I'm back at Carlisle - well not literally, but back at the siege of 1461! Whilst looking for some info on another part of the battle for the North I came across this :
'The attackers were a force of Lancastrians and Scots, said to have been led by Queen Margaret, who had promised to surrender the city to the Scots if they would help her to capture it, and by northern Lancastrians such as Humphrey Dacre, Richard Tunstall and Henry Bellingham. Subsequent payments for repairs to the walls, damaged during 'le Sege', suggest that they had siege-engines, perhaps even some light guns. They ravaged the suburbs and exerted a pressure so tight that some of the citizens deserted to them - three years later it was decided that burgesses who had gone over to the enemy during 'le Segetyme' should be put out of the franchise. The siege probably began in May, and certainly continued into June, and it would appear that in the end the invaders broke into the city - in December 1461 Carlisle Priory was licensed to acquire lands worth £20 'on account of the devastation of their possessions in Carlisle by the rebels'. The situation was saved first by Sir Richard Salkeld,a Neville retainer, who was later said to have performed 'eminent services' which included 'rescuing the city and castle of Carlisle from the rebels', and then by Lord Montague (Sir John Neville - Warwick's brother), who brought up a relieving army large enough to challenge the queen's forces. The number of reported casualties may be doubted (the 6,000 reported in John Paston's letter), but there appears to have been a battle outside Carlisle.'
So I have my answer - there WAS a battle at Carlisle, and not an inconsiderable one - especially if we consider that according to the battlefields trust, at the Battle of Mortimer's Cross each side numbered around 3,000 men.
One problem solved and a battle to write!
Summerson H (1996) Carlisle and the English West March in The North of England in the Age of Richard III pp 89-90. Ed by Prof A J Pollard. St Martin's Press New York.