Keys to the Past


Starting with S - 107 Glossary entries found.

In this section of the website you can find out more about specialist and technical terms archaeologists sometimes use. There is also lots more information about famous people and historic events in the north-east.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z 1-9

Saddle quern

A simple form of quern; a rubbing stone is used to grind corn against a larger saddle-shaped stone.

Saint Cuthbert

See Cuthbert.

Saint Godric

See Godric.

Saint Wilfrid

See Wilfrid.

Salt pan

A large in area, but shallow, trough of metal into which salty waters is poured. In this region this has usually been seawater - though inland brines have been used elsewhere, (Saltwich, Cheshire). Placed over a fire the water is evaporated to leave salt crystals for culinary or chemical use. Salt-making has been carried since the Bronze Age. There were many saltpans in the Medieval period - often being granted to monasteries. The Cistercian Newminister was granted some near Warkworth, Northumberland. Sleaching mounds of the insoluble fractions can be found along portions of the coast - of reddened, hardened material. Pottery was also used for this process - this pottery is called briquetage. Some has been found at the Iron Age/Romano-British excavated at Pegswood, near Morpeth Northumberland.

Samian; Samian Ware

A highly decorated type of Roman red pottery, usually coming from somewhere in Gaul (Roman France). The original Samian came from the island called Samos in the Mediterranean. The decorative elements, impressed and moulded forms, often showing legends frequently changed with fashion. Comparisons of the various decorations and shapes of the vessels can usually produce an accurate date of the layer that they were deposited in.

Sanctuary cross

A cross used to mark the area in which a criminal might seek sanctuary (special protection from the church).

Sawmill; Saw-mill

A place where wood was brought after felling and seasoning to be roughly shaped, before beingh used elsewhere. These might be water-powered. The cotton mill at Netherwitton, (Northumberland), became a sawmill for most of it's working life.


See Anglo-Saxon


A protective covering for a metal blade. The main part of the scabbard may often be made of natural materials, such as leather or wood, but the tip and edges may be of metal so as to stop any accidental splitting. These may be ornamented and have decorations on. They usually date to the Medieval period - but earlier examples from the prehistoric Bronze Age and Iron Ages are known.


An artificially steep slope, often as part of defences.


A type of Anglo-Saxon coin mainly used in southern England. These were used in the 7th and 8th centuries. The name comes from the Old English meaning 'money'. (Compare with styca)

Scheduled Ancient Monuments; Scheduled Monument

An archaeological monument that is included in the Schedule required to be maintained by the Secretary of State under Section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Such monuments are protected by law.


A building appropriated by a school for the purpose of teaching pupils.

Scooped enclosure

An enclosure located on sloping ground that has been cut, or scooped, into the hillside.

Scooped settlement

An enclosed settlement located on sloping ground that has been cut, or scooped, into the hillside. Inside the settlement there may be further scoops for house platforms or yards. They are generally ascribed a later prehistoric date, e.g. Hetha Burn 1, Hethpool, Northumberland, though such sites may have been re-used in the later Medieval period for shielings. Pottery of 60s AD date was recovered from Hetha Burn 1 in excavations. These are especially common in the northern Cheviots.

Scottish clearances

sometimes called 'The High Highland Clearances'
A period mainly following the 1745 rebellion. Scottish landowners found their Highland estates unprofitable in the climate of the Agricultural Revolution. The grounds were developed for their leisure aspects of grouse-shooting (from butts) and deer-stalking, based from country houses. Extensive sheep grazing was also developed in contrast to the mixed lifestyle of the crofts. People and their animals were forcibly evicted to Ireland, Canada or America.


A flint or stone tool with a curved working edge. They were probably used on wood or animal hides.


These are simple flint tools believed to have been used for scraping animal hides clean.

Screen wall

A stone or brick wall either in, or enclosing, a garden.


