Carlisle



   
After Boudica's revolt a timber fort was founded at Carlisle by the Ninth Legion (Legio IX Hispana) at a site recorded as Luguvalium around 72AD.  Excavation south of the castle site discovered the line of the western and southern defences of this Flavian structure, together with a waterlogged and therefore well preserved timber gateway.  Preserved writing tables record the fort name from about 80AD.  The choice of site was possibly because it could be supplied by sea from the River Eden and occupied a ridge end site on a steep river bluff commanding the junction of the Rivers Caldew and Eden.  At the same time as the foundation excavation has shown a Flavian settlement under the present city.  Multiple rebuildings are thought to have occurred and the fort was mentioned around 105AD in a tablet from Vindolanda which attests to a civilian settlement.  This new fort was a part of the new Tyne-Solway frontier along the Stanegate.

After the Roman withdrawal from Britannia, Cair Ligualid was listed among the 28 cities of Britain in Nennius.  In 685, when King Ecgfrith attacked the Picts, St Cuthbert (d.687) came to ‘Lugubalia, which is corruptly called by the English Luelto speak to the queen, who was there awaiting the result of the war in her sister's monastery.  The next day the citizens took him to see 'the walls of the town and the remarkable fountain, anciently built by the Romans'.  It would appear from this that the city defences and even some of the Roman waterworks were still functional.  The death of King Ecgfrith that year may have made the town's future more uncertain, but it would appear to have been still functional in 876 when it is thought the Vikings laid waste the town, or at least plundered it, when Halfdan divided up the land of Northumbria and harried and pillaged it.

The early history of northern castles of Britain is even more obscure than those of the south of the island.  King Edmund (d.946) seems to have taken control of the Carlisle district in 945 when he wasted all Cumberland before giving it to King Malcolm of Scotland (d.954) in return for him acknowledging that he was Edmund's ally by both sea and land.  Despite later claims to the contrary there is archaeological evidence that the town of Carlisle continued as a functioning entity from the time of its founding by the Romans.  It would also seem possible that the Roman walls remained standing as late as this.  In Wales Giraldus Cambrensis describes walking through Caerleon:

Many vestiges of its former nobility might yet be seen, immense palaces, with gilded roofs formerly the exalted pride of the Romans, built in prodigious size, with a gigantic tower, distinguished thermal baths, the remnants of temples and the sites of theatres, all enclosed within excellent walls, which are yet partly standing.  You will find on all sides, both within and without the circuit of the walls, subterraneous buildings, water pipes, and underground passages.  And, more remarkable than that, stoves contrived with wonderful art to transmit the heat through narrow flues up the sides of the walls.

In other words, Roman ruins were probably in the condition that many Norman castles are today.  Coin finds in Carlisle include pennies of Aethelstan (924-939), Edgar (959-975) and Aethelred II (978-1016).  Excavation has also indicated that the area where the castle now stands was occupied throughout this period and served by maintained Roman roads.

In 1070 fighting was occurring between Earl Gospatric of Northumberland (d.1074) and King Malcolm III of Scotland (d.1093), with them wasting one another's properties along the border. During these troubles Malcolm subjugated Cumberland by violence and no doubt took possession of Carlisle.  In 1072 King William of England (d.1087) deprived Gospatrick of his earldom and made King Malcolm (d.1093) his man, probably leaving him in command of Cumberland as part of the Scottish kingdom.  The Carlisle Chronicle, drawn up using ancient chronicles in 1291 to help Edward I (1272-1307) determine the right king of Scotland, stated clearly that in the time of Earl Siward (d.1055) King Malcolm of Cumbria (d.1093) ruled to the River Duddon (Dunde).  Thirteenth century sources state that the boundary between Scottish Cumberland and England lay at ‘the King's Cross on Stainmore'.  This lay between the castles of Brough and Bowes.  Quite clearly from this Carlisle was recognised as a part of Scotland before the Norman Conquest, even if Northumbrian rule had formerly held sway here at times.  The district was only brought fully under Norman control when William Rufus (1087-1100) took and fortified Carlisle in 1092 with a large army, expelling its previous lord, Dolfin, said to be a younger son of Earl Gospatrick (d.1074), but possibly more likely his son in law.  According to the Peterborough Chronicle written some 20 years later:

1092 King William travelled north to Carlisle (Cardeol) with a very great army and restored the burgh and raised the castle and drove out Dolfin, who earlier ruled the land there and set the castle with his men and afterwards returned south and sent very many peasants there with women and livestock to live there and to till that land. 

This would appear to have been copied by later chronicles, namely Waverley and Henry Huntington.  A separate source seems to have been shared by 2 contemporary chroniclers, Florence of Worcester and Symeon of Durham.  They recorded:

This done, the king [Rufus] set out for Northumberland, the city which the British call Carlisle and the Latins Lugubalis; he restored and built a castle in it.  For this city, with some others in those parts, was destroyed by the Danish pagans 200 years ago and up to this time was left deserted.

As has been stated above, the city was not abandoned prior to the Norman arrival and this source is most definitely wrong about the place being a wilderness.  The question is, what did Rufus actually do there other than found a castle?  By the sounds of it he drove away the original inhabitants and replaced them with people more likely to be loyal to him.  Similarly the texts give no clue as to what form this castle commenced by Rufus may have looked like.

After the conquest of 1092, either William II or more likely Henry I (1100-35), gave the lordship of Carlisle to Ranulf le Meschin (d.1129), who in 1120 became earl of Chester.  Part of the grant may have taken place as early as 1098 when Ranulf married Lucy Bolingbroke (d.1138), the widow of Ivo Taillebois (d.1094/7) and Roger Fitz Gerold (d.1097/98).  This marriage also brought him Taillebois' land of Appleby and possibly also Kendal.  That Henry I was holding Carlisle at his accession in August 1100 is likely as he seems to have founded Carlisle priory, an event that would not have happened if Henry was not lord of Carlisle.  A few years later Ranulf le Meschin decided to found his own priory at Wetheral, some 7 miles to the east of Carlisle priory, an event that would probably not have happened if King Henry had not already of founded Carlisle priory in what was later to become Ranulf's caput.

Ranulf, as nephew to Earl Hugh Lupus of Chester (d.1101) and cousin to Earl Ranulf of Chester (d.1120), helped control the family's north-western portion of the kingdom of England which covered England from the Shropshire border to the Solway Firth.  During his time as lord of Carlisle he was said, in 1212, to have created 2 border sub-lordships or baronies at Burgh by Sands and Liddel (Lydale) covering the land north of Carlisle.  The first of these was given to Ranulf's brother in law, Robert Trevers and the latter to Turgis Brandos.  According to Camden writing some 5 centuries later, Ranulf tried to give Gilsland to his brother, William (d.1130/5), but he failed to dislodge its ruler.  No evidence of this alleged grant exists in the pipe rolls or the Testa de Neville of 1212 and as such it can probably be dismissed.  However, Ranulf certainly gave his brother, William, the lordship of Allerdale (which then seems to have included Copeland) and stretched along the coast between the rivers Duddon and Esk (and therefore including Millom, Egremont, Cockermouth and Burgh by Sands).  Ranulf was a prominent supporter of Henry I and led the first battle of the royal army at the battle of Tinchebrai in 1106.  It was probably around this date that Ranulf granted Wetheral (Wetherhala) to St Mary's abbey, York.  This led to the founding of Wetheral priory.  Ranulf then endowed the priory with this churches of St Michael and St Lawrence in his castellum of Appleby.

On the earl of Chester's death in 1120, it is thought that Henry I resumed Carlisle lordship when he made Meschin earl of Chester in his cousin's place, although there is no direct evidence as to when this happened although it was certainly before 1122 when the king went to Carlisle after Michaelmas and ‘sent money for the fortification of the place with a castle and towers'.  By the time of the September 1129 pipe roll, Carlisle lordship had been divided into 2, Chaerleolium and Westmarieland.  Hildret was holding Carlisle and accounted for £14 16s 6d from the old farm, ie last year, and the king's manors.  The costs of making a wall around the city had cost £14 16s 6d cancelling out the income from last year.  Presumably these works had been going on since 1122.  It was also recorded that the canons of St Mary of Carlisle had received £10 towards the building work of their church as well as being pardoned 37s 4d, while a further £6 2s had been spent on the city walls.  The city and castle were obviously well garrisoned for payments were made to the knights and sergeants of Carlisle at a cost of £42 7s 7½d.  As £21 was paid for 1 knight, 10 serjeants, a watchman and a porter in Burton in Lonsdale, it suggests that Carlisle garrison was double that.  At this time it would appear that Copeland was independent of these 2 fledgling shires.  Three years later in 1133 King Henry made Prior Adulf of Nostlia bishop of the newly created see of Karleol giving to the diocese the churches of Cumberland and Westmorland which were under the archdeaconry of York.

The death of Henry I on 2 December 1135 was a sea change for Carlisle.  Early in 1136, King David of Scotland (d.1153), cynically remembering his oath to King Henry I (d.1135), invaded the kingdom of England swiftly taking various garrisons in Cumberland and Northumberland, and advancing on Durham, while bypassing Bamburgh (Babhanburch).  King Stephen, when he was staying at Oxford at the end of the festival of the Nativity, was told how:

"King David of the Scots, on pretence that he was coming with peaceful intent for the purpose of visiting you, has come to Carlisle and Newcastle and stealthily taken both".  To this the king is said to have replied, "What he has taken by stealth, I will recover by victory" and without delay the king moved forward his army, which was so mighty and valiant and so numerous that none in England could be remembered like it.  However King David met him at Durham and made a treaty with him restoring Newcastle, but retaining Carlisle with the king's consent.  David did not do homage to King Stephen because he had previously, as the first of the laity, promised on oath to the Empress... to maintain her in possession of England after the death of King Henry I.  However, Henry, the son of King David, did homage to King Stephen on which he was presented with the borough of Huntingdon by way of gift.

Other sources state that King Stephen came to Durham on 5 February and after 15 days received David in Newcastle castle where they made peace with David's son, Henry, paying homage to King Stephen at York for the honour of Huntingdon without Doncaster (Dunecastra) or Carlisle (Karleol). 

According to the fifteenth century Bower's chronicle, after the peace of Newcastle, King David went immediately to Carlisle where he is said to have made a very strong castle as well as raising the most powerful walls for the city.  This, of course, ignores the contemporary chronicles that state that King Henry I did just this in 1122.  As such this late claim should probably be ignored, despite the fact that the castle keep is claimed as his based on this solitary story.

Although Rufus and his brother, King Henry I, had built Carlisle castle it was now a property of the Scottish kings and their adherents.  In 1138 the papal legate arrived at Carlisle and returned the seat to Bishop Aldulf.  Quite obviously he had been forced to flee the district with the coming of the Scots.  The legate also freed all the captives from the war that he found in the town.  These captives well enough explain the bishop's flight, he fairly obviously not wanting to be counted amongst them.  Around this time King David confirmed to Robert Bruce all Annandale (Estrahanent which would now be Strath Annan) which stretched from the boundary of the lands of Dougal Stranit to that of Ralph Meschin (the nephew of the Ralph below, d.1138).  Further the lands were to have the same customs as Carlisle and Cumberland were held in the days of Ralph Meschin (d.1129, but relinquished Carlisle to King Henry in 1120).  The apparent mention of Ralph (d.1138) would indicate that this charter probably dated to the time from 1130, around when William Meschin the father of Ralph died, until his own death in 1138.

In 1140 Earl Ranulf of Chester (d.1153) became King Stephen's enemy after he failed to have Carlisle taken from King David's son, Earl Henry of Huntingdon (d.1152), and returned to himself as heir of his father, Earl Ranulf (d.1129) who had been lord of Carlisle before 1120.  Although Earl Ranulf (d.1153) eventually plotted with both sides in the civil war, he failed to oust the Scots from Carlisle, though this was from no lack of trying.

