An Early Reference to Shadens Hill
An early reference to Shadens Hill is made by Bishop Ranulph Flambard, a Norman Bishop of
Durham from 1099 until his death on 5th September 1128. The reference is recorded in a document in
which Bishop Flambard grants to his nephew, Richard, the Manors of Eighton, Ravensworth and
Blakiston. In this document is outlined the
boundaries of the Manors of Eighton and Ravensworth,
which lies to the west of Eighton.
Shadens Hill and the Spring which emerges from under Shadens Hill
are
boundary markers.

This document dates from somewhere between 1098 and 1128, but probably early in the date range.
Perhaps around 1100.

"Tame" in the document is the River Team.

"Hecton", in the document, is an early name for "Eighton".

Note by Audrey Fletcher: The gutteral "c" and "gh" in the words "Hecton" and "Eighton" are both
pronounced as a gurgling noise in the throat. They sound the same. In spelling, the "c"  and the "gh"
are interchangeable. Hence the development of the word "Hecton" into "Eighton".

Shadens Hill
“Schedenslawe”

A Sacred Mound
within a Ritual Landscape

Dynamic New Research
by
Audrey Fletcher
Copyright 2009
Shadens Hill on the northern outskirts
of Washington, Tyne and Wear, England.
View from Blackim Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
The Geological Formation of Shadens Hill
“Northumberland and Durham are structurally the eastern flanks of the northern parts of the Pennines.
In Northumberland the surface level drops steadily to the east till interrupted by the
fine scarp made by
the fell sandstones. In Durham the main interruption is afforded by the Magnesium Limestone scarp. All
the lower ground in Northumberland and Durham is plastered with
glacial drift and the general
character of the eastern parts of the two counties is that of a low plateau, drift covered, through which
the streams have cut deep “denes’ ... steep-sided, wooded, gorge-like valleys. The valley of the Wear
at Durham is, of course, the supreme example of this.”
“Britain’s Structure and Scenery” by L. Dudley Stamp 1946 pp 225,226.

Shadens Hill, which lies on the outskirts of Washington, Tyne Wear, in North East England, was formed
as the result of a glacial moraine, during the last Ice Age. During a glacial period water from the seas
and oceans is locked up in the glaciers, thereby causing the sea levels to fall around the world. Such
was the case with the North Sea which dried up and became a land bridge between the continent and
Britain during the last Ice Age, about 10000BC.

However as temperatures increased, the ice from the glaciers retreated causing a rise in sea levels,
referred to as “eustatic rise”. The expected flooding of lowland Britain did not occur, as might have been
expected, because as the weight of the glacial ice was no longer pressing down on the land,
compressing it, the land itself rose. A simple analogy would be lying down on a bed. The weight of the
body compresses the mattress, but on getting up from the bed the mattress “rises” and is restored to its
original shape. This is called “isostatic uplift”.

During the 8th millennium BC the annual average temperature was around 0 degrees centigrade but
by the 6th millennium BC the climate had warmed to slightly higher than today. In geological terms it was
a relatively short melt-down, by the end of which the North Sea had been re-established.
14. Crescent.                     15. End scraper on blade.
16. Square scraper.           17. Broken blade, worked on one edge.

Diagrams courtesy of George Coupland 1925
1. Beaked tool. Perfect specimen                 2. Left-handed beaked tool
3. Fragment of a crescent shaped tool         4. Broken blade, diagonally worked or truncated
Among Coupland’s discovery were 139 blades and flakes, either whole or broken, and two hammer
stones. The hammer stones were used to break off the flakes from the main piece of flint, called the
parent nodule. The resulting flakes were used as cutting implements. The five scrapers discovered
would have been used, for example, to scrape the fat from the hide of an animal. The pieces of burnt
flint discovered by Coupland confirm the use of a hearth. Moreover, burnt flint is a form of silica, not
unlike quartz, and is used in the manufacture of tools. Today, burnt flints can be dated using
thermoluminescence but as yet this process has not been used in the dating of the Shadens Hill site.

The microlithic industry at Shadens Hill was fairly typical of its kind. Not only was it situated on the
plateau of a sandstone hill affording flat living space, drainage and strategic commanding views on
three sides, but also it was protected by Blackim Hill (500ft above sea level) and The Mount to the
north. This
strategic position not only offered a strong defence against enemies, but also afforded
the inhabitants an uninterrupted view of the heavens.

I remember when I was about eight that every Sunday I would go up to visit my grandparents at Eighton
Banks. They lived just a few doors down from the Lambton Arms on the main road. My Granda Hall
would always take me to the bus stop to set me on the bus, the Brady Square number 94. There was
this one night in particular when the sky was studded with stars, so bright they were despite the full
moon with the ring around it. My Granda pointed out lots of different constellations to me. The sky
seemed so big!
Perhaps like my Granda and myself, the
Mesolithic peoples who inhabited Shadens Hill also looked up
to the heavens and observed the movement of the constellations, the waxing and waning of the moon,
the solstices and the equinoxes.
How spectacular and awe inspiring the experience must have been.
Perhaps some of the stones on the summit of Shadens Hill had been specifically placed for this very
purpose.
Looking approximately South from the plateau summit of Shadens Hill.
The views from the summit of Shadens Hill are breathtaking.
At least two stone circles can be detected.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
Stone Circles on the summit of Shadens Hill, looking south.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
Whether the Stone Circles can be attributed to the Stone Age or the later Iron Age is not known.
However this
is possibly the area where George Coupland discovered the Stone Age flints in 1925 as
the pieces of burnt flint discovered by Coupland confirm the use of a hearth. Unfortunately Coupland
doesn't seem to have left a map indicating the location of his finds.