A metal object carried by some one of Medieval power to seal documents. A letter or charter was written by or for a lord. Wax was heated up till it melted. The document had some wax poured on to it, and while still hot a seal was used to create an impression on the wax. This could be used in conjunction with, or alone from, a signature. An individual's seal could not be replicated and so was a mark of authenticity. The term seal can refer to the piece of metal or the wax used. Seals would have included a coat of arms or a depiction of the lord. They are sometimes still used with important documents on behalf of large groups.


These are bands of coal that run between other rocks underground. The miners often gave the different seams names such as Scremerston Main Seam or Cooper Eye Seam.


A place where Roman Catholics train to become priests. There were not allowed when Roman Catholics were persecuted following the Reformation in Britain. In these times English Roman Catholics were served by priests from, or who secretly trained, abroad. They have only been allowed recently to be built. They often imitate Medieval styles of building - often with stained glass by William Wailes. An example is Ushaw College, County Durham.


A silver Roman coin.

Seward, H.H.

An architect employed by Greenwich Hospital who designed the churches and vicarages formed by the breaking up of the huge Simonburn (Northumberland) parish.


Coal shafts were vertical openings, through which coal mines were entered. They were often lined with wood, stone or brick. Many survive as open holes or as an overgrown earthwork. The earliest examples belong to the medieval period, but most were dug in the 18th and 19th centuries
A vertical hole sunk into the ground for mining purposes. The shaft would create access underground and encourage the flow of oxygen

Shaft furnace

See furnace.

Shaft mound; Shaft-mound

This may be the place a shaft was started. It may appear as a mound because it became a spoil heap in the absence of any waggonway to remove the unwanted material.


An ornamental metalworking technique which produces a decorative black layer.


Loose, easily fragmented stones that contain ironstone or cover coal seams especially. These may contain hydrocarbons (CH-compounds) as oils, very occasionally used as fuels or jewellery pieces.

Shaw, Norman

A leading British architect of his day. He was employed to build a new house at Cragside for Lord Armstrong, but also added to other northeast buildings.

Sheep dip

An enclosure, or lined pit, which forces sheep through a watercourse. This will wash the sheep's wool for market, removes parasites and can be used to administer medication to whole flocks. Medieval examples are earthwork enclosures.

Sheep shelter

General term for a pound specific to sheep - see also sheepfold or stell.

Sheep stell

A round sheep pen made of stone.

Sheepfold; Sheep fold

A pen or enclosure used for containing sheep.


See sheep dip.

Shell Keep

A shell keep was a stone walled enclosure built around the top of a motte. A shell keep is relatively small, probably between 15m and 25m diameter, usually circular with few buildings, and perhaps one tower only, within its interior. Shell keeps could be defended habitations, or military strongholds built for offensive operations, and are found in urban and rural areas. They were apparently built on existing mottes or ringworks, being effectively a replacement in masonry of the earlier timber structures, and many developed into major stone castles of various types. Shell keeps were built from a few years after the Conquest to the mid 13th century.


Fragments of ceramics, (pottery vessels, bricks and tile), which are usually damaged and/or incomplete. Commonly found in fieldwalking.

Shield boss

The central portion, usually metal, of a shield. This allows room for an internal handle. There are various forms of shield boss - there are a series of classifications based upon the shapes, especially for the Anglo-Saxon period.


sometimes called a shiel
Shielings are temporary summer settlements used in the Medieval period especially by shepherds grazing their flocks on upland pastures, as part of transhumance. They are usually roughly rectangular buildings with two portions built in stone. The name shieling occurs in various place-names, such as Shiel-on-theWall, Northumberland. Many are known - though undated and unnamed in Northumberland. These may be arranged in groups as near Wholehope, Upper Coquetdale. They are called hafods in Northern Wales.

Shooting box

A wooden hut used much the same way as butts, but could be used in lowland areas, such as lakes and salt-marshes for the hunting of wildfowl.

Shooting butts; Shooting stands

See butts.


