Prehistoric and Romano-British activity in the Brampton area is indicated by field systems, tracks, a lane and settlement sites that are visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs of the area to the east of Pontefract Road. Early medieval activity in the area is indicated by place-name evidence. Recorded as ‘Brantone’ in the 1086 Domesday survey, Brampton derives its name from the Old English elements ‘brom’ and ‘tun’, and means ‘farmstead in the broom’ (Smith 1961).
The appellation ‘bierlow’, recorded in the area from at least 1307, derives from the Old Norse term ‘byar-log’, meaning ‘the law of the village’ and indicates that Brampton was an area where local laws had been established by mutual consent to deal with minor disputes within the village or township boundary (Smith 1961). Ironworking activity appears to have been taking place at Brampton in the early medieval period, with a possible bloomery site being worked in the early 11th century.
Following the Norman Conquest, Brampton was granted to Ilbert de Laci, the lord of Pontefract and was held by Monk Bretton Priory from the 12th century. Mills were recorded in the area from the 12th century, while upstanding ridge and furrow earthworks indicate past agricultural land use. The village was recorded as ‘Brampton juxta Wath’ in the 1379 Poll Tax return.
Elements of medieval buildings survive within the fabric of several later structures, including timber-framed farm buildings and high status dwellings. During the early post-medieval period, the area came into the ownership of the Wentworth family at Wentworth Woodhouse. The Needle’s Eye, an 18th-century folly constructed by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, remains extant.
Coal mining was undertaken in the Brampton area during the early post-medieval period and accelerated with the opening of Brampton/Rainborough Colliery in 1819 and Cortonwood Colliery in 1838. The latter mine closed in 1850 and is not to be confused with the Brampton Coal Company’s Cortonwood Colliery, which opened in 1873. Concrete Cottages, eight rows of houses on a triangular site near the pit yard, were constructed in concrete in 1882. Cortonwood Colliery remained open into the 1980s, when plans for its accelerated closure led directly to the 1984-1985 Miners Strike. Cortonwood Colliery closed in 1986.