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Carlisle is the county town of Cumbria, and the major settlement of the wider City of Carlisle in North West England. Carlisle is located at the confluence of the rivers River Eden, Cumbria, River Caldew and River Petteril, south of the Anglo-Scottish border. It is the largest settlement in the county of Cumbria, and serves as the administrative centre for both Carlisle City Council and Cumbria County Council. At the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, the population of Carlisle was 71,773, with 100,734 living in the wider city.
Historic counties of England the county town of Cumberland, the early history of Carlisle is marked by its status as a Roman Britain settlement, established to serve the forts on Hadrian's Wall. During the Middle Ages, because of its proximity to the Kingdom of Scotland, Carlisle became an important military stronghold; Carlisle Castle, still relatively intact, was built in 1092 by William II of England, and having once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. The castle now houses the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment and the Border Regiment Museum. In the early 12th century Henry I allowed the foundation of a priory in Carlisle. The town gained the status of a diocese in 1122, and the priory became Carlisle Cathedral.
The introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution began a process of socioeconomic transformation in Carlisle, developing into a densely populated mill town. This combined with its strategic position allowed for the development of Carlisle as an important railway town, with seven railway companies sharing Carlisle railway station.
Nicknamed the Border City, Carlisle today is the main cultural, commercial and industrial centre for north Cumbria. It is home to the main campuses of the University of Cumbria and a variety of museums and heritage centres. The former County Borough of Carlisle had held City status in the United Kingdom until the Local Government Act 1972 was enacted in 1974.