Settling in Cumbria

The area doesn’t appear to have had many settlers before the Roman period. Carlisle is in the territory of the Carvetii, or ‘Deer People’, a group within the larger tribe of the Brigantes, whose territory stretched across the north of England and up into Scotland. Although the romans arrived in Southern England in 43 CE (AD), they did not arrive in Carlisle before the winter of 72/73 CE (AD). [See Image 1] This was because there had been a period of instability within the Roman Empire and some opposition in Britain itself.

Much of the information comes from a surviving book about the life of the Roman Governor, Gnaeus Julius Agricola (40 to 93CE), written by his son-in-law the historian Tacitus.  Agiricola was governor of Britain from 77 to 84CE. The recent archaeological excavations on the Roman fort in front of the Castle produced timber from which a date was obtained of the winter of 72/73CE. This shows that Carlisle was founded before Agricola became governor and fought military campaigns in what is now Scotland, ultimately reaching the Highlands. [See Image 2]

After its foundation, the Carlisle fort was rebuilt several times, first in wood and later in stone. It was occupied continuously until the Romans withdrew from Britain in the Fifth Century CE (AD). However, with the building of Hadrian’s Wall, the front line troops moved to a new fort north of the river at Stanwix.