Within the city of Carlisle you can wander through the cobbled streets of its Historic Quarter. Here you will find a mighty medieval castle, today in the safe hands of English Heritage.
For 500 years, until the English and Scottish crowns were united in 1603, Carlisle Castle was the principal fortress of England’s north-western border with Scotland. A mighty stronghold in the frequent conflict between the two countries, and the base of the lord wardens attempting to control an unruly frontier, the castle has endured more sieges than any other place in the British Isles. Unlike most medieval castles, it has been continuously occupied since its foundation by William Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, in 1092. From the 18th century to the 1960s it was the headquarters of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, one of the oldest in the British army.
Standing proud in the city it has dominated for nine centuries, it has even held captive a royal prisoner. Visit the turret in which Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive from 1568, by order of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.
Fleeing from her rebellious Scottish subjects, Mary was heir-apparent to the English throne. She was also a Catholic, and ally of the French, so far too dangerous to be allowed to remain free.
The exhibition brings the castle’s most famous inhabitants to life. Discover their stories, from Bonnie Prince Charlie to notorious Border Reivers such as Kinmont Willie Armstrong.
Uncover the truth behind the mysterious 15th century stone carvings found in the castle keep. The beautifully crafted pieces of graffiti include images of a knight, a mermaid and many animals.
Explore the medieval castle rooms, discover the famous ‘licking stones' in the dungeons, and walk some of the castle walls.