History and Research: Carlisle Castle

Carlisle Castle

For 500 years, until the English and Scottish crowns were united in 1603, Carlisle Castle was the principal fortress of England’s ‘Western March’ against Scotland. Held to siege ten times in its history, Carlisle Castle is the most besieged place in the British Isles. From the 18th century to the 1960s it was the headquarters of the Border Regiment, one of the oldest in the army. English Heritage now shares the site with a number of organisations, notably the Territorial Army and the Museum of the Border Regiment.


Carlisle Castle - a medieval symbol of prestige, a mighty stronghold in the conflict between England and Scotland, the base of the March wardens patrolling an unruly frontier, a pawn in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 and a regimental base.

History of Carlisle Castle


How the structures that make up the castle today are the product of continuous change and development in military practice and how the castle has often played a key role in events of national importance.

Significance of Carlisle Castle


A review of the major studies that have contributed to our growing understanding of Carlisle Castle and why we no longer believe that the enigmatic carvings on the walls of the keep were made by prisoners.

Research on Carlisle Castle

About the author

Steven Brindle MA DPhil FSA is an English Heritage historian and author of best-selling books on Brunel and on Paddington Station. He has written numerous guidebooks for English Heritage, including the recently published 'Whitby Abbey'.

About Portico

Portico is the area of the English Heritage website dedicated to exploring the history and significance of the 400 or so sites in its care.

More on Portico

Buy the guidebook

The Carlisle Castle guidebook is one of a suite of authoritative and beautifully illustrated guides that help to bring our properties to life with their photographs, plans and reconstruction drawings.

Carlisle Castle guidebook