Savour the delights of the Historic Carlisle
Carlisle is a delightful vibrant and modern city that links the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Hadrian’s Wall and The Lake District National Park. Close the Scottish border, for centuries it has been a fortress that protected England from the Scots and played a pivotal part in medieval politics.
The earliest listing of Carlisle as a city can be found in one of the Roman itineraries and referred to as Luguvallium “the route from Londinium to Luguvalium on the Wall, four-hundred and forty-three thousand paces.” The name changed to “Carleol” some time in the 12th Century.
The city is steeped in history and attracts visitors from around the world. Here are some of the historic highlights the city has to offer.
Carlisle has over 2000 years of history. Celts, Romans, feuding Border Reivers and invading armies have all left an intriguing legacy for you to explore.
The mighty medieval Castle, built in 1092 by William Rufus, has played an important role in the history of Carlisle for centuries. The castle is strategically located on the border between England and Scotland and has witnessed many attacks over its 900 year history.
Today the castle is in the safe hands of English Heritage and, given its turbulent history over the centuries, is remarkably well preserved. After exploring the dungeons where the famous ‘licking stones’ can be seen, get close to Carlisle’s history at Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life, located in the Castle grounds, which tells the 300-year story of Cumbria’s army regiments.
Tullie House Museum
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery is in the heart of Carlisle’s historic quarter, and there is no better place to begin exploring the city’s fascinating past.
A fusion of old and new awaits you, from the beautiful Old Tullie House, a classical Grade One Listed Jacobean building to the Border Galleries, full of exciting exhibits and interactive displays.
Displays of prehistoric implements bring the early history of Carlisle to life. The turbulent lives of the Border Reivers are recounted in a darkly atmospheric audio-visual presentation. Listen to a first-hand account of the appalling conditions endured during the siege of Carlisle in the Civil War, practice writing on a Roman wax tablet or explore an underground mine, among many other interactive exhibits.
Museum of Military Life
Cumbria‘s Museum of Military Life was founded in 1932 and tells the 300-year story of Cumbria’s army regiments through books, documents, photographs and artefacts. The museum is located right in the heart of Carlisle Castle.
The museum has always been located in Carlisle Castle but in 2014, with the help of Heritage Lottery Funding, it was moved from Queen Mary’s Tower in the Inner Ward to the much larger Alma block in the Outer Ward.
This move has provided more space and better access for visitors, and gives the opportunity to display items and vehicles that were impossible to accommodate in the old location. It allows reinforcing of the strong links between Cumbria’s regiments and the local community, and sharing remarkable stories of courage, loyalty and service.
Carlisle’s imposing Cathedral occupies a central position in the heart of the ‘historic quarter’.
Founded in 1122, the Cathedral has been rebuilt several times; once in 1292 after a devastating fire and again in the 14th century. The magnificent east window contains some fine 14th-century stained glass. There are also intricate wood carvings, medieval painted panels and the Brougham Triptych – a Flemish altarpiece dating from the 16th century.
The Cathedral has free entry and, at most times from Monday to Saturday, voluntary guides are there to help you get the most out of your visit to this beautiful ecclesiastical building.