The
purpose of the stone circles may include one or more of the following:

* an area complete with a hearth for tool making, indicating a well defined workshop in the Stone Age as
suggested by Coupland
* a house complete with floor and central hearth, Stone Age or later
* a place of burial, Stone Age or later
* an area for astronomical observation, Stone Age or later
* a meeting area, Stone Age or later
* an area for initiation or religious ceremonies, Stone Age or later

On the following aerial view of Shadens Hill, Google has captured the images of two circles.
Introduction
My dad was born at 35 Sandy Lane, Eighton Banks on 3rd September 1917 at his grandparents'
house. A few years later his parents managed to rent a cottage at
Blackim Hill, from where they had a
good view of
Shadens Hill. The cottage was about half a mile along the road from Sandy Lane. Years
later the family moved a few hundred yards back along the road  to Vale House, which overlooked the
Birtley Fell, and still had a good view of Shadens Hill. I loved visiting my grandparents at Vale House
and also my cousins who lived at Pen Poll, the house next to the Bowes Railway. Sometimes we would
climb Shadens Hill. This was a popular past-time for families in days gone by, especially on Easter
Sunday.
Shadens Hill has always been a part of my life. In 2002 on a trip back to the UK with my son, Lynton, I
spent a lot of time there, taking lots of photos which I planned to use as the basis for a web page.
However due to family circumstances it was not until 2009 that I finally put pen to paper, and in 2010
included "Shadens Hill" in my book
"Washington Echoes".
View from Shadens Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
Two circles on the summit of Shadens Hill are
captured by Google cameras
Shadens Hill: an Iron Age Hill Fort
Continuing up the hill I soon came to what I realized was a ditch. It was flat and had been carefully,
though intermittently, covered in parts with flat stones roughly nine inches square. The ditch can be
seen in the   next two photos, A and B, which were taken in 2002 and 2005 respectively. Each show the
ditch on the right of the pictures. There is a second ditch further up the hill.
On the south side of Shadens Hill severe erosion
is exposing the rocks
Photos by Audrey Fletcher 2002 and 2011
Sentinel Stones
When I was walking around on the summit of Shadens Hill it seemed that the stones towards the edge
were situated in a naturally haphazard fashion. However as I climbed down the hill and looked back, I
realized that the
outer stones were lined up. I was reminded of Easter Island where the statues, viewed
from a distance by approaching enemies, gave the impression of a formidable foe. The outer stones
atop Shadens Hill, which I have named
“Sentinel Stones”, would most certainly have given the
appearance of
a well defended hill.
Close-up of Sentinel Stones on top of
Shadens Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
The Sacred Well at Shadens Hill
According to a 1921 map the plateau of Shadens Hill is 487 feet above sea level, while the foot of the
hill is 450 feet above sea level. This means that the height of Shadens Hill is around 37 feet. It felt all of
that and more when I climbed it in 2002. I entered by the spring at the foot of Shadens Hill, a ready
water supply for the Mesolithic inhabitants and for thirsty visitors today. The
spring would have denoted
Shadens Hill as a sacred site from the time of the Stone Age, and as a sacred site it would have
become more prominent with the erection of a well around the spring, a
Holy Well. A sacred site
suggests
burials, perhaps even a tumulus, and also sacred ceremonies. Ancient sacred
ceremonies often included astronomy, the rising and setting of stars and planets at various seasons.

An example of a sacred ceremony which included astronomy would be watching the sunrise on the
Winter Solstice (December 21st).  Viewed from Shadens Hill the sun would rise from behind
Penshaw Hill, which lies to the south east of Shadens Hill.
The sacred well at the foot of Shadens Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
A stone structure, a well in the shape of a cradle, of indeterminate age has been built around the
spring. It looks suspiciously
Roman. The well is probably built of hard sandstone for which the area
around Eighton Banks and Wrekenton is famous. As shown in the above photo Shadens Hill is
abundant in bracken which grows in poor tillite soil. Other plants need more nutrients than tillite soil can
provide. The well is at the entrance to the Shadens Hill site.
The top soil and substructure on the lower slope of
Shadens Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
The small stones are angular, and sometimes sharp, which shows that they have not been deposited by
wind or water in the usual manner of sedimentary deposition. In fact
Shadens Hill is glacial till made
up of boulders, angular stones and sand.

Examples of severe erosion on the southern side of Shadens Hill are captured in the photos below. The
sand is loose and the glacial debris of rocks, or boulders, which had been embedded in the hill for
millennia, have become exposed.
(A) Looking along the First Ditch of Shadens Hill                     (B) Looking along the First Ditch of Shadens Hill
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002                                                   Photo by my brother, Alan Hall,
2005  
                                                           
The depth of topsoil on the First Ditch, caused by the breakdown of the bracken, reflects its antiquity,
that it belongs to a long-ago age.

The ditch was a surprising discovery because I had never previously considered
Shadens Hill in terms
of an
Iron Age Fort despite there being a well known Iron Age Fort in the local Durham area at Warden
Law
near Hetton.

It becomes evident on Speed’s map of County Durham published in 1610,  that Shadens Hill, Penshaw
Hill and Warden Law Hill form virtually a straight line in a south easterly direction.

