Peek at the Past


The historic Roman city of Carlisle – The Great Border City – is a bustling centre with a strong identity and an uncompromising motto in its Coat of Arms – “Be Just and Fear Not”. It enjoys excellent road links with three M6 junctions (42, 43 and 44) as well as being a main station on the West Coast Main Rail Line. Carlisle’s pedestrianised city centre contains an award winning shopping precinct and a wide range of shops, pubs, restaurants and night-clubs.

CARLISLE’S exact early history is unknown but by 79 AD the conquering Roman Army established the garrison town of Luguvalium, where the city now stands. From here Hadrian’s Wall was constructed – Britain’s most spectacular memorial to the Roman Empire.

For 800 years, the city wandered between the warring kingdoms of England and Scotland – the reason it is not included in the Doomsday Book. William the Conqueror’s men didn’t miss Carlisle – it simply wasn’t governed by England at the time.

Border terrorism was at its height during the 17th century’s Border Reiver wars where villainy, murder, rape and pillage were everyday occurrences.

Carlisle Castle – constructed from stone taken from Hadrian’s Wall – was at the centre of power struggles when Elizabeth 1 imprisoned Mary Queen of Scots inside the fortress.

Later, the city was caught up in the Civil War. Carlisle, a Royalist stronghold, was besieged by the Parliamentarians and a tight blockade eventually brought the city to its knees.

The continuing struggle for the Crown saw Carlisle surrender to Bonnie Prince Charlie during the Jacobite Rising of 1745, only to see the Duke of Cumberland regain the city weeks later in bloody fashion.

The Industrial Revolution of the 19th Century brought thriving businesses and prosperity to Carlisle and it became an important textile manufacturing centre and rail hub. In 1838 the first West/East rail link between Carlisle and Newcastle was opened and by 1878 seven rail companies operated from the city’s Citadel Station.

The world famous Carr’s biscuit manufacturers started life in Carlisle – the subject of a recent book by novelist Margaret Foster – and the international Metal Box Company has its origins in the city.