Keys to the Past

Local History

Woodland (County Durham)

Woodland is a village lying at the foot of Woodland Fell, to the south of Hamsterley Forest. Apart from the village itself which is strung out along the B6282, most of the parish is upland, including much of Woodland Fell and some of Langleydale Common

Little is known about the early history of this area. The earliest remains are a number of flints found at Low Wood House. However, it is not clear whether these were made by early hunter-gatherers of Mesolithic date, or by later farmers during the Neolithic or Bronze Age. Beyond these early remains we know little about the area until the medieval period. It is likely that much of the surrounding area was forested at this time. The name Woodland itself is obviously an indicator that there were woods in the area, but the name Langley means literally 'Long clearing', suggesting that the village stood in a clearing in the woods. The presence of large areas of woodland may explain why there is so little evidence of earlier periods. However, it is clear that after the Norman Coquest much of the land was being cleared- two earthwork building platforms at Low Wood House may be the remains of medieval settlement.

The area appears to have become increasingly dominated by lead and coal mining in the medieval and post-medieval period. The possible remains of medieval lead sheet manufacture was found at Penny Hill. However, it was coal mining which appears to have become most important. Disused coal shafts were recorded in the 18th century and several drift mines were in operation by the late 19th century. Much of this coal was turned into coke at the coke ovens at Benty Close. The Woodland Collieries Company were the main employers in the area, and were responsible for building the Asembly Room, which had a large hall for public entertainments and two smaller rooms, one of which was used as a reading room.

Woodland war memorial takes the form a large stone {pillar 49866} on a wide square pedestal and it commemorates 63 men of the local area who served and some of whom fell in the First World War. 21 of these men were attached to the Durham Light Infantry (DLI). The memorial itself is the only one of its kind in the county. Elsewhere, in the church of St. Mary there is another war memorial in the form of a plaque donated to the church by the widow of a fallen soldier.

Reference number:D6806

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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.