Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Sunderland Bridge (NZ266376)

Visitors to this little village by the side of the old Great North Road often wonder about the origin of its place-name. After all, Sunderland proper lies a good fifteen miles to the North-East of this settlement. Can the two possibly be connected in some distant way?

Well, yes and no. By a strange coincidence, both lie adjacent to the River Wear. Moreover, both just happen to have the same place-name derivation. But that’s it, I’m afraid: there the similarities end. Sunderland Bridge, like its more famous namesake, is so labelled due to its being ‘sundered’ or ‘separated’ land. In the case of ‘little Sunderland’, the village was an isolated portion of the ancient parish of St.Oswald in Elvet to the north, from which it was separated by the aforementioned river. One may speculate that the ‘Bridge’ bit was added to distinguish it from ‘big’ Sunderland – perhaps. 

Over the years it has also been known as ‘Sunderland juxta Croxdale’ (juxta meaning ‘near’), and even simply ‘Sunderland-by-the-Bridge’. The bridge, in case you’re wondering, is the stone effort which lies nearby, and which has its roots in the 13th/14th century. Though the old river crossing is still in use, the weight of the main road is now taken by a modern-ish metal affair – and for good measure the East Coast Rail line also crosses the river a few yards upstream.

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