Things to see and do
What you need to know
We've made some changes to help keep you safe, and things might be a little different when you visit. Here's everything you need to know.
Queen Mary’s Tower
Visit the turret in which Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive from 1568, by order of her cousin Queen Elizabeth I.
Fleeing from her rebellious Scottish subjects, Mary was heir-apparent to the English throne. She was also a Catholic, and ally of the French, so far too dangerous to be allowed to remain free.
She was imprisoned in the tower under the watchful eye of Sir Francis Knollys. He allowed the Queen to take walks at the front of the castle on what is now known as ‘Lady’s Walk’.
Step into the rich and turbulent past of Carlisle Castle in the exhibition that brings the castle’s most famous inhabitants to life. Discover their stories, from Mary Queen of Scots, and Bonnie Prince Charlie, to notorious Border Reivers such as Kinmont Willie Armstrong. Hear about his dramatic rescue in the exhibition.
Discover how the castle was occupied by the Scottish King, David I, during a long period of turbulent border conflicts between Scotland and England.
Easily accessible in the Old Militia Store, the exhibition includes a 3D virtual tour of the keep and Captain's Tower.
Uncover the truth behind the mysterious stone carvings found in the castle keep. The beautifully crafted pieces of grafitti include images of a knight, a mermaid and many animals. See if you can spot a stag, a fish, and a boar…
Originally thought to have been carved by prisoners, recent research suggests that they may be the work of bored prison guards. Probably dating back to the 15th century they show support for the ruling family of the time, the Dacres, and include images of their crests.
Step into this suite of rooms, once the bedroom of the King of England, Richard III. It's now known as the Warden's Apartments. Carlisle Castle was the seat of the Lord Warden of the West March, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later King Richard IIl filled this role.
Don't forget to visit the Captain's Tower, which is one of the best preserved gatehouses in the country.
Cumbria's Museum of Military Life
Located in the former Regimental Institute, Cumbria’s Museum of Military life tells the story of Cumbria’s Infantry Regiment and its soldiers past and present. Get closer to history with state of the art audio/visual displays, dioramas and a great variety of items on display. See the WW1 bible that stopped the bullet, drums once touched by Napoleon and military hardware that served the British Army through two World Wars and beyond. Visit us to find out what life was like for ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
For more information visit their website.
A partnership of two of Carlisle’s oldest institutions in the iconic Carlisle Castle home to our local regiment which has seen action across the globe. We are delighted to be able to offer the great taste of John Watt’s to visitors to Cumbria’s Museum of Military Life. Our small café serves our award winning espresso, a range of cakes, snacks and ice creams for you to enjoy on your tour of the Castle and the story of our local regiment.
The cafe is open Monday – Sunday 11 am – 4 pm.