The story of what happened in Carlisle during the Anarchy of 1136-54 can be partially reconstructed from using chronicle evidence.  However, the trouble with relying on later chronicles is again emphasised when the chronicler Hoveden's account of this era is examined.  According to him Henry Fitz Empress (1133-89), the grandson of Henry I (d.1135) and claimant to the throne against King Stephen, being 16:

and having been brought up at the court of King David of the Scots, his mother's uncle, was dubbed knight by David in the city of Carlisle, having first made an oath to him that if he should become king of England he would restore Newcastle and all Northumbria between the rivers Tweed and Tyne to him.  After this Henry, by the advice and assistance of King David, crossed over into Normandy and being received by the nobles was made duke of Normandy.

In reality Henry had been in Normandy for much of this youth and was not brought up at the Scottish court, or had even been there before 1149.  In that year Henry made his way to Carlisle where he was dubbed knight on Whit Sunday.  To this ceremony came Earl Ranulf of Chester (d.1153) and there the earl made his peace with King David, accepting the latter's control of Carlisle.  In return David granted Lancashire to Ranulf, which shows that William Fitz Duncan, the previous lord of the district, had recently died.  The allies then made an abortive attack upon York before Henry retired to Normandy.  Hoveden reasonably well knew the facts of the story, but he obviously made some unlucky guesses in trying to fill in some of the gaps.

King David seems to have found Carlisle convenient and was perhaps the most visited place in his kingdom.  Finally, on 24 May 1153, King David died in his castle of Carlisle.  His final hours were recorded by Ailred of Rievaulx.  He stated:

On Wednesday 20 May 1153 (20 May was a Thursday!), though all his limbs were heavy with the weight of illness, nevertheless he walked into the oratory as he was wont, both for mass and the canonical hours, but when on Friday his malady began to get worse and the violence of the disease had robbed him of the power of standing as of walking he summoned the clerks and monks and asked that the sacrament of the Lord's body should be given to him; and on their making ready to bring him what he ordered, he forbade them, saying that he would partake of those most holy mysteries before the most holy altar.  When, therefore, he had been carried down into the oratory by the hands of clerks and knights and the mass had been celebrated he begged that a cross he reverenced, which they call the black cross, should be brought forward to him to worship....  At last he was brought back into his chamber... and when the priests came... he rose up as best he could and threw himself off the pallet upon the ground as he received the healing rite with so much devoutness....

It would seem likely that this oratory was the one still extant in Carlisle castle keep.  David's death was followed a year later by that of King Stephen.  His successor, Henry Fitz Empress (d.1189) wished to turn the clock back to 1135 when his grandfather died.  He therefore required back from the Scottish king, David's grandson, Malcolm IV (d.1165), the northern counties of England.  Consequently in July 1157, King Malcolm surrendered Cumberland to the king when the 2 met at Peak castle.  Henceforward Carlisle appeared in the pipe rolls as a royal county.  The next year, 1158, the king, with his army, met King Malcolm at Carlisle by 24 June and, after arguing with him, refused to make him a knight although he did knight, William the son King Stephen and lord of the eastern castles of Castle Acre and Eye.  However this dispute did not lead to hostilities.  With this the castle became a bit of a backwater with Anglo-Scottish relations stable.  In 1163 Henry visited his northern stronghold again and in 1165 the sheriff spent 10s 6d ‘on the work of the gates of Carlisle'.  Three years later in 1168 £2 was spent on removing (remouenda) the gate of Carlisle (Cardel) castle.  Presumably this work included the building of the new gatehouse and the closing of the old one to the east of the inner ward.

In 1173 King Henry II was suddenly faced by a concerted attack by all his enemies.  One of these was King William of Scots who sided with the young king, Henry III (d.1184).  Asking his barons for counsel concerning battle they are said to have answered:

    Sire, king of Scotland,
    Of all your rights Carlisle is the most difficult;
    And since the young king is willing to give you all,
    Go and conquer the capital, we advise you thus;
    And if Robert Vaux will not give the chief town,
    From the old high tower you must have him thrown.
    Lay siege to it and then make your great assembled host
    to swear not to stir from it till you have seen the city on fire,
    The master wall pulled down with your pickaxes of steel,
    Himself fastened to a high gallows.
    Then you will see Robert Vaux toeing the line...

But

    Robert Vaux defended himself bravely;
    the son of Odard was not at all behindhand...

Royal records show that by September 1173 £20 had been accounted to Constable Robert Vaux of Carlisle (d.1194) for keeping a number of knights in Carlisle castle.  At this time a knight could be paid anything from 6d to 1s per day, although about 8d seemed to be normal, while £20 was equal to 4,800d.  That same September the sheriff accounted for the munitioning of the castle.  As well as stocking provisions the castle ditch was worked upon at a cost of 45s 4d and 67s worth of work was carried out at the castle under the supervision of Adam Fitz Robert and his father Sheriff Robert Fitz Troite (d.1174), Ralf the clerk and Wulfric.  Wulfric the engineer was one of a small group of military advisors employed by Henry II, so his involvement meant that the king was serious about the defence of Carlisle.  At some point a further 100 loads of wheat were shipped into the castle at a cost of £6.  The damage done to the county was also estimated that September at £27 6s 6d allowed for the wasting of the county during the war, and 30s for the destruction of the mill of Tanerez wasted by war.  However, this was not the end of the matter, for the next year the Scots returned.

    That they could see Carlisle full of beauty;
    The sun illuminates the walls and turrets....

When they arrived a message was sent to the castle:

    "Go to Robert [Vaux], say that I send him this message:
    Surrender me the castle this very momnet:
    He will have no succour from any living man,
    And the king of England will never more be his defender;
    And if he will not do so, swear well to him
    He shall lose his head for it and his children shall die.
    I will not leave him a single friend or relation
    Whom I will not exile, if he does not execute my command."
    Now go the barons demanding the truce,
    And he answered him: "Friend, what is it you want?
    You might soon leave there the little and the great."
    And said the messenger: "That is not courteous:
    A messenger carrying his message should not be
    Insulted or ill treated; he may say what he likes."
    And said Robert Vaux: "Now come nearer,
    Say your pleasure; be afraid of nothing."

    Sir Robert Vaux, you are valiant and wise...
    Restore him the castle which is his inheritance:
    His ancestors had it already long in peacefulness;
    but the king of England has disinherited him of it
    Wrongly and sinfully, thus he sends you a message by me....
    Surrender him the castle and all the fortress,
    And he will give you so much coined money
    Never Hubert Vaux had so much collected.
    "Surrender him the castle on such terms,
    And become his man on such conditions;
    He will give you so much property in fine gold and money,
    And much more than we tell you.
    If you do not consent to it to disinherit him,
    You must not in any place trust to his person:
    He will besiege the castle with his people,
    You will not go out of it any day without injury to you,
    Nor all the gold of his kingdom which he could collect,
    To prevent you from drawn on a hurdle and adjudge to a bad death."

Robert refused this command and told King William to send to King Henry and if he allowed it, Robert would willingly surrender castle and town.  Otherwise he and his men were steady and would consider themselves disgraced if they surrendered as long as they had victuals sufficient to last them out.  On hearing this reply King William, instead of attacking Carlisle, leaving a portion of his army behind, marched on Appleby and Brough and rapidly took both castles.

Now cut off from the outside world Vaux sent a message to Richard Lucy (d.1179), the father in law of Reginald Lucy (d.1200) of Egremont and Odinel Umfraville (d.1182) of Prudhoe.  Richard replied that Robert should hold fast as King Henry himself would soon be in England to deal with the rebels.  Regardless of this advice, Robert agreed to surrender on 29 September if he had not been relieved.  To condense Fantosme, the Scots crossed the Pennines from the siege of Wark and came back to Carlisle with King William threatening Robert Vaux with being torn to pieces if he did not yield the castle and offering him riches if he did.  Vaux said he was not to be bribed and was not afraid as his castle was well provisioned and his men were firmly behind him.  Consequently the Scots, rather than risk a full assault left half the army to besiege Carlisle and with the other half set off to take Liddel, Brough and Appleby.  William again summoned Vaux to surrender and Richard Lucy, after hearing from him, told Henry II that ‘neither wine nor wheat can get to him any more nor will help reach him from Richmond; if he does not get aid quickly he will be starved out'.  However Richard had told Vaux that Henry II would be back in England in a fortnight.  On the strength of this, Robert agreed to surrender if no aid arrived because he knew that relief would shortly be on its way.

A contemporary chronicler recorded his take of events.

Meanwhile King William of the Scots besieged Carlisle, which Robert Vaux had in custody.  And, leaving a portion of his army in besieging the castle, with the remainder he marched through Northumberland, devastating the lands of the king and his barons.  And he took the castles of Liddel, Brough (Burgo), Appleby, Warkworth (Wercwrede) and Harbottle (Yrebotle) which was held by Odonel Umfraville, after which he returned to the siege of Carlisle.  Here he continued the siege until Robert Vaux, in consequence of a deficiency of provisions, made a peace with him on the following terms, that at the feast of St Michael next following [29 September 1174], he would surrender to him the castle and town of Carlisle, unless in the meantime he should obtain succour from his lord, the king of England.  Truly, the king of Scots departing thence, laid siege to Odonel Umfraville's castle of Prudhoe, but was unable to take it, for Sheriff Robert Stuteville of York, William Vescy, Ranulf Glanville, Constable Ralph Tilly of the household of the archbishop of York, Bernard Balliol [Barnards Castle] and Odonel Umfraville, having assembled a large force, hastened to its relief.  On learning of their approach, the king of Scots retreated thence and laid siege to William Vescy's Alnwick castle and then, dividing his army into 3 divisions, kept one with himself and gave command of the other 2 to Earl Duncan and the earl of Angus and to Richard Morville [constable of Scotland], giving them orders to lay waste the neighbouring provinces....

The result of William splitting his army proved disastrous.  On 13 July 1174 he was caught unprepared before Alnwick castle and captured, thus bringing Carlisle's war to an end.  Before that same September, Robert Fitz Truite, the sheriff of Cumberland since 1158, seems to have died, possibly as a result of disease from the siege.  Consequently his son, Adam Fitz Robert, who had been undersheriff with his father, rendered his account for the year which was nothing on account of the war; to which a sceptical clerk had added, so he says!

After the war of 1173-74, Cumberland and Westmorland
were reorganised into counties with Reiner the dapifer of Ranulph Glanville accounting in 1177 for the 3 years rent and being allowed £58 2s 8d for the custody of the castles of Westmorland.  Presumably these were Appleby and Brough castles which pertained to the sheriffdom.  The same year it was recorded that Adam Fitz Robert Truite and Robert Vaux had no idea of how much money they had spent during the war.  Consequently their sergeants were to ‘access how much they received in past years as they do not know'.  Despite this, Robert Vaux paid £112 4d into the treasure after rendering an account of £342 12d for the farm of Cumberland for this year and the last 2. 

With this the history of Carlisle castle fell back into obscurity until 1186 when:

King Henry formed an army to attack Roland Fitz Uchtryd of Galloway, but the prince came to Henry at Carlisle to make peace, Henry then offering Paulinus of Leeds the bishopric of Carlisle, enhanced by the churches of Bamburgh and Scarborough as well as the chapelry of Tickhill and the king's 2 manors near Carlisle, but he refused. 

