Keys to the Past

Searching the Records

There are two ways of searching the records, the simple search and the advanced search.

Using the Simple Search

The idea of the simple search is that typing a 'keyword' into the search box and clicking 'Go' will find a list of results that broadly match the word you have entered. For the best results keep the keyword quite specific as very general terms such as 'Roman' or 'Chapel' will return many results and as a result the search will take more time to complete.

If you do not find the results you require, double-check the spelling of your keyword to ensure it is correct. Note that many place-names in the North-East have a number of different spellings, so you could try an alternative.

Using the Advanced Search

The Advanced Search should be used to find more precise search results. On the advanced search page there are a number of drop down lists and clickable buttons which enable you to select various search options.

The first option allows you to choose which area of the North-East you would like to search. Simply choice between sites from Durham, Northumberland or 'Both' to search both counties at the same time.

The second option allows you to choose a specific town, village or parish to search for. Clicking on dropdown list for 'Place-name' will show all parishes and major place-names in the area. Note that It is possible to scroll through this list using the down and up arrows in the dropdown box . To save time, try clicking in the dropdown box and typing a letter this will allow you to jump to the places beginning with that letter. Once you have highlighted the place-name you are interested in, left click with your mouse to add the place name to the box.

Lists of types of archaeological sites, historical periods and legally protected sites can be used in the same way. Simply select options from one or more of the dropdown boxes before clicking the Search button. Note that advanced searches can use any combinations of the drop-down lists. For example, it is possible to search for all the Roman forts in Northumberland, all the medieval bastles in Durham which are also Listed Buildings or all the post-medieval churches in Hexham.

The final option allows you to only search for sites for which we have an image within the record. Simply click on 'yes' or 'no' as preferred.

Click the 'Search' button to begin the search or click 'Reset' to select alternative options.

Search Results page

Having chosen your method of searching and clicked the search button the system may take a short time to compile a list of results that match your criteria. Once the list is complete it will appear on the 'Results page'. To view further details and see individual records that match your search simply click on the hyperlinked titles.

To see a map displaying all of the search results which match your criteria, click the 'See map of these results' link. Please note that only those search with less then 250 results can be displayed on a map.

Individual Records

Each record within the Keys to the Past database holds the appropriate information as well as some standard details.

The 'Reference Number' is the unique identifying number for a particular archaeological site found on our database. The reference number for sites from Durham begin with the letter D and those from Northumberland begin with N. When communicating with us about specific records please use these numbers wherever possible.

The 'Historical Period' shows the approximate date of associated with the recorded site, and in turn links to a general overview of the archaeology and history for the period in question.

The 'Legal Status' indicates any specific legal protection that a site may have. Clicking on the legal status link will provide you with an explanation of the term. Please note that this information may not be up to datetherefore it is essential that before any work is carried out on any site the County Archaeologist is consulted.

Under the 'See Also' further information relevant to a site can be found. A link to 'Source of References' provides a list of published information about the archaeological site in question. Clicking on the 'Location on a Map' link will allow you to view a map showing the placement of the site. Note that once the map window is active it is possible to move around the map, zoom in and out, and also view historical maps. Please see more detailed information about using the maps.

Some records may also have a link to our sister site Past Perfect, a New Opportunities Fund grant-aided project run jointly by Durham and Northumberland County Councils which uses the latest in virtual reality interactive technology to bring the archaeology and history of the two counties alive.