Marcus Roberts

Touring the Area

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Lincoln is a Jewish heritage destination of the first importance and should be visited; it has perhaps the greatest number of surviving medieval Jewish heritage-sites in the country, quite apart from its numerous other attractions.

There still exist three medieval houses on Steep Hill and the Strait, which belonged to, or are linked to, Lincoln Jews and the Lincoln Jewry. In terms of monuments to anti-Semitism, the remains of the Shrine to Little Hugh, in the Cathedral, is exceptionally significant as one of the most tangible relics in the whole country at which the cult of Christian boy martyrs and the terrible reality of the medieval Blood Libels can be appreciated. There are also a number of other features of the Cathedral of exceptional Jewish interest, including the tomb of St Hugh of Avalon, a patron and saviour of English Jews, as well as many direct references to Jewish legends and traditions in the art and iconography of the Cathedral. The Jewish trail through the Cathedral is a reminder that it is easy to over-simplify the historical relations between Christians and Jews, seeing them strictly in terms of prejudice and anti-Semitism, when there were also positive and creative aspects of the relationship.

It is recommended to start the tour of the sites at the Cathedral, which may have been rebuilt in part with funds provided by Aaron of Lincoln, and then to work down the hill to the three surviving houses on Steep Hill and the Strait which have Jewish links, with an excursion to see medieval Jewish artifacts in the museum at 'The Collection'. At the bottom of the Strait, the site of the second synagogue can be visited, opposite Grantham Street. In Grantham Street itself is a medieval Jewish site now the Cardinal's Hat along with the sites of other Jewish houses, on the western side of the street.

All these sites are within a few minutes walk of the Cathedral. But, be warned - Steep Hill lives up to its name and the Strait is on a steep slope too.
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