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In 1296 Edward I (r.1272–1307) made Carlisle his headquarters for three months in the early stages of his war against the Scots.
The inner ward, which probably already housed a great hall and chamber, was enhanced to accommodate the court.
Unlike most medieval castles, it has been continuously occupied since its foundation by William II in 1092.
From the 18th century to the 1960s it was the headquarters of the Border Regiment, one of the oldest in the British army.
The commander of the castle’s defences was Andrew Harclay, made Earl of Carlisle by Edward II in 1322, only to be executed for treason one year later after Harclay negotiated a treat with King Robert recognising Scottish independence.
The siege of 1461 was one of the bloodiest episodes of the Wars of the Roses, the struggle for the English throne between the Houses of Lancaster and York.
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III (r.1483–5), was among the notable figures who filled the role.
The Scots failed to take the castle, however, and they retreated with the loss of only two English lives.
In an attempt to manage the problem, the English border region was divided into three ‘marches’, and lord wardens were appointed as the Crown’s chief representatives.
Carlisle Castle was the seat of the Lord Warden of the West March.
A combined army of Lancastrians and Scots succeeded in taking the castle from the Yorkists through the early use (in a British context) of artillery.
Despite this, the castle’s defences remained relatively little altered.
Henry I (r.1100–35) visited Carlisle in 1122 and ordered that it be ‘fortified with a castle and towers’.