Things to see and Do

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.

  • Do we need to Book?

    Advance booking is now essential. We have introduced limits on visitor numbers to help keep everyone safe, and you won’t be able to visit without your booking confirmation. If you’re a Member, your ticket will be free, but you still need to book in advance. Make sure you've read our ticketing FAQ before you book.

    Book Tickets

    Booking FAQs

  • What parts of the site are open?
    • Castle - The grounds and the castle, with the exception of the Gatehouse and upper levels of the Keep which remain closed, will be open.  
    • Cumbria's Museum of Military Life - The main exhibition will be open as usual.
    • Café - The museum café will serve take away refreshments.
    • Shop - The shop is open.
  • Keeping you Safe

    We've made a number of changes to help keep you safe. Although things might be a little different when you visit, you’ll still be able to enjoy exploring the places where history really happened. And you’ll still be given a warm and safe welcome by our friendly – if socially distant – staff and volunteers.

    You can visit our reopening page for information on general safety measures we've taken to help keep you safe.

    General Safety Information

  • Do I need to wear a face covering?

    Face coverings must be worn in all indoor areas. We won't be able to provide you with a face covering, so please come prepared so you don't miss out.

Lady dressed in period costume standing outside Queen Mary's Tower, Carlisle Castle

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’.

Illustration from exhibition at Carlisle Castle

Exhibition

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.

Prisoners' Carvings at Carlisle Castle

Prisoners’ Carvings

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.

View of the Warden's Apartments at Carlisle Castle

Warden’s Apartment

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.

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