As a result of Henry's visit work was undertaken, probably to build a chamber (camere) at a cost of £26, while the work of the bridge cost a further 62s 7d.  It is thought that this chamber was the hall that lay between the keep and Queen Mary's Tower along the south curtain.  Certainly in 1307 ‘the new stone tower for the king's chamber' was built and this was almost certainly Queen Mary's Tower, which confirms the identification.  Expenditure continued in 1187 with the works of the king's chamber in Carlisle castle and a little tower (parve turris) costing £41 14s 7d.  A further charge of 10s for felling material for mending the timberwork of the great tower was made by the same writ.  This wood would appear to have been for the final stage of the works in 1188 when £13 6s 8d in repairing the king's chamber and planking the tower (planchianda turri).  A further 77s 6d was spent to complete the aforesaid chamber.  This was the last work carried out on the fortress during the reign of Henry II (1154-89).

In 1190 the new government of Richard I (1189-99) had work undertaken to the 3 gates of the city of Carlisle and its granary at a cost of 119s 5d.  A further £14 was spent on unspecified works at the castle the next year, 1191.  The government had obviously been worried about the security of the northern forntier for in 1192 it was recorded that Sheriff William Fitz Aldelin had received £60 for the custody of Carlisle castle for the past 3 years.  In 1196 the castle jail was repaired for 40s and work was undertaken on the castle gate for 100s, while in 1197 work was carried out on the castle chapel as well as the bridge between the castle and town at a cost of 112s 6d.  Finally in 1198, works were carried out on the houses of the castle for 40s.  However, it was noted nearly a century later that the sheriffs of Carlisle had regularly been claiming £2 or £5 for the upkeep of the castle houses, but they had usually appropriated the money for other uses.

The reign of King John started in some trepidation in the spring of 1199.  Fear of disturbances on the death of King Richard led to Sheriff Hugh Bardolf (d.1203) of Westmorland taking over Cumberland and spending £36 15s on knights and serjeants for the custody of the homeland, while William Stuteville (d.1203) demanded £7 9s 8d for the time he spent in Carlisle castle.  With the initial panic over Carlisle castle was stocked with provisions in September 1200.  No doubt this store would have proved of use when King John himself visited the castle in late February 1201.  Possibly as a result of the visit the castle was strengthened before that September with £27 14s being spent on making repairs and attachments to the ditches and palisades.  Maintenance continued the next year when £47 was recorded as spent on castle works at September 1202.  The next year, September 1203, £61 10s 9d was spent in the repair of the gates and king's houses and £12 on the sustenance of knights in the castle.  By September 1204 a further £116 4s 1d had been spent on repairs to the castle and 50m (£33 6s 8d) in supplying the garrison with wheat, bacon and other necessities.  This was followed on 28 Nov 1204, by the king sending 60m (£40) to Constable Roger Lacy of Chester, the hero of the defence of Chateau Gaillard, to munition Carlisle castle.  The official order for Roger taking over the constableship of the castle was issued to its previous constable, Robert Courtney (d.1209) on 1 December.  On 8 March 1205 Roger was reinforced by the sending of 8 royal crossbowmen to him.  Simultaneously supplies of wheat were ordered from the lands of Landa Seburweh and Richard Gernun (d.1234+) to be sown for the use of the castle garrison.  On 12 April 1205, the king further ordered that Roger was to have wood from Carlisle forest in aid of repairing the royal castle of Carlisle.

In February 1206, King John again stayed at Carlisle.  He was at Bowes on 16 February and had arrived at Carlisle by the 18th.  He then remained there until at least the 20th before going on to Lancaster by the 21st.  He returned again in 1208, staying at Hexham on 1 August, before being found at Carlisle on the 17th and then being at Whinfell by the 19th.  He was back again 4 years later, staying at Wigton on 21-22 June 1212, then Carlisle from the 23rd to the 26th, before moving on to Hexham on 27th.

In 1212 John had an inquisition carried out.  This recorded that in Carlisle one Albert Fitz Bernard held 1 carucate of land by the sergeanty of making the city gates.  Similarly the sergeanty of Nicholas Gerbad, Alice his wife as well as Richard Carpenter and Matilda his wife, meant that they held a suburb of Carlisle for which they had to have the gates of Carlisle shod in iron.  Possibly this sergeanty dated back to the time of Henry I's refortification of Carlisle in 1122.

On 13 April 1215, Robert Roos of Helmsley, custodian of our castle of Karleol, was allowed £60 for holding the castle for the past 3 years.  He was also granted the vills of Sowerby, Karleton and Wifrightebe on 10 April, until his lands in Normandy could be recovered.  On 24 July 1215, Roos was replaced by Robert Vipont (d.1228) of Appleby, Brough, Brougham and Pendragon castles, as sheriff.  He held this appointment, although Ralph de La Ferte had been briefly constable until 7 January 1216, until 11 February 1222, when he was replaced by William Rughedon and Walter Mauclerc.  During the time of Robert's sheriffdom he was recorded as alienating the castle garden. 

With the collapse of Magna Carta and the civil war renewing, on 7 February 1216, the barons of the Exchequer were ordered to allocate to Robert Vipont payments for the knights, sergeants and crossbowmen he had with him in our castle of Carlisle which had been repaired and garrisoned by him, by the view and testament of honest men.  This was obviously a necessary measure as Norham castle had been besieged and taken by King William on 19 October 1216.  He had then taken the homage of the men of Northumberland on 22 October at Felton.  The attack continued through the winter with William burning the towns of Mitford and Morpeth on 7 January, Alnwick on 9 January and Wark on 11 January.  In reply to this royalist forces took the town and castle of Berwick on 15 January and Roxburgh on the 16th before burning Dunbar and its surrounding villages on the 18th.  Finally, in February 1216, King Alexander burned his way into the province of Carlisle, his troops reaching as far as Holme Cultram before being chased back by English forces who came to Carlisle burning the rebels' lands as far as that city.

In July King Alexander II returned to besiege Carlisle with all his army apart from any Scots from whom he received scutage instead.  The implication of this is that Alexander did not want ‘wild' Scotsmen destroying Carlisle and preferred their money to pay for more reliable English troops to sooth the feelings of the citizens he wanted to rule.  On 8 August the city surrendered to him and was occupied, although as yet Alexander did not attack the castle.  Writing seventy years later, the religious of Carlisle remembered events thus.

King Alexander of the Scots moved angrily against the city of Carlisle and the citizens handed it over to him because King John had inflicted many injuries upon them and not long afterwards he had obtained the city and fortress by force.

Two of the injuries John had inflicted upon the citizens of Carlisle would seem to be a refusal to allow them to be freefarm in 1202 and a massive tallage of 550m (£366 13s 4d) in 1210.  Of the assault on the castle nothing was recorded other than the above chronicle statement that the castle was taken by force, presumably in the August of 1216.  All that can be said with certainty from later repairs is that the attackers seem to have smashed their way in through both the outer gatehouse, otherwise known as Ireby's Tower, and then the inner gatehouse, these and the otherwise unidentified Maunsell's tower, had all been consequently wrecked.  Presumably this all happened before King John died on 19 October 1216.  As the outer gatehouse was known as Ireby's tower and William Ireby was lord by marriage of Gamblesby and Glassonby from John's reign well into that of Henry III (1216-72), it is to be presumed that he gave his name to the outer gatehouse, though whether this was through defending it, building it, living in it or repairing it, is unknown.  Further, William was a grandson of the Gospatric Fitz Orm (d.1185) who surrendered Appleby castle to the Scots in 1174.

Nearly a year later on 23 September 1217, the regent, Earl William Marshall (d.1219) instructed the archbishop of York and the bishop of Durham, the earls of Chester, Derby and Aumale [William Fortibus, d.1241, was also lord of Cockermouth], Constable John of Chester (d.1240), Geoffrey Neville (d.1249), Brian Insula (d.1234), Hugh Balliol (d.1229), Philip Ullecot (d.1221) and Roger Bertram (Mitford, d.1242), that as King Alexander had not returned Carlisle castle to Robert Vipont (d.1228) with all the lands he had hostiley taken in the war between us and the Lord Louis.  Consequently they were ordered to recover Carlisle and the lands and prisoners taken by force if necessary.  Soon afterwards, after the retreat of Louis from England around 29 September, all the barons of England paid homage to King Henry III.  After this, King Alexander, before he was acquitted of his excommunication, voluntarily returned Carlisle to the English kingdom.  This was probably in December 1217 when the archbishop of Canterbury went to Carlisle and accepted seisin of the castle from Alexander for the use of the king of England.  The archbishop then handed the castle to the sheriff of Cumberland.

By 28 June 1221, Robert Vipont (d.1228) was building houses at Carlisle.  Presumably these were within the town, rather than in the castle, although just a year later on 29 June 1222, Sheriff Walter Mauclerc (d.1248) was ordered to repair the houses of the castle by the view of honest men.  Mauclerc had been appointed sheriff on 5 April 1222 when all the royal castles in England were resumed by the Crown in the aftermath of the civil war of 1215-17.  Walter also received 100m (£66 13s 4d) pa for custody of the castle.  On taking charge of the fortress Walter found the place devoid of supplies and had to accept gifts of flour and a tripod mounted crossbow for the garrison and oxen for the demesnes from Thomas Multon (d.1240), the lord of Egremont.

The same winter on 9 October 1222, 3 royal crossbowmen and 4 sergeants were sent to garrison the castle.  The men were then regularly paid, last receiving money on 27 July 1223.  Presumably the crossbowmen being paid off occurred at the same time as Sheriff Walter Mauclerc was elected bishop of Carlisle about 22 August 1223.  Despite this, he remained sheriff until 1233, although he often had an undersheriff.  Sheriff Walter also received the pannage of Cumberland forest on 15 October 1222, to sustain himself in the royal service in Carlisle castle.  That September 1222 the sheriff was credited with £10 for repairing the king's houses in Carlisle castle.  This was followed on 18 February 1223, with an order to mend (emendacionem) the tower of Carlisle castle by the view of honest men at a cost of up to 20m (£13 6s 8d) and on 2 May to use timber from Cumberland forest for joists for both the keep and the castle houses.  Again on 17 June he was ordered to make further repairs to the keep.  Presumably this accounts for the 20m (£13 6s 8d) allocated for works on the castle that
September.

Works were still needed at the castle in 1226 when on 26 February, the sheriff was allowed to spend up to 100m (£66 13s 4d) in repairing the leading and joists of the keep.  This work had oviously begun by 24 March 1226, when the sheriff of Cumberland was authorised to have timbers taken from the forest to repair the castle keep.  This work may have been finished by 20 July 1226, when the sheriff was ordered to make a jail in the castle for a cost of up to 10m (£6 13s 4d).  The cost of this duly appeared in the September pipe roll as did payments of £42 12s for 1226 and £40 for 1225 as well as £30 for 3/4 of 1224, allocated to Bishop Walter for having custody of the castle.  By September 1227, the 100m (£66 13s 4d) authorised in 1226 had been spent on the joists and lead for roofing the keep.  Further, repairs had been carried out to the castle houses at a cost of 55s 9d.  The bishop had also been awarded an extra £4 6s 11d by king's writ to finish the 100m (£66 13s 4d) work enjoined upon him for his custody of the castle and county.  From 1228 to 1232 work was regularly recorded on repairing or mending the castle houses, 100s in 1228, £8 6d in 1229 which also included repairs to the city gate, £4 14s 9d in 1230, 115s in 1231 and 100s in 1232.  In 1232 the sheriff was ordered to construct a circuit of palisading around the castle, while the city received a grant of murage to assist in upkeep of walls. 

