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John Speed's Map of Weardale

John Speed's Map of Weardale c.1611

History

Medieval
Hunting continued to be of major importance into the medieval period with some sixty square miles of Weardale above Stanhope maintained as a vast hunting forest for the Bishops of Durham, subject to special forest law rather than common law.

Between 1250 and 1300, Stanhope Park – effectively a large farm for the breeding of fallow deer - was set up within the forest, covering the area between Westgate and Eastgate, with its headquarters at Westgate Castle.

Most villages in the North Pennines existed in some form by medieval times. Blanchland, occupied continuously since the founding of its 12th-century monastery, is perhaps the most fascinating. Often cited as one of Britain's most beautiful villages, it consists essentially of an 18th century estate village built on the ruins of the monastery.

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