Houghall (County Durham)
Houghall lies just to the south of Durham City on the banks of the River Wear. Although close to the town it has not been overgrown by modern houses. Instead the presence of sports grounds and Houghall College ensure that the area remains green and attractive. It is still overlooked by the heavily wooded sloped of Mount Joy and Maidens Castle to the north.
The earliest finds in the area both date to the prehistoric period. A small flint tool was found in 1995 and not far away a late Bronze Age sword was discovered. Although further work took place around this find spot no other remains were discovered.
In the medieval period one of the main routes into Durham ran through Houghall crossing the Wear and climbing the hill at the top of which travellers were rewarded with a splendid view of city, castle and cathedral laid out before them. The site of a stone cross is recorded on this road- it may have been placed there by pilgrims making a pilgrimage to the shrine of St Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral. The manor house at Houghall was built around 1274, probably by one of the Priors of the cathedral. All that can be seen today are the slight remains of a moat.
In the 1840 century Houghall Colliery was opened. A group of houses was built for the miners in 1860, although since the mines shut these have fallen into ruin. A wagon way once ran between this mine and another at Shincliffe, although there are no remains to be seen. The Durham and Sunderland railway once ran through the area and crossed the river Wear just to the west of the main road. Although the line has long since shut down the remains of the bridge that carried the line can still be seen. Because Houghall was still seen as being separate from the city an isolation hospital for people with infectious diseases was built in here in 1893.
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