Keys to the Past

Local History

Frosterley (County Durham)

Frosterley is a pretty two-row Weardale village which dates back to the Medieval period, but has even earlier origins.

Mesolithic flints have been found on a number of sites around Frosterley as have stone axes which date from the Neolithic. One interesting find dating from the Bronze Age was discovered in a crevise during quarrying works - a bronze looped spearhead which probably dates from c1000-700bc

On the right hand side of the village next to the car park there is a field enclosed by modern houses which has a large earthwork mound. This is the site of St Botolph's Chapel, now a scheduled ancient monument. Excavations of the site were carried out in advance of the housing development of Kirk Rise in 1995. Among the remains were walls and fragments of painted wall plaster, which indicates that this building was ecclesiastical. Named after a East Anglian Saint from the 7th century, the chapel was probably built during the 10th/11th centuries when there was a revival of St Botolph. An Anglo-Saxon strap end was also discovered which supports this pre-conquest date for the Chapel.

Many pieces of green glaze medieval pottery has been recovered from the back gardens of the houses on the front street. The houses which are there now are probably built over earlier houses as they follow the same pattern of medieval villages and retain their toft like appearance. The Medieval village is first mentioned as Forsterlegh in the Close Rolls of 1239. The Froster section of its name is French and the Legh is Anglo-Saxon and means clearing. The village is therefore named after a clearing in the forest. The origins of the village are probably post- Norman Conquest date. The people who lived in Frosterley probably relied on farming and the Prince Bishops for their livelihood. From the 13th century the Prince Bishops encouraged lead mining as they profited from the mining of ore.

It was not until the Industrial expansion into Weardale that life in these villages would have changed a great deal. But with the mass extraction of lime, lead and iron ores more and more families would have relied upon the big lead companies. Lime Kilns can still be seen near Rogerley and Bishopley quarries.

With the mines and kilns came a need for transport. The railway was built and the remains run south of the village. The fine railway station and station masters buildings were built during the mid 19th century.

Reference number:D6860

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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.