Impressive and formidable, Carlisle Castle amply repays exploration of its absorbing 900-year history. Long commanding the especially turbulent western end of the Anglo-Scottish border, Carlisle has witness many conflicts and sieges. The earliest castle (on the site of a sequence of Roman forts dating from the 1st to 4thC AD) was of earth and timber, raised by King William Rufus in c.1092. During the following century it was refortified in stone, possibly by Henry 1. The 12thC stone keep is the oldest surviving structure in the castle, which was frequently updated as befitted a stronghold always in the front line of Anglo-Scottish warfare. In 1315 it triumphantly saw off a determined Scots attack. The rounded 'shot-deflecting' battlements of the keep were added when Henry V11 adapted the castle for artillery in c. 1540.
Elaborate carvings in a small cell, by captives held here by the future Richard lll in 1480, vividly demonstrate that Carlisle Castle was also a prison. Mary Queen of Scots was confined here after her flight from Scotland in 1568: but in 1596 the Border reiver Kinmont Willie Armstrong managed a daring night escape, to the fury of his captors.
Carlisle played its part in the English Civil War. Besieged for eight months by Parliament's Scots allies, its Royalist garrison surrended in 1645 only after eating rats and even their dogs. A century later in 1746, the castle became the last English fortress ever to suffer a siege, when Bonnie Prince Charlie's Jacobite garrison vainly attempted to hold off the Duke of Cumberland's Hanoverian
army. The fortress became their prison: many died here, and others left only for hanging or transportation.
Housed in the keep is a model of the city in 1745, and an exhibition on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite rising of that year; visitors can also see the legendary 'licking stones', which parched Jacobite prisoners desperately licked for moisture in order to stay alive. Admission also includes entry to the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum. Another feature of the site is the Carlisle Roman Dig, a fully accessible exhibition displaying the finds from recent excavations.
Now Open: Discover 900 years of history and explore the tumultuous life of Carlisle Castle and its characters in a new exhibition. With nine centuries of bloody and turbulent history, Carlisle Castle has played host to colourful cast of characters, from royalty to the notorious Border Reivers. Hear stories of daring rescues, bloody battles and warring clans on your journey around the castle, and bring the stories to life with games and dressing up.
Guided tours (available during school holidays at a small extra charge; groups please pre-book)
Adult £5.70, concession £5.10, child £3.40, English Heritage members free.
|Season Dates||Opening Hours|
|Mon 4 Nov 2013 - Fri 14 Feb 2014||Sat - Sun 10:00 to 16:00|
|Sat 15 - Sun 23 Feb 2014||Mon - Sun 10:00 to 17:00|
|Mon 24 Feb 2014 - Mon 31 Mar 2014||Sat - Sun 10:00 to 17:00|
|Notes||Closed 24-26 December & 1 January.|
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Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8UR
Map reference: NY 396562 Lat: 54.89687 Long: -2.94330
Signposted in Carlisle city centre.
Parking : with charge
Accessible by Public Transport : Carlisle station
Also welcomes dogs on leads. Has exhibition.
Also at this venue
Events at this venue
|Sat 7, Sun 8 Dec 2013||Medieval Christmas Trail|
|Sat 14, Sun 15 Dec 2013||Medieval Christmas Trail|
|Sat 21, Sun 22 Dec 2013||Medieval Christmas Trail|
|Fri 27, Sat 28 Dec 2013||Winter Tours|
|Sat 28, Sun 29 Dec 2013||Medieval Christmas Trail|