Keys to the Past

Local History

Marwood (County Durham)

Although marked by the Ordnance Survey as a deserted medieval village, the remains visible at Marwood are more likely to represent a native Romano-British settlement of a type found elsewhere in the north such as at Crosby Garret Fell in the Eden Valley, Cumbria.

The earliest remains in this area are a number of Mesolithic flint tools found at Pallett Crag. These may have been left here by early hunters travelling up to the North Pennines, where they may have hunted animals during the warm summer months.

A cup and ring stone. of late neolithic or early Bronze Age date was found at Knott Hill. These carvings were probably carved in the early Bronze Age or late Neolithic (2800BC to 2300BC). The purpose of these names is not clear though they may have had a religious function. Similar carved stones stand on the top of a small flat-topped hill, overlooking marshy ground at Hawksley Hill.

Marwood may have been re-used in the medieval period as an iron-working site, with many small slag heaps still visible. The confusion of the site with that of the known Anglo-Saxon village of the same name may have arisen from the fact that the original parish of Marwood was much larger and included the area now occupied by Barnard Castle. It would appear likely therefore that the original Anglo-Saxon Marwood is beneath modern Barnard Castle, and that the prominent earthworks at Marwood were erroneously assumed to be the medieval village.

The settlement remains are indicated by a regular series of banks and overgrown foundations. In plan they reveal steadings and enclosures. Two roads approach the site, one from the northwest, the other directly from the south. Nettle weed is thick on this side of the site which indicates an area of settlement.

Surface quarrying has destroyed the majority of the building sites and the village is represented in the main by their associated crofts. There are indications of limited extensions to the northwest and southeast, but they form no coherent pattern.

Marwood village is mentioned in the Life of St. Cuthbert, written in 1050AD which indicates Marwood's existence in 990AD and 850AD. At these earlier times it may represent either an estate centre or a village. Following 1050AD the site is referred to only as a deer park. Some of the earthwork remains have reportedly the appearance of sunken featured buildings where the pit has not been backfilled.

Reference number:D6858
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.