In the January of 1233 Bishop Mauclerc fell from favour with the overthrow of Earl Hubert Burgh.  On 6 February the king instructed his new sheriff, Thomas Multon of Egremont (d.1240), to have Carlisle castle blockaded if it had not surrendered to him in a fortnight, while the bishop's lay possessions were seized.  However, Walter duly surrendered his offices and fined £1,000 for having peace, surrendering his royal charters of possession and retiring into temporary ‘exile overseas on account of the injuries he had done to the church and kingdom'.  Sheriff Thomas Multon then spent 51s 7d on repairing a breach in a turret (turella) and in repairs to the walls which the sappers had undermined when King Alexander of the Scots had besieged the castle.  Finally, he spent £8 8s 5d for costs in tin and lead used for covering the castle [roofs].  In 1235 the sheriff claimed another 20s for repairing the king's houses in the castle and an undefined amount in garrisoning the fortress. 

In the
1237 treaty of York, the king of Scots resigned his claim to the border counties of Cumberland, Durham, Northumberland and Westmorland, acknowledging the current boundary between the 2 kingdoms.  This led Henry III to instruct his sheriff of Northumberland to spend as little as possible on Newcastle and Bamburgh as ‘the king is not now in fear of his castles as before'.  It would seem likely that the same attitude was held for Carlisle, although again it was recorded that Thomas Multon had garrisoned the castle as was customary.  The same year William Dacre became sheriff and received 1 tun of wine worth 40s at the castle.  For the next 2 years, 1238-39, he received 100s for emending the king's houses in the castle.  In the latter year he also reroofed the keep and the king's chamber with lead and repaired other minor defects for a cost of £8 10s 6½d.  Further work continued in 1240 with repairs to the moat bridge, the stairs to the great chamber and the larder for 48s 4d.  A further 100s was allocated for mending the king's houses within the fortress.  As has been noted these 100s payments seem likely to have simply been pocketed.

With the threat of war with King Alexander II (d.1249) in 1244, Gerard the Engineer was allocated £10 for building the king's engines in Carlisle castle, while a further 6s 4d was spent repairing the castle houses.  Simultaneously the king ordered the sheriff in March 1244 to have the tower at the castle gate repaired along with the part of the wall which had lately fallen down and to have the castle chapel wainscotted and glazed.  Ten oaks were to be cut down in Inglewood in aid of this wainscotting.  By 4 June the king was intending to come to Carlisle in person for he ordered 10 tuns of wine bought at Boston to sent to Carlisle castle ‘so that the king may find them on his coming there'.  The same September 1244 repairs had been carried out to a turret and the houses within the castle and also amendments had been made to the houses at a cost of 27m (£18) by the view of Robert Clerk.  One and a half tuns of wine were sent to stock the castle in 1246, but the condition of the fortress was said 2 years later to be dire.

On 1 May 1248, Richard and Ralph Levinton together with William Feugers, were ordered to go to Carlisle castle and view in what state John Balliol, to whom the king has committed the castle, received it [from Sheriff William Dacre].  On 18 July 1248, Sheriff Balliol was ordered to repair the king's hall and other buildings in the castle.  The next year it was noted that Sheriff John Balliol was receiving 100m (£66 13s 4d) per annum for having the custody of the castle.  In 1250 it was further noted that Sheriff Dacre had spent £10 in emending the king's houses in the castle during his last 2 years of office.  It also becomes clear at this time that 100s or £5 per year seems to be the going rate for ‘mending' the royal houses in Carlisle castle, this amount being allowed to the sheriff for that purpose on most years between 1249 and 1259, £5 spent on castle each year, however only 19s 5½d was spent in 1252!

Some repairs were ordered
to Carlisle castle on 16 May 1253, when oaks were ordered cut down for timbers for the king's houses.  On 26 May 1255, orders were given to make necessary repairs to the king's houses, an order repeated on 20 May 1255.  Soon afterwards on 22 August 1255, Robert Bruce (d.1295) was appointed to keep the castle of Carlisle with the county of Cumberland.  Soon after this Robert reported the castle so ‘greatly dilapidated' that he recommended that the money collected for Crusade should be stored elsewhere for its safety.  Regardless, his appointment to Carlisle did not last long and on 28 October 1255 the king committed the county of Cumberland and the castle of Carlisle during pleasure to Earl William Fortibus of Aumale (d.1260), the lord of Cockermouth castle.  Soon after Earl William took over the fortress a report was sent to the king from Thomas Lascelles (the heir of William Ireby) and other knights of the county of Cumberland.  At the royal command they had visited and inspected Carlisle castle and its condition when it was delivered by Robert Bruce (d.1295) to Earl William Fortibus of Aumale (d.1260).  They found it in a bad condition:

...all the lead gutters of the great tower were decayed and the doors and shutters likewise.  The joists and planking were broken and rotten and the walls of the tower were in a bad state for want of mending and covering.  The queen's chamber, which was covered in lead, needed great repair and covering and the chimney needed instant repair or it would speedily fall on the chamber, which is a very great danger.  Maunsell's turret and the turret of William Ireby and the turret beyond/over the inner gate, were levelled and deteriorated in the time of the great war of King John and were never afterwards rebuilt or repaired.  The chapel, great hall, kitchens, granges, stables, bakeries, breweries and the houses beyond the gate and the bridges within and without the castle needed repair and covering beyond measure.  There was a great crevice within the turret of William Ireby from the summit to the base, requiring repair anew, which was shown to Sir Henry Bathon with the other defects named above.  Some bretasche which was within Maunsell's turret was newly blown down by the wind, and was now burned and so were the doors and shutters of the great tower and of the stables and kitchens and the bolts of the doors with their ironwork carried off.  Great part of the paling within and without the castle was likewise burned and destroyed...

Despite the poor state of the fortress the only order for its repair on 20 October 1261, amounted to cutting oaks for timbers to fix some defects and work on the palisading.  The same day the bailiffs and good men of Carlisle were granted murage for 5 years.  Obviously this was for maintaining the walls which were over 150 years old and not for building a new enceinte around the city.  This should be borne in mind when other murage grants are used to date town walls.

In 1262 the new sheriff, Eustace Balliol (d.1272), accounted for nearly £100 spent on building 2 great catapults which had been made in the city and moved into the castle where they could be placed under cover.  This was at a time of great tension in the kingdom as the Barons' War began.  This caused Eustace much expenditure in holding his northern fortress against the rebels.  Unfortunately much of what occurred has not been recorded, but in the 1285 Cumberland forest eyre it was recorded that in July 1265, John Deiville (d.1291) and his men ‘in wartime occupied Carlisle castle by force from Eustace Balliol and released the prisoners in his custody in the same castle...'.  Certainly on 5 August 1264 there is a hint of fighting in the north.  On that day the king, a captive of the reformers, wrote to the northern royalist barons, John Balliol (Barnards Castle, d.1268), Peter Bruce (Kendal, d.1272), Robert Neville (d.1271), Ralph Fitz Randolf (Middleham, d.1270), William Greystoke (d.1289), Roger Lancaster (d.1291), Stephen Meynell (Whorlton, d.1264+), Adam Gesemuth (d.bef.1274, the husband of Christiana, the daughter of William Ireby (d.1257)), Gilbert Haunsard (d.1291), Eustace Balliol (d.1272, the captain of Carlisle), Nicholas Boltby (d.1272) and Robert Stuteville of Ayton (d.1265), to come to the king at London with their horses and arms and give counsel with the baronage against the invasion of the [royalist] aliens or face the king's indignation.  He also noted that they had claimed that they could not come due to the enmity of John Deiville (d.1291), John Vescy (Alnwick, d.1289), Thomas Multon (of Gilsland, d.1271) and Gilbert Umfraville (Prudhoe, d.1307) who were attempting to attack them.  The king had therefore written to them to desist in pushing their grievances and therefore those commanded were to come to London at once.  It is quite obvious from this that Cumberland was in a state of civil war, just like the rest of the country.  The war at this point went the rebels way as on 6 January 1265, Balliol was ordered to hand Carlisle castle over to Thomas Muleton (d.1271) as was asked by the council of barons.

With the victory of Prince Edward over the barons at the battle of Evesham on 4 August 1265 the castle was soon reclaimed by the royalists in the form of the younger Robert Bruce (d.1304), the father of King Robert I of Scotland.  On 4 October 1265 he was ordered to turn the castle and county over to Roger Leyburn, who held it until 10 January 1267, when he was ordered to return it to Robert Bruce (d.1304).  It was only now that work was undertaken on the castle with the tower and other buildings been repaired in 1269 at a cost of some £12.  For this 12 oaks were cut down for work on the hall and other houses.  In March 1271, another 20 oaks were supplied for repairs to the keep.  In 1272 it was recorded that the exchequer and sheriff's offices were in the outer gatehouse.  The purposes the office was put too, however, seems to have been far from just.  Between 1272 and 1274, it was alleged, probably with justification, that William Ribton, the sergeant to Sheriff Robert Creppinge, with his approval forced an approver imprisoned in the castle to accuse several innocent men of serious crimes so that they could be blackmailed into paying for the withdrawal of the charges.  Further in 1279, it was found that every holder of office of sheriff since 1261, with one exception, had not spent the 100s allowance regularly claimed for the maintenance of the king's houses on the castle. 

In 1280 King Edward came to Carlisle and spent over £23 on food for his household and horses as well as £7 3s spent on building a new bridge.  Two years later in 1282, 9 prisoners escaped from the castle prison after killing the janitor and his son.  Presumably this prison was in the castle outer gatehouse.  In 1283 Sheriff Gilbert Corewenne claimed that over the last 2½ years he had spent £12 10s on castle repairs.  More works occurred in the period 1286-88 when over £200 was spent on the castle.  In 1287 this work amounted to some £115 and included 30 oaks fit for timbers from Inglewood forest for castle works on 28 January and another 30 oaks on 23 October.

The castle was lucky to survive the next conflagration that scourged Carlisle.  On 25 May 1292 a fire swept through Carlisle and its suburbs, consuming the cathedral church with fire and burning everything right up to the castle, whose bridge was destroyed.  On 18 August the king ordered 16 oaks fit for timber to be taken to Carlisle castle ‘to repair the bridge... which was lately burned accidentally'.  The same year The Great Cause of who ruled Scotland began.  This was to plague the British Isles for centuries.

In 1295 King Edward ordered siege engines constructed and for minor works to be made to the castle.  These proved necessary for on 26 March 1296, Earl John Comyn of Buchan (d.1308) with the earls of Menteith, Starthearn, Lennox, Ross, Athol, Mar, together with John Comyn of Badenoch (d.1303), suddenly invaded England and for 2 days violently besieged Carlisle city, but could not take it.  That day was Easter Monday and rather parallelled another sneak attack made 14 years before at Flint and Rhuddlan.  According to a local chronicle, a Scottish spy called Patrick escaped from the castle prison and started a fire.  However, the townsmen put out the fire while the women held the Scots from the wall with stones and boiling water.  Without artillery and the coup de main having failed the Scots withdrew back to Annandale, although they burned everything in Cumberland as far as Cockermouth

Two years later, on 13 October 1298, Bishop John Halton replaced Robert Bruce (d.1304) as constable of the castle.  Soon afterwards the Multon of Egremont holdings Burgh by Sands, Rockcliffe, Irthing and Brampton in Gilsland were attacked and burned, their value being reduced from some £219 to £53.  Also attacked around the same time was Bewcastle.  Finally, on 11 November 1298, William Wallace (d.1305), after burning Liddel, Levington and Gilsland, appeared under the town walls on 7 November and tried to bluff the garrison to surrender.  When they wouldn't and Wallace saw the firm condition of the castle and their defensive military arsenal, the Scottish army retreated, having destroyed the houses and gardens under the castle walls.   After this the castle was reinforced by 14 crossbowmen and 95 foot, while new brattices were erected around the walls, the 3 bridges were remade, the ditches were cleaned out both within and without the fortress and the stonework of the walls and gates repaired.  Surprisingly only £20 was sent to finance these works, while on 20 September, 20 oaks were sent from Inglewood forest to repair the castle houses, bridges and battlements.  Sixty young pike were also sent to stock the castle moat.  From this time on the castle was used as a supply depot for the Scottish war, although the mills were used to grind corn for the armies, while wine was stockpiled in a warehouse built within the castle with 174 cartloads of timber.  Wallace's attack was followed in 1298 with repairs to the walls around the gates and the houses over the castle gate as well as glass for the king's chamber and chapel and works on the great hall.  Oddly, the same year the sheriff stated that he could not produce 3 men charged with homicide as they were imprisoned in the castle ‘the keeping of which the bishop of Carlisle has by the king's commission' even though the prison remains in the sheriff's keeping.