Moreover it is noticeable that
Shadens Hill is centrally located between the rivers Tyne and Wear. One
of the meanings of the Anglo-Saxon name for Shadens Hill,
“Schedenslawe”, is “a ridge between
two river basins”
.
Now let us begin walking in the footsteps of our ancient ancestral heritage
On this 400 year old map of Durham is indicated:
1. Shadens Hill    2. Penshaw Hill   3. Warden Law Hill
Map by John Speed in 1610
Hill forts, which flourished from about 1000BC, were built on high ground as a defense against
enemies
and to allow for signalling between forts. Speed’s 1610 map above indicates the probability that
Penshaw Hill was a hill fort sandwiched between the hill forts of Shadens Hill and Warden
Law
, and that its strategic position was essential in the relaying of information across Durham.
Looking to the SE from the top of Shadens Hill.
Penshaw Monument is seen centre horizon
on top of Penshaw Hill.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
The next photo shows evidence of habitation on the sheltered  western slope of Shadens Hill. The
depression probably accommodated a round house, which would also have served as a lookout. There
are another two similar depressions on the northern and eastern slopes of Shadens Hill.
An artist's reconstruction of an Iron Age Round House
Artist unknown.
The stones set into the right-hand side of the round house
(on the left-hand side of the photo)
at Shadens Hill would have afforded stability.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
Shadens Hill viewed from the air, courtesy of Google, clearly shows the outlines of its having been an
Iron Age Fort with its rings and ditches.
An unknown artist’s impression of a hill fort
Note the round houses
The Anglo-Saxon Meaning of Schedenslawe
The Anglo-Saxon name given to Shadens Hill was “Schedenslawe”.

“scheden” is from the Anglo-Saxon “sceadan” (German “scheiden”) meaning “a division or parting,
the
ridge of a hill, a divide, a watershed”. It was also “a ridge between two river basins”.

“law” or “lawe” is from the Anglo-Saxon “hlaew” meaning “a hill, especially rounded or conical, of
medium size”. It often applied to a hill with an ancient barrow or tumulus on its summit. There is no
evidence of a tumulus or barrow on Shadens Hill today.

Eighton Banks is situated along the “ridge of a hill” and Shadens Hill is at the tail end of the ridge.
This suggests that the location of Eighton Banks may have been the original reference to “Scheden”,
and that the neighbouring conical hill , the “lawe”, was referred to as Scheden’s Lawe, later
Schedenslawe, and now Shadens Hill.  
  

Alternatively Shadens Hill itself could have been considered as the scheden (watershed) as well as the
lawe (hill) since the spring is situated at its foot. Furthermore Schedenslawe being positioned virtually
midway between the Rivers Tyne and Wear, it is “a ridge between two river basins”. However this
version is unlikely.

The geographical feature of the Ridge or Scheden is indicated on the following 1895 map.
A depression on the western slope of Shadens Hill.
It probably accomodated an iron Age Round House
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
Stone Circles on Shadens Hill
On the plateau of Shadens Hill in 2002 the air was bracing and the views spectacular. At first I thought
that the stone blocks were just strewn at random by Nature but then I noticed that some had been
placed by human intervention. They had been set into the sandy summit flat sides up and in what
appeared to be circles. When you look closely at the photograph below you will detect
at least two
stone circles
, one in the foreground and one at the far end.
The Substructure of Shadens Hill
As I started to climb I couldn’t help but notice the erosion, caused in part by horses’ hooves. It would
seem to be a favourite horse-ride. The positive aspect of the erosion on the lower slope meant that the
depth of top soil and the substructure was clearly visible. The top soil was about eight inches deep. I
was surprised to notice that the sub strata was grey and not sand coloured as in other parts of the hill,
possibly suggesting a deposition of dolomite. When I showed the photo to geologist friends, Tara
Beardsell and her husband Gary, they confirmed that the
substructure was glacial debris, otherwise
known as
glacial moraine.
Evidence of Stone Age Occupation at Shadens Hill
The flint artefacts discovered at Shadens Hill by George Coupland in 1925 point to Mesolithic
subsistence society
activity in the area, with the emphasis on hunting. Due to the bleak climate
experienced at Eighton Banks during the winter months,
Shadens Hill was probably the centre for a
summer group of hunters and their families.
Other than the discovery of these surface finds, the site has
not been excavated.

The flint artefacts are referred to by Coupland (1925) as “microlithic implements”. He continues “Many of
the Belgian Tardenois types are represented among these finds” and agrees with Francis Buckley’s
suggestion that the Tardenois folk probably spread westwards from the continent of Europe when the
North Sea did not exist. This would place the date of their arrival in Britain before 7500BC.

When Coupland made his discovery of the Tardenois flint industry at Shadens Hill, the summit was much
as it is today, bare and sandy. The flints were easy to find, many of them just lying on the surface within
an area of a few square meters indicating a well defined workshop. In total Coupland discovered 521
tools, 211 of which were waste pieces. The tools were generally geometric in shape, some of them
suggestive of tips and barbs for arrows. Others could have had wooden or bone handles attached to
them. Many would have been used as naked blades. One of the tools, a beaked tool, was specifically
made for a left-handed person. The simplicity of these microlithic or pygmy tools implies an early
Mesolithic industry.
Stone Circles on the summit of Shadens Hill, looking south.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
A close-up of the main stone circle
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
An aerial view of Shadens Hill, courtesy of Google
reveals the rings and ditches of an Iron Age Fort.
Aerial photo courtesy of Google
Shadens Hill is a "lawe" or conical hill.
However cartographers display it in the shape of a leg of mutton
because they follow the 450 foot contour line.
Photos are courtesy of Google
Both the 1865 and 1898 maps show the 450 foot
contour line of Shadens Hill, as well as the Old Quarry.
A subtle name change is also evident.
1898
Map
Unfortunately Shadens Hill was quarried for its sandstone long before 1865. The “Old Quarry”,
situated
within the 450 foot contour, is indicated on both of the following 1865 and 1898 maps. On the
1865 map Shadens Hill is named Shaddon's Hill and on the 1898 map is named Sheddon's Hill.
1865      
Map
1898
Map
The “Old Quarry”.
It was pre 1865 within the
450 foot contour of Shadens Hill.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
It isn’t known when the sandstone was first quarried in the area, but it must be going on two thousand
years ago that the Romans used quarried sandstone for their road construction, for example on the
Wreken Dyke, and no doubt for their buildings as well, just along the road at Wrekenton. The well at
Shadens Hill is suspiciously Roman. My mam remembers the road in front of the two cottages on
Blackim Hill being built of sandstone blocks, though lots were missing. Was that possibly a minor Roman
Road?

