Twenty Years of History at Lincoln

by Chris Rollinson

My mind has been preoccupied with thoughts of Lincoln lately. It will be five years since I graduated from Lincoln next year, and this fact only became apparent when my former housemates and I gathered this year for our annual reunion at Lincoln’s Christmas market. Climbing up the iconic Steep Hill and wandering through the same historic streets as we did as students on a wintery night, warmed up by the glow of Victorian street lamps and market stalls, invoked nothing in me but fond memories of the place.

We walked through Lincoln’s Norman castle and we reminisced how, on our first Thursday night at university, we decided to explore our new home by wandering up to the castle, whereupon we hear the ghostly sounds of a horse trotting down an otherwise empty street. Whether this was a matter of psychology or something more other-worldly (apparently this is a common local ghost story), we are still amused today by the pace we descended the Steep Hill that night.

We similarly recollected our regular expeditions to the old cathedral. Naturally, as budding historians, we could not resist including such a historical monument in our assignments, especially when considering how close it was to us. The satisfaction of discovering hidden symbolism behind the cathedral’s art and architecture instilled a sense of purpose behind my assignments, a “real” historical example that supplemented my learning in the classroom. That night at the Christmas market, the cathedral still inspired in me a sense of awe, just as it did the first time I gazed at its impressive architecture. It was a true joy to have graduated in that very building.

As melodramatic as it sounds, these memories are as fresh today as the day they were made because university was truly a life-changing experience. Moving to an unfamiliar city and sharing accommodation with strangers at eighteen was an exciting yet harrowing prospect. Your comfort level is challenged both academically and socially. Yet, it is through this adversity that life-long friendships are made.

The dissertation in your third year will perhaps be the most mentally challenging and emotionally draining endeavour you will do at university. You are given the freedom to pursue your interests, which is something you simultaneously look forward to and dread. You are responsible for how you complete your thesis. As with most people, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do. I always had an interest in the Greco-Roman world. However, just like with most people, I also struggled with how I could condense my interest into a concise research topic.

With every journal article and book I read for my preliminary research, another potential topic was added to a smattering of other ideas already in my mind. It was through regular meetings with my supervisor that helped me refine my ideas. These meetings allowed me to bounce ideas of someone with experience and transform my jumbled set of ideas into a structured argument. His guidance and support throughout the process were invaluable. He was always available for a chat, even throughout the summer break. But perhaps most importantly of all, the mental clarity I received after one of our meetings gave me a new lease of motivation to continue my work.

My appreciation for Lincoln goes beyond just fond memories. Completing a degree was no easy feat. It required consistent effort and focus. The city, therefore, for me serves as a standing testament that I achieved something remarkable. But it was through the guidance I received there that made this possible, and for that, I am truly grateful.