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Local Histories - D


Evidence of human activity found at Denton for the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods include a perforated stone axe hammer found c.1822 near East Denton Hall and an arrowhead from a garden in West Denton (HER 1249 and 1250). Finds and structures from later periods include a number of bronze age cists containing inhumation and cremation burials, along with food vessels (HER 1243-8). There are abundant archaeological finds and remains associated with the Roman Wall (HER 209-212), including a turret discovered in 1928 at Denton Hall and a milecastle in West Denton. A large number of Roman building stones have also been found there (HER 1256-67), as well as an altar discovered near Denton Hall and a Romano-Celtic stone heads discovered in 1969 in a garden at West Denton, 100 metres from Hadrian’s Wall (HER 1268 and 1292). The first documentary reference to the village of Denton is its listing as a member of the barony of Whalton in 1166, when it consisted of 9 bondage holdings, 2 freeholdings and 3 cottages. Subsequently, there were three taxpayers in 1296, and six in 1312. The manors of Denton and Redewood (which may have been the early name for East Denton) were granted to Tynemouth Priory in 1381, and remained in priory ownership until the Dissolution. At some point in the medieval period, Denton was split into East and West Denton (HER 1303 and 1305), each with its own main residence, or hall (HER 1304 and 5761) - the 17th century Denton Hall (HER 1304) is all that remains of the original manor or village of East Denton. A chapel (HER 1299) was operational in East Denton at least as early as 1194 until around 1548. It is thought to have been located south-west of Denton Hall where discoveries were made in the 19th century of a font, building stones and coffins. During the 19th century Denton became important for coal mining and quarrying, along with its related transport infrastructure which included the Newcastle to Carlisle toll road (HER 3945) next to the line of Hadrian’s Wall. East Denton was home to the Montague Colliery, Caroline pit (HER 4289). During the industrial period in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Denton grew as a residential area serving the coal-mines and heavy industries close to the river Tyne.      

Dinnington (including Mason)   

The earliest recorded evidence for early human activity at Dinnington is the recorded discovery of a bronze age gold earring (HER 779) in the village in 1861. A late prehistoric rectilinear enclosure (HER 1322) is known from aerial photographic evidence at nearby Gardener’s Houses on the edge of Prestwick Carr (HER 1325), a marshland area drained in the 19th century where a hoard of Roman bronze vessels was found. A quern of late prehistoric or Roman date was found at South Brenkley Farm in 1963.

The medieval village of Dinnington (HER 1337) was established by the mid 13th century when it was a member of the barony of Mitford, and held (in 1242) by the heirs of Henry de Ferlington. There were six taxpayers there in 1296, and ten in 1312. A rental of 1303 showed that 11 men each held a house with 1.5 acres arable land, and that there were in addition two other tenants. In the mid 15th century the manor was sold to the Heselrigg family, and remained with them until sold to Matthew Bell in 1763. In the 18th century the village consisted of two rows of dwellings, set far apart, on either side of a green, with the east end of the green by this time largely closed off and partly covered by buildings. Although no medieval documentary evidence exists, the remains of what is thought to be a chapel, including pieces of masonry along with some human remains, were discovered in Back Yards Field (HER 1335). Modern Dinnington includes the lost medieval settlement of Mason (HER 1333 and 1334), first mentioned, as "Merdesfen", in 1190 when a toft there was granted by Sir Roger Bertram to St. Batholomew's Nunnery. There were 8 taxpayers at Mason in 1296, and 10 in 1312. In 1331 there were 7 occupied tenements, but by 1335 the 24 tofts listed there were probably abandoned and it seems that the village did not survive the Middle Ages, its site being marked by North Farm (surviving) and South Farm (gone) at the north-east end of Dinnington. Brenkley was another site of medieval settlement in the area - Brenkley mill (HER 1334) is first mentioned in the early 13th century. .Surviving farms in the area, some of which may have medieval origins, include Gardener’s Houses Farm and Now Horton Grange Farm (HER 5084). During the 18th to 20th centuries, Dinnington was associated with coal mining which grew alongside the traditional farming economy and other activities, such a quarrying. The remains of early mining survive in the form of bell pits, but the original Dinnington Colliery was open by 1715. A later colliery of the same name, connected to the Dinnington Wagonway (HER 4243 and 1087), was opened by the Seaton Burn Coal Company in 1867 and remained in use until 1960. Brickworks were in use within the colliery from 1908, but closed in the 1960s. The colliery village was designed to the standards of a model village, but by 1873 only some houses had ashpits and privies. A number of terraces of the original village survive. The most recent colliery in Dinnington was the Havannah Colliery, which operated between the 1950s and 1970s before it was forced to close due to low coal reserves and operational problems. It was served by the Havannah Colliery Railway, a mineral railway from the Havannah Drift (HER 4354) to the site of Hazelrigg Colliery and the junction with the old Fawdon wagonway. Brenkley Colliery was another important mine of the later industrial period. Modern sites of importance to the local cultural heritage include a Second World War searchlight site (HER 5561).


The earliest recorded evidence of human activity at Dunston is a Roman brooch mould (HER 1504) found in 1973. There is no recorded evidence from earlier or indeed medieval periods, although this may well be due to the lack of fieldwork in this area, as well as because of industrialisation and urbanisation in the modern period. Dunston was a small farming settlement where small-scale coal working had been carried out for centuries until its location close to the river led to the development of large-scale coal mining there in the 17th century. At Dunston Hill are the remains of an Elizabethan colliery, now a Scheduled monument of recognised national importance (HER 1666). The well preserved remains of the wagonway cuttings and embankments are amongst the finest examples of pre-1720 railway engineering in the country. Later, mining in Dunston centred on the Team and Norwood Collieries (HER 3732 and 3734), and Dunston Colliery (HER 6166). During the 19th and 20th centuries Dunston became a largely industrial area including colour and chemical works (HER 3476), patent nail works (HER 3477), firebrick works (HER 3475-8), engine works (HER 6162), Crowley’s ironworks (HER 5988) and sawmills (HER 6163). Dunston Staiths (HER 1001), completed in 1893, was one of the river Tyne’s major staithes for the transhipment of coal and other goods – it is now recognised as a structure of national importance and protected as a Scheduled Monument. As a result of its industrial development it also grew as a residential area (HER 1635), incorporating a variety of public buildings and amenities, including churches and chapels (HER 6168, 6167), schools (HER 6169) and a transport infrastructure (HER 3447). Later important industrial activities at Dunston included the Norwood Cokeworks, Soap works and a Power Station (HER 1625) which operated between 1931 and 1981. The cokeworks (HER 5136) were built in 1912, and upon completion were producing 225,000 tons of coke per year. They finally closed in 1980 and in 1990 the site was used as part of the Gateshead Garden Festival. The soap works on Colliery Road were built between 1911-1914 and increased in scale by a second phase of building in the 1970s. These buildings are the last, early reinforced concrete buildings to survive along the River Tyne; they were also the first major manufacturing premises of the Co-operative Wholesale Society outside the Manchester area. Modern sites of importance to the local cultural heritage include World War Two pill boxes (HER 1832 and 5347) and a road block site (HER 5808).