Keys to the Past

Local History

Denton (County Durham)

The pretty village of Denton is a group of whitewashed farm buildings and cottages standing around the Cocker Beck. It lies to the north-east of Gainford.

The earliest archaeological remains from this area belong to the prehistoric period. A stone hammer of Neolithic or Bronze Age date was found here in the early 20th century. It may have been used to help clear trees from the land to allow it to be farmed. Other prehistoric flint tools of roughly the same date have been found nearby. Although only tools have been found there would probably have been permanent settlement nearby.

There were probably also Roman settlements in the area, though the only evidence for remains from this period is the course of the important road known as Dere Street. This was the main Roman road north, so it is likely that there may have been settlements built near to the road, perhaps providing resting places for travellers. The nearest important Roman settlement was probably the Fort and possible settlement at Piercebridge.

The first record of the village of Denton itself dates to the medieval period, though it was probably of Anglo-Saxon origin, as its names comes from the Old English for 'farm in a valley'. During the Middle Ages the village was part of the larger parish of Gainford. It is thought that the Denton had four chapels at various periods of time, each one being replaced as it fell into ruins. St Mary's Church is the final version of this building. Although most of the building is of 19th century date, there is evidence of the earlier chapels still to be seen; a stone coffin can be seen, as can the stone effigy of a medieval lady of the Conyers family.

There are other remains of medieval date in the village; such as earthwork remains that are probably traces of medieval buildings. It is possible that Denton Hall was also of medieval origin, although the current building is probably mainly of 16th or 17th century date.

Unlike many areas of County Durham the growth of the coal industry passed Denton by, and it remained an agricultural village throughout the 19th century until the present day.

Reference number:D6780

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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.