Friday, 2 September 2011

The Deserted Village That Never Was (NZ432417)


Well, sort of, anyway.  The so-called ‘Yoden Village’, still shown on most modern-day maps a little to the north of Peterlee, certainly existed – but it was never known as Yoden, so far as recent historical research has been able to ascertain. 

The origins of this curious little settlement have long been in dispute, with initial, erroneous, assumptions setting its roots in the pre-Conquest era.  Simeon of Durham, writing in the early 1100s, was long thought to be referring to the site with his ‘Ioden’ and ‘Geodene’ place-names, but these are now thought to refer to ‘Eden’ to the south of Peterlee.  Nineteenth century antiquarian, Robert Surtees, seems to have invented (or reinforced) the myth by ascribing the term ‘Yoden’ to the site in the pre-Victorian era.  ‘Yoden’ doesn’t even appear on OS maps until the back end of the nineteenth century – prior to this (and especially prior to Surtees), the place seems to have been unnamed.

Scholars, it seems, were complicating the matter quite unnecessarily.  Current theories identify the ‘deserted medieval village’ in question simply as that of ‘medieval Horden’.  Modern-day Horden lies about a mile to the east, of course, so it makes sense.  Moreover, it lasted for just a century: from around 1335 to 1431, after which quarrying overtook the site (with any earlier, ‘Anglo-Saxon’ village more likely to have been around Horden Hall to the north).  It probably consisted of no more than two rows of eight crofts in total.

For detailed speculation, maps, and the like, see here.




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