Two years later in 1300, Carlisle was the base for the famed Caerlaverock campaign.  In 1301 the roofing of keep was again repaired and prisoners from Turnberry castle were imprisoned within it by chains and fetters bought for the purpose.  As a final precaution iron bars were placed across the windows.  The year also saw work on the great hall and siege engines stored within the fortress.  In 1302, the sheriff was still complaining that he could not have ‘free entry or exit at the castle gate'.  The same year repairs were made to the great gate and the roof of the queen's chamber.  In 1303 further repairs were made to the lead of the great tower and 33 rods of wall in the outer bailey were made as well as brattices for the main gate and a postern ‘against the coming of the Scots in the Marches'.  It was probably the next year, 1304, that Sheriff John Lucy complained that the prison had collapsed and consequently he was having difficulty gaining access to the castle, as neither he nor the gaoler had any residence in it and that there was nowhere in Carlisle city or castle to hold the county court.  Possibly this complaint led the castle being handed back to the sheriff from the bishop in May 1304.

In 1305/6 the prison with the house above it was rebuilt at cost of nearly £20.  When King Edward heard of the murder of John Comyn at Dumfries on 10 February 1306, he sent a force of horse and foot to Carlisle and Berwick in order to protect the border.  In this action he proved correct for Robert Bruce immediately invaded the parts of Galloway loyal to Edward I and burned the land, besieging one of the chief men in a lake, possibly Loch Doon castle.  However, part of the Carlisle garrison sallied out into Galloway and caused him to raise the siege and retreat after he had burned the engines and ships he had made for the siege.  The same year, 1306, a wooden chapel and bath was built for the queen when Edward I stayed at the priory and Queen Margaret in the castle.  On 17 February 1307, Thomas Bruce's head was displayed on top of the keep after he, his brother Alexander, and Reginald Crawford, had been defeated in battle at Loch Ryan.  At the same time a parliament lasting 2 months was held at Carlisle.  After Edward left Carlisle to invade Scotland once more, he got as far as Burgh by Sands where he died on 7 July 1307, leaving the Scottish rebellion uncrushed.

Edward II (1307-27) may then have ordered further work at the castle for in 1308 repairs were made to a breach in the wall near the castle postern and new chambers were built by the little postern and at the outer gate.  Two bridges were also repaired inside the castle.  Monies to the value of £208 5s 7d were expended on breaking freestone from Wetheral quarry, as well as on the wages of masons and others assisting them in making 2 stairs, one for 2 turrets on the high tower where springalds were positioned and another in a new stone tower attached to the king's chamber which had 2 portcullises and double vaulting.  This was St Mary's Tower, set in the east corner of the inner bailey, ‘which tower was 28' above the ground when Alexander (Bastenthwayt) was removed from office.  And beside that same tower were built 2 little stone chambers, a fireplace and 2 garderobes, so he says'.  During this year, 1308, the sheriff claimed allowance for 4 men at arms and 10 archers stationed within the fortress.  Further, on 12 November 1312, that since 1310 £20 pa had been allocated for keeping Carlisle castle and county safe.

These recent improvements made to Carlisle castle proved necessary as the Scottish rebellion drew nearer to England.  In August 1311, after an attack had been launched on Gilsland, the castle garrison was increased with 8 knights and 156 men at arms being hired during October.  That December 1311 there were an extra 10 men at arms, 20 serjeants in haketons (leather jackets reinforced with chain mail) in the castle, vill and Marches of Carlisle which were normally held by 15 knights, 31 squires, 7 men at arms, 6 hobelars and 100 archers.  Then, in May and June 1313, up to 100m (£66 13s 4d) was allocated to repair the castle houses, while 20 oaks were cut down for the king's works there.  In late April 1314, before the battle of Bannockburn on 24 June 1314, Edward Bruce harried Cumberland as they had refused to pay the agreed tribute they had given hostages for.  However he refused to attack Carlisle due to the number of soldiers assembled there.

After Bannockburn the earl of Hereford with a contingent that included Anthony Lucy of Allerdale, a claimant to Cockermouth, withdrew towards Carlisle, but were captured at Bothwell castle.  On 8 July 1314, Carlisle castle garrison was recorded as 4 knights, 50 men at arms, 30 hobelars and 80 archers supported by 3 companies comprising a total of 3 knights and 34 men at arms.  In September 15 Irish hobelars and 40 foot soldiers together with 2 troops of English foot, one of 160 which arrived on 30 Sept and another of 20 on 24 September arrived to increment the garrison.  On 26 October 1314, a further 3 men at arms were sent from the king's court to help garrison Carlisle vill.  Presumably all these forces were still present when on 22 July 1315, King Robert Bruce attacked Carlisle city gates by speed and surprise.  However, the garrison was ready for the attack, forcing the attackers to assault with ladders, a sow for mining, fascines for filling ditches, portable wooden bridges on wheels for crossing moats, a stone thrower and a belfry.  On the fifth day of the siege the stone thrower attacked the Caldew gate and city wall, but to little effect as to meet this the garrison deployed 7 or 8 stonethrowers and springalds.  The wooden belfry was then brought up, but the garrison within had built a counter belfry and placed it against the wall which the Scots had to attack.  However, the attacking machine stuck fast in the mud without reaching a position in which to launch an assault. Possibly this and the failure of pontoon bridges to cross the moat as they sank under their own weight, was due to the inclement weather of the era.  General assaults on the town on the last 2 days of the siege achieved little so on 1 August the Scots withdrew, harried by the garrison.  After the withdrawal of the Scots the king on 21 November ordered his sheriff to have the new chamber within the castle covered in lead as well as to repair the fortress houses and to have other houses made to store the king's victuals there.  Presumably this resulted in the September 1316 record that nearly £15 had been spent on the castle palisades, woodwork, the roofs of the great hall and its kitchen and the building of a new chapel in the outer ward as well as on the windows of the queen's chamber and various ‘engines'.  Further, 6s 8d was spent on roofing in lead part of the new tower in the inner bailey.  Finally, further work was ordered on 28 September 1316 with the sheriff being ordered to spend up to 10m (£6 13s 4d) on repairing the walls and houses of Carlisle castle.

In 1318 Anthony Lucy (d.1343) took over the castle as sheriff.  In the subsequent survey the surveyors found that the great hall for the king's household in the outer bailey of the castle with a great chamber and garderobe at one end and a pantry and buttery at the other, had defects which, together with carriage and wages of carpenters, could not be repaired for less than £12 as they say that the great timbers below the boards of the partitions were broken by the wind and are largely rotten and that most of the hall, chamber, garderobe, pantry and buttery which are roofed with shingles have been unroofed by the storm and most of the shingles remaining on the roof are rotten and that the timber below, boards and shingles, are broken and rotten and cannot be usefully repaired.  They found in the same [outer] bailey 2 chambers for knights and clerks whose defects in heavy timber, partitions and roofing cannot be repaired for less than £4...  They further found that the springald on the new tower needed repair as did the turrets on the keep and the brattices on the walls [hoardings].  Elsewhere the bakery, brewery and garderobe of the queen's chamber had been unroofed, while the forge in the inner bailey had been ‘virtually knocked to the ground'.  Also the main gate needed to be renewed with the re-vaulting of the gatehouse going to cost £20 and more.  On the west side of the castle, facing the Caldew bridge near the church of the Holy Trinity where the Scots had set up their stone thrower in 1315, the wall was ‘threatened with ruin' and needed to be demolished and rebuilt from the foundations up at a cost of 1,000m (£666 13s 4d), but as this was out of the question they suggested that a palisade should be built inside the segment at risk for 20m (£13 6s 8d).  The total of repairs suggested came to just under £70.  In reply to this, on 21 September 1318, the sheriff was licensed to spend just £10.  During 1319, repairs were made to the great brattice by the great tower as well as roofing the new tower with lead.  Repairs were also made to window frames and the gutters of the castle houses.

On 25 May 1321, 100m (£66 13s 4d) was paid to Robert Barton, ‘appointed to supervise and repair the defects of Carlisle castle'.  These defects were listed in July 1321, when it was found that a wall 40' long had collapsed and another 120' long was about to collapse in the outer ward near the Caldew bridge.  The conclusion was that demolition was needed and then the wall need to be rebuilt on new foundations with supporting stakes.  This wall was to have 4 small and 2 large buttresses and would cost an estimated £240 not least because the stone from the old wall was too small to be reused except as a filling.  Meantime, to cover the fallen and ruinous wall a palisade 220' long and 32' high should be made for £50.  It was again noted that the stone vault over the main gate was falling out and now had to be propped up on beams, while the gate planks were so rotten that it needed remaking anew.  Also required was the replacement of 4 great joists and 20 great planks in the upper room of the chamber in the great tower; the repair and roofing of 4 wooden turrets; the roofing of the new tower in lead, while various sections of timber and masonry were in need of repair and the turrets on the roof were ‘begun when the new tower was made and not yet finished which need to be finished, the stone and woodwork of which cannot be done for less than £4.  Finally, the foundations of the queen's chamber needed attention.  The total cost of the works was estimated to be £453.  This included a wooden shelter 60' square ‘in the manner of a pentice' for the masons to work under and which was afterwards to be used as a stable.  That same year, 1321, repairs were carried out to the gutter of the queen's chamber.  Finally, after 21 June 1321 and before 28 August 1322, nearly £220 was spent on the castle.  These works included trees cut for boards and laths, workmen digging stone and repairs to ‘the tower and the houses in the castle and the fences and walls both inside and out'.  Consequently in October 1321, Sheriff Andrew Harcla (d.1323) reported that many faults had been ‘well and durably repaired' but there were still ‘many great and dangerous faults, namely in the walls, which, without great provision, cannot be repaired'.  It would seem that as the tower on the Caldew gate side of the outer bailey was later called ‘Harkeleyes', this was probably part of his work.

In the spring of 1322, Earl Thomas of Lancaster was decisively defeated by Andrew Harcla at the battle of Boroughbridge on 16 March and, as a reward, Andrew was made earl of Carlisle by Edward II on 25 March.  Even with his new authority, Harcla was unable to protect his county and in July 1322, the Scottish army lay around Carlisle for 5 days wasting the country, but made no attempt on the city or castle.  After the defeat of Edward II at the battle of Byland on 14 October 1322, Earl Andrew Harcla of Carlisle made a personal peace treaty with King Robert Bruce at Lochmaben on 3 January 1323.  He then returned to Carlisle and, calling the chief men of his earldom to him, he made them swear to uphold his peace.  When this became known to the king and his government the earl was proclaimed a traitor and the king sent word to Sir Anthony Lucy to take Harcla and he would be rewarded.  Consequently, Anthony entered the undefended Carlisle castle on 25 February 1323 as if to converse with the earl on business.  With him came 3 powerful knights, Hugh Lowther, Richard Denton and Hugh Moriceby with 4 good men at arms and others with arms concealed under their attire.  As they entered the castle they detached armed men to keep guard in both the inner and outer parts of the castle.  They found the earl dictating letters in the great hall, and they being armed and he unarmed, forced him to surrender.  Someone in the earl's household shouted, "Treason! Treason!" and the porter at the inner gate tried to shut it against Lucy's men until Denton cut him down.  At this the remaining Harcla men in the castle surrendered, although one man rode off to announce to the earl's cousin what had occurred.  Lucy, meanwhile, sent word to the king of his actions.

