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Local Histories - M

Monkseaton

The earliest recorded evidence of human activity at West Monkseaton is a rectilinear enclosure (HER 5102) probably dating from the late Iron Age. Aerial photographs of the site show internal features including partitions and a roundhouse, with an entrance on the north-east side and an old field boundary in the same area. A Roman terracotta lamp has also been reported from Monkseaton (HER 743). The first documentary references to Monkseaton medieval village (HER 741) date from the early 12th century (c.1106-16) when Henry I granted Seton, later to be renamed Monkseaton, to Tynemouth Priory. It was a substantial village in the late 13th century, when Monkseaton Manor (HER 742) was one of 10 manors of Tynemouth Priory, with 15 bondsmen, 10 cotmen and 3 freeholds listed in 1292. Although it suffered severely at the time of the Black Death it recovered, and there were 10 tenants farming there in 1539. It retained its medieval shape and rural character until modern times, appearing on 19th century maps as a very compact settlement with at least five farms in the village together with other substantial 17th and 18th century houses (HER 5858, 5861-2 and 5872-5). Even today, the original street plan largely survives – represented by Front Street, Back Lane, Relton Terrace, Coronation Crescent, Bygate Road, Chapel Lane, Pykerley Road and Percy Terrace - but most buildings were replaced in the 20th century. Remnants of stone walls, however, a cottage of possible medieval origins (HER 587) and a farm in the centre of the south side of the village (HER 5873) survive. Although a largely rural village, coal-mining was practiced on a relatively small-scale for several centuries since at least the Middle Ages when the priors of Tynemouth owned coal pits in the area. A late 16th century mine was drowned out in 1584 (HER 761), but other workings are recorded in the 17th century and continued through into the 19th century (HER 5863-8). Monkseaton Brewery (HER 1151) was in operation between 1803-1930s - in 1938 this was destroyed by fire, but the Monkseaton Arms was rebuilt on the same site.

Monkseaton developed as a residential centre from the late 19thvcentury and from that period boasts two railway stations (HER 1942 and 2156), a Methodist chapel (HER 5870) and several early 20th century Webb gas street lamps (HER 1603, 1605, 1607 and 1610).

Monkwearmouth    

The earliest evidence of human activity at Monkwearmouth are the recorded discoveries of Mesolithic flints and a tranchet axe during excavations at St. Peters Church in the 1960s (HER 49 and 50). A late Roman coin (HER 61) was also found at the church in 1898. The most important archaeological remains surviving at Monkwearmouth are associated with the Anglo-Saxon monastery of St. Peter (HER 87), founded by Benedict Biscop in 674 A.D. Having been abandoned in the mid 9th century after Viking raids, it later became a cell of Durham in 1083 and continued as a priory (HER 421) until 1536. The current church (HER 422) contains some Saxon and medieval remains, but was much rebuilt in the 19th century. Other remains from the Saxon period include many stone fragments associated with the monastery (HER 88-99 and 401-413) and the site of glass working (HER 417). The first documentary references to the village of Monkwearmouth date from 1075 (HER 51), when the vill of Wearmouth was granted to Aldwin at Wearmouth. In 1345 18 tenants held 17 tofts and one cottage there; but by 1539 there were only four named tenants. Known medieval industries included a sawmill and monastic metal works (HER 4477-8), as well as coal mining. The modern colliery (HER 2743), linked to a staith (HER 4760) and wagonways was in operation between 1835-1985, and in the 1830s was the deepest mine in the world. Coal production supported a number of other industries, notably including lime burning (HER 2753 and 3626) - the Wear Lime Works (HER 2679) was linked to its quarry (HER 2675) via a wagonway (HER 2676) and contained a battery of kilns. Other 19th century industrial concerns included brickworks (HER 2794-5), an ironworks (HER 4878), pottery and bottle works (HER 2752, 2792 and 2796), a chemicals plant and shipbuilding yards (HER 2720, 2722, 2733 and 2754). The industrial development of the area led to its increasing urbanisation, and a number of important residences (e.g. HER 4784-8) and churches (e.g. 4458, 4460, 4463, 4466 and 4789) survive from this period. Later sites of cultural heritage importance include Second World War defensive sites and structures (e.g. HER 4664 and 5775-6).