In 1092 William II (Rufus) built his earth and timber fort as part of the strategy of wresting Carlisle and the border country from Scottish control. Thirty years later Henry I visited the town and paid for a 'fortified castle and towers'. During the next decade the city walls were built and construction began on the stone keep.
|Part of the Outer Gatehouse defences|
*The outer gatehouse was also known as de Ireby's Tower. The Gatehouse was substantially altered between 1378-83. Residential quarters for the Constable of the castle were here, as a key administrative, financial and judicial centre for the county. In the west tower of the outer gatehouse there is an anteroom - now used as the ticket office and sales area - the steward's room with a garderobe, a gaoler's room with a garderobe, and a windowless dungeon. A mural stair leads to the first floor where there is a kitchen, with a door leading to the barbican walk, and a service area. The reconstructed solar lies above the service area. Above the passageway is the hall where there are remains of a large hooded fireplace.
In 1538 Henry VIII's reign was under threat from Catholic Europe, and defences were required against Scotland, always the backdoor into England. Work on Carlisle began in 1540. In 1541 Stefan von Haschenperg replacing the keep's medieval battlements with gun embrasures. He backed the inner bailey walls to the north and west with ramparts wide enough to carry guns, and built the half-moon battery.
To the west of the inner bailey lies the large outer bailey. A ditch, originally waterlogged, separates the two baileys and provided additional defence for the inner bailey. Protruding into this ditch immediately in front of the inner gatehouse is the half-moon battery built in 1542. It comprised a double row of guns; at ground level cannon fire would have raked the outer bailey, whilst below a number of square openings allowed defenders to fire on assailants attempting to cross the ditch. So sir Thomas Wharton, Matho and Meg had all better know about these things!