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Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle amply repays those wishing to explore its 900-year history. Once commanding the western end of the Anglo-Scottish border, the castle has witnessed, over the centuries, countless conflicts and sieges, as both the English and Scots laid claim to it.

The original castle was an earth-and-wood construction, built in 1093 by William II. In 1122, Henry I gave orders for work to begin on the first stone buildings. The city walls and the stone keep were constructed over the next decade.

Today, the great keep is the oldest building in the fortress complex. This mighty prison has held many famous names over the centuries, including Mary Queen of Scots, following her abdication from the Scottish throne in 1564.

The castle also played a role in the English Civil War. An eight-month siege by Parliament that began in October 1644 only ended when the incarcerated Royalists finally ran out of food. More than 100 years later, in 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie's supporters locked themselves in when attempting to beat back the Hanoverian Army. After a few days, they flew the white flag and the castle became their prison. Some were hanged, others were sentenced to exile.

The present-day keep is home to a model of the city made in 1745 and exhibitions on Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite uprising of that year. Visitors can also see the legendary "licking stones", which parched Jacobite prisoners desperately licked for moisture in order to stay alive. Admission includes entry to the King's Own Royal Border Regiment Museum and the Carlisle Roman Dig exhibition, displaying the latest finds from new excavations.

Carlisle Castle. Photo by Ben Barden, courtesy of Cumbria Tourist Board

Carlisle Castle Information


When: Daily

Where: Carlisle

Cost: £4.10; children £2.10

Opening Hours: Apr-Sep: 9.30am-5pm
Oct-Mar: 10am-4pm

Address: Carlisle, CA3 8UR

Hotels near Carlisle Castle


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