Research Day 1 – 7th April 2017

Update from Cat Peters : Desk Based Researcher at Wardell Armstrong LLP

Cat and the research volunteers visited the Durham Record Office on 3rd April.

Attached is a nugget from Day 1 of research: Durham Record Office, Monday 3rd April 2017. It is page 805 of Francis Whellan’s History, Topography and Directory of the County Palatine of Durham, published in 1894.

1894 Whellans history Topography & Directory of Durham

At Durham, one of the research volunteers John and Cat looked at a really lovely map;

‘Plan and Chart No. 4 of the River Wear and the Port and Haven of Sunderland from Offerton Haugh to Clack’s Heugh, surveyed under the direction of John Rennie Esdr. By Francis Giles, 1819′ (DRO D/XP 66). This map is annotated ‘Bridge Stones’, though the stones themselves are not depicted.

Plan and Chart No. 4 of the River Wear and the Port and Haven of Sunderland from Offerton Haugh to Clack’s Heugh, surveyed under the direction of John Rennie Esdr. By Francis Giles, 1819

Also at Durham, we looked at the original of a ‘Survey of the River Wear, as far up as Biddick Ford, and of the Port and Haven if Sunderland of 1822’, where ‘Bridge Stones’ is annotated in the northern part of the river, east of the ferry (DRO D/St/P 8/8 (i)).

Survey of the River Wear, as far up as Biddick Ford, & of the Port and Haven if Sunderland of 1822

However on an 1852 map of the river, ‘Plan for the Improvement of the Navigation of the River Wear, between Wreath Quay and Hylton, as proposed by Thomas Meek, Engineer to the Commissioners of the River Wear, & Reported on by Messrs Stevenson’s Civil Engineers, Edinburgh. October 27th 1852’, neither Briggstones nor Bridge Stones, is annotated (DRO D/St/ P8/10)

Plan for the Improvement of the Navigation of the River Wear, between Wreath Quay and Hylton, as proposed by Thomas Meek, Engineer to the Commissioners of the River Wear, & Reported on by Messrs Stevenson’s Civil Engineers, Edinburgh. October 27th 1852’

We also found some other written references to the Brigg Stones site. The first was a reference to the legal dispute over the Hylton Ferry rope, where the Hilton’s, to defend their case, spoke of “a bridge about one hundred yards below the ferry, of which survived only some remnants of the foundations” (S.J. Miller, 1976, The Trouble with Ferries…, Durham County Local History Society, Bulletin, dated 19th July 1976, pages 22-23). Interestingly, original documents relating to this dispute are held at Tyne and Wear Archives if anyone wants to visit and have a look at original sources (TWAS DX 130). Unfortunately the research group didn’t have time while they were there.

John also found this;

M.J.T. Lewis, 1984, Roman Navigation in Northern England: A Review Article, in Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society, Vol XXVIII, No. 3, paged 118-124,

In many cases Selkirk’s evidence is no more than the suspicious appearance of features seen from the air above. Sometimes his arguments are questionable, as in the instance of Hylton on the Wear, where there was a masonry barrier across the river, certainly Roman, but removed early last century to allow easier passage for hauls. Selkirk inevitably reads it as a navigation weir; the standard view is that it was a causeway or paved ford, after the better known example across the Trent at Littleborough” (pages 119-120)

Raymond Selkirk was an air survey pilot and local archaeologist. Amongst his books his wrote ‘The Piercebridge Formula’ and ‘Chester-Le-Street and its Place in History’. There is more information about him here: http://www.chesterlestreetheritage.org/page45.html