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Horncastle is a market town and civil parish in Lincolnshire, England, 17 miles (27 km) east of the county town of Lincoln. Horncastle had a population of 6,815 at the 2011 Census.

Stanhope Memorial, Horncastle

Market Square, Horncastle

Although fortified, Horncastle was not on any important Roman roads, which suggests that the River Bain was the principal route of access.

Roman Horncastle has become known recently as Banovallum (i.e. Wall on the River Bain) – this name has been adopted by several local businesses and by the town's secondary modern school. But, the Roman name for the settlement is not definitely known: Banovallum was suggested in the 19th century through an interpretation of the Ravenna Cosmography, a 7th-century list of Roman towns and road-stations. Banovallum may have been Caistor.

The Roman walls remain in places – one section is on display in the town's library, which was built over the top of the wall. The Saxons called the town Hyrnecastre, from which its modern name was derived.

Horncastle was granted its market charter by the Crown in the 13th century. It was long known for its great August horse fair, an internationally famous annual trading event which continued to be held until the mid-20th century. It ended after the Second World War, when horses were generally no longer used for agriculture. The town is now known as a centre for the antiques trade.


The great annual horse fair was probably first held in the 13th century. The fair used to last for a week or more every August. In the 19th century it was likely the largest event of its kind in the United Kingdom. The slogan, "Horncastle for horses", was an indication of the town's standing in this trade. George Borrow set some scenes of his semi-autobiographical books Lavengro and The Romany Rye at the annual horse fair. The last horse fair was held in 1948.


In 1894 the Stanhope Memorial, designed by E. Lingen Barker, was erected in the centre of the Market Place in memory of Edward Stanhope MP. Built of limestone, red sandstone and pink and grey streaked marble, it is a Grade II listed structure.

St. Mary's Church, Horncastle