Little Hadham, Cailes Castle

Has been described as a Questionable Uncertain

There are cropmark/slight earthwork remains

NameLittle Hadham, Cailes Castle
Alternative Names
Historic CountryHertfordshire
Modern AuthorityHertfordshire
1974 AuthorityHertfordshire
Civil ParishLittle Hadham

Site near Westfield Farm mentioned in Chancery Proceedings (1575) (Renn)

Earthwork remains of Iron Age date at Caley Wood, once thought to be a hillfort, they are more likely to represent an enclosure. The site has been badly affected by gravel extraction. Roman pottery has also been recovered from the site, this originates from the type site for Hadham Ware, Bromley Hall Farm. (PastScape)

The site of 'Calies Castle', near Westfield Farm, is mentioned in Chancery Proceedings (1575; series II, bundle 19, No. 20). The Roll refers to Westfield Farm, and relates to a suit over 100 acres of land called Cayles; 'the messuage and farm called the Castell alias Cales' is also mentioned (Renn). Greening identified references to Castell Farm alias Cales Farm (1277), Calescroft (1398), and the castle and manor of Cailes (1478, will), as well as several other 15th century references. The castle of Cailes together with a grange called Caldwyns (from which it took its alternative name) descended with the manor of Gatesbury until 1599.

The field to the west of Westfield Farm is called 'Castle Field' on a plan of 1767, at NGR TL 4225 2150 (Cave-Penny, Helena (HCC) site report. 9.1.1986; J Crawley. 1767. Plan of West Field Farm).

The related earthwork, however, is apparently late Iron Age and not primarily defensive. There is no physical evidence of a medieval date for it, and the name may represent no more than medieval recognition of an ancient earthwork. (Hertfordshire HER no 797)

There are extensive earthworks in the N half of Caley Wood. Most of this is the result of gravel quarrying, but a large bank with slight outer ditch at the SE limit of the earthworks is probably of some antiquity (Cave-Penny, Helena (HCC) site report. 9.1.86)

Its date is uncertain; finds of Roman pottery reputedly from the ditch and the form of the earthwork suggest an Iron Age date, but this is also likely to be the site of 'Calies Castle' mentioned in Chancery proceedings of 1575 (Renn). The site is known as 'Castle Field' in a plan of 1767.

Close inspection in 2009 confirmed a likely late Iron Age date (Landon). There is no indication that the site was re-used in the medieval period, despite the finding of the handle of a Herts Grey Ware jug nearby. It also bears more resemblance to a linear dyke, dominating the approach to Wickham Spring from the south-east, than to a hillfort enclosure. In addition, defence could not be its primary function, as its position at the top of a scarp slope leaves the easier approach from the rear undefended.(Hertfordshire HER no 122)

Gatehouse Comments

Whilst the C16 reference to a castell is most probably a reference to the pre-historic earthwork it might also be a reference to the manorial centre for dispersed hamlet of Westland Green/Wellpond Green using the term castle in the sense of an administrative centre.

- Philip Davis

Not scheduled

Not Listed

Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceTL420214
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  • Renn, D.F., 1971, Medieval Castles in Hertfordshire (Chichester: Phillimore) p. 16 (doubtful)


  • S Hazzeldine Warren, 1945, Essex Naturalist Vol. 27 p. 274

Primary Sources

  • Maxwell Lyte, H.C. (ed), 1896, Index of Chancery Proceedings (Series II.) 1558-1579 (HMSO) Vol. 1 p. 51 (bundle 19, No. 20)


  • Landon, M.R.J., 2010, Bromley Hall and Caley Wood fieldwork 2009. fieldwalking. RNO 2430 p. 24-5, 26-8
  • Greening, Alan, 1989, A documentary historical report on Westfield Farm alias 'Cailes' in the parish of Little Hadham, Herts. (unpublished)