Under the Romans, Lincoln was a flourishing colony named Lindum, and was at the northern end of the Fosse Way Roman road. However, by the 5th century the city was virtually deserted. It wasn't until the city was first affected by Viking Raids in the late 9th century that the city once again rose to importance. After the establishment of Dane Law in 886, Lincoln became one of five boroughs in the East Midlands.
Over the next few centuries, Lincoln once again rose to prominence. In 1068, two years after the Norman Conquest, William I ordered a castle to be built on the site of the former Roman settlement. Lincoln Cathedral was built in 1092. By 1150, Lincoln was amongst the wealthiest towns in Britain. The basis of the economy was cloth and wool; Lincoln weavers had set up a guild in 1130 to produce Lincoln Cloth, especially the fine dyed "scarlet" and "green" the reputation of which was later enhanced by Robin Hood wearing "Lincoln Green."
When the Magna Carta was drawn up in 1215, one of the witnesses was Hugh of Wells, Bishop of Lincoln. A copy is now preserved in Lincoln Castle. After this time, the city's fortunes began to decline. The lower city was prone to flooding, becoming increasingly isolated, and plagues were common. The dissolution of the monasteries further exacerbated Lincoln's problems, and between 1642 and 1651, during the English Civil War, Lincoln was on the frontier between the Royalist and Parliamentary forces. Military control of the city therefore changed hands numerous times. Many buildings were badly damaged. Lincoln now had no major industry, no easy access to the sea and was poorly placed. As a consequence of this, while the rest of the country was beginning to prosper in the beginning of the 1700s, Lincoln suffered immensely, travellers often commenting on the state of what had essentially become a "one street" town.
By the Georgian era, Lincoln's fortunes began to pick up, thanks in part to the Agrarian Revolution. The re-opening of the Foss Dyke allowed things like coal to be brought to the city. Coupled with the arrival of the railway, the Industrial Revolution began to affect Lincoln. The railways allowed Lincoln to compete in the international market for agricultural equipment. Industry expanded over time, including more complex engineering. The first tank was designed and built in Lincoln by William Foster, and population growth provided more workers for even greater expansion.
In the post-war years after 1945, new suburbs were built, but unfortunately industry declined. Today, Lincoln's economy is now based mainly on public administration, commerce and arable farming. The loss of an all day direct train service to and from London around 1980, when the Kings Cross to Doncaster route was electrified, deterred inward movement by new employers. The opening of a new University of Lincoln in 1996 has attracted additional students to the city, giving it a refreshing youthful appearance. The city is a tourist centre, but is never overwhelmed by tourists; those who come do so to visit the numerous historic buildings, including of course, the Cathedral and the Castle. The Usher Gallery and the Museum of Lincolnshire Life are other important attractions. Tranquil destinations close by include Whisby Pits and Hartsholme Park, whilst noisier entertainment can be found at Waddington airfield, Scampton airfield, base of the RAF's "Red Arrows" jet aerobatic team, the County Showground or the Cadwell Park motor racing circuit near Louth.