North East Heritage Resources

North East England History

Resources and Organisations

A list of research resources, archives, organisations, societies and libraries associated with the history, heritage and culture of North East England.

Nathaniel Buck's view of Newcastle 1745
Detail from Nathaniel Buck’s view of Newcastle 1745.

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ENGLAND’S NORTH EAST HISTORY SITE

Use our North East history map with its accompanying links to find out about the general history of any selected area of North East England covering Northumberland, Durham, Newcastle and Tyneside, Sunderland, the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire.

North East History

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ARCHIVES, LIBRARIES, SOCIETIES AND ONLINE RESOURCES

Beamish Learning and Activity Resources

Beamish Museum Learning and Activity Resources. Find out more on the Beamish Museum website.

Tiny Tim, Beamish
Tiny Tim, Beamish © John Simpson

Newcastle City Libraries

Visit the Newcastle City Libraries Local Studies and Family History website for more details of the extensive available resources.

North East Community Archives and Heritage Groups

Here’s a site with an excellent list of links to Community Archives and Heritage Groups across the North East of England.

Sunderland Maritime Heritage

A self-funded local history and heritage organisation focusing on the maritime heritage of Wearside.

Durham County Local History Society

Formed in 1964 (a registered charity) Durham County Local History Society promotes interest in the study of the history of County Durham. Website includes a list of the society’s publications.

Northumberland Communities

Northumberland Communities is a rich place-by-place collection of resources relating to Northumberland including manuscripts, old photographs, digitised printed material and census information.

The Surtees Society

The Surtees Society is ‘dedicated to the publication of manuscripts illustrative of the history of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria, principally of County Durham and Northumberland in North East England.’

Society of Antiquaries Newcastle upon Tyne

Esteemed organisation and publisher of the famed Archaeologia Aeliana, the society’s journal (first published in 1822). The society has a full programme of talks, visits, library, museum collections, archives, study groups and social events newcastle-antiquaries.org.uk

Archaeologia Aeliana

Volumes of Archaeologia Aeliana, (except the most recent volumes) can be freely accessed online.

Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle
Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne (centre) with the neighbouring Neville Hall and Bolbec Hall © David Simpson

The Lit and Phil Library

The beautiful library of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne established in 1825 in Westgate Road is only a stone’s throw from the Central Station. Past members have included some of the region’s most esteemed industrialists and inventors.

The Common Room of the Great North

The Common Room of the Great North. Formerly the Mining Institute, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.  Holds one of the largest public collections on mining engineering in the world. Maps, manuscripts, photographs, books and archives covering mining, railways, geology and much else. Also a venue for hire.

Common Room of the Great North
Common Room of the Great North © David Simpson

Northumberland Archives

Based at Woodhorn and at Berwick upon Tweed. Details at the Northumberland Archives website including a link to the Northumberland Archives online catalogue.

Woodhorn Museum
Woodhorn Museum. near Ashington, home of the Northumberland Achives © David Simpson

The Story Durham

The Story Durham holds thousands of items spanning 900 years of County Durham’s history in its collections which include historic records, documents and objects. Opened to the public in June 2024 following the relocation of the Durham County Record Office here from January 2022. The centre is set in the beautiful grounds of the historic house of Mount Oswald on the outskirts of Durham City.

The Story, Durham at Mount Oswald © David Simpson
The Story, Durham at Mount Oswald © David Simpson

The ground floor includes a cafeteria, shop and a free-to-visit exhibition showing aspects of Durham’s history including archaeology, industry and the story of the Durham Light Infantry Regiment. Research items from the collections, particularly larger items can be viewed through advance booking.

The Story, Durham at Mount Oswald © David Simpson
The Story, Durham at Mount Oswald © David Simpson

The online collections of the Story Durham can be explored here and feature over 81,000 archive records; over 20,000 archaeology records; just under 6,000 local studies records; over 3,000 Durham Light Infantry records and over 1,600 Registrar records.

Durham Cathedral
Durham Cathedral © David Simpson

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

Find out more about the Tyne and Wear archives, publications and special projects. Also see the home page of Tyne and Wear Museums ‘TWAM’ venues are: The Discovery Museum; Great North Museum; Hatton Gallery; Laing Gallery (all Newcastle); Segedunum Roman Fort, Wallsend; Arbeia Roman Fort, South Shields; South Shields Museum & Art Gallery; Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead and the Stephenson Steam Railway, North Tyneside.

Discovery Museum
Discovery Museum, Newcastle © David Simpson

Teesside Archives

A link to the Teesside Archives through the Middlesbrough Borough Council web page.

The National Archives

A link to the National Archives online discovery searchable database of records.

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HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY RESOURCES

Keys to the Past

The Keys to the Past Historic Environment Record website has an extensive database of archaeological sites across Northumberland and Durham coupled with concise local histories of localities across the two counties. It does not include Tyne and Wear.

Sitelines (Tyne and Wear Historic Environment Record)

Sitelines is an excellent source of information on archaeological sites and the records of historical development of places in the Tyne and Wear area.

