Biggin was once known as Newbiggin, when it had a monastic settlement of the Cistercian order, established by the monks of Garendon Abbey, Leicestershire. The monks established a sheep ranch at Biggin Grange, which still has one ancient outbuilding. Farming is still important to the village, though at one time (18th Century) it was also a centre of lead mining. When the lead started to be worked out, there was a migration of lead miners to Upper Teesdale, and they probably took the name Newbiggin there. Today tourism is the main industry.