LOCAL History Notebook

Ayhope Shield

Ayhopschel (1256), Ayhopschell, ?Hapeland (c1380), Ape Shield (1753), Ayhope Shield (1851, 1860),  Ahhop Shiel (1861)

Local pronunciation is Ape Shield, Ape Beck.

Location:    Ordnance Survey Grid Reference NY 049317

Not marked on modern 1:25 000 OS map, but Ayhope Beck is marked. The stream feature where the North Grain Beck and the South Grain Beck meet to form Ayhope Beck is called "The Meeting of the Grains". Steel Beck flows into North Grain Beck about 1km above Ayhope Shield. Building (remains) shown as Ayhope Shield on 1:10 000 map. Enclosure shown on map of c1860 as 33.078 acres (enclosed area same as modern map)

Not strictly part of South Bedburn since it lies in the South Quarter of Wolsingham side of the boundary but very definitely on the South Bedburn side of the watershed. The Ayhope Beck flows down into the Bedburn Beck. Very noticeable as an area of grassland within the surrounding moors. It is about an hour's walk to Hamsterley and a bit further to Wolsingham.

Pikestone mines' workings can be seen from Steel Beck above Ayhope Shield to the top of the moor towards Wolsingham although many of the upper workings were destroyed around 2001 when the stone was reclaimed to surfave tracks on the moor.

Not mentioned in Boldon Book (1083AD)

?Ayhope Shield mentioned in Bishop Hatfield's survey of 1377-1380 - "Land near Hapeland - tenant William Blakden?  Robert Craw - 1 rood of land at Hapeland"

"Further north the sacrist of Durham Cathedral Priory expanded his flocks and herds sometime between 1425 and 1438 by developing a stock farm, probably for sheep, at Ayhope near Wolsingham in Weardale" (Agriculture and Rural Society after the Black Death - Richard Britnell, Ben Dodds 2009)

Shown with no dwelling on the inclosure map of 1760 as an enclosure at the junction of the South grain of Ape and the North Grain of Ape - the Meeting of the Grains on the modern Ordnance Survey.

Down from here was the farm of Ayhope Shiel which was converted to a bothy by the Mountain Bothies Association but had to be closed due to the constant vandalism.
That Ayhope Shield place used to be an MBA bothy - regularly trashed by the naughty boys from Newton Aycliffe school - and eventually demolished by the shooting estate who got fed up of the troublesome teens.  Me and my old dawg once spent a noisy and smoky night there (very busy nocturnal rabbit activities and a blocked chimney) The dog spent the whole night growling and grumbling...

1851 Census - occupied by John Hankey (80 years old) the farmer of the surrounding 100 acres, John Dawson - a shepherd and agricultural labourer, John Dawson's mother acting as housekeeper

Between 21st and 23rd September 1796 a group of inhabitants “beat the bounds”, only in our case they rode them, as the circumference of the parish was nearly 20 miles, and much of it over pretty rough ground.  George Hankey of Ape Shield joined the group on the later two days, and an account of the ride opens with the following paragraph: “Beginning at the outer corned of Mr Jasper Harrison’s out allotment, formerly Greenthorn Currock.  From thence crossing the road leading to Redford through Hart Soulings and down the bank to the meeting of the North and South Grain Burns under Ape Shield.  At the meeting of the Burns Mr Wilson (the Rev. Wm) read a payer.  J. Nicholson, with the rest of the company sang the old 100th psalm.
Ralph Peacock http://www.hamsterleyvillage.com/history-2/a-history-of-hamsterley/