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An old cathedral city in Cumbria, just 10 miles from the Scottish border

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Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Cathedral
Tullie House Museum
Carlisle is an old cathedral city in Cumbria, just 10 miles from the Scottish border. Because of its proximity to Scotland, it has always played an important military role. The city grew up in Roman times, around the forts on Hadrian's Wall. Even after the Romans left, Carlisle was involved in countless conflicts, for many centuries.
The city is a great place to stay if you're planning on exploring Hadrian's Wall. Tour buses are available, which will take you alongside the route of the structure, stopping off at the various villages and towns along the way.
Later on, the core of the city's defences became its castle. William II, the son of William the Conqueror, built it over 900 years ago. At that time, the Scots, who claimed it as part of Scotland, occupied Carlisle. William drove them out, and set up his fortress. Despite the presence of the new stronghold, Carlisle was to continue changing hands, between Scotland and England, for some 7 centuries. One of the most notable occurrences in the castle's eventful history was in the 16th century, when it served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. Later, in the 1700s, Scotland and England were united, and Carlisle Castle's life as a functioning military fortress was over. Today, the castle is open to the public. There is also a military museum on site, which covers the history of some of the most well-known and distinguished military regiments that have been stationed at the castle.

Carlisle Castle
Photo Neil Boothman
Another building that's difficult to overlook is Carlisle Cathedral. Despite being relatively small when compared to other cathedrals in the UK, it still manages to dominate the city. Its most eye-catching feature is the east window, which is the biggest and most complicated stained glass work of its type in the country. It still contains much of the original, medieval glass. Elsewhere in the building, it's also worth looking out for the extremely detailed Flemish altar, as well as the curved blue and gold ceiling.
If you're interested in the history of the local area, then a visit to the Tullie House Museum will satisfy all your curiosities. The exhibitions, which are housed within a Grade I listed building, range from displays of art and furniture, to a full recounting of the city's life on the Scottish border. Recently, the museum has also expanded into Carlisle's Guildhall, another historic building in the centre of the city. Surrounding the Guildhall is a busy and fun city centre, which features regular farmers markets, a covered Victorian market site, and a shopping centre called The Lanes, which is the largest in the county.
As pleasant as the city seems, some people believe it is in terrible danger. This is supposedly due to the infamous Curse of Carlisle. This evil piece of magic is said to have been uttered in the 16th century, by an angry Archbishop of Glasgow. Using a breath-sapping 1,069 words, he laid a curse upon the thieves and poachers who were plaguing the border area. Years later, as part of the millennium celebrations, the council commissioned an artist to carve the curse into a large stone, which was then placed on public display. Some residents have blamed the stone's evil influence for a series of local disasters, including floods, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, and even Carlisle United's relegation to the third tier of the Football League! Several people have called for the stone to be destroyed or moved, but as of yet, it remains on display. You can still go and see it if you've got the guts!
Visitor Information
Carlisle Tourist Information Centre, Old Town Hall, Green Market, Carlisle, CA3 8JE. Tel: 01228 625 600
Carlisle Cathedral is open daily, 7.30am to 6.15pm. Entry is FREE. Carlisle, CA3 8TZ. Tel: 01228 535169
Carlisle Castle is open daily, 9.30am to 5pm. Entry costs around £5 for adults, £2.50 children. Bridge Street, Carlisle, Cumbria, CA3 8UR. Tel: 01228 591922

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