Keys to the Past

Local History

Hepscott (Northumberland)

The civil parish of Hepscott is located south-east of the town of Morpeth. People have lived here for thousands of years. Flint tools have been found at Hepscott, showing that prehistoric farmers were living in the area as long as 6000 years ago. In the later prehistoric period, people used flint to make tools such as blades, points and scrapers. These tools were used in weapons such as spears, and arrows. They were also used to make tools for working wood and leather, and for preparing food.

Throughout history, enclosures have been built to stop animals from wandering. Many enclosures can be seen on aerial photographs of Hepscott. A typical example is the square enclosure at High Holding Wood. Although archaeologists can tell that an enclosure was created at some time in the past, it isn't possible to date enclosures from their appearance alone.

After the Norman invasion of 1066, the land was divided between various lords and barons. Hepscott Manor came into existence soon after this, although the medieval village of Hepscott is now a deserted medieval village. Shadfen is another settlement founded in the medieval period. It consisted of two farms in 1603 and was probably never a proper village.

Like many other areas in Northumberland, Hepscott suffered from border raiding from the 12th through to the 16th century. This affected the type of buildings people lived in. In the 16th century, defensive farmhouses were built, offering accommodation for animals on the ground floor, and people upstairs. Earlier in medieval times towers, sometimes known as pele towers, were constructed as a form of defence by those wealthy enough to afford it. The first building at Hepscott Hall may have been a fortified tower house, although the present building is not defensive.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, after the open moorland had been enclosed, landowners built fashionable houses such as Hepscott Hall. Hepscott Hall was surrounded by parkland creating an artificial and tamed countryside. Outbuildings were often enhanced with features, such as the dovecote, which were decorative as well as useful.

The land around Hepscott was exploited for coal and building materials in the post-medieval period. The Ordnance Survey map of 1865 shows a colliery, a tileworks, a brickfield, a gravel pit and a sand pit in the parish at this time. In 1829, a waggonway was built from Netherton to Morpeth, passing through Hepscott. This allowed coal to be transported to the river at Morpeth, where it was transferred to boats.

Reference number:N13385

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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.