking. The architecture of the Victorian male prison speaks volumes; the design philosophy was to keep it very simple. The many cells, including the cell doors were refurbished for variety of interpretation methods.  A historically accurate paint scheme was introduced as well as lighting to enhance the architecture and transport visitors back to the prison how it used to be.

New Magna Carta Vault

The Subterranean vault nestles between the Georgian and Victorian prison buildings on the old exercise yard, which required months of significant archaeological excavation and investigation.  Reached by a new causeway, visitors take a journey, to a highlight of the attraction. The vault building is clad in corten steel and has a dignified, but eye catching design using materials that are simple and neutral but is clearly legible as a new structure.  The Vault is built to rigorous security standards and high specification.  Featuring a gas suppression system and 4hr fire rating and advanced fire detection systems to protect the historic documents,  an acoustic 180 degree cinema screen,  specialist polished plaster finishes, gold leaf detailing and wall graphics to tell the story of Magna Carta.

Innovative Features

A key element of the project is the provision of a new wall walk, allowing the visitor the opportunity to walk the circumference of the walls. This wall walk bridges many areas of important historic masonry, with minimal damage and intervention, and provides a clear contrast between the old and the new.

Much of the walk to the south wall is cantilevered from the masonry, and incorporates numerous changes of level, while the new external lift and stair tower adjacent to the east gate, provide access for able bodied and disabled visitors alike.

The towers were craned into position over the castle walls and assembled over a two day period.

Tonnes of Stone: 325 tons of new stone selected from Lincoln cathedral quarry, where the original Red Bed stone was sourced. Up to 97% of wall fabric is original.

Scaffolding: complex scaffolding was required to access the walls, 213,000 ft. of scaffolding boards, 22,337 ft of scaffolding poles, equating to 296 tonnes and 60,500 clippings were used on the project.

Concrete Poured: Over 250 Cubic Metres, pumped through the grounds of the castle in 28 continuous hours, “The Great Concrete Pour” right > (Heritage Skills Centre)

Waste Removal: 2,000 Tonnes

Community Involvement

  • Over 1,000 members of the public, professional organisations and Castle Volunteers were escorted on tours by our site management team
  • Over 6,000 people around the globe have viewed the project documentaries online
  • Over 4,300 people have attended events at the Castle to celebrate and participate in traditional crafts and skills

Watch the Community Involvement video on YouTube click here

Working on a live tourist site

Approximately 150,000 people visit the castle every year. The Castle has an active events schedule including regular filming for Downton Abbey and The Time Team and BBC News. Events also include The Lincoln Christmas Market pictured, the Graduation Ceremonies of 12,000 students and the Olympic Torch Relay within the Castle grounds during the works.

Press and media attention

This project has received international media attention, including a feature on BBC1 the One Show and The Time Team.