St Martin

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LARA ERA High Medieval
LARA Record Number 9.60.38


St Martin's is one of the most interesting and important church sites in the city. Along with the two St Peter's (-at-Arches and -at-Pleas) it has strong claims to being one of the senior churches of the lower city. The earliest evidence we have for devotion to St Martin in the city comes in the form of the so- called 'St Martin Coinage' (Stewart 1967; Mossop 1970, I/7-11; Dolley 1975). The existence of this coinage modelled on the 'St Peter's Coinage' of York strongly suggests a church in Lincoln dedicated to the saint at the start of the 10th century. It also suggests, of course, a similar ecclesiastical and commercial situation in Lincoln to that prevailing in York. We have suggested here that the coinage might be a reflection of the importance of St Martin not just as an ecclesiastical patron but as the patron of the city market (RAZ 9.22), which we believe was first laid out on the open hillside around, and north of, the church of St Martin. There are other indications of St Martin's seniority. It evidently had already lost its owner by 1070x87 when the church was granted to the Bishop by the King and it had become the focus of a relatively valuable prebendal estate before 1135 (ed. Foster 1931, 2, RA .2; Hill 1948, 142; ed. Greenway 1977, 86) and this may be an indication of a church of long-standing. It also occupies a prominent site near the centre of the former Roman enclosure in the north-west angle of the junction between a hypothetical east-west road linking Clasketgate gate and the presumed gatehouse on West Parade, and the dedication to St Martin is also sometimes thought to be indicative of 'conversion' period churches in this country (cf. St Martin's in Canterbury). Clearly investigations into the antiquity of this important church should be a matter of high priority. It is also the case, however, that this is an interesting and important Lincoln church throughout its whole history. The details of the north arcade suggest that it was rebuilt to an elaborate design in the 13th century and other details (such as the 'trefoil-headed piscina' discovered in the south wall in 1876) suggest that there may have been a comprehensive rebuilding at that date - as there was at St Benedict's, St Mary-le-Wigford and St Mark's. Its development needs to be considered, therefore, alongside the group of prosperous downhill churches of the 13th century, and as the parish was so dominated by market places it is possible that its fabric will be especially sensitive to the economic downturn of the 14th century. The churchyard must have been much larger than the small area now enclosed in St Martin's Square. Probably it occupied the whole of the square north of a narrower St Martin's Lane. There may have been no formal road along the north side, but we do know that several markets were held around the churchyard. These include the Hay market, the Butchery and the Poultry market (RAZ 9.22) and these may have had the effect of enlarging the open space around the church, if not necessarily increasing the size of the churchyard. With its potentially early population, St Martin's will preserve an important group of burials and, as it continued in use for burial until the 19th century, it must preserve one of the longest sequences of burials in the city. It is a site, then, which offers the prospect of understanding how the development of the city's physical anthropology through a very long period of time.

LARA Boundaries

The south boundary of the RAZ is drawn along the expected south boundary of the churchyard where it is indicated on Padley's 1842 map. The west boundary is presumed to lie on Hungate; the east boundary must have lain originally more or less on the line of the properties fronting High Street, whilst the northern boundary is presumed to lie along the south side of Garmston Street (formerly St Martin's Row).