How did Burnopfield get its name? One theory is that it is a combination of Saxon and Scandinavian words: `burn' - a Saxon word for a small stream; `hope' - a Scandinavian word shortened to `op', meaning the head of a dene; and `field' - from the Saxon word `fell' meaning a fell or moor. Burnopfield is, therefore, `the fell at the head of a dene with a stream running through'.
This definition is certainly possible since there is a stream, which rises on the sloping hillside below Hobson and eventually makes its way into the dene near Bryan's Leap. This is further confirmed by the fact that there used to he three old red-tiled cottages called Dyke Heads (the head of a dyke or burn) between where Lilac Crescent now stands and the old Hobson Colliery. However, this theory is rather dull, a much more appealing alternative is as follows. In August 1640, a band of marauding Scots arrived on the north bank of the Tyne and pitched camp at Newburn. Having failed to capture Newcastle from the north, they decided to cross the Tyne and try from the south. The English anticipated this and sent a small detachment of troops to Stellahaugh where they quickly built some defensive earthworks. A Scottish officer frequently rode down to the river to refresh his horse, annoying an English officer so much that he fired at him and this shot started a battle. The small English force, being heavily outnumbered by the Scots, beat a hasty retreat.
Many fled by way of Whickham, but others ran along the Derwent valley, up the hillside through Bryan's Leap, passing the little hamlet on the ridge of the hill with its fields of ripening corn. Here the order was given to set fire to the crops so that the fleeing English soldiers could make their escape under cover of smoke. After this, the little red-tiled hamlet became known as 'Burn-up-field'! Far-fetched, perhaps, but more romantic! Another possibility is the fact that as long ago (is 1608, the area in which I3urnopfield lies used to be called I3ennetfield, which over the years may have been corrupted to Burnopfield. Maybe a simpler explanation is that someone of the name 'Burnop' or 'Burnip' owned a field where the village is now. We shall never know.
There are several theories about the origin of the name 'Bryan's Leap'. The Most Obvious is that someone of that name made a prodigious- leap on foot or on horseback over one of the nearby denes. However, why, when or with what result the leap was made is not known, although it must have keen quite a leap to have been immortalized in the name of the place where it occurred. Another is that it may he a corruption of Bruin's Leap'. Many years ago bear-baiting was a common practice and maybe a bear, being baited in the village, leapt into the Dene to escape. Interestingly, in parish records before 1871, the village of Burnopfield is often referred to as the `Leap', the `Loup', the `Lop' or the 'Lope'. The nearby Leap Mill farm may have some connection with Bryan's Leap.
Thomas Linn built a watermill on the site of Leap Mill Farm over 250 years ago bur over the years the site appears to have been Used for several purposes. On the Ordnance Survey map published in 1862, the area around the modern day farm is described as `The Leap Mills (Naphtha Manufactory)'. Naphtha and charcoal were manufactured in buildings near the mill. The same map also shows quarries on Busty Bank and between Burnopfield House and Sheephill. Work on restoring the mill began in 1988, and a replacement waterwheel was added during 1990 and 1991. The eighteenth-century Leap Mill Farm is now a Grade II listed building.
Leap Mill Farm (pictured above) is actually at Burnopfield (or Leap) just a couple of hundred yards down a bank leading to Rowlands Gill. The Farm is approximately 1 1/4 miles from Lintz Green.