Carlisle is a city and the county town of Cumbria. Historically in Cumberland, it is also the administrative centre of the City of Carlisle district in North West England. Carlisle is located at the confluence of the rivers Eden, Caldew and Petteril, 10 miles (16 km) south of the 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 2001 census, the population of Carlisle was 71,773, with 100,734 living in the wider city. Ten years later, at the 2011 census, the city's population had risen to 75,306, with 107,524 in the wider city.
The early history of Carlisle is marked by its status as a Roman 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 Rufus, and 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 city when its diocese was formed in 1133, and the priory became Carlisle Cathedral.
The introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution began a process of socioeconomic transformation in Carlisle, which developed 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 Great 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 until the Local Government Act 1972 was enacted in 1974.