The capital of Cumbria, Carlisle sits just on the border between England and Scotland with Hadrian’s wall on one side and the lovely Lake District on the other. From Carlisle Castle to the 11th century cathedral… Carlisle is your ticket to a thousand year’s worth of history and heritage.
We’re in Carlisle for the next stop on our British Heritage Tour. We’ve already done the university tour in Oxford, taken the waters in Bath and now, we’re feeling pretty medieval in Carlisle. The city’s main attractions are of course the castle and cathedral, but more than that Carlisle is the perfect place to take-off from in a rental car to explore Hadrian’s Wall. Many of the wall’s stones were actually used to build both the castle and cathedral.
The big 3
The cathedral is the heart of the city’s Old Quarter. Religious services have been held in the church for almost 900 years! Founded in 1122, the cathedral has had some major renovations since then, especially after a fire in the 14th century. After the whole Cromwell victory, most of the nave was destroyed so the stone could be used to rebuilt the castle. Today the cathedral features some impressive 14th century stained glass windows, wood carvings and a painted Flemish altarpiece from the 16th century.
Admission: Free, suggested donation £4
You can’t miss it. The Castle is located just on the northern side of the city centre and is the most important sight in the city. It was built by William Rufus the son of William the Conquerer and it’s no coincidence that it strategically straddles the border between England and Scotland. During it’s 900 year history you can bet it saw its share of bloody battles. Carlisle Castle was even home to parliament in 1306 under the reign of Edward I. It was also a prison when Mary, Queen of Scots, was held here in 1567.
Admission: Adults £5.50 / Children £3.30
The Wall is the most important monument left over from Roman Britain. Several stretches of the wall have gone to ruins, other parts have completely disappeared, stones stolen. Despite this, the wall still suggests a sense of divide (a 73-mile long one), that you’re standing at the edge of England. Along the wall are several forts, milecastles and turret stations along wall. Most notable are Birdoswald Roman Fort. There are at least 8 English Heritage sights along the wall that are within 20 miles of Carlisle, easily reached with a car hire from Carlisle.
Have you been to Carlisle before? Have you hiked part of Hadrian’s Wall?