In more recent centuries the main reasons the hard sandstone was quarried was for building materials,
especially for the grand structures in Newcastle, and also for grinding stones. The vast majority of the
older buildings in the Eighton Banks and Wrekenton areas were built using the local hard sandstone
and had walls one foot thick.
Shadens Hill as a "Lawe"
Shadens Hill is no longer considered by mapmakers to be a conical hill, as the term “lawe” suggests.
This is because cartographers follow the 450 foot contour line, giving it the shape of a leg of mutton.
However aerial photographs, courtesy of Google indicate that it is conical.
The Battle of Shadens Hill 1068
Radical changes occurred in England and Scotland as a result of the Norman Invasion in 1066. Edgar
Atheling (1051-1125)
had been elected by the Anglo-Saxon Democratic Parliament, the
W
itanegemotas, as their King following upon the death of his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson, at the
Battle of Hastings. Unfortunately there was no time for Edgar to be crowned before William's takeover
and so he fled to Scotland with his sister Margaret, who married Malcolm II King of Scotland.

Following upon this Alliance, Edgar and Malcolm invaded Northumberland. They had the support of the
Danes, who had sailed up the Rivers Tyne and Wear to join in the Rebellion. In 1068 they seized the
town of Monkchester (Newcastle) on the River Tyne. Monkchester had previously been named Pons
Aelius in Roman times.

Meanwhile William the Conqueror and his armies had marched North and the opposing forces clashed
on Gateshead Fell at Shadens Hill. Locally, the ensuing battle became known as
“The Battle of
Shadens Hill”
.

William the Conqueror lived up to his name. The victory was his. His army was far superior causing
many of the Scots and Danes to flee.
Many of the grand buildings in Newcastle-upon-Tyne were built with
sandstone taken from the Eighton Banks quarries
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
The track along the ridge overlooking Birtley Fell took on a
religious significance as it wound its way to the
Stone Circle at Beacon Lough.
This is a Sacred, or Ritual Landscape.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
A Stone Age Track along The Scheden is adopted by the Romans
Old Durham Road (top left) is a known Roman road at the head of the Long Bank, another known
Roman road. However it becomes clear from the next Google aerial view of
The Ceremonial Way that
Wrekenton Row and Rockcliffe Way were also adopted by the Romans as part of their road system.
The Stone Age Ceremonial Way leading from Shadens Hill to the Stone Circle at Beacon Lough is
clearly indicated on this Google aerial view as having been adopted in a later period by the Romans.
This whole area is riddled with Roman roads. The B1288, Leam Lane, (top right) is the well known
Roman Road called the Wreken Dyke.  Its outline is still clearly visible on the above view.
Carta Ranulphi Episcopi facta Ricardo Nepoti suo de maneriis de Hecton,
Ravenswiche, et Blekestun*

Ranulphus Dei gra. Dunelm. Episcopus omnibus hominibus suis Francis et Anglis
salutem gratiam et benedictionem. Sciatis me dedisse, &c. Ricardo Nepoti meo et
heredibus suis in feudo et hereditate pro homagio et servicio suo Hectonam et
Ravenswiche et Blekestunam, cum omnibus rebus et pertinentibus per has divisas que
pertinent ad Hecton et Ravenswith, scilicet de
Scedmers lawe apud orientem super
exitum
fontis subter Scadneslaw, sicut descendit in Tame, et per Mere-burne usq.
Aldrechesdene, et per Aldrechesdene usq. in Tame, et per Tame usq. Becleiburne ut
cadit in Tame, et per Becleiburne usq. rivum qui descendit de Felfordesfen, et per
Felfordesfen usque Avescheburn usq. ad Blakeburne, et per Blakeburn apud
orientem sicut cadit in Tame, et per Tame usq. Choldene sicut descendit in Tame, et
per Choldene usq. Semer, et de Semer per altum iter usq.
Scadneslawe.
Habendum et tenendum de me et succ. meis sibi et heredibus suis libere quiete et
honorifice per servitium dimid. feodi unius militis pro omni, et faciendo forinsecum
servitium quando per Episcopat. evenerit quantum pertinet dimid. feodo militis. Volo
autem et concedo ut predictus Ricardus et heredes ejus habeant et teneant predicta, &c.
per predictum servitium libere et quiete et honorifice sicut ullus homo in Episcopat.
Dunelm. tenet in bosco in plano in pratis in pascuis in moris et in mariscis in aquis et
stagnis in molendinis in terris cultis et incultis, et inter has divisas edificare et
cultifiare, cum omnibus aliis aisiamentis. Hujus donacõnis testes sunt iste Ranu.
Archid., Papemark., Osbert nepos Episc, Rob. frater ej., Will. fil. Ranu.,....,
Ricard de Vicdune, Paganus nepos Ranu., et plurimi alii.  