Historic Environment Research Framework for the North East

Historic Environment Research Framework for the North East

Historic England Historic Environment Record

Extensive, official geographical and highly detailed record of historic sites and features  across England from Historic England. Use the search map to discover the age, purpose, features and status of listed buildings and other features.

Queen Alexandra Bridge, Sunderland
Queen Alexandra Bridge, Sunderland from Webster’s Ropery © David Simpson

Historic England Historic Aerial Photographs

Historic aerial photographs of England including many featuring the North East of England.

British History Online : www.british-history.ac.uk/

Excellent resource for researching local and parish histories:  ‘A collection of nearly 1300 volumes of primary and secondary content relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world. BHO also provides access to 40,000 images and 10,000 tiles of historic maps of the British Isles.’

Heritage Gateway

Search for information on England’s historic sites and buildings, including images of listed buildings, cross-searches over 60 resources. Heritage Gateway.

Waggonways in North East England

Waggonways in North East England is a superb and very well-established map-based website plotting the course of historic wagonways and railways in North East England. Choose the county area on the map and then click into the grid squares to see the wagonways and railways in your chosen area.

North East Mills

North East Mills is an excellent website exploring the locations of windmills and water and watermills in North East England. With maps, photographs, illustrations and lots of historical information.

Easington windmill
Easington windmill © David Simpson

North East History Tour

Historian Mick Southwick’s North East History Tour extensively explores the history of places and localities from just about every corner of the North East region.

North East Heritage Library

A new, independent community driven online site exploring North East heritage developed by Kieran Carter with an impressive and rapidly expanding array of resources and information including the extensive Coals Archive northeastheritagelibrary.co.uk

East Durham Heritage Group www.eastdurhamheritagegroup.co.uk

North East History Timeline

Our clickable year-by-year chronological North East History Timeline features the key events in the history of North East England.

North East History Timeline

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NORTH EAST FAMILY HISTORY

Northumberland and Durham Family History Society

Founded in 1975 and based in Newcastle upon Tyne the society has centres throughout the region. Benefits of membership include free access to certain online records. For more details visit the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society website.

Durham and Northumberland Probate Records

Durham and Northumberland Probate Records 1527-1587. From Durham University Library’s North East Inheritance project. Also see Durham Probate records

North East England Surname Pages : England’s North East

Extensive pages covering over 400 North East Surnames examining surnames with North East connections including distribution, surname origins and meanings. Focusing on names connected with the historic counties of Northumberland, Durham and Yorkshire’s North Riding.

Medieval Geneaology

Notes on Medieval English Geneaology

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NORTH EAST ENGLAND UNIVERSITY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS

Durham University Special Collections

Palace Green Library Archives and Special Collections (by appointment) details here. Site includes links to a catalogue of the university’s printed manuscripts and physical collections (https://discover.durham.ac.uk/) and a catalogue of archives and manuscripts: http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/search

University Library, Palace Green
University Library, Palace Green © David Simpson

Newcastle University Special Collections

An online resource for searching the special collections and archives of Newcastle University here: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/library/special-collections//

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NORTH EAST MINING, ENGINEERING AND LABOUR HISTORY

Durham Mining Museum (Covers ALL North East England)

Online Durham Mining Museum with enormous collection of details on hundreds of collieries and other mines across historic Durham and Northumberland (so it includes ’Tyne and Wear’). Now continuously expanding its scope to cover all of the UK. Includes detailed lists of collieries with information on colliery ownerships, maps, dates of boring and colliery openings and detailed lists of fatalities associated with each mine. The site has well-established coverage of mines in Cumberland, as well as lead mines in the North East and iron stone mines in the Cleveland area.

Durham Mining Museum website
Durham Mining Museum website

Northern Mine Research Society

The Northern Mine Research Society is dedicated to the preservation and recording of mining history.

Collieries Map : Northern Mine Research Society

The Northern Mine Research Society map showing historic coal mine locations in England.

North East Collieries Map by Tangled Worm 

Collieries of North East England. Poster Print map (A2 only)

North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers

See the Common Room of the Great North. (above). Founded in 1852. Details of the benefit of membership can be found on the Mining Institute’s website.

Redhills : Durham Miners Association

The official home of the Durham Miners’ Association. Redhills in the City of Durham is a centre for education, heritage and culture.

Redhills, Durham
Redhills, Durham, © David Simpson 2004

North East Labour History

The North East Labour History Society, founded in 1967, is Britain’s oldest regional labour history society.

Woodhorn Colliery Museum

Woodhorn Museum features history and social history in the region with a focus on coal mining. A fabulous museum based in the former Woodhorn Colliery near Ashington.

Woodhorn Colliery museum
Woodhorn Colliery on the northern edge of Ashington is now a museum © David Simpson

Old Bricks – History at Your Feet

Old Bricks: Photographic website database of old, named bricks including many examples of bricks manufactured by colliery brickworks in North East England. Website by David Sallery featuring historic bricks inscribed with the manufacturer’s brand name. The A-Z listing and photographs of English Bricks is here and the old bricks homepage here.

