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Hayes Castle

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
Hay; Hayescastle; Aykerist; Aykhurst; Dykhurst; Dykehirst

In the civil parish of Distington.
In the historic county of Cumberland.
Modern Authority of Cumbria.
1974 county of Cumbria.
Medieval County of Cumberland.

OS Map Grid Reference: NY00122257
Latitude 54.58847° Longitude -3.54700°

Hayes Castle has been described as a certain Timber Castle, and also as a certain Masonry Castle.

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains.

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law.
This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law*.


Hays or Hayes Castle: "There is practically no early history connected with this castle, which ... is supposed to have been the ancient manor house. ..." Camden mentions Hay Castle in 1600 and adds 'the inhabitants told me {it} belong'd formerly to the noble families of Moresby & Distington? It is described by Hutchinson, in 1794 as being ... 'a gloomy old tower on an artificial mount, surrounded with an outward or curtain wall, supported by many heavy buttresses and strengthened with a moat' Lysons in 1816 comments that ..."Hay or Hayes Castle of which there are some remains ... is supposed to have been the manorial site and the seat of the Moresby family who possessed a moiety of the manor as early as the reign of Edward III". "... Very little now remains of the fabric, except a portion of the north wall; the extent of the castle however, may be traced by the foundations, which cover a large area, and the course of the moat can be clearly made out." (Curwin).
"In the editions of the Britannia - the first mention of the site occurs in - 1600, when it was known as Haycastle or Haicastle, and its first appearance on a map seems to be on that of Speed in 1610. The site changed hands in 1608, and Haycastle is the name it received in the deed of conveyance. {it is reasoned that the original name for Haycastle was Aykhurst or one of its other medieval variants.} A grant of 1337 mentioned Aykhurst in Distington. On the death of the widow of Hugh de Moriceby in 1374, the forcelet of Aykerist, passed to Christopher de Moriceby (Inq pm 22 Edw II) when he died in 1392 among his possessions is mentioned a castle greatly ruined in Distington (Inq pm Ric II) A licence was issued on 13th March 1322, to Robert de Leyburn to strengthen with a wall of stone and lime his dwelling house of Aykhurst (Wilson).
Hayes Castle "Little now remains but the platform and ditch and a portion of the wall wherein are traces of a fireplace. The tenant of the farm stated two years ago that much was pulled down for the erection of farm buildings till this was stopped by the owner of the estate. There has been a well in the centre of the platform formerly enclosed by the castle buildings." (Letters and Card Index (Miss MC Fair 12.4.54; 16.4.54)).
"The OS published name is correct. I have been the tenant of this property and latterly the owner since 1933. When I first came I demolished a little of the stonework from the NW corner of the castle wall in order to build a wall in front of my farm house. Since then however nothing else has been touched or altered and the castle site remains as it was in 1933.
The wall that Miss Fair speaks of is unknown to me and she has most likely misidentified one of the old circular hay stack sites. The disused water mill adjoining the castle {NY 00142255} was working until as recently as the 1939-45 war by water from the moat which can still be filled at will by operation of modern sluices. No finds have been made, or evidence discovered of any buildings connected with the castle (F1 ECW 10-SEP-59).
All that now remains is the raised platform and part of the stone built curtain wall on the north. This stands to a height of approx 6m covered with foliage on its south face, and in a ruined condition. The western and parts of the south and eastern walls can be traced within a grassy bank 0.3m high. It has a good defensive position on all four sides. There are no signs of internal structures, or traces of a fireplace as mentioned by Authority 6. The Moat although dry at the time of investigation was in fair condition, though containing many stones from the demolished wall. It surrounds the platform on the north, south and western sides to a depth of 3.5m and can still be filled with water by means of an aqueduct connecting it with Distington Beck. On the sloping ground west of the platform a modern farm track has been built (F2 EJ 22-SEP-59).
Hayes Castle The present name is probably a corruption of Aykhurst for which a licence to crenellate was issued in 1322 to Robert de Leyburn; it was probably established before this date. The castle originally consisted of a tower house on a motte with a curtain wall and moat, now ruinous. The moat survives on the north and west sides, but only the north wall of the square plan tower house remains on the motte (Listed Building Report). (PastScape)

Castle. Present name probably a corruption of Aykhurst for which a licence to crenellate was issued in 1322 to Robert de Leyburn; probably established before this date. Originally consisted of tower house on motte with curtain wall and moat, now ruinous. Moat survives on north and west sides, but only north wall of square-plan tower house remains on motte. Sandstone block facings with rubble core; c4 ft thick and c20 ft high. Other stones re-used in surrounding buildings. (Listed Building Report)

A Royal licence to crenellate was granted in 1322 March 13 (Click on the date for details of this licence.).

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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:53

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