* Blakiston was restored to the Convent of Durham by the death bed penitence of Bishop Ranulph in 1128
Carta Ranulphi Episcopi facta Ricardo Nepoti suo de maneriis de Hecton, Ravenswiche, et
Blekestun*

Ranulphus Dei gra. Dunelm. Episcopus omnibus hominibus suis Francis et Anglis salutem
gratiam et benedictionem. Sciatis me dedisse, &c. Ricardo Nepoti meo et heredibus suis in
feudo et hereditate pro homagio et servicio suo Hectonam et Ravenswiche et Blekestunam,
cum omnibus rebus et pertinentibus per has divisas que pertinent ad Hecton et Ravenswith,
scilicet de
Scedmers lawe apud orientem super exitum fontis subter Scadneslaw, sicut
descendit in Tame, et per Mere-burne usq. Aldrechesdene, et per Aldrechesdene usq. in Tame,
et per Tame usq. Becleiburne ut cadit in Tame, et per Becleiburne usq. rivum qui descendit de
Felfordesfen, et per Felfordesfen usque Avescheburn usq. ad Blakeburne, et per Blakeburn
apud orientem sicut cadit in Tame, et per Tame usq. Choldene sicut descendit in Tame, et per
Choldene usq. Semer, et de Semer per altum iter usq.
Scadneslawe. Habendum et tenendum
de me et succ. meis sibi et heredibus suis libere quiete et honorifice per servitium dimid. feodi
unius militis pro omni, et faciendo forinsecum servitium quando per Episcopat. evenerit
quantum pertinet dimid. feodo militis. Volo autem et concedo ut predictus Ricardus et heredes
ejus habeant et teneant predicta, &c. per predictum servitium libere et quiete et honorifice sicut
ullus homo in Episcopat. Dunelm. tenet in bosco in plano in pratis in pascuis in moris et in
mariscis in aquis et stagnis in molendinis in terris cultis et incultis, et inter has divisas edificare
et cultifiare, cum omnibus aliis aisiamentis. Hujus donacõnis testes sunt iste Ranu. Archid.,
Papemark., Osbert nepos Episc, Rob. frater ej., Will. fil. Ranu.,...., Ricard de Vicdune, Paganus
nepos Ranu., et plurimi alii.  

*
Blakiston was restored to the Convent of Durham by the death bed penitence of Bishop Ranulph in
1128

"History and Antiquities of County Durham Volume 2" by Robert Surtees
“Beginning at Chowdene where it falls into Tame, and from thence directly up the Dene to
Popplewell, thence directly to Seamorewell, thence to
a well in Scadenslawe, and so down by
the runner of water from that well as it descends into Tame, thence to Mereburn as the water
runs, and from the head of Mereburn to Aldrige Dene, and by Aldrige Dene as the water runs
and descends into Tame, and so up Tame to Beckley burn as it falls into Tame, and from
Beckley burn to a small runner of water which descends from Felford's fenn, and up that rivulet
or runner to Felford's fenn, and from Felford's fenn to Avishburn, and down Avishburn as it runs
and falls into Blackburn, and so down Blackburn as it runs and falls into Tame, Eastward, and
up Tame till Chowdene falls into Tame, where the boundary began.”

"History and Antiquities of County Durham Volume 2" by Robert Surtees
Similar boundaries of the manors of Ravensworth, or Lamesley, and Eighton, were outlined in a
document dated 1715 between the Bishop of Durham and Sir Henry Liddell, Bart. The wording is very
much in keeping with that of Bishop Ranulph Flambard in the early 1100s.
A Stone Age Ceremonial Way along The Ridge (Scheden)
It is not difficult to imagine that the road along the ridge (now called Rockcliffe Way) overlooking the
Birtley Fell  was a
ceremonial track leading from  Shadens Hill, via what is now Wrekenton, to the
Stone Circle at Beacon Lough. The
Stone Age religious procession would have begun with holy rites or
ritual at the
sacred spring at the foot of Shadens Hill, before making its journey along the Ceremonial
Way to the Stone Circle at Beacon Lough. The route today would be along Rockcliffe Way, Wrekenton
Road and Old Durham Road.
The focus of the area was ritual; this is a Sacred, or Ritual
Landscape.
The geographical feature of the Ridge or Scheden
is indicated on this 1895 map
The Spring at the foot of Shadens Hill was sacred to the people of the Stone Age and the later
Iron Age.
They would have considered it as a Gateway into the Underworld,  the land of their
deceased ancestors, the spirit world. As such the Spring would have become a major religious shrine ...
together with Shadens Hill, which itself can be compared to the Primeval Mound. The spring at the foot
of Shadens Hill, symbolic of the Primeval Hill, was visible evidence of the watery realm of the
Netherworld. (Visit my web page at
The Tree of Life to learn more about this Creation Story.) This is
very important and significant Sacred Landscape. Very often these sites of religious significance, and
the areas near them, were taken over by the Romans.
This 1895 map shows the relative positions of
Ravensworth, Eighton Banks and the River Team
Aerial View of Shadens Hill looking west.
The Sacred Landscape of Schedenslawe
incorporating a Sacred Spring emanating from the Primeval Mound.
Shadens Hill was a Mesolithic Stone Age Site and, later, an Iron Age Fort.
The Old Quarry is pre 1865.
Photo courtesy of Bing
William afterwards created Robert Cumyn as the Earl of Northumberland and sent him to Monkchester
to enforce his authority. In 1069 Robert took a guard of seven hundred Normans with him. Anyone in
Monkchester who acted against William, King of England, was considered a traitor and treated as such.
However when several prominent Anglo-Saxon landholders were put to death there was an insurrection
among the peasants. At dawn they broke open the various gates of the town, slaughtered the Normans
who were billeted out and then made their assault upon Robert's household. It was put to the torch and
reduced to ashes.

In revenging Cumyn's murder and the defeat of his garrison at Monkchester, William marched north with
his army. He savagely ravaged the North slaughtering the inhabitants, whole families of them. Their
villages and fields were burned. The
whole of the North was laid waste by fire and sword, Monkchester
being no exception. It was raized to the ground to prevent it becoming an asylum for William's enemies
in the future.

"Peace" was finally re-established 08 April 1070, four months after William's Revenge (my terminology)
began. It was on this date that the sacred remains of St. Cuthbert began their journey back to Durham
from Lindisfarne where they had remained for four months during William's Revenge.