A small Roman/Romano-British site with limited construction work for religious purposes, often open to the air. This was purposeful so as to keep as it natural as possible. Shrines might include carvings on the natural rock available, for example that at Yardhope and Rob o'Risingham, West Woodburn (both Northumberland), or some walling for benches and as revetments, e.g. that at Scargill Moor shrines, (County Durham),or containing the sacred area, such as a spring at Conventina's Well, Carrawburgh, (Northumberland). Altars might be brought to the shrine, as at Scargill. It may be at a distance to another site of the same period.
Generally a sacred place to which Medieval pilgrims journeyed to see the displayed relics of a saint, e.g. at Durham Cathedral people went to see the relics of Saint Cuthbert. People might leave offerings at such a place.

Shrunken medieval village

See deserted medieval village.

Shrunken village

See deserted medieval village.

Signal box

A building on a railway system housing levers used to regulate trains on the tracks using signals and to change the points to enable a train to transfer from one track to another.

Signal station

sometimes called a 'Y-station'
A place used to watch for, or intercept, signals of an enemy attack. This could be Roman or Medieval tower from which a view could be obtained and a signal sent, by a beacon, flags or telephone. Alternatively, it could also be where radio signals were intercepted, (covertly received), during World War I so as to plot the movements of ships, aircraft and airships by taking a bearing, (using another station's bearing), and using triangulation. Such a 'Y-station' was based at Cullercoats seafront, (Tyne and Wear). In both cases defences could be readied and the alarm raised.

Simeon of Durham

See Symeon of Durham.

Sir Edwin Lutyens

See Lutyens, Sir Edward.

Sir Giles Gilbert Scott

1880-1960. A noted mid 20th century architect. As well as designing many buildings, such as the Millbank Power Station in London, he is perhaps best known for designing the famous red telephone box.

Sir Jeffrey Wyatville

See Wyatville, Sir Jeffrey.

Sir John Soane

See Soane, John.

Sir John Vanbrugh

See Vanbrugh, John.

Sites and Monument Record

This is a record of all the known archaeological sites, finds, earthworks and so on. Each county has one, usually located in the Planning Department and maintained by the county archaeologist.

Slag; Slag heaps

The unwanted remains from heating event carried out in a furnace. This may contain remains of the ore, fuel, and materials intended to be created, and so be specific to a purpose - e.g. ironstone smelting or glass production, and to a specific method of production, such as bloomery or blast furnace production of iron.

The specific nature of the activity carried out can be based on the shape of (see tap slag), quantity of, chemical analysis of and distribution of the slag. Sometimes slag will be the most visible sign of that process on the surface - large slag heaps sometimes have a different vegetation cover to that of the surrounding area, but the amount present can vary widely. Sometimes Medieval slag was robbed to be smelted down by improved Post-Medieval technologies, such as blast furnaces, or for road-metalling and as an addition to fields.


A type of stone, usually from Wales or the Cumbrian Lake district, which can be split into thin, waterproof light pieces that shaped, can be used for roofing.


Planks to which rails, of railways or waggonways, can be attached so as to stop movement when a load passes over. Often used as fence-posts near disused railway lines.

Slit vent

A small, narrow opening in the wall of a building for ventilation - but not wide enough to allow farmyard pests. Examples are beneath the hypocaust floors of Roman granaries at Corbridge Roman English Heritage Site, Northumberland, and many Post-Medieval straw barns.

Slopstone and spout

A stone and water supply used for the washing of clothes. The spout may be a pump or well from which water needs to be drawn - or it could be that it is a continuous flow, such as a pant.


A mechanism for regulating water-flow from a gathering pond to a waterwheel, via a millrace or leat.

Smeaton, John

Born near Leeds, (Yorkshire), Smeaton is regarded as the first civil engineer. Naturally skilled in engineering as a child, he abandoned his father's legal profession whilst in London. He was elected to The Royal Society in 1753AD, for whom he wrote articles in their Transactions on compasses, air pumps, pulley combinations, and won that society's gold medal for experimental work contrasting wind- and water-milling. He travelled widely for study and in his work - but lived most of his life at Austhorpe.
His projects included the famous Eddystone Lighthouse (south of Plymouth), 1756-1759AD, dams, bridge-building at Banff and Perth, (Scotland), 1779AD and 1771AD, Ramsgate harbour works, and the Forth-Clyde canal, 1768-1790AD. He also served as Receiver to the Greenwich Hospital northern estates. A club which Smeaton founded in 1771 AD in London later became the Institution of Civil Engineers. Many of Smeaton's instructions for his projects have been published.

