Carousing in Carlisle

On Sunday, Nikki, Rohana, and I decided to do something exciting on our free morning, so we hightailed it down to Haltwhistle train station and took a 30 minute train to Carlisle, which is located in Cumbria (west from us). I must say Carlisle is a very charming town, bustling with action on a Sunday morning. Slightly pressed for time, we sped through the marketplace and made for Carlisle Cathedral. The cathedral may be the second smallest of England’s old cathedrals, but the East Window is the largest and arguably the finest example of Flowing Decorated Gothic tracery. Dating back to 1122, Carlisle Cathedral was first built in the Norman style, and then rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries in a more Gothic style.

Nikki and I are ducking under  the remains of a Gothic arch - as one does.
Nikki and I are ducking under the remains of a Gothic arch – as one does.
The beautiful stained glass East Window.
The beautiful stained glass East Window.

After that, we made it over to Carlisle Castle, which was not much farther away, but we took the longer route over the bridge, which gave us a lovely view of the castle from up above.

Carlisle Castle from our lovely vantage point
Carlisle Castle from our superb vantage point

The castle is a typical early motte and bailey, introduced by William the Conqueror from Normandy with the Norman invasion in 1066. It consists of a stone keep atop a large mound (the motte) surrounded by the bailey, a fortified wall encircling the keep, and then surrounded by a deep ditch that was once the moat. We started to walk atop the outer wall by the large crenelations and then found ourselves wandering into the keep. The castle is very dark and mysterious, with many crevices and staircases leading to seemingly nowhere, and eerily enough, we start our exploration within the dungeons (located next to the storerooms).

Could have seriously used a torch. Or whipped out my phone like Nikki cleverly did.
Could have seriously used a torch in the dungeon. Or whipped out my phone like Nikki cleverly did.

We continued up the winding stairs and explored the great hall, and then the solar upstairs where the nobility would have their own quarters. One of the cool things about Carlisle Castle is a graffitied door that was inscribed with doodles that must have been the handiwork of a very bored guardsman. It depicts animals and the heraldry of the local noble families. Carlisle Castle was also the theatre for much conflict due to its location near the Scottish-English border and as the major stronghold in Cumberland, and was besieged on many occasions. It was even a point of contention in later centuries and under siege during the English Civil War in 1642 and then in the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

The very menacing looking portcullis
The very menacing looking portcullis

Carlisle is a city layered in history, and we know that its role as a military stronghold even dates back to the Roman conquest of Britain, being the location of one of the early forts, part of the Pre-Hadrianic Stanegate frontier, known then as Luguvalium. The Stanegate Road connected Luguvalium with Corstopitum (Corbridge) in the East.

Part of a Roman altar which had been re-used as the lintel of a medieval doorway within the castle. The inscription is a dedication to Jupiter, Juno, ad other gods by a soldier from the Danube frontier, which is an example of the continuity of the material culture from the earlier ROman period.
Part of a Roman altar which had been re-used as the lintel of a medieval doorway within the castle. The inscription is a dedication to Jupiter, Juno, and other gods by a soldier from the Danube frontier, which is an example of the continuity of the material culture from the earlier Roman period.

We concluded our day in Carlisle with a bit of shopping, and a lovely lunch at a French cafe, before we made our way back in time for Canada Day festivities.

Desert at the nearby chocolaterie was a brilliant idea - as Rohana can attest to
Dessert at the nearby chocolaterie was a brilliant idea – as Rohana can attest to

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