Hayes Castle


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1007150

Date first listed: 01-Nov-1966


Ordnance survey map of Hayes Castle
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Cumbria

District: Copeland (District Authority)

Parish: Distington

National Grid Reference: NY 00132 22577


Hayes Castle.

Reasons for Designation

Tower houses are a type of defensible house particularly characteristic of the borderlands of England and Scotland. Virtually every parish had at least one of these buildings. Solitary tower houses comprise a single square or rectangular `keep' several storeys high, with strong barrel-vaults tying together massive outer walls. Many towers had stone slab roofs, often with a parapet walk. Access could be gained through a ground floor entrance or at first floor level where a doorway would lead directly to a first floor hall. Solitary towers were normally accompanied by a small outer enclosure defined by a timber or stone wall and called a barmkin. Tower houses were being constructed and used from at least the 13th century to the end of the 16th century. They provided prestigious defended houses permanently occupied by the wealthier and aristocratic members of society. As such, they were important centres of medieval life. The need for such secure buildings relates to the unsettled and frequently war-like conditions which prevailed in the Borders throughout much of the medieval period. Around 200 examples of tower houses have been identified of which less than half are of the free- standing or solitary tower type. All surviving solitary towers retaining significant medieval remains will normally be identified as nationally important.

Hayes Castle is well preserved as an earthwork and still retains some standing masonry. The monument will retain archaeological deposits relating to its construction, use and abandonment and environmental deposits relating to the use of the surrounding landscape. The monument is representative of its period and is unusual in that the tower house is sited on a motte surrounded by a moat. As such the monument provides insight into the importance, character and diversity of fortified residences in the medieval period.


See Details.


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 24 March 2016. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

The monument includes the remains of a tower house, motte, moat and curtain wall, known as Hayes Castle, situated on a slight rise next to Distington Beck on the north side of Hayes Castle Farm. The tower house sits on a motte partially surrounded by a 5m wide and 3m deep moat with a causeway across its north east corner. The tower house and curtain wall are preserved as upstanding and buried remains. The north wall stands to 6m to 7m high, 2.5m thick and the foundations of the south, west and east walls are preserved as a turf-covered bank. During the medieval period Hayes Castle is understood to have been known as Aykhurst Castle, which is mentioned in historical documents from the early 14th century. During the reign of Edward III the castle was the seat of the Moresby family. The standing ruins are also listed Grade II.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: CU 344

Legacy System: RSM - OCN


PastScape Monument No:- 8932

End of official listing