Prisoners' carvings at Carlisle Castle jail restored to former glory

English Heritage/Cover Images

Carvings made by medieval prisoners held in Carlisle Castle - where Mary, Queen of Scots was once held captive - have been saved from water damage and restored to their former glory.

The work at the heritage site included removing sediment from about 300 carvings of animals and family symbols made by prisoners held there in the 15th Century.

The project, which started earlier this year, aimed to address issues with water damage within the castle keep, both at ground and roof level. The carvings - in a tiny cell where the prisoners were held - are now the clearest they have been for generations.

Juliet Fellows-Smith, English Heritage Property Manager at Carlisle Castle, said: "This has been an exciting project and a significant step is ensuring that this much-loved castle is here for many more generations. This is the year that marks 900 years since the keep was built in stone and thanks to the hard work of our specialist teams the historic fabric and the intriguing images carved into the walls during the 15th Century, are protected for years to come."

Conservationists brushed away years of sediment and water damage - which had created crusts of salt in the stonework - all by hand.

Built in 1092 by William II, Carlisle is the most besieged castle in England. In 1315, Robert the Bruce tried to take it and in 1568, Mary, Queen of Scots was held captive in one of its towers. It featured prominently in the English Civil War while Jacobite troops under Bonnie Prince Charlie fought over it in the 18th Century.