Smeaton's work in the north of England included bridges at Cornhill (1763-1766AD) and Hexham (1781-1782AD) Northumberland, a pair of Newcastle windmills - one of which survives on Claremont Road of 1782AD, a dam at Acklington Park,Northumberland (1776AD) and probably another at Winlaton, Tyne and Wear. The work at Hexham was a failure caused by floods undermining the abutment and Smeaton never built a bridge again. His work at Acklington Park was revolutionary; the dam used waterproof concrete - the first since the Roman period, and in it's curved form to disperse the water pressure to the abutments. An encyclopaedia published after Smeaton's death refers to the Acklington mill dam as the best example for readers to study - though by this time the mill had changed use, though was still reliant upon the dammed water supply.

Smeaton, John

Born 1724, died 1792. Smeaton was a structural engineer and is generally regarded as the founder of civil engineering in Britain. He is attributed as the first person to have used concrete since the Romans and his most famous building is the Eddystone Lighthouse. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

Smelt mill

A site where smelting is carried out.


A person who carries out smelting.

Smelting; Smelted

Smelting is a way of getting metals from the rocks in which they exist in their natural form. These rocks are often known as ores. These ores are heated to a high temperature in an oven or a kiln, so that the metal in them melts and flows out of them. This molten metal is then collected from the base of the oven.

Smithing; Smithy

See Blacksmith.

Soane, John

Soane was born in 1753, the son of a bricklayer, and died after a long and distinguished career, in 1837. He was a noted architect. In 1788 Soane became Surveyor to the Bank of England. His contacts from this job, as well as the money he inherited on his father-in-law's death helped him build a successful practice.In 1806 he became Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy.

Society of Friends

See the Quakers.

Socket stone; Socketed stone

See cross base.

Socketed axe

Axe where the wooden handle (the haft) joins the axe head in a socket and so is enclosed. (Compare with a palstave. These date to the Bronze Age and are usually Bronze - but occasionally of Iron (Fe). The wood maybe sometimes preserved by corrosion of the metal.

Sod cast; Sod-cast; Sod cast bank; Sod cast dyke

Construction of blocks of earth, (called sods). This might provide the base for hedging, walling or a line of trees. Such field boundaries are wider than walls, fences or hedges to minimise slippage. They commonly date to the earlier part of the Agricultural Revolution.


An area of soil different in colour for some archaeological reason. It might be large enough to be observed in aerial photography. It might have a large proportion of slag, charcoal and so on.

Solar; Solar tower

Literally sun-room, an upper room in a medieval hall typically reserved for the private use of the family. They would usually stand at one end of an open hall, though in some cases they would be in a separate building or tower.


An underground, or partially buried, curved like a banana chamber mostly made of stone. These are of unknown function, ; suggestions have been made that include ritual, (as some contain prehistoric and Roman carved stones), refuges from danger and as granaries. They are commonly found in Scotland - though a possible example was found at Milfieldhill, (Northumberland), in 1828AD as part of the Agricultural Revolution in that area. However, this was not recognised as such by early antiquarians. They were dug into sloping ground; sometimes earlier hillfort defences. They, in Scotland, date from the late Iron Age to possibly the early Medieval period. There are possible parallels in the southwest of England - though here they are called fogous.

Sow kilns

a primitive method of producing lime for agricultural purposes.

Spindle whorl

A smaller circular stone or piece of pottery with a central hole for a spindle. It was around the spindle shaft that wool could be wrapped around after the process of carding, (see carding mill.


