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Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle
Carlisle, England
Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle is located in Carlisle city centre
Carlisle Castle
Coordinates grid reference
Site information
Owner English Heritage
Open to
the public
Site history
Materials Stone

Carlisle Castle is situated in Carlisle, in the English county of Cumbria, near the ruins of Hadrian's Wall. The castle is over 900 years old and has been the scene of many historical episodes in British history. Given the proximity of Carlisle to the border between England and Scotland, it has been the centre of many wars and invasions. Today the castle is managed by English Heritage and is open to the public. The castle until recently was the administrative headquarters of the former King's Own Royal Border Regiment now county headquarters to the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and a museum to the regiment is within the castle walls.


  • History 1
  • List of Governors 2
  • See also 3
  • Footnotes 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


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.[1]

Entrance to Carlisle Castle. (De Ireby's tower)

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.[2] 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

  • Castle page at English Heritage
  • Cumbria's Museum of Military Life

External links

  • McCarthy, M R; Summerson, H R T; Annis, R G (1990), Carlisle Castle, A survey and documentary history, English Heritage,  

Further reading

  1. ^ Carlisle Castle Keep, Carlisle Castle, English Heritage website.
  2. ^ "Carlisle and the border". 
  3. ^ a b "Carlisle Castle from garrison to monument". 
  4. ^ "Merged regiments and new brigading—many famous units to lose separate identity".  
  5. ^ "The history and antiquities of Carlisle: with an account of the castles, gentlemen's seats, and antiquities, in the vicinity", Samuel Jefferson; Whittaker and Co.; First Edition (1838), p119-121
  6. ^ "War Office May 10". London Evening Standard. 11 May 1831. Retrieved 20 October 2015 – via  
  7. ^ Accounts and Papers: Seventeen Volumes. UK Government. 1838. p. 58. 


See also

The post of Governor of Carlisle was abolished in 1838.[7]

Governors appointed by:[5]

List of Governors

The exterior of Carlisle Castle with the entrance in the centre and the keep behind.

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.[4] The Territorial Army still use parts of the castle, which also houses The King’s Own Border Regiment Museum.[3]


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