Chartley Castle

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

There are masonry ruins/remnants remains

NameChartley Castle
Alternative NamesChartley Holme; Chartley by Stowe
Historic CountryStaffordshire
Modern AuthorityStaffordshire
1974 AuthorityStaffordshire
Civil ParishStowe

Primarily a motte and double bailey castle which was altered in the early C13 to form an enclosure castle. The motte is at the western end of the castle and although on a naturally high point it has been artificially raised. A stone keep and curtain walls with projecting towers were later added to the earthworks. The site was owned by the Earls of Chester from the end of C11 and the motte and baileys date from this time. Re-building in stone was underway in 1223 but the castle was abandoned by 1485, and was described by Leland as a ruin in 1545. (PastScape)

It is primarily a motte and double bailey castle which was altered in the early 13th century to form an enclosure castle, the standing remains of which are Listed Grade II-star and included in the scheduling. The castle is surrounded and strengthened by a dry ditch which measures up to 18m wide, beyond which, is a counterscarp bank. The motte is located at the western end of the castle and, although on a natural high point, it has been artificially raised. It has a diameter of 46m at its base and is separated from the bailey by a 10m wide ditch. The bailey to the east is divided into inner and outer enclosures by a ditch which measures approximately 24m wide. The two enclosures vary both in size and form. The inner contains an area of 0.25ha and is rectangular in plan while the outer bailey measures 60m square, an area of approximately 0.35ha. Access to the motte and bailey is currently by means of a causeway at the south eastern edge of the outer bailey which may mark the site of the original entrance. Access to the inner bailey was originally through a gatehouse, with two drum towers, on its eastern side. In the early 13th century a stone keep and a curtain wall with projecting towers, all built of ashlar with a rubble core, were added to the earthworks of Chartley Castle by the Earl of Chester

The motte is surmounted by a circular keep with an internal diameter of 10.7m and walls which are 3.7m thick. It now stands to a height of up to 3m and has been partly restored in brick. At the north eastern edge of the keep are the remains of a projecting semicircular stair turret, 6m in diameter. The inner bailey has been strengthened by a curtain wall with five projecting towers. The curtain wall is best preserved along the southern side of the inner bailey, although it is in a ruined state. Here two semicircular towers stand, up to 10m high in places. There are three semicircular towers situated at the eastern edge of the bailey. The two towers at the south eastern corner formed the gatehouse between the two baileys and a further three-quarter round tower survives in a greatly ruined state at the north eastern corner of the bailey. Although there is no surface evidence to indicate the presence of stone towers along the northern side of the inner bailey, such towers probably existed. However, the lack of visible remains of a curtain wall encompassing the outer bailey probably indicates that the defences here were of timber. (Scheduling Report)

Gatehouse Comments

The castle is designed to be viewed from the road with the towers on the curtain wall all facing the road. The modern road follows the line of the medieval road which was one of the routes to the Welsh Marches and Chester. The wall on the other side of the castle is now mainly lost but probably did not have curtain towers (despite the comment in the scheduling report). It is this side that is overlooked by higher ground – that is the most vulnerable side of the castle was, in this case, the most weakly 'defended' whereas the money spent on defences was put into the externally visible features.

- Philip Davis

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 ReferenceSK010285
HyperLink HyperLink HyperLink
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Photograph by Philip Davis. All rights reserved
Copyright Martin Handley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Martin Handley All Rights Reserved
Copyright Martin Handley All Rights Reserved

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  • Goodall, John, 2011, The English Castle 1066-1650 (Yale University Press) p. 180-1
  • Purton, P.F., 2009, A History of the Early Medieval Siege c. 450-1220 (Woodbridge: The Boydell Press) p. 332
  • Salter, Mike, 1997, Castles and Moated Mansions of Staffordshire (Malvern: Folly Publications) p. 18-20
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  • Renn, D.F., 1973 (2 edn.), Norman Castles of Britain (London: John Baker) p. 140
  • 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. 353, 361 (plan) online copy
  • Mackenzie, J.D., 1896, Castles of England; their story and structure (New York: Macmillan) Vol. 1 p. 391-3 online copy
  • Timbs, J. and Gunn, A., 1872, Abbeys, Castles and Ancient Halls of England and Wales Vol. 2 (London) p. 541-3 online copy



  • Swallow, Rachel, 2014, 'Gateways to Power: The Castles of Ranulf III of Chester and Llywelyn the Great of Gwynedd' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 171 p. 289-311
  • 2003-4, 'Chartley Castle' Castle Studies Group Bulletin Vol. 17 p. 32-33
  • Thompson, M.W., 1986, 'Associated monasteries and castles in the Middle Ages: a tentative list' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 143 p. 317
  • 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
  • Brown, R. Allen, 1959, 'A List of Castles, 1154–1216' English Historical Review Vol. 74 p. 249-280 (Reprinted in Brown, R. Allen, 1989, Castles, conquest and charters: collected papers (Woodbridge: Boydell Press) p. 90-121) view online copy (subscription required)
  • Parker, F. (ed), 1909, Walter Chetwynd's 'History of Pireshill Hundred' Collections for a History of Staffordshire Vol. 12 (new ser) p. 176-83 (weak) online copy
  • Scrivener, A., 1904-5, 'Chartley Earthworks and Castle' North Staffordshire Field Club transactions Vol. 39 p. 143-9 (plan)
  • Scrivener, A., 1896, 'Chartley Earthworks and Castle' Journal of the British Archaeological Association Vol. 2 p. 53-9 online copy
  • Clark, G.T., 1889, 'Contribution towards a complete list of moated mounds or burhs' The Archaeological Journal Vol. 46 p. 197-217 esp. 211 online copy

Primary Sources

  • Stenton, D.M. (ed.), 1926, The Great Roll of the Pipe for the third and fourth years of the reign of King Richard the First, Mich. 1191 and Mich. 1192 (Pipe Rolls 37 and 38) (Pipe Roll Society Publications 40)
  • Rickard, John, 2002, The Castle Community. The Personnel of English and Welsh Castles, 1272-1422 (Boydell Press) (lists sources for 1272-1422) p. 431