Ayton Castle sits on the edge of a plateau just north of the village of West Ayton. It was built in the late 14th century, probably by Sir Ralph Eure, and was a typical Northern tower house. Eure was from Northumberland, where the tower house was a familiar site, and married the Ayton heiress. The surviving ruins reach their full height at one corner, and enough survives to give us a fairly clear idea of the castle's original layout. The tower was three stories high. There were two rooms on the ground floor. The original entrance was on the north-west end wall, and went into the kitchen. From there stairs led up to the first storey hall, and on up to the top floor. At the opposite end of the hall was another flight of stairs, which provided the only access to the other ground floor room. This first floor probably contained a single great hall, with bed chambers or a solar on the top floor. There are corbels on the surviving top corner, suggesting that there was a square turret or similar structure at each corner, connected by a wall-walk running behind battlements.
The castle was a high quality building, built using well-shaped ashlars and with decorative string courses on the outer walls. Some have speculated that John Lewyn, the master mason of Bolton Castle, may have been involved in the construction of Ayton Castle. The surviving stone tower didn’t stand alone, and traces of earthworks also survive, suggesting that it was inside an enclosure, possibly a full scale bailey. Stone from the castle was later used to build the bridge over the Derwent between the villages of West Ayton and East Ayton. William, Lord Eure, still owned a house in West Ayton in 1569, but it appears to have fallen into disrepair fairly soon after this date.
Grid Reference: SE 98 85
Just to the north of West Ayton, and close to a footpath