A mile north east of Lanchester, Maiden Law stands on top of a hill where a crossroads leads to Leadgate, Durham and Annfield Plain.

Maiden Law was a hamlet in the 19th Century and though it grew in the early 1900s it is still very small.

Until 1914, a windmill stood north of the village, but most early buildings were farms.

Stone quarrying was important and collieries were located nearby at Annfield Plain, South Moor and Burnhope.

Maiden Law Hospital care home is the most familiar landmark in the village today but is down the bank near Lanchester's Ornsby Hill.

Maiden Law's name is a mystery, but one expert suggested it was frequented by maidens in ancient times seeking love and fertility from a yet to be discovered fertility stone.

Such a stone may have been located on the hill, or Law. Interestingly, Lanchester Manor, at the foot of Burnhope Hill was once called Maiden-stan-hall (Maidenstone Hall) and may be connected with the site. It only came to be called a manor after it was acquired by the manor of East Greenwich, in the late 1500s.

Take the Durham road south from Maiden Law and in a mile we reach Burnhope in blustery surroundings on top of a hill 800ft above sea level.

Burnhope's name means either broomy valley or stream valley and is a much bigger place than Maiden Law. The village is best known as the site of a 750ft high television mast that can be seen from miles around. Located alongside the road south west of the village, the mast was built in 1959, the year Tyne Tees Television began its broadcasts to the region.

South of the mast, on the Durham road, are a couple of houses that once formed a hamlet variously known as Try 'em All, Spite of All and Jaw Blades.

The last name commemorates the arch of a whale's jawbone that once, inexplicably, stood nearby. Until 1968 the hamlet had its own pub called the Black Horse Inn. Nearby, a little further east was a farm called Stand Against All but this was demolished in 1970 following a brutal murder.

Burnhope village is situated along the road running north east from the mast towards Holmside and Edmondsley.

Housing developments have taken place at the western end of the village throughout the 20th Century but the oldest parts of the village lie to the east.

Burnhope developed in the 1840s on empty upland fields after the land was linked by wagonway to areas further north at Craghead and South Moor. The mine and wagonway was developed by the famous industrialist William Hedley who built the Puffing Billy locomotive at Wylam Colliery in 1813.

Hedley lived his later life at Burnhopeside Hall, overlooking the River Browney at the foot of Burhope hill. The hall dates from 1800 and was acquired by the Hedleys through marriage. Hedley died here in 1843, aged 63.

Hedley's four sons continued Burnhope's colliery developments after his death. At first the mine was called Ibbotson's Sike Pit after a nearby stream but was renamed the Fortune Pit. The village seems to have been initially called the Sikes.

In 1845, a stationary engine was erected north of the village on the wagonway where it hauled and simultaneously lowered wagons to and from Craghead. The wagonway at Craghead joined a railway further north at Pelton and this subsequently joined the main line near Chester-le-Street.

The Hedleys built Burnhope village north of the colliery and the first school, now demolished, was opened in 1855.

A church dedicated to St John was built close by in 1865 for a new parish called Holmside. Burnhope's church served Craghead, South Moor and Holmside as well as Burnhope itself.

Annie Pit and Fell Pit opened at the colliery in 1868 along with a short-lived pit at Jaw Blades, but other mines followed at Burnhope Colliery in subsequent decades including several neighbouring drifts.

At some stage the colliery passed to new owners and then changed hands again but dates are uncertain. We know however that in 1881 the mine was sold to a man called Utrick Ritson.

Ritson resided at Muggleswick and was a JP and Deputy Lieutenant of Durham. Noted for his philanthropic gestures, he gave Burnhope a reading room, cricket field and a polo pitch, but the massive and rather striking war memorial is the most remarkable legacy of his time.

Built of stylish little red bricks enclosing a memorial garden on three sides, it dates from 1919.

Eight recesses incorporate park benches with a gateway at the centre dedicated to the Glorious Dead.

The memorial formed the entrance to a park complete with a lake but these have now gone. A Methodist chapel dating from the 1880s stands within the former park behind the memorial entrance.

Burnhope Colliery remained in the hands of Ritson's successors until 1939 when Bearpark Coal and Coke Company acquired the mine.

A five-mile aerial ropeway was built from Burnhope to Bearpark enabling the movement of Burnhope coal to Bearpark's colliery coke works. Burnhope Colliery closed in 1949 shortly after it was acquired by the NCB.

Undoubtedly the most remarkable event in Burnhope's history took place in 1926 during the General Strike when Burnhope became the only place other than Durham City to host the Durham Miners' Gala.

The organisers of this annual Durham event thought that few people would attend the Durham gala because of the public transport strike and cancelled the event altogether. Miners at Burnhope had a different idea and set about organising the gala in their own village.

On July 23rd, 1926, approximately 40,000 miners from throughout County Durham climbed the hill to Burnhope to be addressed by their leader, A.J.Cook. It was undoubtedly Burnhope's proudest moment.

If you have Durham memories you would like to share with The Northern Echo, write to David Simpson, Durham Memories, The Northern Echo, Priestgate, Darlington, DL1 1NF. E-mail David.Simpson@nne.co.uk or telephone (01325) 505098.