Carlisle Castle Castles

Carlisle Castle


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Carlisle Castle amply repays those wishing to explore its 900-year history. Once commanding the western end of the Anglo-Scottish border, the castle has witnessed, over the centuries, countless conflicts and sieges, as both the English and Scots laid claim to it.

The original castle was an earth-and-wood construction, built in 1093 by William II. In 1122, when Henry I gave orders that the existing defences at Carlisle Castle be refashioned, work on the first stone buildings began.

The city walls and the stone keep were constructed over the next decade, today, the great keep is the oldest building in the fortress complex.

The elaborate wall-carvings in one small cell were probably made by prisoners of Richard of Gloucester in about 1480, but these weren’t the last prisoners to be held at Carlisle.

In 1568, Mary Queen of Scots was confined here, following her abdication from the Scottish throne. The castle also played a role in the English Civil War.

An 8-month siege by Parliament that began in October 1644 only ended when the incarcerated Royalists finally ran out of food. More than 100 years later, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s supporters locked themselves in, attempting to fight back the Hanoverian Army.

After a few days, they flew the white flag and the castle became their prison. Some were hanged, others were sentenced to exile.The keep also houses a model of the city in 1745 and an exhibition on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite uprising 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’ exhibition displaying the finds from new excavations.

Attraction Details

For enquiries about Carlisle Castle, please contact the attraction using the details below.

VenueCarlisle Castle
AddressN/a, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8UR
Opening times
Entry costs
Attraction typeCastles

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