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

One of Arthur’s court cities in northern England.

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. 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, 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.

Carlisle | 400-600 AD

In the first century AD, the Romans established a fort called Luguvalium at the site of present-day Carlisle. Luguvalium served as an important strategic outpost on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire, known as Hadrian’s Wall. It provided defense against incursions from the north, particularly the Picts and other northern tribes.

Around the early fifth century, the Roman Empire began to withdraw its military presence from Britain. This period marked the decline of Roman influence in the region. Following the Roman withdrawal, Carlisle, like many other Roman towns, faced incursions and attacks from various Germanic and Celtic groups. These included Picts, Scots, and invading Anglo-Saxon forces.

The Celtic people in the region, likely from the Brythonic-speaking tribes, maintained some level of settlement and occupation in the area. The Anglo-Saxons, a Germanic tribal confederation, gradually expanded their presence in northern England. They established kingdoms, including the Kingdom of Northumbria, which had influence over the Carlisle area.

Carlisle’s location near the border between England and Scotland made it a significant frontier town, experiencing cultural exchanges, conflicts, and political shifts. The region faced constant border disputes and raids between the Kingdom of Northumbria and the northern Celtic kingdoms, such as the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

See also
Northumbria | The Legend of King Arthur
Strathclyde | The Legend of King Arthur

Historia Regum Britanniae | Geoffrey of Monmouth, c. 1138
Alliterative Morte Arthure | c. 1400
Le Morte Darthur | Sir Thomas Malory, 1469-1470
The Bridal of Triermain | Sir Walter Scott, 1804