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Castles in CumbriaOld buildings and castles in the Lake District.Places of historic interest in Cumbria


Carlisle Castle in the city of Carlisle

The outer gatehouse at Carlisle Castle. See the Carlisle Castle photo gallery.

Welcome to the EDGE Guide to Carlisle Castle. The city of Carlisle a few miles south of the border with Scotland, has had a bloody history and Carlisle Castle bore the brunt of the frequent Scots attacks on the city.

King William II was responsible for its erection in 1093, initially an earth and wood construction, quick to put up and cheap to build.

The Castle was rebuilt by Henry I, but fell into Scots hands in 1135. By 1157 when Henry II recovered Cumberland the Castle was rebuilt in stone and remained the property of the crown until 1216 when the Scottish King Alexander II retook it.

The Keep. See the Carlisle Castle photo gallery.

During the period 1173-1461 the castle was attacked nine times, Alexander's being the only successful attempt.

The constant attacks took their toll on the fabric of the castle, soon it was in a considerable state of dilapidation. It wasn't until1542 that any repairs of any real worth were undertaken, these included the provision for cannon. But soon the castle was again in decline.

In 1568 Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in the castle, and in the same year some repairs were carried out.

The defences of the inner gatehouse. See the Carlisle Castle photo gallery.

The English Civil War took its toll on both the castle and the city. An eight month siege from October 1644 by the Roundheads, ended after all food had run out. The castle was then occupied by a Scottish garrison. The Royalist forces regained the castle in 1648.

In 1745 the Jacobite army of, 'Bonny' Prince Charlie's campaign for the English throne swept into England, passing through Carlisle on its way south and the castle fell to the Scots Rebellion.

The Duke of Cumberland re-took the castle a few weeks later in December from a Scots garrison of 400 left by the fleeing Prince Charles as a rearguard.

Visit the new Carlisle Castle photo gallery - Click here.

The Duke had those of the garrison who had survived the battle and who had then surrendered put to death by having them hung and disembowelled on Capon Hill, Brampton.

The battle for the castle caused a great deal of damage to the already dilapidated building and it was left in this condition until the next century. Much work was done in 1805 to bring the castle up to the standards demanded by a modern Victorian army.

The castle has been in the hands of the military without break for 800 years and is now also home to the museum of the Kings Own Border Regiment and the Border Regiment.

The largest castle in Cumbria, it is also one of the best preserved and is under the stewardship of English Heritage.

Map of Castles in Cumbria.