Widespread famine followed William's Revenge. Corpses rotted where they fell, there was no-one left to
bury them. The North of England became virtually uninhabited. The Great Northern Famine lasted from
1069 to 1078.

Meanwhile Malcolm of Scotland was finally defeated in 1072. William passed through Monkchester on
his way to Berwick-upon-Tweed where Malcom, King of Scotland met him ... and paid homage. However
in 1079, following The Great Northern Famine, Malcolm betrayed William by storming the now Norman
Northumberland with his army, taking booty and captives back to Scotland. William's son Robert
Curthose failed in his attempt to stop him.

The Anglo-Saxon allegiance to William also began to waver, their patience becoming short , when
Walcher, the new Earl of Northumberland and Bishop of Durham, failed to act on the murder of an
Anglo-Saxon nobleman, Liulph, and his family. Walcher paid for his reticence when he himself was
murdered at Gateshead in 1080.

William built the wooden motte and bailey New Castle on the other side of the River Tyne from
Gateshead, at Monkchester (now aptly named Newcastle) on the site of the Roman Fort. The site, only
a few miles north of Shadens Hill,  was of considerable strategic importance. The brutal Harrying of the
North between the Rivers Tyne and the Tweed continued.
William the Conqueror quashes his opposition.
A similar battle took place at Shadens Hill in 1068
Artist unknown
When the Doomsday Book was compiled in 1086 the North was not included. There was virtually
nothing to record. The
Battle of Shadens Hill had played a significant part in moulding England's
history after the Norman Conquest. In the early years of William’s rule the Northerners were either killed
in the Battle of Shadens Hill, were slaughtered afterwards, or died in the resulting Great Northern
Famine. The peasants had little hope of survival. They were in a no win situation. Only a few families
managed to escape. The North was left desolate. Over the next hundred years the North began to
flourish again, under Norman rule. When the Bishop of Durham commissioned "The Bolden Buke" in
1183 the area was well populated and functioning smoothly.
An example of a Motte and Bailey Castle
Artist unknown
The Great Miners' Strike of 1844
Shadens Hill fades from the pages of History until the Great Miners' Strike of 1844, a strike which lasted
for twenty weeks.
The first meeting of Durham and Northumberland striking coal miners was on
5th April 1844 at Shadens Hill
in response to mine owners' refusal to negotiate with the newly formed
Miners' Union over grievances about dangerous working conditions in the coal mines. Thirty five to forty
thousand miners and their families are estimated to have attended the mass meeting in which they
sought a fair renumeration of an extra tuppence per ton for their labour. They considered themselves
oppressed and underpaid, and stood together against the tyranny of the immensely wealthy coal
owners.

Their Old Bond expired on 5th April 1844 and the New Bond presented by the Union outlined conditions
under which the miners were prepared to work. In response a Monthly Bond was introduced by the coal
owners in order to try and break the strike, but supported by their families the miners continued in their
strike which became country-wide.

As a result the pitmen and their families were evicted from their colliery houses and foreigners were
brought in to man the mines. Miners and their families were left destitute and homeless, despite many
colliery houses standing empty.

A second meeting took place at Shadens Hill on 8th July 1844. It is estimated that twenty-five
thousand miners and their families attended the meeting at which it was decided that the Monthly Bonds
were calculated to break up the Union and members pledged to resist them until their claims were met.
Furthermore the Northumberland and Durham miners pledged to support their fellow coal miners
country-wide.
Other meetings were held throughout Durham and the miners had the support of the general public
and, more importantly, the shopkeepers who gave them credit. In contrast the striking miners were
treated with contempt by the powerful arrogant and prodigiously rich coal owners. Workhouses were
ordered to refuse admission to miners and their families, and shopkeepers were threatened with ruin if
they gave credit to the miners. Charles Stewart, the
Third Marquis of Londonderry threatened the
whole town of Seaham, which were part of the family estates, with ruin if they aided the miners, whose
actions he considered as rebellion. The government supported the Marquis in his claim of "Right of
Property" and his bringing in foreigners to work the mines. Throughout all of this the miners kept the
peace.
Shadens Hill
A different ritual from that of the past
was taking place here in 1844
Photo by my brother, Alan Hall, 2005
After fifteen weeks of strike action there was a meeting at the Newcastle Town Moor on 30th July 1844.
It was said to be the largest yet, exceeding even the first meeting at Shadens Hill. Coal owners were
making vast fortunes at the expense of miners' working conditions and lives lost. Coal owners were
reaping in millions of pounds in profit from the estimated seven million tons of coal mined annually ...
and the miners were seeking a miserly tuppence per ton extra in their pay packets. At the meeting it was
believed that fresh conditions would soon be offered and it was recommended that the miners not
surrender.

After eighteen weeks of strike many miners and their families were on the point of starvation. Some of
the luckier ones had friends and relations to help support them but many did not. They were victims of a
cruel and tyrannical class system. Those who were starving started to break away from the Union and
started to return to work. Sadly for some of them, some pits refused to have them back.
Wynyard Park, near Stockton on Tees,
home of the Third Marquis of Londonderry,
great grandfather to Winston Churchill who
continued the family tradition when he took
a militant action against the coal miners
during The General Strike.
Shortly after its completion the mansion
was gutted by fire in 1841. This possibly
helps to explain his severe stance against
the miners ... perhaps the Marquis wanted
that tuppence per ton the miners were
striking for, for himself, to help fund the
rebuild, despite the enormous wealth his
wife brought to the marriage.
Artist unknown
There was a meeting once again on the Newcastle Town Moor on 13th August 1844 but this time only
ten to twelve thousand miners and their families attended. The Union acknowledged defeat. The battle
had been fought and lost. It was considered that Right had been trodden underfoot by Might, that
capital had won out against Labour. The battle between the Oppressed and the Oppressors was over.