Six days after the earl's arrest the king's men at arms arrived at Carlisle under Geoffrey Scrope (d.1340) who the next day, 3 March, sat in judgement on the earl within his own castle.  They found him guilty and in the name of the king ordered him stripped of his dignities, hanged, beheaded, disembowelled and his entrails to be burned.  His head was to taken to London, his body quartered with the parts going to be suspended on the tower of Carlisle castle, Newcastle on Tyne, Bristol and Dover.  For his actions Anthony Lucy was made lord of Cockermouth.

Despite the renovation works in 1321-22, it was found by 22 November 1323, ‘that the walls of the castle and city are in many places so out of repair and fallen down that it is necessary to make a wooden peel about the places until the time when the defects can be repaired with a wall of stone and lime'... so as many oaks and leafless trees as are needed will be delivered to the sheriff for this work.  This was duly done at a cost of £8 17s 9½d.  The next year on 24 April 1324, £200 was ordered taken from rebel lands in Yorkshire and Lancashire and given to Constable Anthony Lucy for castle works in Carlisle.  This was followed on 12 June 1324, by Robert Barton, the late keeper of the king's works at Carlisle, being ordered to deliver to Constable Anthony Lucy all of his implements fit for the work in repairing the walls, houses, towers and other things at the castle and that the town walls should be repaired too.  Four days later on 16 June 1324, the receiver of Lancashire was ordered to pay Anthony Lucy a further £200 on top of the £100 he had already sent him to repair Carlisle castle's walls.  Simultaneously the sheriffs of Northumberland, Yorkshire and Lancashire were ordered to send Lucy all the stone-cutters and masons they could find ‘to do certain works of the king's there'.

The rebuilders seem to have done their job, for in April 1326 Carlisle castle withstood being attacked by night, although the garrisons of the city and castle were subsequently augmented by 20 sergeants and 60 foot.  Two years later in 1328 the wars were ended with the treaty of Northampton and with this peace returned to the Scottish Marches for a while.  It proved a short while and in 1332 hostilities were reopened and continued until 1357.  The next year in 1333, the sheriff was ordered in both March and June to spend up to £20 on the castle's houses, walls, turrets and bridges as they were ‘so ruinous and broken'.  Despite any work that was done, 2 years later in 1335, the enceinte of the castle was greatly in need of repair, the walls of the new tower were decayed and the top had fallen down, while in Andrew Harcla's time (1315-23), the high tower needed attention and the prison with the houses above the gate and the gate itself needed ‘substantial and swift repair as they are now in danger of ruin'.  Once more, all the castle bridges needed repair as did various wooden buildings in the outer bailey as in the past Sheriff Ralph Dacre (1330-35) had used timber from some of these which had fallen to repair others that were still standing.  The total cost of repairs was estimated at £1000, but the more pressing ones could be done for only £400.  Further minor repairs took place until the end of the war including repairing and releading the keep roof in 1334, obtaining 3 locks for the castle, 2 for posterns and one for the new tower whose key had been lost.  Finally in 1356, a new outer bridge was built below the exchequer of the castle and the outer gate beneath it repaired, while renewals and repairs were carried out to the inner and outer gates including work on the masonry, lead and ironwork.

Although the border wars officially ended in 1357 they left behind them a legacy of lawlessness, raiding, murder and recrimination.  Consequently both kingdoms set up East, Middle and Western marches along the border, Carlisle becoming headquarters of the Warden of the English West March.  Various repairs were carried on the castle during the 1360s, but no major work was undertaken.

This changed in 1378 with the appointment of John Lewyn, mason, to take stonemasons and labours from Yorkshire, Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland and put them to work at Carlisle and Roxburgh castles.  At Carlisle John's work included making the outer gatehouse (the stonework of a gate and of a tower above it in Carlisle castle on the side towards Carlisle town).  This tower was to be 55' long, 32' wide and 34' high below the foot of the battlement.  Its gate was to be 11' wide and have a barbican, 10' long on the right of the gate, leading to a smaller tower which would be a kitchen.  The barbican was to have double battlements in front of the gate arch and the smaller tower on the south side of the entrance was to have a cellar 28' long and 18' wide, vaulted, with a fireplace and garderobe and on the other north side of the gate a prison which will be 14' square with a fireplace and garderobe.  The gate was to be vaulted and have 2 buttresses, 5' square at ground level, on its flanks and 34' high under the battlements, all being crenellated.  The main tower was to consist of 2 rooms vaulted under the joists (basseure) with fireplaces and garderobes.   Above the gate was to be a hall 30' long and 20' broad with a wooden partition wall.  The kitchen was to have 2 suitable stone fireplaces and in the room behind the dais a fireplace and garderobe with window lights, shutters and entrances suitable for all the rooms.  All the walls of the towers were to be 6' thick externally from the ground to the arches and 5' thick above this, with narrower internal walls.  The king contracted to supply the stone and timber for scaffolds and centrings and would pay John 500m (£333 6s 8d) for his work and John would have the stone broken up and would supply the lime and sand and have everything relating to the stonework of the tower, gate and rooms made and transported....  The work continued for some 4 years and payments are recorded for such things as 90 stone of lead for the roof of the tower; iron and hooks for the outer gate in 1379 and timber for the new tower of the outer gate in 1381 as well as a detailed set of accounts in 1382.  In 1383 locks were fitted on the outer and inner posterns and outer gate as well as in other buildings.  Some furniture was also acquired.

In 1385, John Lewyn accounted for the 500m (£333 6s 8d) he had spent on making a gate, barbican and a tower over the gate with various vaults and other works on Carlisle castle.  Other accounts this year mentioned repairs to and putting in windows in the outer bailey wall and repairs to the chamber over the inner gate.  A wooden granary was brought from Caldewe to the castle and set up as a stable.  Three carpenters made and repaired a new watchtower in the castle garden on the east side of the castle at a cost of 10s.  Two great guns were placed over the great tower and a smaller one placed on a tower in the corner of the outer bailey with boards and planks and the casting of 3 bronze guns...  A mason trimmed 120 stones for the gun positions and repaired a watchtower by the postern of the outer bailey towards the Caldew.  Masons made a new stone postern by the castle mill, from the foundation to the top of the work being 30' high.  They also made a part of the castle wall which had completely fallen down in the outer bailey by Langoushill as well as crenellations on that wall... as well as a part of the outer wall in the castle garden and a part of the wall by the inner gate of the castle and a part of the wall between the royal hall and the new tower (Queen Mary's) of the inner bailey.  They also accounted for the repair of part of the wall in the prison and for blocking the old postern in the castle garden and repairing defects in the wall by the conduit of the fishpond.  They also repaired the bridges of the inner and outer wards of the castle, and replaced the ropes for raising those bridges and cleaned other ropes.  Finally they brought 4 fothers of lead from Wensleydale for roofing the castle houses...

After this the castle was generally left to slowly decay, although in 1425 repairs were carried out to the exchequer (Cheker house).  The castle was made defensible again in the 1430s, but most of the money was spent on cannon artillery.  During his short reign Richard III (1483-5) rebuilt the city wall tower by the castle as the Tile Tower - an early rectangular gun bastion.  His grand-nephew, Henry VIII (d.1547), fearing war with Scotland upgraded the defences of Carlisle from 1540 onwards by making the castle an artillery fortress under the directions of the military architect Stefan von Haschenperg.  He had
the keep cut down and topped it with gun embrasures, ramparted much of the inner ward to carry big guns, built the half moon battery before the inner gate and built earthworks to the north and east of the castle.  A new artillery fort called the citadel was also built at the southern extreme of the city defences.  The year 1543 saw the outer gate widened, but by 1557 there was already yet another break in the outer curtain.

In 1568, after Mary, Queen of Scots (d.1587), had been taken at Cockermouth she was brought to Carlisle as a more safe repose.  Constable Henry Scrope, the warden of the Western March, kept her initially as an honoured guest, but after receiving instruction from Queen Elizabeth (d.1603), kept her under stricter confinement as a threat to the Protestant throne.   Eventually she was moved south to Bolton castle where rescue from Scotland was more problematical.  After this brief flurry of activity the castle reverted to being mainly a store, barracks and prison that slowly collapsed under its own weight and lack of maintenance.  In 1605 great rifts were recorded in the keep and the fortress continued to decay.  With the coming of the Civil War (1642-51) the castle was found to be in a poor state with the great keep all but ruined above the first floor due to deterioration in the roof and upper floors.  Some remedial work was undertaken and gun batteries emplaced in the outer ward.  The castle saw action in an 8 month siege which ended with the fortress surrendering to Parliament on 25 June 1645. 

Unlike many other fortresses this did not end the castle's career.  Instead, after being found in want of repairs in 1661, it was brought up to scratch and in 1681 was recorded as being capable of being defended still.  In 1745 this happened when the castle was seized by the Catholics, but retaken the same year.  The same year the castle was surveyed and its defects recorded.  These included the fact that the outer ward wall east of the outer gate was very low and might be scaled with ease, while the wall west of the entrance was old and decayed.  Surprisingly the other walls of the castle were described as very thin, cracked and in a condition where they could be easily thrown down.  After the battle of Culloden in 1746 the castle became a prison and then reverted to being a store and barracks, last seeing action in 1940 when an anti-aircraft gun was mounted on the keep roof.  The regimental depot in the castle was closed in 1959 and the military finally moved out during the 1960s.

Description
The unusual shape of the castle is due to its position occupying the river bluff on a ridge end site between rivers.  As the southern and part of the western line of the underlying
Roman fort have been uncovered, it strongly suggests that the north-eastern portion of the fort has been washed away by river action.  It would also appear that the riverside scarp made up the main earthwork defences of the northern section of the fort and later castle.  To the south a great ditch was dug, probably in the Norman period when the castle was first fortified.  This divided the castle from the rest of the ridge as well as the settlement.

The early stone castle is built from grey Kirklinton and red St Bees sandstone, rather like the early parts of Carlisle cathedral.  Both were laid with a distinctive, coursed neatness and regularity that is missing in the latter work which also tended to use purely St Bees red sandstone.  In the castle, later work, particularly the southern part of the west curtain of the outer ward, tend to use longer slabs than the squarer early masonry.  Also the coursing tends to be more variable in later work, viz the east face of the inner bridge abutment of the outer ditch and much of the north curtain wall.

The Inner Ward
The west curtain would appear to be early, although the tall batter at the base would appear to be fifteenth century or later and was made in the anti-cannon role.  The casements behind this wall to the north must be of a similar date and allowed the curtain to be reinforced to support cannon which could cover the entire outer ward.  These features were certainly present when Garforth sketched the fortress around 1545. 

The Dacre postern was towards the eastern end of the south curtain and marked the start of the corner tower later known as Queen Mary's Tower, presumably after the stay of Mary Queen of Scots, although possibly associated with Queen Mary Tudor (d.1558).  The postern has a square headed lintel with the arms of Dacre above.  As the Dacres had been involved with the castle since at least 1236 when William Dacre became sheriff and remained regularly in contact with the castle until 1559, this does not really help with the postern's dating.  Similar to the Dacre postern the one in the north curtain also has a plain square head.  Both posterns appear on Garforth's map of c.1545.  The north postern is probably one of the 2 mentioned in the 1529 survey.  Dacre's postern might just possibly have been built for Ralph Dacre (d.1339) when he was sheriff (1330-35) and was the one mentioned in the survey of 1383.


