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Considering its long and bloody history it’s remarkable that Carlisle Castle is still standing at all - let alone in such good shape - complete with tower, dungeons, portcullis, moat and keep.

Founded in 1092, this border castle is known as the ‘most besieged place in England’ and its labyrinths and dungeons hold many a reminder of its gruesome past. View the prisoners' carvings and the eerie ‘licking stones’ which allegedly gave life-saving moisture to parched Jacobite prisoners (dare you to spend the night here like the Most Haunted team!)

Famous past inhabitants include Mary Queen of Scots who was imprisoned here by her cousin Elizabeth I. Visit her former quarters now known as the Queen’s Tower to get a glimpse of the doom and gloom she had to endure. Don’t’ forget to walk the battlements for fabulous city views.

The castle also houses a new military museum, a fascinating visitor attraction telling the 300-year story of Cumbria’s County Infantry Regiment. 

Other castles to explore in the North

Scarborough Castle

Lincoln Castle

Other activities in this area

Tullie House Museum - Carlisle 

The Lane Bar - Carlisle


Getting to Carlisle Castle 

Nearest train station: Carlisle 

Distance from train station: 0.9 miles, 17 min walk


Castle Way, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8UR

01228 591922

Opening times

Open every day, 10am to 6pm: April to September. Last admission 30 mins before closing time. Check website for opening times October to March.

What to know before you go

Wear good footwear, because there are some steep steps to climb.


Wheelchair access is limited. The new exhibition and grounds are accessible. However, the shop, Keep, Ramparts and Captain's Tower are not wheelchair accessible.

Picnic area, vending machine, shop, toilets including disabled toilets

Dogs on leads welcome but not permitted in the exhibition or Military Museum

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