Keys to the Past

Local History

Heighington (County Durham)

Heighington © DCC 2007
Heighington © DCC 2007

The village of Heighington lies about six miles to the north-west of Darlington. The parish once included the townships of Coatsay Moor, Heighington, Middridge Grange, Redworth, School Aycliffe and Walworth.This parish is now bounded on the north by New Shildon parish, on the west and south-west by Gainford and Denton, on the south by Darlington, on the south-east by Haughton-le-Skerne, and on the east by Aycliffe.

The earliest archaeological remains from this area date to the Iron Age. Shackleton Beacon, which dominates the surrounding area, is the best example of an Iron Age hillfort in County Durham. The hill is surrounded by large earth banks divided by a ditch.

Apart from the hillfort no other important remains dating to before the medieval period have been recorded. Until 1904 a fortified stone tower used as the manor house stood at Newbiggin. It may have been the construction of this building that gave the village its name. Newbiggin comes from the Middle English for 'new building'. The village was first recorded in the 12th century - today many earthworks and turf-covered banks can be seen in the fields around East Newbiggin Farm.

The village of Heighington is of medieval origin. Its has four rows of houses, which were probably first laid out after the Harrying of the North. This suggests that an earlier village had stood here, possibly of late Anglo-Saxon date. A manor house stood at Middridge Grange- it was first mentioned in the mid-14th century, though the present building is 17th century in date. Heighington became quite an important large village or small town- a grammar school was founded here in 1601. The famous Stockton and Darlington railway ran through the area and it was the site of one of the few stations on the line. In fact, it was at Heighington Station that George Stephenson's Locomation No 1 was put on the rails.

Shackleton Beacon continued to be an important site in the area. In the 18th century a windmill was built on the hill. However, around 1794 it was converted into a gazebo!

Those of Heighington and surrounding villages who served in the First World War are commemorated on various memorials inside St. Michael's Church and on the memorial cross in the churchyard.

Reference number:D6819

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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.