The miners were compelled by poverty, starvation and misery to return to work under the terms and
conditions of the coal owners. Every means of crushing them had been adopted by the coal owners.
Some miners did not have a job to go back to. The strike had lasted for twenty weeks during which time
the coal owners lost an estimated half a million pounds in profit.
Working conditions down the coal mines
Artists unknown
Shadens Hill in 2011
When I returned to Shadens Hill in July 2011 I was shocked to see how much it had changed over a
period of nine years. The Sacred Spring was smothered in brambles and virtually hidden. The ditch
higher up was indefinable beneath the brambles. It was like trying to approach the castle of the
Sleeping Beauty, finding a passage through the thorns.

We approached and climbed the hill from the northern side and finally reached the summit where I had
hoped to take further photos of the Stone Circles. Sadly the gorse and brambles had also encroached
on the hill top plateau and photos were virtually impossible. There was even a young gorse bush
springing from the hearth of the main Stone Circle. No doubt it will be six feet high when next I return.

The access to the archaeology may have been disappointing but the views were still outstanding and
worth the climb. This was the first time that my husband had climbed Shadens Hill and he was
overwhelmed. He sat in contemplative silence, soaking up the atmosphere.
The Sacred Spring in 2002
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
The Sacred Spring in 2011
smothered in brambles
and virtually hidden
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
The Hearth within a Stone Circle
on top of Shadens Hill in 2002
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2002
The hearth within a Stone Circle
on top of Shadens Hill in 2011.
The full extent of the larger Stone Circle
is no longer visible, being hidden by the
very large gorse bush.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
By standing just inside the gorse bush
I was able to take this close-up of the
hearth. I refer to it as a hearth but it
may be a burial site. Notice how the
stones have been carefully placed
lying against each other, at an angle.
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
Shadens Hill is one of the few remaining links with our ancient past and it is part of the Sacred
Landscape which encompasses the Eighton Banks area. Occupation of Shadens Hill dates back to the
Stone Age, as testified by the flints found there in 1925 by Coupland. The
Spring at the foot of Shadens
Hill would have been
sacred to the people of the Stone Age and the later Iron Age when a fort was
constructed there. They would have considered it as a G
ateway into the Underworld,  the land of their
deceased ancestors, the spirit world. As such the Spring would have become a major religious shrine ...
together with Shadens Hill, which itself can be compared to the Primeval Mound. The spring at the foot
of Shadens Hill, symbolic of the Primeval Hill, was visible evidence of the watery realm of the
Netherworld. Very often these sites of religious significance, and the areas near them, were taken over
by the Romans. The cradle well structure looks suspiciously Roman. Shadens Hill played a prominent
part in the fight against William the Conqueror in 1066, and later in the fight against the Capitalists in
1844. Today Shadens Hill is both fragile and vulnerable, and needs to be conserved for future
generations.
Blackham Hill at Eighton Banks
Photo by my brother, Alan Hall, 2005



Updated 2017
Copyright Audrey Fletcher
Updated 2017
Counter
Penshaw Monument: the stone for the monument
was donated by the Marquis of Londonderry, and the
foundation stone laid in April 1844
Photo by my brother, Alan Hall, 2005
Right: Shadens Hill
The classic shape of an Iron Age Fort
Photo by Audrey Fletcher 2011
Washington
Coronation Celebrations: Bonfire at Shadens Hill in 1902
Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, was born on 9th
November 1841at Buckingham Palace and succeeded to the throne on 22nd January 1901. His
coronation was scheduled for 26th June 1902 but this was delayed when he was diagnosed with
appendicitis two days before the ceremony. Finally he was crowned at Westminster Abbey on 9th
August 1902.

Meanwhile celebrations had been arranged throughout the country for the June coronation of Edward
VII and his wife Alexandra, including a
huge bonfire at Shadens Hill. Built in the shape of a tower, the
structure was about forty feet high and seemingly constructed of railway sleepers or pit props, which
were probably hauled up into place using a pulley system. The platforms helped provide some measure
of safety for the men and stability for the structure. They were essential as part of the building process
as scaffolding, standing platforms and helping to make provision for the placement of ladders.

Clearly the men on the photo below were proud of their achievement. The bonfire would have been
visible for miles around, throughout the Wear and Team Valleys, when it was finally lit on 9th August
1902.
The bonfire at Shadens Hill in readiness for the Coronation of
Edward VII and Alexandra on 26th June 1902.
It was finally lit on 9th August 1902.
Photo courtesy of http://isee.gateshead.gov.uk/
*** Date: Monday 7th May 2012

Your pages on Shadens Hill and Blackhams Hill really interest me. In about 1990, my dad
bought the field on the low side of Mount Lane, the field had old ridge and furrows in it but
flooded badly in heavy rain. My dad got planning permission to fill the field in and put in field
drains. Not long after this was complete a man came on the field with a metal detector and
asked if he could look on the field for artifacts. I was puzzled as to why.... he told me about the
"Battle of Shadens Hill". I said he was more than welcome to look, but as the field had been
filled over I thought his chances were slim. I asked around local people about the Battle but
no-one knew anything so I thought he must have just been spinning me a yarn ...  though now
it appears not! Its a shame this was not widely known as now the field is filled there will be little
chance of finding anything!

I was really disappointed to know we had been allowed to cover over the field once I was told it
was a strategic battle field, especially as I'm assuming that the lake part of our field must have
been of top importance, as having a watering hole that close to the top of the hill would have
been quite unusual, but we didn't know anything about it at the time.

If you look from Shadens Hill down Mount Lane, our land was on the right of the lane all the
way along the lane. We built the house and stables there, its called Mount Lodge, proudly
named by me! Unfortunately we don't live there any more.

