Keys to the Past

Local History

Hunderthwaite (County Durham)

The small village of Hundersthwaite lies to the south of Romaldkirk.

Few prehistoric remains have been recorded in this area- though a survey carried out recently discovered an irregularly shaped enclosure, which may be of pre-Roman date. A small prehistoric carved stone also stands in the parish. Although partly covered by turf it had six simple cup marks carved onto it in a rough oval shape.

During the Roman period this remote area appears not to have been effected by the arrival of these new rulers. Although there were forts to the south on the Stainmore pass, it seems that the Roman army did not linger in this remote corner of the North Pennines.

As is common elsewhere in the North Pennines there is little evidence for early medieval occupation. However, the name of the village, Hundersthwaite, is thought to be of Old Norse origin- meaning the 'low meadow of Hundrethr (a Viking name)'.

By the medieval period we can be certain that the main form of farming in this area was hill sheep farming. Archaeological survey has discovered the remains of rectangular enclosures in the surrounding area. These may be simple sheep folds or possibly all that survives of shielings, simple shelters used by shepherds during the summer. They are thought to be of 14th century date.

Farming remained an important part of local life throughouth the post-medieval period. However, quarrying also became a significant industry in the 19th century. A sandstone quarry was worked at Howgill Head and other, limestone quarries were worked nearby. Unlike much of the North Pennines lead-mining never became important, although a small early 20th century coal mine was dug at Gill Field.

Reference number:D6836
Event(s):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.