The pointed top of stone, slate or lead from a church tower. Medieval spires are rare - though there are two in Northumberland at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and Warkworth. A lead spire survives at Ryton (Tyne and Wear) - but many of these spires were melted down in the English Civil War for money.

Spoilheap; Spoil heaps

Heap of unwanted material (spoil) encountered during the search for and extraction of material sought for of value. The shape of the heaps can shed light on how the spoil was dispersed - whether by hand, from a waggonway or a central-feeding conveyor belt.


The source of a watercourse, often the site of veneration as a shrine or holy well.
A coil of metal designed to repel an action.


Pieces of metal worn by a horse rider, who presses these into the sides of the horse, so as to encourage/guide it.

St Cuthbert

See Cuthbert.

St Wilfrid

See Wilfrid.


Block of specialised accommodation for horses, ponies and donkeys. This may be a building of a country house or planned farm, but might be an underground portion of a colliery or mine. It will have space for the equipment associated with them. The workers who tend the horses might also have accommodation attached to the block.

Stack stand; Stackstand; Stack-stand

A sub-circular or sub-square raised platform on which winter fodder was stored to dry. These are common in the uplands and upland fringe. They were sometimes mistaken by antiquarians as barrows or building remains and given false names.

Stained glass

Essentially coloured glass. Glass will have a 'natural' colour of pale green Colours can be added to the glass to the glass mixture by controlling either separately, or together, the furnace conditions and metal-based compounds, and the amount of those additions. These will stain the glass a colour, or can remove colour and/or the clearness of a glass. The addition of the same ingredients can produce different colours in different furnace atmosphere conditions.
Some Medieval stained glass survives, as at Bothal and Blanchland. The individual coloured pieces could be held together by H-shaped Lead (Pb) pieces called cames to create religious scenes of The Bible. William Wailes was a noted stained glass maker of Tyneside. Another style of Medieval glass called grisaille.


Similar to a quay - though usually with provisions for railway or waggonway to assist with the loading or unloading of coal.

Standing stone

A single, isolated stone, which has been set upright in the ground.


A steading is a small farming settlement, usually in an upland area.


A circular stone-walled structure for sheep in the uplands. The derivation of the word is from Old Norse.

Stephenson, George

1781-1848. The son of a colliery fireman George Stephenson was born in Wylam. He worked with steam engines in the colliery and by regularly taking them apart soon became in charge of making the engines for the mine. He built his first steam engine in 1813. By 1820 he had built another fifteen. His employers were so pleased they gave him the job of building a railway from Hetton to Sunderland. In 1821 he became chief engineer on the Stockton and Darlington railway during which he developed a way of making cast iron rails. In 1823, along with his son Robert, Edward Pease and Michael Longridge he formed The Robert Stephenson & Company, at Forth Street, Newcastle, the worlds first manufacturer of steam engines. In 1829 their engine The Rocket won a competition to provide engines for the Liverpool to Mancheser railway. He died in 1848. His son George Stephenson also became a railway engineer.

Stephenson, Robert

1803- 1859 Only son of Stephenson, George. He was an engineer like his father. He helped his father survey the Stockton and Darlington railway. In 1819 he again joined his father, this time in forming the first company to build steam locomotives. In 1833 he became the chief engineer on the London and Birmingham line and was involved in building tunnels and cuttings, as well as being involved with the steam engines themselves. He was later responsible for several major bridges including those that crossed the Tyne at Newcastle and the Lesbury viaduct over the River Aln.

Stick mill

A mill used for the manufacture of walking sticks.


A still was where whisky was made. There is not a great tradition of whisky making in the north-east, but in the 18th century when taxes on it were high it was made illegally. The sites of a number of possible whisky stills are known in the Cheviots and the North Pennines.

Stob mill

Stob-mill is a windmill pivotted on a single post.


Stocks are small wooden structures which were used to punish people for small crimes. They have a wooden bench and a set of wooden planks with holes in, which were used to hold people's legs or arms. They were usually set up in public places, and the criminal would often have rotten fruit or vegetable thrown at them. Their use was abolished in 1837.

