Barnard Castle Life - Picture of Galgate and market cross from years ago

Text taken from the 1951 'A guide to the town and neighbourhood' published by the Barnard Castle Publicity Society and Chamber of Trade.
(Full of little remembered information and written in such a classic way)


Man's arrival on the scene must have been some time between 5,000 and 2,000 years B.C At any rate, flint tools and weapons found on the moors have some of the characteristics of the Mesolithic period. Neolithic man, of the period about 2000 b.c must have settled about here as there is evidence that he intermixed with the Beaker folk who arrived in Britain about 1800 b.c.

Near Barnard Castle an urn of this latter period was found many years ago and others have been found near Middleton, higher up the valley. The stone circle which, until the enclosures of the late 18th century, stood above Eggleston, was probably of this time and so also was probably the tumulus nearby and others on the opposite side of the river.

About 1500 b.c the intermixing of the older Neolithic stock with the Beaker folk was complete and the Bronze Age had begun arrowheads of flint a palstave of bronze, pottery and other remains have been found, and on How Tallon was a brutal mound containing a " food-vessel " of Irish type, human bones and flint tools and weapons which are now in the Bowes Museum.

Of the Celtic or Romano-British period one or two camps have so far been identified in the valley. Settlements are to be found west of Middleton High Force and these appear to have been occupied in Roman times, judging by the Roman objects found in and near them.

The Romans made a road along the line from Catterick to the Eden valley in Westmorland over the Stainmore gap, and protected it by forts. There is a fort near the beautiful 18th century bridge over the Greta at Greta Bridge. Another is at Bowes and two others on Bowes Moor and Stainmore. The garrison at Bowes has left one of the most fascinating remains of its sojourn there. On Scargill Moor, beside a little beck, are the remains of two shrines with altars set up to a Celtic deity called Vinotonus. One altar was set up by the prefect of the 1st cohort of Thracians and the other by a centurion in the 3rd century.

From Bowes the Romans made a road to Binchester, near Bishop Auckland which crossed the Tees by a ford at the foot of the later Barnard's Castle. The straight road from Bowes is still used as a highway and it climbed the bank below the castle, proceeded up Galgate and turned slightly to the left near Bede Kirk crossing Harmire and then continued along the line of the present road to Stainton bank and beyond.

In addition to the names of places such as Startforth (Street-ford), Maywood (great wood), Harmire (stony common) and others ending in " ton " and " ham " there are some remains of the Anglo-Saxon occupation which followed that of the Romans. On the west of the Bowes road, and indeed, scattered along both sides of the Tees valley are terraces which are evidence of the new type of ploughing introduced by the Anglo-Saxons and the more intensive cultivation they employed.

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