Keys to the Past

Local History

Cassop (County Durham)

The parish of Cassop lies in the small valley known as Cassop Vale, to the south-east of Durham. This area was once a hunting ground for the Prince Bishops of Durham. There have been two suggested origins for the name Cassop, Both agree that the second part of the name comes from the Old English word 'hop' meaning valley. Some have suggested that the first part comes from the Anglo-Saxon name Casa, so the whole meaning of the placename would be 'Casa's Valley'; others have suggested that it comes from 'Cattes' meaning 'wild cat'.

There have been two villages called Cassop. Old Cassop lay in the valley bottom. Archaeological work has suggested that this may have a Roman or even an Iron Age settlement here. However, most of the remains that can be seen here now are the earthwork traces of the medieval village. This shrank considerably in size. In the 19th century with the arrival of the coal industry a new colliery village also called Cassop was built on a ridge above the old village.

Most of the historical sites in Cassop are related to the rise of the coal industry, and the associated industries. However, many remains from this period have now disappeared. There is little to see at the site of the colliery village of Cassop Vale. However, the remains of the old Cassop Vale Wagonway are still as earthworks. Other stretches of wagonway are visible, as are parts of the old West Hartlepool D3001} railway.

The impact of the First World War on the area can be seen in the various buildings and features dedicated as war memorials in the wider parish of Cassop-cum-Quarrington, encompassing (among others) Cassop, Bowburn, Quarrington Hill and Tursdale. Public buildings such as the memorial hall at Bowburn and the memorial cottages at Tursdale were built as memorials with a more utilitarian purpose than the stand alone village memorials elsewhere in Bowburn and Tursdale - although the latter is actually in the grounds of the cottages and built at the same time. A number of memorials were also once located in St. Paul's Church at Quarrington Hill though these were dispersed and relocated when the church was demolished.

Reference number:D6758
Event(s):Limestone Landscapes Historic Environment Audit And Action Plan; Archaeo-Environment Ltd
The identification of Historic Landscapes in Durham Project; Chris Blandford Associates

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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.