Stockton and Darlington Railway

This is best known as the first public railway. However, its history is more detailed than that alone. Interest in linking the two towns had been made in 1818AD. A meeting led by Quaker Edward Pease, though favouring a canal, commissioned a survey by George Overton to make a feasibility study to examine the options. The interests to be served were to be local and industrial - principally at this stage coal. Overton reported favouring a railway's construction for the cost of £124, 000 including branches for Yarm, Croft and Piercebridge.
A company was set up and the capital raised by the sale of £100 shares after the board was won over by Overton for a railway. The land built on was actually purchased in contrast to the waggonways. Parliamentary approval was sought and gained, after initial delays, after further capital was provided as The Stockton and Darlington Railway Act. Still with eyes on industrial usage tolls were to be charge for Iron, Coal, Lead, wood and other merchandise dependent on the finished/unfinished nature of the material. At this stage horses were expected to be used.

George Stephenson was invited to develop the line. Stephenson re-surveyed the proposed route in October 1821AD, reducing it by three miles and providing easier gradients. Winding engines were to be employed at Etherley and Brusselton. A further Act of Parliament was sought and gained. Construction began in May 1822AD using iron rails from Bedlington ironworks, Northumberland, between Witton Park and Stockton. It was finished by 27th September 1825AD when a trial run was made using 12 coal wagons and one of flour, at an average speed of 10-12 miles per hour.

The 'railway' included inclines, horse-drawn traffic as waggonway and sections where railway trains/locomotives were employed. There was concentration on commercial activities before railway engine drawn passenger traffic for which the line is best known. The line was mainly commercial in its activities carrying limestone, coal, ganister, Iron to and from its extensions from the 1830s onwards. These extensions were in the Wear Valley area, Shildon area, to Barnard Castle, the Middlesbrough docks and staithes and Saltburn-by-the-Sea, (Cleveland). As often happened the company joined with others and reached the Lake District via Barnard Castle as the Stockton and Darlington, and South Durham and Lancashire Union.

Stone axe

A piece of stone shaped into the form of an axe. This may have been held at the end by a piece of wood, or from a hole in the stone. The nature of the stone was of particular importance - and may have been imported to the region from some distance. For example, basalt volcanic rock could be used, or as flint. Classifications have been developed using the rock type, as well as the dimensions of the axe itself.

Some of the Neolithic and Bronze Age axes were produced at 'factory-like' sites in The Lake District, Cumbria, and imported to the northeast. The most common rock types used have been numbered, e.g. that for the Langdale (Lake District) axes is Group VI. Some axes may have been produced locally - volcanic whin is the Group XVIII, and Cheviot andesite been used. Sometimes stone axes were of special colours, such as jade greens, or miniature size for possible ritual use. (Such a miniature axe was found at Newstead Bog, Northumberland).

Post-Medieval superstition sometimes used prehistoric stone axes as 'witch hammers' - protecting the inhabitants of a building (whether human or animal) from spells. Such an example is recorded for a Cotherstone barn, (County Durham).

Stone circle

A number of freestanding stones arranged in a circle or oval.

Stone cross

A piece, or pieces, of stone carved in the Medieval periods as a depiction of the crucifixion of Jesus. Usually the stones are a rough square or rectangle - though there were occasional circular examples. These might be elaborately carved - in the Anglo-Saxon interlace designs of birds and animals were common with the biblical symbolism. Examples included the Bewcastle (Cumbria), Nunnykirk (in the Museum of Antiquities, Newcastle) and Rothbury crosses. That for Rothbury has been used as a font base. The cross at Kelloe, (County Durham), is of a later period and shows scenes from The Bible. Wheel crosses are a form where the cross arms are joined together by the same piece of stone. It was common in the Post-Medieval period to imitate the earlier forms of Medieval cross.

Stop line

A stop line was a defensive line created during World War II. It was meant to delay possible invading German forces long enough for further British troops to be brought up to fight the attackers.

