Keys to the Past

Local History

Eggleston (County Durham)

The village of Eggleston lies in Teesdale, about four miles south-west of Middleton and six miles north-west of Barnard Castle. The village is crossed by a small stream which rises in neighbouring hills. Eggleston is often seen as marking the boundary between the gentle lower reaches of Teesdale and the wilder upland areas of the upper dale.

Like many areas of Teesdale the parish is very rich in prehistoric remains. A large number of Mesolithic period flint tools have been found in the area, such as at Folly House and Blackton. These may have been left by early hunting parties coming into Teesdale to hunt wild animals. They may have had temporary camps in this area. Although these first visitors in the area may not have settled here permanently, it is likely that there were permanent settlers here by the Neolithic period. A site where they probably made their tools has been found at Blackton Beck Chimney. These people were probably doing very simple farming, and also providing for themselves by doing some hunting.

By the Bronze Age it is likely that farming was more widespread, and land was cleared of trees and stones to make working the land easier. Many of the cleared stones in the upland areas were piled in heaps to make stone cairns. A large cairnfield can still be seen at Brackenheads, where at least fourteen such cairns can be seen. A number of cup and ring marked rocks can also be seen, both here and at Stob Green. These rocks, possibly of some kind of religious significance, were probably carved in the late Neolithic period or early Bronze Age. It is possible that they marked important places in the landscape, and their creation may perhaps also be linked to the increasing division of the landscape with the rise of agriculture.

A number of other Bronze Age remains are known in the area. At least two more possible religious sites are known- one stone circle , probably of a later date than the carved rocks, may have been one of the most important such sites in the north-east, as it marked an important routeway between Weardale and Teesdale. In one burial ithe body is buried with a stone axe, which may have been used to clear trees from the fields.

Despite all these discoveries there are no certain settlement sites from this period. However, a couple of unsual burnt mound sites, such as the one found at Foggerthwaite are known. These piles of burn stone, ash and charcoal may have used as simple cooking sites, and it is possible that there may have been some kind of simple settlement nearby.

Curiously there is also little evidence for Iron Age or Roman settlement. This would probably have taken the form of simple circular stone houses, and it is possible that the stones may have been reused for later fieldwalls and sheepfolds, though it is surprising that nothing has yet been found.
However, by the Anglo-Saxon period there must certainly have been some kind of permanent settlement in the village itself, as the name 'Eggleston' probably comes from the Old English for 'Ecgil's (or Ecgwulf's) farmstead'. The village itself was first mentioned in tax records of 1196, However, it was never an important settlement. It had a small chapel, but no permanent chuch. There are also records of a {chapel D2066} built on the end of Egglestone Bridge in the mid-15th cenutry. Other small settlements existed in the area, for example the remains of a small farmstead are known at Foggerthwaite Hall. It is likely that much of the land in this area was owned by the monks of Rievaulx Abbey (N. Yorkshire). Although the area was predominantly agricultural early ironworking probably also took place at sites such as Shipley Banks.

The presence of this mineral working became more important in the post-medieval period. In the 19th century the London Lead Company took over control of much of the lead mining in the area. As well as building lead mines they also built terraces of houses, South Terrace and Prospect Terrace, for their workers, who worked at the smelting mill in the village. Forty men still worked for the company when the mill was closed in 1904.

Those of the village who served in the First World War and WW2 are commemorated on a memorial triptych (ornate plaque with doors) inside the parish church of the Holy Trinity. A metal strip on the memorial states that the materials were salvaged from the HMS Britannia. This is one of a number of memorials that were made from timbers of the Britannia - in County Durham there is another 'Britannia' triptych of very similar dimensions and style in Neasham Village Hall.

Reference number:D6788
Event(s):The identification of Historic Landscapes in Durham Project; Chris Blandford Associates
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.