Beware of the Scots! Carlisle Castle was first built during the reign of William II of England, the son of William the Conqueror who invaded England in 1066. At that time, Cumberland (the original name for north and west Cumbria) was still considered a part of Scotland. William II ordered the construction of a Norman style motte and bailey castle in Carlisle on the site of an old Roman fort, with construction beginning in 1093. The need for a castle in Carlisle was to keep the northern border of England secured against the threat of invasion from Scotland. In 1122, Henry I of England ordered a stone castle to be constructed on the site. Thus a keep and city walls were constructed. The existing Keep dates from somewhere between 1122 and 1135. The act of driving out the Scots from Cumberland led to many attempts to retake the lands. The result of this was that Carlisle and its castle would change hands many times for the next 700 years. The first attempt began during the troubled reign of Stephen of England. On the 26 March 1296, John 'The Red' Comyn, since the fourth quarter of 1295 Lord of Annandale, led a Scottish host across the Solway to attack Carlisle. The then governor of the castle, one Robert de Brus, deposed Lord of Annandale, successfully withstood the attack, before forcing the raiders to retreat back through Annandale to Sweetheart Abbey. From the mid-13th century until the unification of England and Scotland in 1603, Carlisle castle was the vital headquarters of the Western March, a buffer zone to protect the western portion of the Anglo-Scottish border.
Henry VIII converted the castle for artillery, employing the engineer Stefan von Haschenperg. For a few months in 1567, Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned within the castle, in the Warden’s Tower, which was demolished in 1835. Later, the castle was besieged by the Parliamentary forces for eight months in 1644, during the English Civil War. The most important battles for the city of Carlisle and its castle were during the second Jacobite rising against George II of Great Britain in 1745. The forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart travelled south from Scotland into England reaching as far south as Derby. Carlisle and the castle were seized and fortified by the Jacobites. However they were driven north by the forces of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, the son of George II. Carlisle was recaptured, and the Jacobites were jailed and executed. That battle marked the end of the castle's fighting life, as defending the border between England and Scotland was not necessary with both countries again one in Great Britain. After 1746, the castle became somewhat neglected, although some minor repairs were undertaken such as that of the drawbridge in 1783. Some parts of the castle were then demolished for use as raw materials in the 19th century to create more or less what is visible to the visitor today. The Army moved in to take hold of the castle, which was the regimental depot of the Border Regiment until 1959, when The Regiment amalgamated with the King's Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster) to form the King's Own Royal Border Regiment. The Territorial Army still use parts of the castle, which also houses The King’s Own Border Regiment Museum. Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life is not run by English Heritage and is not included in the Castle’s admission. The Museum can be visited independently or as an addition to your visit to the Castle. Guided Tours available at small extra charge. Wheelchair access is limited. The new exhibition and grounds are accessible. However, the shop, Keep, Ramparts and Captain's Tower are not wheelchair accessible.
Location : Castle Way, Carlisle, Cumbria CA3 8UR.
Transport: Carlisle (National Rail). Bus: Stagecoach 38, 39, 60, 60A, 61, 61A, 67, 68, 71, 93, 300, 301, 554, 600. Also Reay's Coaches service 75 (Mon-Sat) stop nearby.
Opening Times: Daily 10:00 to 16:00. to 19th February. Weekends only 20th Feb. to 24th March
Opening Times: To be announced from 25th March.
Tickets : Adults £6.00 Concessions £5.40 Children £3.60.
Military Life Museum: Adults £4.00 Concessions £3.00 Children £2.00.
Tel: 01228 591922