Next to the Dacre postern and the south-eastern corner of the castle stood the tower called Queen Mary's Tower.  This was largely destroyed and rebuilt in 1834, possibly on a different plan.  The remaining internal medieval foundations suggest that the structure contained 2 rectangular chambers.  Internally, where the south and east curtains meet, the gorge was protected by a portcullis of which the north groove remains next to a draw bar hole.  This red St Bees work appears to be fourteenth century as too is the attached octagonal stair turret.  Illustrations and accounts, particularly Hoeper's 1783 engraving, show a large, rectangular gatetower with pilaster buttresses, probably angled out at the external corners.  In the centre of its east face was a blocked Romanesque archway.  In 1838 it was noted that the arch contained chevron ornamentation.  If correct the original gatetower may have been similar to those found at Egremont and Tickhill and bears some resemblance to the current main gate in the west wall of the inner bailey.

In 1308 Queen Mary's Tower was probably ‘the new tower' referred to, which would suggest that after the blocking of the gate in 1168, this corner of the castle was converted from a gatetower into a mural tower controlling that flank of the fortress.  Other gatetowers converted into towers include Hay on Wye, Ludlow and Richmond castles.  Ludlow is probably the nearest in style with the Carlisle ‘circular arched gateway' being described in 1834 as having ‘plain mouldings which sprung from capitals ornamented with zig-zag or chevron ornaments; it likewise contained a groove for a portcullis.  To the right of the gateway was a small postern with a circular arch...  At one end was the Norman gateway already mentioned and immediately opposite was another but of the pointed style; in this gateway was also a place for a portcullis.  Near to the latter mentioned archway was a passage [Dacre's postern] leading to the lady's walk, the door of which was walled up...'  It was also noted that when the tower was demolished workmen found ‘several Roman coins' and that ‘foundations and old pavement have repeatedly been found in digging or excavating the castle'.

The external face of the north curtain contains much grey and red sandstone which suggests that it is a part of the initial masonry build.  Internally the wall has been much thickened for artillery.  Along the north east side of the inner bailey stood
a single range which included royal apartments, the great hall, and a chapel.  Today on their site stands 3 Victorian buildings, the magazine, militia store, and the Regimental Museum.  Some traces of the original masonry survives within the museum, including fireplaces and traces of late windows.  At the south-east end of the block stands an octagonal stair turret which originally provided access between the royal quarters and Queen Mary's Tower.

Inner Gatehouse
The inner bailey was entered through the rectangular inner gatehouse, now known as the Captain's Tower.  This stands roughly centrally in the west curtain of the inner ward with both curtains sweeping back from it at slight angles.  It stands some 40' high and is some 33' wide at its greatest extent.  The tower is currently some 45' deep, although the inner face could well have been extended into the castle by as much as 15' when the adjoining curtains were thickened for artillery in the sixteenth century.  The original tower was built of grey Kirklinton sandstone, while red St Bees sandstone was used for later works as can clearly be seen at the sides and rear of the structure.  Externally the tower seems of a similar build to the curtains on either side where these are visible.  Presumably it was built in the 1160s.

The gatetower has 2 powerful multi phase projecting buttresses on either side of the entrance which is recessed some 8' between them.  The original buttresses are plainly evident when viewed from the north or south sides as too are their later westwards and more heavily battered expansions.  The buttresses were also nicked on their external faces, an occurrence which is only seen at some 26 sites in England and France.

The original gateway was large, being 16' high and 11' wide with a slightly lopsided pointed arch.  This was later partially filled and a newer, much smaller gate only 8' wide and 11' high inserted.  This shows a rebate for a drawbridge, although all traces of holes for a mechanism have gone.  Possibly it was operated from a gallery set across the top of the earlier arch, of which the joist holes remain clearly visible.  The gallery was accessed via a rectangular doorway to the north and has 3 large rectangular openings now blocked with red sandstone. The doorway was reached from the constable's chamber via a narrow passageway from the northern embrasure which covered the base of the north-eastern curtain.

Within the gatetower the reduced gate opens into a 15' square chamber made of large blocks of red ashlar sandstone.  Other than the entrance and exit gates the only other doorway is towards the east end of the south wall and gives access to a small guard chamber.  This small rectangular room contains a fireplace, several niches and a loop to the east which was blocked when the gatehouse was extended eastwards.  The exit from the gate chamber was protected by 2 now blocked murder holes in the later red sandstone vault before the portcullis and a set of gates.  The gate passageway exits into the ward via a fine probably fourteenth century gateway recessed behind a shallow semi-circular arch with contains elaborate tracery on the underside of one cusp there still being a figure holding a shield which is believed to bear the arms of Neville of Raby.  Earl Ralph Neville of Westmorland (1364-1425), the eldest son of John Neville of Raby (d.1388) had a coat of arms of a saltire with a label of 3 points which is what was claimed to have been seen in 1937.  Ralph was captain of the West March and also an associate of John Lewyn at Durham.  The Neville tower at Raby castle also contains tracery (restored) similar to that found above the rear gate arch at Carlisle.  It seems likely therefore that the large sandstone blocks used in the rebuilding of this section of the tower were his work as recorded in 1385 when repairs were undertaken ‘over the inner gate'.  The good red sandstone work at the outer gatehouse probably dates to the same period.

Access to the middle floor of the later gatehouse is gained via a spiral stair in the north-east corner.  This is reached via a long passage in the extended north-east wall and is all constructed in a similar manner to the ashlar red sandstone gate chamber.  The vice gave access to the chamber above which was probably originally the constable's chamber.  Possibly the stair once continued to the floor above, but at some date, probably in the sixteenth century, this was blocked and a passage made to the east which led to a mural chamber from whose entrance a straight flight of steps led up to the floor above.  The insertion of the vice much altered the walls, especially to the north and west.

The original first floor seems to have been about 4' higher than the present one judging by what appears to be an original floor offset.  The Romanesque window overlooking the gate could well have been reset judging by the rough nature of the wall on either side of it.  The room currently has further windows to north and south, covering the bases of the inner curtain and a large window to the east.  All are later than the original tower.  The portcullis northern groove running up to the current ceiling on the vice bulge is apparent and shows that it too is probably fourteenth century.  The southern wall which contained the opposite groove has now gone, though traces of it's end remain where a deep alcove has been carved in the corner.  A fourteenth century loop looks blindly from here into the sixteenth century extension of the gatehouse.

The second floor would appear to be a fourteenth century addition, made when the original gate passageway was lowered by some 4'.  This room is similar in shape to the irregular room below, but there were no windows here in the original tower.  The steep pitch of the original tower roof can be made out in the grey sandstone of the west wall.  Above this are some probably fourteenth century roof corbels and above this again, set on some long red sandstone slabs, is the current roof.  The north wall too has much grey stone suggesting remnants of the original wall amidst much rebuilding.  To the south is a doorway that probably originally gave access to the wallwalk, before this was blocked and a new dog-legged access cut a little further west.

Protruding into the ditch immediately in front of the inner gatehouse is a half moon battery built by Stefan von Haschenperg in 1542.

The Keep
The foundation date of the keep is open to question.  The idea that King David (d.1153) built the tower is based on the flimsiest of chronicle references from the fourteenth century and as such should not be relied upon.  The main tower is currently some 70' high and nearly square at 60'x65'.  Much of the lower sections of the tower to the south and west are directly overlooked by the later artillery placements of the expanded curtain wall.  Originally the keep was plainly free standing as the blocked window embrasures in the basement on all sides prove.  This may be similar to the original layout in the few early keeps with lit basements, namely at Appleby, Bamburgh, Brougham, Dover, Portchester, Rochester
and Scarborough.  At Carlisle a forebuilding stood to the east, but this was demolished during the middle ages.

Externally the keep has pilaster buttresses at the corners as well as a central one to the east, which contains chimney flues from fireplaces on the first, second and third floors.  There is also an off centre buttress to the north which seems to have been built further east to enclose the 70' deep well, awkwardly placed in its east corner.  That there are no central buttresses to the south and west might suggest that these structures were mainly decorative and consequently were not needed on the view obstructed curtain wall sides of the tower.  Conversely these might simply have been included to support their internal features, viz the flues and the well.  It seems likely that the well predates the tower as it is dug in such an awkward position for the defence of the tower, a more normal place being deep within the tower, rather than partially outside its main walling.  An early date is also suggested by the well lining being made of grey and not red sandstone.

The base of the tower has a pronounced low batter topped by a chamfered offset.  This plinth is not uniform around the tower.  To the south the batter is multi-stepped, before a half dozen or so vertical courses topped by the chamfered offset.  The west face has no batter, while the east is largely covered by the sixteenth ramp up to the battlements.  What can be seen appears at the off-centre buttress with 2 chamfered courses of offsets, separated by a half course of red sandstone.  The very corner of the end buttress has been damaged by the insertion of a gate to the ramp, but the same style of offsets continue around the south face of the keep where the forebuilding once was.  On this face a sloping batter begins some 5 courses beneath the lower chamfered offset.  However this ends with the south face of the central buttress where a single chamfered offset lies above a sloping plinth at a different level from the 2 to the north.  There are further chamfered offsets and first and second floor levels.  Presumably these are original features and are found in other northern keeps, viz Bamburgh (where they oddly are on the walls, but not the corner pilaster buttresses), Brough, Kendal and Norham, although Appleby, Lancaster and Lincoln have only a single chamfered offset at first floor level.

The keep and forebuilding are built with a mixture of smaller grey Kirklinton and larger red St Bees sandstones, which differs from what appears to be the early work which tends to be solidly grey sandstone.  That the stones are intermixed and have much more grey in the lower storey than elsewhere, would suggest that this part of the keep might have been built from an earlier destroyed structure of the first castle.  The keep contains many small, square, cut stones built in an ashlar style that appears at several other castles in the North.  Despite that, the original keep features are uniformly Romanesque.  This can largely be seen in the surviving doorways and the windows on the western side.  The northern and southern Romanesque windows seem to be reconstructed, while other types are late insertions.  At some point a north-south spine was added within the tower dividing it into east and west halves.  This was not an original feature like the spine wall at Rochester which allowed both halves of the structure defensible if one side fell to mining.

The keep is currently entered via a ground floor opening protected by a projecting portcullis with chamber above.  This has been built at the same time as the adjoining buttress was rebuilt and the twin chamfered offsets placed around them.  High above the doorway was a panel which is said to have once contained the arms of Montagu and Monthermer quarterly impaled with those of Neville.  This should date the new entrance and rebuilding of the buttress to the earlier part of the fifteenth century.

On the ground floor all the walls have traces of the original deeply splayed, round headed windows. The interior is divided by a spine wall which divides it into east and west chambers.  The spine is not bonded to the south wall and is divided from the north wall by another crosswall which makes a passageway along the north side of the keep, its floor being 3' below the outside ground level.  The room was lit by a light, traces of whose embrasure can still be seen.  South of this passage were 2 equally sized rooms running the rest of the length of the tower.  The western room has been further subdivided into 2.  Both these western rooms had single lights to the west, of which traces of their embrasures can be seen.  The southernmost room also had an embrasure and no doubt a light to the south.  The southern embrasure still exists to the south in the longer eastern chamber, although its Romanesque light has been reset.  A further blocked embrasure lies just north of the corner in the east wall.  The light of this would have been directly under the doorway into the keep at the level above.  How this would have worked is unknown. These 3 rooms were used for storage purposes and later as prison cells.  That they are all insertions is also clear by the way their barrel vaulted roofs overlie the blocked window embrasures.

From the current entrance into the keep a passageway ran southwards from the entrance lobby via a flight of steps to the original first floor entrance lobby.  Originally this passageway was 6' wide, but was subsequently reduced to a mere 3' in width.  Two modern windows pierce the east wall to light the stairway.  Presumably they postdate the destruction of the forebuilding.  Oddly at the end of the passageway along the north wall of the keep is a vice which rises from the basement to the second floor, but not the roof.

