Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Great Stainton’s ‘Paved Road’ (NZ337220)

The village of Great Stainton is so named, one assumes, to distinguish it from lesser known – and smaller – places of the same name scattered around and about the Co.Durham settlement. There’s Little Stainton, Stainton Grange and Stainton Hill House – to name the few I can find on a modern-day map. It is also probably the ‘original’ Stainton, situated, as it is, directly upon the course of an old Roman road – the Great being added in the 17th century.

The thoroughfare (which no doubt pre-dates the Roman era) runs roughly north-south through the village along the course of the present-day metalled road. It was once known as ‘Stainton-in-the-Street’ or ‘Stainton-le-Street’, being reference to its situate – though, interestingly, the place-name experts would have us believe that the word ‘Stainton’ on its own actually means ‘farmstead by the paved road’ (from the Old English stanwegtun).

An early Roman coin from the reign of Emperor Vespasian (9-79AD) was found in the churchyard, indicating that the legions came this way at a very early point in their occupation of Britain. When the Anglo-Saxon settlers came along and started tagging names to their places, they came to this corner of the region, found a few houses sitting astride a nice cobbled road … and Stanwegtun was born.

Having said all this, the staggered (Roman) crossroads 200 yards north of Great Stainton was most probably the site of the first community. For here there are faint traces of the settlement shown on the early OS maps as ‘Cross Hill’.

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