Weekly City Spotlight: Carlisle


Carlisle Castle

Carlisle is situated in the county of Cumbria, close to the Lake District and is often referred to as the border city, being approximately 10 miles to the south of Scotland.  Carlisle gained city status in 1974, and attracts many visitors who are drawn to its historic attractions such as Carlisle Castle and Cathedral, as well as its museums and galleries.

Historic Carlisle
Originally the home of the Carvetii tribe, Iron Age inhabitants of the Brythonic Celts, Carlisle was called Luguvalion which translates to Strength of the God Lugus.  Following the arrival of the Romans, and due to its location, the area became a military focus.  The fort, which now is the site of Carlisle Castle, was at one time guarded by an army of 500.

In 122AD, the Roman leader Hadrian instructed work to begin on a boundary fortification, which as well as allowing greater control for customs and immigration was also a statement of power that the Romans possessed. The wall stretched over 70 miles and featured a number of forts, the largest of which was named Petriana and built in Carlisle.

In 1093, following the invasion which saw Carlisle and the surrounding area reinstated as being part of England, work began on Carlisle Castle.  Built under the instruction of William II, whose father was William the Conqueror, the Castle together with its 3 gates and city walls were completed in 1112.

Throughout the Middle Ages, conflict continued between England and Scotland and as a result the Border Reivers were to become prolific.  Border Reivers were responsible for the repeated raiding of the border country.  Including both English and Scottish members, Reivers would cause destruction, steal, rustle cattle, as well as kidnapping for ransom.  Such devastation was caused by the Reivers, that in 1525, Archbishop Dunbar of Glasgow, famously cursed these people.  Although it was called the Curse of Carlisle, it was not directed at, nor did it refer to Carlisle or its people.  In 2001, a huge granite stone artwork was installed in the Tullie House Museum, which details the graphic curse.

With its location close the English/Scottish boarder, historically Carlisle has been involved in a number of conflicts and invasions.  Its historic military focus has continued with the Border Regiment, founded in 1881, locating its headquarters in the city. In turn the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment were located in Carlisle Castle, which is now the home of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment headquarters, and the Regiment’s museum.

Popular Culture
Carlisle is a lively city and has been a focus in popular culture given its historic roots.

United – (2011), filmed in part at Brunton Park, Carlisle, and directed by James Strong, this film is based on the “Busby Babes”, the title winning Manchester United team, many of whom lost their lives in the Munich Air Crash.

Margaret Forster is a famous author born in Carlisle.  Forster’s many books include Rich Desserts and Captain’s Thins, a book about the Carr Family, who after setting up premises in Carlisle, went on to became one of the largest names in baking in the country. Hidden Lives – which reflects on the life of her Mother, Grandmother and herself, all from Carlisle. The Unknown Bridesmaid is her latest novel released in February 2013.

The Adventure of the Spanish Drums (A New Sherlock Holmes Mystery), set in 1903 in Carlisle, this mystery tells the tale of the Arroyo Drums which have been stolen from the Border Regiment.

Social Media
Carlisle has its own official tourism website, Discover Carlisle, as well as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Famous Faces
Mike Figgis – is a writer, composer and director born in Carlisle on 28th February 1948. Mike has directed several Hollywood films such as Internal Affairs which starred Richard Gere, Leaving Las Vegas which featured Nicholas Cage and One Night Stand with Wesley Snipes.

Grace Dent – born in Carlisle on 3 October 1973, Dent is a broadcaster, author and journalist who writes for the Independent newspaper.  Her work has included appearing on programmes such as The Culture Show, Have I Got News for You and The Review Show.

Helen Skelton – TV presenter was born in Carlisle on 19 July 1983, as well as presenting Blue Peter, Helen is recognised for her extreme fund raising challenges for Sport Relief which involved trekking to the South Pole and kayaking down the Amazon River.

Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery – opened in 1893, Tullie House is a Jacobean mansion which houses a number of amazing collections from fine art to the natural world. The Roman Frontier Gallery and the Border Gallery offer a remarkable insight into the history of Carlisle.


Carlisle Cathedral

Carlisle Cathedral – also known as the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, features a stunning barrel roof and gothic styling.  The beautiful east window is recognised as being of the finest quality, due to its size and complexity of design. Originally a church, it became a cathedral in 1133 and was built using locally sourced red sandstone.

Carlisle Castle – given the attacks and conflicts which have taken part in the castle’s history, it remains in amazing condition.  Visitors can explore its heritage and learn more of its remarkable history, including being the temporary home of Mary, Queens of Scots when she was imprisoned there.  The castle is also home to the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment Museum.

The Citadel – Originally built in 1541 and designed by Scottish Architect Thomas Telford, the Citadel consists of two distinctive drum towers which at one time served as the County Jail and Courthouse. Tours can be taken around the Citadel to learn more of its history and today it is the location of the Cumbria County Council offices.

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