Stockton is an Anglo-Saxon name with the typical Anglo-Saxon place name ending 'ton' meaning farm, or homestead.
The name is thought by some to derive from the Anglo-Saxon word Stocc meaning log, tree trunk or wooden post. 'Stockton' could therefore mean a farm built of logs. This is disputed, because when the word Stocc forms the first part of a place name it usually indicates a derivation from the similar word Stoc, meaning cell, monastery or place. 'Stoc' names along with places called Stoke or Stow, usually indicate farms which belonged to a manor or religious house. It is thought that Stockton fell into this category and perhaps the name is an indication that Stockton was an outpost of Durham or Norton which were both important Anglo-Saxon centres. This is a matter of dispute, but Stockton was only a part of Norton until the eighteenth century, when it became an independent parish in its own right. Today the roles have been reversed and Norton has been demoted to a part of Stockton.
Stockton is known to be the home of the fossilised remains of the most northerly hippopotamus ever discovered on Earth. In 1958, an archeological dig four miles north-west of the town discovered a molar tooth from a hippo dating back 125,000 years ago. However, no-one knows where exactly the tooth was discovered, who discovered it, or why the dig took place. The tooth was sent to the borough's librarian and curator, G. F. Leighton, who then sent to the Natural History Museum, London. Since then the tooth has been missing, and people are trying to rediscover it.
Stockton began as an Anglo-Saxon settlement on high ground close to the northern bank of the River Tees.
The manor of Stockton was created around 1138 and was purchased by Bishop Pudsey of Durham in 1189. During the 13th century, the bishop turned the village of Stockton into a borough. When the bishop freed the serfs of Stockton, craftsmen came to live in the new town. The bishop had a residence in Stockton Castle, which was just a fortified manor house. The first recorded reference to the castle was in 1376.