Covering a relatively small area of a few hundred square metres, its location on the steep rising south banks of one of the North East of Englands principal waterways has witnessed considerable land use change over the last millennia, and provides valuable insight into the social, industrial and environmental events in Sunderland from even earlier historic periods.

Indeed, more broadly, as Moffat and Rosie (2005) state quite plainly, “…the ice shaped the landscape of the North-east and the landscape remembers it” (2005:11). Geologically, magnesian limestone remains the prevailing feature at Galley’s Gill, with a ‘sandstone succession in Wear Valley [and] thence passing under the magnesian limestone capping (Permian scarp) in East Durham (House 1969:101).

The River Wear remains arguably Sunderland’s most pivotal landmark and as a result of Galley’s Gill position alongside this meandering river, historic associations are largely testament to the strategic influence of the river as a conduit to transport, military defence and industry.


House, JW. 1969. Industrial Britain, The North East . Newton Abbott, David and Charles.

Moffat A., and Rosie G. 2005. Tyneside: A History of Newcastle and Gateshead from Earliest Times.

Photo: Old Bishopwearmouth from The Gill