The stern, stone walls of Carlisle Castle are of Norman construction and were built on the site of a Roman fort. The site long formed a key defensive position against England’s longtime foe to the north, Scotland, and the surrounding lands passed back and forth between the two.
The castle also functioned as a prison; Mary, Queen of Scots was an unwilling guest here in 1568 and as late as Bonnie Prince Charlie’s heyday in the 18th century this was still a point of conflict between the two nations. In these more peaceful times you can visit the keep, gatehouses, dungeons and other well-preserved parts of this fascinating medieval fortress.
Carlisle is in the far north-west of England, not far from the Scottish border, and lies near the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. Direct trains from London take a little over three hours.