Friday, 1 June 2012

Sadberge’s Long History (NZ340168)

The village of Sadberge, a little to the east of Darlington, has one of those ancient-sounding place-names that you just know has a long and interesting history. And it has, though a good deal of it has always lain tantalisingly out of the reach of a succession of local historians.

What is known for sure is that a Roman road, Rykenield Way or Street, ran directly through the place, north-south, and that because of the settlement’s elevation, they probably maintained a signal station of sorts on the spot. Perhaps they even built a camp or a fort there, but no one has been able to find definitive evidence. Rumours persist of a later ‘Saxon castle’ in the vicinity of St.Andrew’s Church – perhaps a stronghold of the Dark Age Kingdom of Deira.

Next it was the Vikings. And it was they who gave the village its name – Sadberge deriving from ‘Set-berg’, meaning ‘flat-topped hill’. It became, in fact, the focus of their local wapentake (administrative centre), covering large tracts of land to the North of the Tees. Its status stuck for centuries thereafter, and became known as the ‘Earldom of Sadberge’.

It was so special, in fact, that it was not initially taken into the domain of the Prince Bishops of Durham in the early days of Norman rule – but was eventually added in 1189. It remained ‘special’, however, and continued to be administered almost as a separate county until deep into the 16th century.

Today is the blog's 2nd anniversary! 
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