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GEOLOGY

Our Geology Page

Our geology introduction page from England’s North East

Geology North website

Geology North is an excellent site on northern geology particularly good for its explanations and diagrams explaining the formation of the Cheviots and North Pennines.

Detailed Minerals Maps

Detailed mineral maps from Natural Environment Research Council Archive include:

See also the British Geological Survey

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NORTH EAST REGIMENTS AND WAR HISTORY

Durham Light Infantry

A link to the Durham Light Infantry records at The Story Durham. Records transferred from the former Durham Light Infantry Museum. The centre includes exhibitions featuring the DLI.

Northumberland Fusiliers

Online research and information resource for the county regiment first raised in 1674. Northumberland Fusiliers Museum.

Tyneside Irish Brigade Association

The website of the Tyneside Irish Brigade Association.

North East War Diary

Roy Ripley and Brian Pears’ North East Diary 1939-45 has an astonishing amount of detailed information covering air raids and bombings of North East England during the Second World War. The day-by-day diary, includes the streets and towns affected and the number of fatalities. Bombs were dropped across the entire region falling in the Cheviot Hills; near High Force in Teesdale and on many mining villages but most especially the ports and towns of Tyneside, Wearside, Hartlepool and Teesside.

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BORDER HISTORY

The Border Papers are a detailed insight into Border Reiving and Border troubles in the age of Elizabeth I. They are published in two volumes and available online – including downloadable versions. The two volumes are:

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CASTLES AND FORTIFICATIONS

Gatehouse Gazetteer

A comprehensive county by county national gazetteer of castles, peles, bastles and other fortifications  www.gatehouse-gazetteer.info/home.html

Black Middens Bastle
Black Middens Bastle © David Simpson

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BOOKS

North East Books

  • Classic County Histories – mostly published in the nineteenth century can be a good start for local history research. These are featured in our list of North East books (see Classic Sources : County Histories)  and may include free of charge downloadable versions that are available on line.
  • See our extensive list of North East books featuring the history and topography of North East England. The list includes modern, classic, recent and out of print books.
North East books
North East books


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NORTH EAST MAPS

NLS Ordnance Survey Maps

The National Library of Scotland has a wide variety of historic maps of North East England which can be viewed as side-by-side comparisons of modern and historic. Covering all Britain one of the most useful resources and starting points for local historians.

Useful map resource
The NLS side-by-Side feature is a very useful historical map resource

Other Map Resources

Alan Godfrey Maps

Online shop for The Godfrey Edition Maps. Inexpensive reprints of highly detailed historic Ordnance Survey maps. Based in the North East, Alan Godfrey publishes historic maps covering the length and breadth of Britain.

Godfrey edition maps
Godfrey edition maps

Tangled Worm Map Prints

Online shop Tangled Worm Northern heritage maps: Viking Northumbria, Castles, North East Collieries, Border Reivers, Worm Legends, Roman North etc.

Tangled Worm maps


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NORTH EAST MUSIC, LANGUAGE AND CULTURE

Northumbrian Language Society

The Northumbrian Language Society publishes, promotes, preserves and researches on the dialects of Northumberland, Tyneside and North West Durham.

Folkworks

Part of Sage Gateshead, Folkworks was established in 1988 to promote the folk music of the North East with a programme of workshops, gigs and festivals.

Sage Gateshead
Sage Gateshead © David Simpson


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NORTH EAST BLOGS

England’s North East history blogs

Our history-themed blogs

Border Reiver history and Armoury

Reiver history and armour blog by Brian Moffat.

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FURTHER LINKS

North East History Map 

Books about North East England

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GENERAL HISTORY LINKS

Ancient Monuments Society: www.ancientmonumentssociety.org.uk

Association for Industrial Archaeology: www.industrial-archaeology.org.uk

British Association for Local History: www.balh.co.uk

British History Online : www.british-history.ac.uk/

British History site (BBC): www.bbc.co.uk/history/

English Heritage:
www.english-heritage.org.uk/

English Place Name Society : www.nottingham.ac.uk/english/ins/epns/

Guild of One Name Studies : www.one-name.org

Institute of Historical Studies : www.history.ac.uk/

Island name origins in Orkney : www.orkneyjar.com/placenames/pl-isle.htm

Jorvik Viking Centre (York) : www.jorvik-viking-centre.co.uk/

Bootham Bar and York Minster
Bootham Bar and York Minster from an old postcard

National Trust :
www.nationaltrust.org.uk/main/

Place Names Dale, Holm etc :
www.ramsdale.org/dalr.htm

Place names in the Danelaw :
www.viking.no/e/england/danelaw/epl-danelaw.htm

Place names of Viking origin in England : www.viking.no/e/england/e-pl-england.htm

Place names of Viking origin in Normandy : www.viking.no/e/france/lndscpe-place-names.htm

Regia Anglorum : www.regia.org

Rheged Visitor Centre : www.rheged.com

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PLEASE  SUPPORT OUR SITE

Please help support this site by making a donation on our donations page on the image link below. Even small donations can help a long way. Thank you.

Please support our site

Please email if you would like to have your organisation or resources included in this list.

Further Links

North East History Map 

Books about North East England

North East England History and Culture