Strap end

A strap end is a small metal fitting which is attached to the end of leather or cloth straps or belts to stop the ends fraying. They were often decorated. Strap ends were particularly common in the later Anglo-Saxon and medieval period.

Stratified; Unstratified

Words used by archaeologists to describe whether an object was found within the layers or features it was originally laid down in, (or has been disturbed and moved around). Where objects that change decoration or form over time, such as coins or Samian ware, are stratified they can help to tell archaeologists the date or function of the layers and features being excavated. Where disturbance, such as ploughing, has taken place an object will be un-stratified and whilst interesting for its own sake it contributes little to the dating, or understanding, of an archaeological site.

Strong house

A term used to describe a group of defensive buildings built at the end of the 16th century. They have substantial thick walls, with living accommodation above a basement. Strong houses can stand three or four storeys high but are different from a tower in that they are usually elongated in plan. They are also different from bastles.


An Anglo-Saxon base metal coin of Lead (Pb), Copper (Cu) and Silver (Ag) of the 7th to 9th centuries AD. This was used in Northumbria in preference to sceatta coins.These were not pure Gold (Au) or Silver - but may have been plated to give the appearance of those metals. The Bamburgh hoard, Northumberland was made of 235 Stycas. The name means a 'piece' (of money).


Means of telling time by a shadow meeting a point on a measured scale. Anglo-Saxon examples are at Escomb and Pittington, County Durham, on the church walls. Often found in Post-Medieval gardens will contain these. They tend to be inscribed with details of the person who set the sundial up. It does not necessarily be a measurement of hours - Anglo-Saxon examples sometimes were organised for the tides.

Suspension bridge

Bridge where the roadway is suspended from metal cables attached to the banks through anchoring towers. There are suspension bridges at Horncliffe (over the Tweed), by Captain Samuel Brown R.N. and Whorlton, (see Benjamin Green), over the Tees.
Suspension Bridge

Symeon of Durham

Symeon was a further monastic historian like Bede. Symeon's life outside of the church is almost completely unknown. The style of his handwriting suggests he was born, and came to Durham, from northern France. As such he may have come to the notice of the William of St. Calais who, as Bishop of Durham, was exiled there (1088-1091AD) for treason. It is thought he came with William's restoration in the 1090s AD. Symeon is recorded as being present at the final moving of Cuthbert's bones in 1104AD, as supervisor of the scribes from 1115-1129AD and cantor (in charge of the singing) of Durham Cathedral in 1126AD. He died in 1129AD.

Symeon is best known for his History of the Church of Durham. This was written between 1104 and 115AD, most probably between 1104 and 1107/9AD. The work was written at the request of Symeon's superior - possibly the prior Turgot. As such, though giving much historical, this comments on (and justifies) many of the later events political and religious alike. The history also used an elaborate dating system of anniversaries for certain dates of particular importance - such as the founding of Lindisfarne in Northumberland, the ancestor of Symeon's Durham Cathedral. The history may have been used by Turgot to give allusions to the then un-popular Bishop Rannulf Flambard of Durham.

Symeon wrote or supervised other historical or biographical works. These included the gathered information called The history of the Kings and obits (commemorative biographies) for Flambard and Nigel d'Aubigny. Symeon was not alone in writing such biographies and histories in the 11th and 12th centuries AD, as Bede had been in the 7th and 8th. Symeon was asked to contribute to the York Minister 'school' of biographies being written about their archbishops. Ailred of Rievaulx, (see Cistercians), wrote of the abbots of Hexham following Saint Wilfrid. Symeon also wrote on political matters; he wrote of Durham's claims to the Carlisle (Cumbria) area - based on events in Cuthbert's life whose bones Durham held as relics, and an account of Bishop William's treason trial, (though much later).

The writings of Symeon were echoed elsewhere by other monastic houses - not just in the north of England, but elsewhere in William of Malmesbury and John of Worcester (in the southwest), as a way of self-defence against political change. Durham Cathedral at this time was more on the edge, (physically, politically and spiritually), than before and other places.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Z 1-9