Emma Frew
Links to some of my
other popular historical
web pages
... A Fletcher
*** Date: Wednesday 7th October 2015

Hi Audrey, I enjoyed reading your research findings on Shadons Hill. The area is where I spent
much of my childhood.  I am 76 years old and now live in Washington with my wife. Our summer
days were spent exploring the rolling heathland at the back of our house, much of it covered in
thick gorse which stretched out for maybe a couple of miles to Shadons Hill which I would later
find out was steeped in history.  The battle of 1068, the miners meetings and the area being
used as a camp ground during the Jacobite conflict of the 1700s. The well which supplied
these people is still there but only just.  As children in the 1940s we would drink from it.   
Here is a poem I wrote for my children sometime ago.

On silk down meadows we did roll and fleet
and in our act with nature bonded in golden meadows sweet.
The buttercup reflects its golden light on little chins to glow,
do I like butter sister yes or no.
On silk down meadows with insects we'd compete
and suck sweet necter from the clover sweet
then dance among the prickly thorns with wings upon our feet.

On silk down meadows sweet and sour grew,
we'd wince and shake as on sour dock we would chew,
then for cure flee to where sweet bleaberries grew,
then down the hill with ease to eat
young hawthorn shoots we called bread and cheese.

On silk down meadows time stood still,
our clock the dandy lion seeded,
One o'clock, Two o'clock till all gossamer seeds were gone.

On silk down meadows in these magic moments of time we were content,
On silky  Shadons Hill we roll avoiding gorse in golden glow,
then up the hill with arms outstretched to face the breeze,
then down the hill again to drink water from the ancient well
we shared with frogs and toads and never came to ill,  

On silk down meadows long ago.

By Ernie Middleton 2015
Ernie Middleton
*** Date: Thursday 22nd September 2016

Dear Audrey,
My father Edward Swan along with his father George, mother Margaret and younger brother
Nicholas Alan are recorded on the 1911 Census as living at the grocers shop at the foot of
Sandy Lane, Eighton Banks.

Father would often tell us,as wee children,of the occasion when he and Nicholas were chased
down a hill by a Viking dressed in full "warrrior mode"
Perhaps Father knew of the Viking history of Eighton Banks, then again.........perhaps not ??

Grandad with the family (and servant girl!) eventually moved from Sandy Lane to a new and
larger premises on Durham Road, Low Fell.

I am able to trace my paternal family back to my great-great-great grandfather who was born
in Tilmouth (near Berwick) Northumberland in 1768.

Many kind regards,
Alan Swan

(The "hill" most probably refers to Shadens Hill, which is just along the road from Sandy Lane.
However there is the possibility that it refers to Blackham Hill.)
This is the Swan Grocers Shop in Sandy Lane,
Eighton Banks as it is today.
The shop has been converted into a garage.
Photo by Alan Swan
*** Date: April 2017

Hi Audrey,
Just been looking at your brilliant website
highlighting Shadens Hill, near Eighton Banks
and  Wrekenton.
 Both of these places remind me of my childhood. My mam Doreen Dora
Cousins was born in 1 Woodbine Place Low Fell (Weathercock Lane area), her mother (nee
Rosanna Morris) was born in Benwell, then she moved to a farm cottage over the road to
where the Angel of the North is now, and worked the land. My dad was born in 9 West View
Wrekenton, the one near the park, his name Richard Hutton. His dad John Hutton had the pub
near where the train crossing used to be, it was called the Princess Alice, next door to the
original Seven Stars. That bloke standing in the doorway of the Princess Alice is my grandad
,
John Telford Hutton. His name can be seen on the sign of the pub.
My sister's sister in law is married to a Dave Kennedy,
who used to live in a flat above the Half Moon. They all
live in the bungalows now along behind Springwell
Road. I remember the quarries along Stoney Lane and
beyond, Henry's Farm, Barton's Farm, near what is now
the extended Easedale Gardens.
I remember my dad
mentioning about a hanging tree
in that little copse
of trees on the road beside where
Beacon House
used to be. On the golf links down from Henry's Farm
there used to be a fresh water spring there too, I think
it's still there but out of bounds because of those
houses built in the late 60s.
I also remember the old Harlow Green School, Peggys Bank, the Piggy Farm Cottage along
the dirt track towards the Betty Anne pit, which as a matter of fact my grandma's cousins (nee
Morris, my mother's mam) worked the land and lived there till she was wed and moved to
Woodbine Place, Weathercock Lane over the wall from Fell House in Low Fell, which was
once Thomas Wilson's home. I attended Sheriff Hill School then Glynwood before we moved
away in December 63.
I visit my sister every week at Wrekenton, Its like stepping back
in time to my childhood, because just a stones throw away at the original Beacon
Lough is where I was born.
When I get the bus to my sisters from Chester le Street to Wrekenton it goes right by
Shadens Hill. Maybe in the summer i could get off the bus and take a walk up the public
footpath and take some photos of what it's like now.
I can remember when my dad took
us for a picnic up there when I was about 6 or 7 years old, he lit a little fire, in a safe
place where there was no chance of it spreading and got the water from the well
and poured it into a little kettle, making some tea
. They are very happy cherished
childhood memories.

PS ... I would love to hear from anyone who remembers me.

Kind regards,
Geoff Hutton        geoffhutt@googlemail.com

The above six photos are courtesy of Geoff Hutton.
My sister Marina still lives in Easington Avenue, Wrekenton, I live in Stanley now, have done
for 30 odd years, but
I regularly visit my oldest sister Marina, who is now 76, I am 12 years her
junior. I was born at Beacon Lough and never knew anything about stone circles there, but my
mam and dad used to take us walks on
Sundays and we went along from Beacon Lough to
Wrekenton, Eighton Banks and Shadens Hill. I remember drinking some of that water
from the Shadens Hill Well 60 years ago.
*****************