The original plain Romanesque entrance to the tower was at first floor level and has removed the northern section of the southernmost eastern corner buttress to accommodate its doorway.  This led to a lobby which allowed access to the original mural steps to the basement and the later basement level entrance.  Proceeding through the lobby allowed access to a large reception chamber with a thirteenth or fourteenth century fireplace in the east wall and a main light to the south.  To the north a doorway led to a small chamber from which the well was accessed.  This was equipped with lifting gear and a second small mural chamber hacked into the thickness of the wall to the west.  This latter chamber has obliterated an earlier window embrasure for the western main chamber.  In the north-east corner was a doorway to the portcullis chamber of the basement entrance.

An off centre doorway allowed access from the main eastern chamber to the western one.  This room had no fireplace, but windows to west, south and the blocked one to the north.  There was also some mural steps leading to the corner vice.  In the south-west corner a doorway led into a passage which was probably once a garderobe.  Before the spine was inserted this was probably just one large chamber.  Access to the second floor is solely by the spiral stair in the north-west corner.  This exited into the western room of the keep via a rough, dog-legged passageway at the top of the stairs which has plainly been cut through the core of the original wall.  This suggests that the original route to this floor may have been by an internal staircase or possibly by a flight of mural stairs in the east wall now running up from the spiral stair to a blocked mural chamber.  Possibly this mimicked the mural stair above between the second and third floors.

The second floor is similar to the floor below, but there are many more mural chambers in the east and west walls.  The long mural chamber in the southern half of the east wall would appear to have been an oratory and if it was where King David prayed before his death in 1153 shows that the keep was standing to this level at that date.  The room to the north was apparently a prison, both chambers being entered from the intervening window embrasure.  In the north-west wall was a small kitchen with a garderobe to the south.  Originally this garderobe was entered via the central doorway, but at some point the start of this was converted into the mural steps up to the next floor, while a hole was knocked through wall to allow access to the garderobe, whose original entrance was blocked by the new stairs.  Traces remain of a bricked up fireplace in the centre of the east wall.  These facilities suggest that this level was high class living accommodation.

As has been noted a new flight of stairs was hacked into the wall to allow access to the third floor.  This might well suggest that originally the second and third floors were originally one, before being modified.  Probably the spiral stair in the north-west corner originally continued to the summit of the tower and the battlements.  These modifications could be as early as the late thirteenth or more likely as late as the sixteenth century.  Certainly there is currently no further access to the battlements other than the modern wooden staircase.  This is atypical for a Norman tower keep.

Not surprisingly the third floor has been heavily rebuilt and this leaves it relatively featureless, although it has the familar 2 chambers divided by the spine wall.  The lack of mural chambers again suggests that this floor is an addition to the original plan.  The fireplace in the east wall is an obvious addition, while the embrasures of the twin windows to north and south all appear modern rather than medieval.  That 2 relieving arches from the floor below penetrate the floor here increases the suspicion that this floor is a late insertion.  However, to the west are some vents for the kitchen fireplace at this level.  Similar vents can be seen at Tretower castle, South Wales.  A steep wooden staircase leads up to the current roof level.  This has been cut down for cannon. 

The Outer Ward
The castle is entered from the city via a bridge which leads to the large, sub rectangular outer ward.  This was 425' east to west by 400' north to south, chamfering towards the east end where it met the inner ward.  The bulk of the outer ward contains older material, but most, if not all the walls have been substantially repaired and rebuilt.  The enceint contains 2 postern gates and a rectangular tower to the west.  Probably early sixteenth century
batteries were added to the south-west and north-west angles.

The north curtain has a battered base and consists of a number of straight sections running in a roughly east to west line.  The first 150' continue in line with the north curtain of the inner ward, then it angles more directly westward and has a corbelled out turret towards the summit.  Changes in masonry style along the wall are quite marked and would repay a thorough examination to suggest dates for various sections.  Several short sections of wall curve the enceinte around the north-west corner and the artillery battery.  The west wall is about 410' long and again shows much evidence of having been built in different eras.  Indeed the southern end of the wall may well be that part which was continually collapsing and rebuilt in the mid fourteenth century.  Set centrally in this wall is a projecting rectangular tower with an odd central pilaster buttress to the west set atop a chamfered sloping plinth.  

The southern wall running to the outer gatehouse is of a totally different design to the other 2 walls and bears more than a passing resemblance to the south wall of the inner ward.  It is about 250' long and has 7 pilaster buttresses set on a sloping plinth.  The easternmost buttress is set hard against the outer gatehouse, showing that this wall predating that tower.

Outer Gatehouse
The outer ward seems always to have had its main entrance on the south side, close to the inner ward, indeed only separated from it by a great moat, which was later drained.  Entrance to the castle is currently over the south ditch by means of a much altered stone bridge.  Eighteenth century prints show that the early bridge was protected at its southern end by a wooden drawbridge, though how great the antiquity of this was is open to question.  The current lower sections of the walls may well be early medieval.

The bridge led to a much altered gatehouse, known as Ireby's Tower before 1257.  This is rectangular, some 52' east to west and 45' north to south with an earlier 36' square tower attached to its eastern side on a slightly different alignment.  It would appear that the layout of the gatehouse was much altered in the rebuilding of 1378-83.  After this it was used as the residential quarters of the constable as well as an administrative and judicial centre for the county.  In plan the gatehouse complex aligns with neither the attached east tower, nor the south-eastern curtain wall to the inner ward or the older south-western curtain.  Sandwiched between the early tower and the western portion of the gatehouse is the main gate passageway.  This is fronted by a one storey, gateless square barbican.  Within the barbican are corbels that once held its wooden first floor and beyond this is the main gateway containing a central portcullis before a gate.  This portcullis was apparently operated from the roof above what was probably the constable's chamber window, overlooking the entrance.  Although this chamber was later used as a hall, it is quite possible that it was originally a chapel as was normal practise to place one over any castle portcullis.  The portcullis window itself has been much altered and enlarged during rebuildings.

North of this portcullis and gate is the main gate passageway which has doors leading to east and west (an insertion, although 2 earlier blocked pointed doorways can be seen to the south and north of their replacement) to the adjoining towers of different dates.  Another gate closed the entrance into the ward.  To the west of the barbican, projecting from the curtain wall and forming an awkward angle with it to the west, is a rectangular tower with external walls to south and west 6' thick, but only 5' thick to the barbican to the east and 4' thick to the internal north.  The northern wall of this structure aligns with the portcullis and is backed to the north by 2 chambers which form the basement of another rectangular tower 35' east to west by 38' north to south inclusive of the north wall of the south rectangular tower.  This whole irregular structure, apart from the later barbican, appears to be of one build, despite the fact that the south tower floor level was about 2' higher than those of the 2 chambers in the rear building.  The rear of the gatehouse is buttressed by 2 large buttresses to east and west, with the east one being the larger of the 2.  As the eastern buttress stands against the early square tower its purpose is obscure as it certainly makes the rear of the gatehouse appear lopsided. 

To the rear the structure is obviously of at least 3 phases.  The mid section is made of well cut blocks and contains most of the much later windows.  Below this from just below first floor level the masonry is made of less well squared, shorter blocks, all made from the fine local red St Bees sandstone, with no greys present.  The battlements and upper sections of the walls are all obviously relatively recent.  The only original opening would appear to be a small rectangular window lighting the lower portion of the mural stairs to the north and another in the gate passageway.  Finally there are the remains of a chamfered offset which goes with the older masonry at ground level.

The mural stairs from the north door into the probable guard's chamber leads to the floor above which is currently a single, large chamber occupying the entire northern portion of this block.  To the south are the projecting tower and cojoined barbican.  The upper floor of this south tower was certainly later in use as a kitchen to serve the hall to the north.  However a kitchen in such an exposed position in a fighting castle would be most unusual.  Presumably then this conversion took place in the late 1370s.  In the central north window of the hall further mural stairs lead up to the battlements.

The south front of the gatehouse runs coeval with the later barbican and has several features of interest.  At ground floor level is a single small, rectangular loop set roughly centrally in the tower and just above the chamfered offset which matches that on the north side of the gatehouse.  This would appear to be original and offered some poor light into the barrel vaulted tower cellar or prison below.  An inserted garderobe loop is also visible in the south end of the west wall.  The 2 blocked chimneys serving fireplaces in this wall would appear to be post defensive, as such weakenings of the walls should be on fronts not facing the enemy line of attack.  There appears to be a garderobe passage in the northern part of the west wall, while a chute exit suggests there was also once one forward of the curtain wall in the curious chamfer between the rear and forward rectangular towers of the structure.  The ground floor chamber was originally entered from the gate passageway via a door and now destroyed diagonal passage through the corner of the rear chamber.  The fact that entrance was originally denied from the rear chamber and was only available through the gate passageway would suggest that lower chamber was indeed a dungeon separated from the rest of the castle.

At first floor level are the remnants of what appears to be a projecting turret which would have commanded the front of the gatehouse and the entrance gate in the barbican.  Only 2 corbels and the base stone they supported remain.  Above is an obviously inserted rectangular window, while blocked smaller windows existed above and to the west of this.  Presumably the inserted window occupies the site of the original entrance into the turret.  Alternatively this could be the remnants of a hanging garderobe which has a new base in place of the original chute.

East Gatetower
The eastern square tower is more solidly built than the gatehouse proper, with walls 7' thick and apparently originally of 3 storeys.  Its positioning may well be relevant to the early castle, standing as it does exactly half way between the eastern and western extremes of the south curtain walls (inner and outer wards).  As such the tower may possibly be part of the original defences before the great tower and inner ward were built.  It also appears possible that the keep and east tower are on similar alignments, although their southern faces are on different latitudes.  It is also apparent that the ground floor of the tower is under current ground level and therefore may date to a period before the rampart was built and the interior level of the wards raised.  As such the 30' square tower with 6' thick walls may have been an early keep similar to that at Clun or Manorbier.

In the north wall was a mural stair running upwards from the ground floor.  The internal doorway into this has been modified to make allowance for the insertion of the current doorway to the gate passageway which cut through the north-west corner of the tower.  The only surviving original feature of the tower, other than the mural stairway, would appear to be a blocked, small Romanesque window to the east at probably second floor level.  This has a single, large monolithic lintel with the window arch cut into it.  Internally its embrasure has been utilised as a later fireplace.  In style the window looks more Saxon than Norman.  Another window has been partially blocked and is cut into by the recent doorway into the tower from the north. 

The original tower would seem to have been built of larger, well coursed red sandstone blocks, although the lower part of the east wall has smaller blocks, well worn and less evenly coursed.  The south front of the tower has quite clearly been refaced where the south-east curtain has been cut into it, although the original facing survives behind the wall at what was possibly originally second floor level.  Internally at this level there are more modern windows to north, south and west (partially blocked), while a spiral stair has been added from the first floor in the north-east corner.  The doorway for this contained a reused third century Roman altar.  This stair was accessed externally by a now blocked doorway some 9' above current ground level, set in the corner of the east wall.  Inside the chamber a later doorway to the west leads to the main gatehouse and a doorway off this to the south leads to the battlements of the barbican.  The south window embrasure also leads to a mural garderobe passage that also exits onto the south-east curtain wallwalk.  At the west end of the south wall of the chamber at this level is a blocked, apparently early fireplace.  A passageway off the northern embrasure once led to the hall in an awkwardly aligned passageway.  Obviously this is a later feature cut through the wall of the early tower.  It is thought that this upper room was the fourteenth century exchequer.  The floor levels of the tower have been altered with the various refashionings, maybe more than once.

In Bitts Park to the north of the castle there is a low earthwork at the foot of the bluff on which the castle stands.  Here were located massive outworks built by Haschenperg in 1542.



 

Copyright©2021 Paul Martin Remfry