Keys to the Past

Local History

Barningham (County Durham)

The village of Barningham stands in lower Teesdale on the edge of the Pennines. It used to be in the North Riding of Yorkshire until 1974. The most of the parish is heather-covered moorland, but the scenery along Greta's banks is strikingly beautiful.

The archaeology of the prehistoric period in this area is dominated by the large groups of cup and ring marked stones. These mainly sit on areas of moorland. The stones from Barningham Moor form one of the most important groups of prehistoric art in Durham, and there are some patterns used here that are rare elsewhere. Some of the carvings have been placed on rocky outcrops, others are carved onto freestanding boulders. A small number are found on small rocks, which have later been built into stone-walled enclosures of Bronze Age (2300BC to 800BC) or Iron Age (800BC to AD43) date. The precise purpose of these carved rocks is unclear, though it is thought that they may have had some religious or ritual purpose. They were probably created in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age (2500BC to 2000BC).

The carved stones are not the only prehistoric remains in the area. A number of probable Bronze Age burial mounds can be seen. There are even the possible remains of a stone circle on Barningham Moor and Osmaril Gill Apart from these religious remains we also have evidence for early settlements, such as D5379 and possible Iron Age (800BC to AD43) farmsteads at D5291 and 5298. Traces of the earliest agricultural fieldscan also be seen.

In upland areas like Barningham the arrival of the Romans would have had little effect on day-to-day life. The few settlements of this date known in the area (D5356 D5721} are very similar to the earlier Iron Age settlements.

If these is little evidence for the Roman period there is even less from the early medieval era (AD410 to 1066). The only evidence of any sort from this time is the name of the parish itself. In Old English Barningham probably means 'the village of Beorn's people'. This suggests that there was some kind of settlement here by the time the name was first recorded, 1086 in the Domesday Book. The old church at Barningham was probably built in the 11th century, though as it has now been demolished it is difficult to be certain about its precise date. A fragment of 12th century carved stone can be seen built into the new church. The site of the old church can be seen as a rectangular mound just to the south of the present church, which was built in 1812. A fragment of a medieval stone {D13119} cross-base can still be seen in the churchyard.

By the post-medieval period the parish of Barningham was clearly firmly an agricultural area. Although much of the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales contain lots of lead mining there is only a small area of lead workingin the area; even this small amount of mining had stopped by the early 19th century. The only other signs of industrial activity are the site of a limekiln and a quarry. The lime made in the kiln was probably mainly used for agriculture, improving soil quality. Barningham also contained a very late {deer park. Although these are usually medieval in date, the park in Barningham was probably constructed between the 16th and 18th century, and deer still lived in it as late as 1892. Due to the purity of the air the This large park was built to keep deer in. It was probably constructed in the 16th-18th century. In 1892 seven deer lived in it. It is c.188 acres in size.

Reference number:D6645
Event(s):Heart of Teesdale Project Heritage Audit; North of England Civic Trust

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Please note that this information has been compiled from a number of different sources. Durham County Council and Northumberland County Council can accept no responsibility for any inaccuracy contained therein. If you wish to use/copy any of the images, please ensure that you read the Copyright information provided.