Keys to the Past

Local History

Evenwood (County Durham)

The small village of Evenwood lies to the southwest of West Auckland. The earliest remains in the area date to the Mesolithic. A number of small flint tools of this date have been discovered. These were probably used by Mesolithic hunters. The population at this time lived entirely by hunting wild birds and animals and collecting wild plants.

However, by the Bronze Age, when a number of flint tools were made, most people lived by farming, though the presence of arrowheads in this collection of tools suggest that some hunting probably still occurred.

Little survives in the area from these early remains until the medieval period. Whilst there must have undoubtedly been a Roman presence in the area, this has not survived. There was certainly a village here by the end of the Anglo-Saxon period. The name of the village itself comes from the Old English for 'even or level wood'. More importantly there are historic records the village being given by King Cnut to the Bishop of Durham in around AD1000 on his pilgrimage to the shrine of St Cuthbert.

The buildings of the medieval village were clustered around a green, and there are records of an old stone tower though this has now disappeared. It had no parish church, as it was part of the parish of Etherley. However, there was once a chapel dedicated to St Hugh, though this too has disappeared. In the 14th century Evenwood was identified with the iron trade when a bloomery was operated, the wood for the furnaces coming from Crag Wood which consisted mainly of oak trees. Coal was discovered in the 14th century, the developments since then lead to it being a thriving place in the 19th century.

In the 19th century coal was worked throughout the area, and there were several working pits, including Brockwell and Busty. The annual output was over 400,000 tons a year, and over 500 people were employed. Much of the coal was turned into coke in the many coke ovens nearby. Sadly, as happened elsewhere in Durham, the mines have now all closed down.

The efforts of those from Evenwood and the nearby settlements of Ramshaw and Lands in the First World War are commemorated on a memorial obelisk in the village. Newspaper articles from 2011 show that a new memorial was erected in a more central location in the village after strong opposition from the local community that the money could be better spent elsewhere. The location of this memorial is not explicitly stated and the memorial does not show on Google Streetview images as the most recent update for this area was in 2009. Other sites of interest that reflect Evenwood's involvement in the war are St. Paul's Church where a plaque from the now demolished Comrade's Club is located, and there is a memorial in the Working Men's Club in the form of a Roll of Honour listing fallen members.

Reference number:D6791
Event(s):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.