Carlisle Castle



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A visit to Carlisle Castle is a great day out for all the family. Kids will enjoy exploring the ramparts. Several rooms in the gatehouse are decorated in medieval style, while you can explore the warren of chambers inside the castle. Carlisle’s location, so close to the Scottish border, ensured its importance in history. The first castle overlooking the River Eden was nothing more than a triangular area of land encircled by a wooden fence. William Rufus, the son of William the Conqueror, built it in 1092. When he was killed in a hunting accident in the New Forest, his brother Henry ordered that a castle and walls should be built to protect the town. However, despite the new fortifications, the castle fell to the Scots 14 years later. It was held by David I and Malcolm IV, kings of Scotland, from 1136 until 1157, and was taken back into English hands by Henry II. Another Scottish king, William the Lion, besieged the castle from 1173 to 1174. Other highlights in the castle’s history include the distinctive rounded battlements – added much later by Henry VIII. Mary, Queen of Scots was imprisoned here, and the castle was captured by ‘Bonnie’ Prince Charlie in 1745. You can also find the Museum of the Border Regiment here.

Carlisle Castle


  • Cafe
  • Facilities: On site disabled parking, induction loops, handrails
  • Accessible toilets
Opening times
  • Open all year
  • Opening Times: Castle open Apr-Sep, daily 10-5; Oct-12 Feb & 25 Feb-Mar, Sat-Sun 10-4; 13-24 Feb, daily 10-4. Museum open Apr-Oct, daily 10-5; Nov-12 Feb, Sat-Thu 10-5; 13-24 Feb, daily 10-4; 25 Feb-Mar, Sat-Thu 10-4. Closed 24-26 & 31 Dec, 1 Jan

About the area

Discover Cumbria

Cumbria's rugged yet beautiful landscape is best known for the Lake District National Park that sits within its boundaries. It’s famous for Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake, and Derwent Water, ‘Queen of the English Lakes'. This beautiful countryside once inspired William Wordsworth and his home, Dove Cottage, in Grasmere is a popular museum. Another place of literary pilgrimage is Hill Top, home of Beatrix Potter, located near Windermere. Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here.

Much of Cumbria is often overlooked in favour of the Lake Distirct. In the south, the Lune Valley remains as lovely as it was when Turner painted it. The coast is also a secret gem. With its wide cobbled streets, spacious green and views of the Solway Firth, Silloth is a fine Victorian seaside resort. Other towns along this coastline include Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Carlisle is well worth a look – once a Roman camp, its red-brick cathedral dates back to the early 12th century and its 11th-century castle was built by William Rufus.

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