From Seaton Carew to Shotton and Hart to Brierton - the history of these Hartlepool and East Durham place names

Who knew! A new book tells you everything you need to know about the history and origins of County Durham place names, including Hartlepool.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 4:45 am

If you ever wondered where Hart, Hartlepool, Castle Eden, Shotton, Trimdon and Seaton Carew came from, then wonder no more.

A new paperback book covers all of this and a huge host of more information.

Author Paul Chrystal’s new publication is called ‘The Place Names of County Durham’ and it is a 128-page wealth of knowledge on the old county of Durham which largely remained in place until boundary reforms of the 1960s.

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Some of the old photos which accompany the fascinating facts in the new book about Place Names in County Durham.

It even has a section on old pubs and where their names came from, such as The Five Quarter in Peterlee.

A foreword to the book says: “Place names are invaluable and essential signposts to our history.

"They provide enduring and reliable evidence about a specific place or region reaching back well before the evasion and subsequent occupation of the British Isles by Romans in the first century.”

For instance, did you know where the following place names originated from:

Crimdon Caravan park in a view showing the great range of homes. The name Crumedon dates back to the late 1270s and relates to the Old English crumb denu meaning crooked valley.

Castle Eden takes its name from the Eden burn which runs through it, and Eden comes from ituna which means to gush forth; Cowpen Bewley was originally Cupum from the Old English cupe meaning the place of the coops where the wicker baskets were used to trap fish; Crimdon originates from crumb and denu meaning crooked valley; Further afield, there is Dryburn in Durham which comes from the Middle English name for a dry stream. And did you know that Dryburn was Durham’s place of execution until Durham Jail was built? Easington was a farm or village which was named after someone called Esa or Esi; Elwick has its origins with the word Ailewick and is thought to mean Ella’s dairy farm; Hart comes from the old English word heort for stag; Hartlepool originates from Hiartar Poll and is old Norse for stag’s pool. Seaton Carew is believed to be named after the Norman family called de Carrowes while Seaton means a farmstead by the sea; Shotton was known as Sceotton around 1200 years ago and it meant “of the Scots”.

And the Five Quarter pub name in Peterlee? It comes from one of the three seams in the coal mine at Horden.

Sections on coal mining in Sunderland, South Shields and Hartlepool add to the intricate historical detail of the book.

And so do sections which cover the rivers of the county as well as the 10 highest mountains of County Durham. There is also an A-Z on interesting old County Durham pubs.

A view of Horden Colliery which is one of the images in the book.

It includes the White Hart in Hart, Shades, Malt and Hops, Harbour of Refuge, the Devon, Birds Nest and the Catcote which are or were all in Hartlepool.

And this is still only a brief description of the fact-filled book which also has excerpts for Greatham, Horden, Hutton Henry, Middleton, Deaf Hill, Peterlee, Sedgefield and many others.

The Place Names of County Durham by Paul Chrystal is from Stenlake Publishing and costs £13.95. To find out more, visit

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One of the book's photos, showing buildings which once housed Castle Eden's cottage industries of bleach clothing works and rope making.

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A Hartlepool Mail 1979 aerial view of Seaton Carew - one of the places to feature in the book.
An archive view of Hartlepool which features in the new book.