Situated in the north east of the country, County Durham stretches from Peterlee and Seaham in the east, to Harwood and Killhope in the west and Burnopfield in the north to Barningham in the south.  The county is bordered by Sunderland, Gateshead, Northumberland, Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Darlington, Stockton-onTees
and Hartlepool.

Throughout history, County Durham has been strategically important to settlers ranging from the Romans to the Angles, Saxons and Normans.  Northumbria became the leading centre of the Christian church in Britain with the foundation of Durham Cathedral in 1093 acting as a lasting reminder of the County’s legacy to
Christian worship in Britain.

Following the Norman Conquests, William the Conqueror invested the Bishops of Durham with combined secular and spiritual powers to control the modern counties of Cleveland, Durham and Tyne and Wear.  The Prince Bishops levied taxes, raised armies, minted money, controlled the courts and were effectively ‘kings’ of North East England until their powers were dramatically diminished by Henry VIII in 1536.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, County Durham became a world leader in the Industrial Revolution, with the county’s development based upon coal and iron production.  The area’s influence on the world was demonstrated by the development of the world’s first passenger steam railway at Stockton and Darlington in 1825.



  • County Durham Life Course Infographic