Dipton (County Durham)
The parish of Dipton lies between the industrial towns of Stanley and Consett around 10 miles to the south-west of Newcastle. Although Dipton is now the main settlement, until the later 19th century this was just one of a series of small hamlets in the area, including Dipton, Collierley, Dykes and Pontop.
Sadly, no remains from before the post-medieval period have been recovered in the area. However, it is clear that the small hamlets had an Anglo-Saxon origin, as their names come from Old English. Dipton means 'farm in the valley or dene'. The meaning of Pontop is more complicated- Pont comes from the Old Celtic word for valley. The Anglo-Saxon settlers, however, did not understand this and added the word 'hop' valley. This means strangely that Pontop actually means 'valley-valley'. Collierley comes from the Old English for 'clearing of the charcoal burners', which gives us a little insight into both the landscape of this area in the Anglo-Saxon period (wooded) and the kind of activity carried out in the area. Not all these small settlements still survive - for example, little survives at the site of Collierley, even though a chapel stood here, and the ruins were still visible in the mid-18th century.
Other remains survive better. Pontop Hall, built around 1700, is still to be stone, as is the nearby dovecot. Nearby, relics of one of an early 19th coal mine area can be seen at Pontop Pike. This is not the earliest coal mine in the area; there are records of coal mines at Collierley from as early as 1333. Coal mining thrived until 1980, when the last mine closed down.
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