This article or section may have been copied and pasted from a source, possibly in violation of Wikipedia's copyright policy. Please remedy this by editing this article to remove any non-free copyrighted content and attributing free content correctly, or flagging the content for deletion. Please be sure that the source of the copyright violation is not itself a Wikipedia mirror. (December 2014)
Newton upon Derwent's history reflects the history of much of the rural countryside of the Vale of York and to some extent that of other relatively low-lying parts of the North of England. The village, has no Church or Manor House to give it a feeling of importance. Instead it has a Methodist Chapel (now used as Village Hall), a Public House the "Half Moon", no shops and a few working farms. Not so long ago there were many active farms and the village had more facilities in the way of shops, a smithy and a wheelwright. Since Newton was not referred to in the Domesday book and not mentioned in records until around 1150 (and called Niweton in 1190, Neweton in 1246), it is possible that it was founded in the 64 years between 1086 when the Domesday book was compiled and 1150. The name suggests that it was a new village (Old English n‘owa tãn) and thus a deliberate foundation and not just a village that had grown up by random settlement. However, note that the Roman Road between Brough and York may have run through what is now the north end of the village and it is thus possible that there may have been some settlement here in Roman times. Furthermore, some of the villages around Newton were mentioned in the Domesday book and it is unlikely that where the village is now would just have been a blank on the map. Evidently, however, such settlements that there were before 1086 were not sufficient for the area to be called a village. The prefix "iuxta Derwent" was first mentioned in the 13th century and "super Derwent" in the 14th century, presumably to distinguish our Newton from the many others that existed. Why this association with the Derwent was used when the river is about a mile away is possibly because, at the time, this was the nearest clear feature by which it could be identified. Note that the name is Newton upon Derwent (from the Latin iuxta meaning near to or super meaning above) and not like Newton on Ouse, where the "on" is used because it is actually on the river.. Later, the Derwent became important to the village as a means of water transport. The fields on which the village have depended, stretch to the river. The water-meadow alongside the river, flooded often during the winter and spring is called the Mask has been and still is a part of the village's economy providing considerable crops of hay in the summer and grazing for sheep in the autumn and winter. The name Derwent (Latin Derventione, from the name of a Roman station on the Derwent) is thought to be derived from the Old British word derua (Welsh derwa) meaning an oak and thus the name Newton upon Derwent suggests "The new village above the river where the oaks grow" The river is mentioned in Bede circa 730 AD as Deruuentionem and in AD 959 as Deorwentam. One of the puzzles about the village is that the oldest houses that are now seen appear to date from the late 18th century. There are records of earlier inhabitants of the village, for instance Robert de Hoton who died in 1447 and John Horsley who died in 1719 but there are no records of the houses in which they lived. Were all the original houses (probably of wood and thatch) replaced at the time of the Enclosures around 1766 and did the village then become the ”new town" which we can see to-day from that point? The earliest map of the village is dated 1755 however shows that the majority of houses in the village were represented on that map. They may not however be the actual houses which are present to-day and may have been rebuilt on their original sites.
The village stands on the Escrick moraine which was formed during the retreat of the last Ice Age, some 10,000 years ago. This moraine forms a low ridge, standing above the Vale of York. The ridge, at this point is about 33 feet (10 m) above the surrounding countryside which itself is some 33 feet (10 m) above sea level it stretches, in a curve, from the west of Escrick in the south to near Stamford Bridge in the north. There were droveways for moving stock and these trackways crossed the vale of York by the natural bridges provided by the moraines. It thus seems likely that there would be a pathway along the top of the moraine along what would now be the road from Wilberfoss and what is now called Back ‘o Newton. The linear "street" village of Newton is not however placed along the old pathway along the top of the moraine, The Geological map of 1872 shows that there was a line of natural springs and wells along what is now Main Street and therefore the siting of the village offset from the road along the top of the moraine would be a sensible thing to do to capitalise on the existence of water.