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The History of Carlisle

Carlisle is steeped in history - literally. Wherever you go in the city centre, you are walking in the footsteps of Brigantian tribes, Roman soldiers, early missionaries, medieval traders, Cromwellian troops, Jacobite rebels and countless generations of ordinary people that once occupied this great Border city.

Our story begins in the Iron Age when the Brigantes ruled over much of northern England. The Carvetti (a sub-tribe of the Brigantes) occupied the Eden Valley and probably regarded Carlisle as a place of some importance, as the name is linked to the Celtic god, Lugh. This evolved into ‘Caer Luel' and then to the modern name of ‘Carlisle'.

Roman Frontier

When the Romans arrived in AD 72 they built a fort in the area between Tullie House Museum and the castle, and named it Luguvalium after Lugh. The southern gateway opened onto a road leading through the gardens of Tullie House and along Blackfriar's Street to Botchergate and the route to London. Another Roman road crossed the River Eden and came up what is now Scotch Street. Carlisle later became an important frontier settlement behind Hadrian's Wall, a 78-mile long stretch of continuous wall between Wallsend and Bowness-on-Solway, completed in AD 122.

The existence of a large Roman army in Carlisle attracted trade and industries to service their needs, and a substantial vicus or civilian town developed to the south-east of the fort. The remains of shops and dwelling houses have been excavated along Blackfriar's Street and other Roman remains lie beneath the Market Hall and The Lanes shopping centre. With increasing prosperity, Luguvalium became a civitas (an important administrative and economic centre).



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