Gallows Hill (Harraby Hill)

Because of its prominence as one of the highest points overlooking Carlisle and being at the side of the important southern route in and out of the city, Harraby Hill was chosen as a place of execution at an early date. This was usually reserved for prisoners who had committed high treason.


The Lanercost Chronicle records that the brothers of Robert the Bruce were executed at Harraby Hill in 1306. In 1323 Andrew de Harcla was also to suffer there. Christopher Robinson was executed there for his catholic beliefs in 1597. A sculpture representing this execution is in our Lady and St Joseph’s Church (image below).

Maps of 1610 and 1675 show the gallows on the west side of the road. It had been given the name of Gallows Hill by 1608. It seems the last use was in 1746 when some of those involved in the 1745 uprising were executed.

In 2015 an inscribed stone, with a figure of a piper, was carved into the wall of the cutting through Harraby Hill (image above).

Much more about the history of Harraby is to be found in a new book for the ‘Suburbs Series’ of Carlisle, by Denis Perriam, to be published later this year. Details will be on my website: when the book is available.

David Ramshaw.

David Ramshaw
Author: David Ramshaw

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