Heighley Castle

Has been described as a Certain Timber Castle (Motte), and also as a Certain Masonry Castle

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameHeighley Castle
Alternative NamesAudley; Healey; Heeley; Heley; Healy; Heyley; Helih; Helyh
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishMadeley

Heighley Castle occupies a prominent position on the edge of a steep sandstone escarpment overlooking the Checkley Brook. The monument includes both the standing and buried remains of the castle, which are also Listed Grade II, and the massive dry ditch cut out of the rock. The slope of the escarpment forms the defences and boundary to the castle on its eastern and southern edges. The western and northern defences of the enclosure, along the two accessible sides of the castle have been strengthened by a large rock-cut ditch, isolating the castle promontory from the escarpment. The ditch measures approximately 15m wide and 9m deep, and quarry marks are visible on the faces of the ditch which were created during its construction. Stone from the cutting of the ditch was used for the internal features of the castle. The castle has an irregularly shaped enclosure which measures approximately 100m north-south and up to 50m west-east. The enclosure was originally surrounded by a curtain wall, of which the lower courses of masonry are visible at the south-eastern edge. At the northern edge are further remains of the curtain wall, where a section survives to a height of 2.5m. Much of the curtain survives beneath the ground surface. On the western edge of the enclosure fragments of masonry and slight traces of stone foundations are visible. These remains represent a pair of towers which projected slightly beyond the curtain wall. The wall towers were clearly visible until the mid- 20th century and are known to measure approximately 6.5m square. The foundations of the towers will survive as buried features. Access into the enclosure was originally by means of an earthen causeway across the north- western section of the ditch. There is no surface evidence of the gatehouse which would have defended the gateway passage although it will survive as a buried feature at the north-western corner of the enclosure

The ground surface within the enclosure slopes markedly down towards its southern end where a suite of domestic apartments are known to have been located. Recent disturbance has exposed a 4m length of walling in the south- eastern part of the enclosure. The section of walling stands up to four courses high and two springers from an arcade are visible. The exposed wall stands on a east-west alignment and is considered to be the south wall of a vaulted undercroft. Heighley Castle was constructed in the first quarter of the 13th century by Henry de Audley, who is also credited with the foundation of Hulton Abbey in Stoke-on-Trent. In 1223 de Audley was given 12 hinds from the royal forest of Cannock to stock the park at Heighley. Early 14th century estimates of the value of the castle suggest it was then neglected. It appears, however, to have been still sufficiently in repair to be used as a prison in 1534, and to warrant demolition by the Parliamentarians in 1644. (Scheduling Report)

This site is a scheduled monument protected by law

This is a Grade 2 listed building protected by law

Historic England Scheduled Monument Number
Historic England Listed Building number(s)
Images Of England
Historic England (PastScape) Defra or Monument number(s)
County Historic Environment Record
OS Map Grid ReferenceSJ772467
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  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 30
  • Pettifer, A., 1995, English Castles, A guide by counties (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 231 (slight)
  • Salter, Mike, 1993, Midlands Castles (Birmingham) p. 50
  • King, D.J.C., 1983, Castellarium Anglicanum (London: Kraus) Vol. 2 p. 450
  • Pevsner, N., 1974, Buildings of England: Staffordshire (London, Penguin) p. 145
  • Harvey, Alfred, 1911, Castles and Walled Towns of England (London: Methuen and Co)
  • Lynam, Charles, 1908, 'Ancient Earthworks' in Page, Wm. (ed), VCH Staffordshire Vol. 1 p. 351-2 (plan) online copy


  • Chandler, John, 1993, John Leland's Itinerary: travels in Tudor England  (Sutton Publishing) p. 443
  • Toulmin-Smith, Lucy (ed), 1910, The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543 (London: Bell and Sons) Vol. 5 p. 20 online copy
  • Celia Fiennes, 1888, Through England on a Side Saddle in the Time of William and Mary (London: Field and Tuer, The Leadenhall Press) Vision of Britain online transcription


  • Richard Nevell, 2014-15, 'Castles as prisons' Castle Studies Group Journal Vol. 28 p. 203-224
  • Palliser, D.M., 1972, 'Staffordshire Castles: A Provisional List' Staffordshire Archaeology Vol. 1 p. 5-8
  • Cantor, Leonard, 1966, 'The Medieval Castles of Staffordshire' North Staffordshire Journal of Field Studies Vol. 6 p. 38-46
  • Harnaman, D.G., 1943, North Staffordshire Field Club transactions Vol. 77 p. 63
  • de Mazzinghi, 1880, North Staffordshire Field Club transactions p. 35-45 (history)

Primary Sources

  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 432-3


  • Historic England, 2016, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2016 (London: Historic England) p. 32 online copy
  • Historic England, 2015, Heritage at Risk West Midlands Register 2015 (London: Historic England) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2014, Heritage at Risk Register 2014 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2013, Heritage at Risk Register 2013 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 31 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2012, Heritage at Risk Register 2012 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 43 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2011, Heritage at Risk Register 2011 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 42 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2010, Heritage at Risk Register 2010 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 43 online copy
  • English Heritage, 2009, Heritage at Risk Register 2009 West Midlands (London: English Heritage) p. 51 online copy