Delves (County Durham)
The village of Delves lies just to the south-east of Consett.
The earliest evidence for human activity dates to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age - this is a carved sandstone block bearing over twenty cup and ring marks. Although it was found in Delves, the stone can now be seen in the Fulling Mill Museum of Archaeology in Durham. This may have been carved for religious purposes by the same people who made the Neolithic stone axe which was found nearby.
Despite these early remains we know little about the area until the medieval period. There was certainly a village here by the Anglo-Saxon period, as Delves comes from the Old English for 'at the ditches'. This may be because there were some early quarries or possibly a mine nearby. Delves was not the only village in the area. It is thought that there was probably another village at Knitsley - although no remains have been found.
The area was much changed in the 19th century with the growth of the coal industry, though remains of earlier buildings can be seen at Knitsley, where a number of late 18th century buildings can be seen. The main coal mine was Delves pit, which employed over 200 men and boys. A good seam of clay worked at the same time as the coal was used to make bricks. Much of the coal was turned into coke at nearby coke ovens. The growth of the collieries meant that many houses were built for the miners. Other facilities were also built, such as the miner's Welfare Hall built in 1925. Its upkeep was paid for by deductions from the miner's wages. It was given to local residents in 1979 by the National Coal Board.
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