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Carlisle Castle
Carlisle, England

[Tuesday - 05/04/99] Chretien de Troyes considered the city of Carlisle to be a lead contender for the Arthurian Court of Carduel. Certainly, Carlisle it is the setting for the tale of 'Sir Gawain and the Loathly Lady,' an important Arthurian romance. Malory claims it is also the scene of the clash which is the main cause of the Round Table's dissolution. After Arthur 'walks in' on Lancelot and Guinevere, she is brought to Carlisle to be burnt at the stake. Lancelot and his men save her by fighting knights faithful to Arthur. Two of Gawain's brothers are killed and he becomes Lancelot's implacable enemy.

From the first through the fourth centuries AD, for some three hundred years, the Romans kept a garrison at Luguvalium. Both the fort and the town they built were still partially standing in 685 when St. Cuthbert visited Carlisle.

The city of Carlisle a few miles south of the border with Scotland, has had a bloody history and Carlisle Castle bore the brunt of the frequent Scots attacks on the city. King William II was responsible for Carlisle Castle's construction in 1093. Initially an earth and wood construction, it could be quickly erected. The Castle was rebuilt by Henry I, but fell into Scots hands in 1135. By 1157, when Henry II recovered Cumberland, the Castle was rebuilt in stone and remained the property of the Crown until 1216 when the Scottish King Alexander II retook it.

During the period 1173-1461, the Castle was attacked nine times, Alexander's being the only successful attempt. Constant attacks took their toll on the structure of the Castle and it wasn't until 1542 that any significant repairs were undertaken. Still, with the costs of its upkeep being fairly high, the aastle fell into disrepair.

In 1568, Mary Queen of Scots was held prisoner in the Castle, and in the same year some repairs were carried out.

The English Civil War (1647) resulted in an eight month siege of the Castle and, in 1745, the Jacobite army of "Bonnie Prince Charlie's" campaign for the English throne swept into Carlisle. They only managed to hold the Castle for a few weeks though. Those of the Scottish rearguard garrison who had survived its re-capture were put to death on nearby Capon Hill.

The battle for Carlisle Castle caused a great deal of damage and it was left in this condition until the 1800's when efforts were made to bring the castle up to the standards demanded by a modern, Victorian army. Carlisle Castle has been in the hands of the military, without break, for 800 years and is now also home to the museum of the Kings Own Border Regiment and the Border Regiment.

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Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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