Carlisle

Welsh: Caer Lliwelydd, Cardueil
Latin: Luguvalium, Luguvallum
Cardoile, Carlele, Carlile, Carlle, Carlill

One of Arthur’s court cities. A Cumbrian city situated at the western end of Hadrian’s Wall on the confluence of the rivers Eden, Calder and Petteril. Originally called Luguvalium by the Romans, during whose occupation it was a prosperous settlement, it was later raided successively by Picts, Vikings and Scots. Chrétien makes Carlisle the seat of Arthur’s court, but this connection is not made by Geoffrey, Wace or Layamon. Later writers manly connect Gawaine with Carlisle, especially in respect of the beheading, at his own request, of the Carl of Carlisle.

The entire area surrounding the city is shrouded in legends concerning the ancient kingdom of Rheged. Malory uses both names. Cardoile in Welsh is “Caer Lliwelydd”, or “Cardueil”.

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, it was named after King Leil, who ruled in the tenth century BC. Several authors suggest Carlisle as Arthur’s capital, or as one of his courts. Chrétien de Troyes seems to make more of this city than of Camelot and maybe even of Caerleon. It is in Carlisle that he begins the romance of Yvain; in Carlisle that he shows Percivale first finding Arthur’s court; and, in Erec and EnideErec tells Guivret the Little that he hopes to find Arthur’s court either at Carlisle or Robais (which suggests that they might lie in some proximity to each other).

The city’s original name, Luguvalium/Luguvallum, may derive from the Celtic god Lug. In the sixth century, it was the capital of the kingdom of Rheged. Geoffrey of Monmouth names Lot, Gawaine’s father, as the Earl of Carlisle. Continental authors probably intend Carlisle when they mention Arthur’s Cardueil court. The Carl of Carlisle features in two English romances. Malory locates two pivotal events at the city: the healing of Sir Urry and the rescue of Guenevere from the stake. In Sir Walter Scott’s The Bridal of Triermain, Arthur offers the city to the knight who will marry his daughter, Gyneth.