Wharram Percy (Deserted Medieval Village, DMV) North Yorkshire, England

Wharram Percy Village Geography:
  • Wharram Percy is a deserted medieval village site.
  • Best-preserved of Britain's 3,500 abandoned villages.
  • It is found on the western edge of the chalk Wolds in North Yorkshire, England.
  • The village is currently in the care of English Heritage, who have produced audio tours & historic information panels at the site.
  • The ruined church (St Martin's) is visible above ground.
  • To the East of the village is the Yorkshire Wolds Way long-distance footpath.
  • The site is also signposted from the B1248 Beverley to Malton road.
Wharram Percy Village Historical Facts:
  • Settled since pre-historic times.
  • Village most active from the 10th to 12th centuries.
  • Mentioned briefly in Domesday Book.
  • Wharram Percy is perhaps the best-known deserted medieval village in England.
  • The lady of the manor, a minor noble as at 1321, had been Eustachia Percy, a cousin of Henry Percy. [2]
  • Walter Heslerton, the husband to Eustacia Percy, died of the Black Death in 1349. [2]
  • Following Walter Heslerton's death the whole manor was placed in the hands of trustees as their son was still a minor. [2]
  • Eustacia percy, at the time, was incapable of running the manor herself as she was insane. [2]
  • Eustacia Percy died in 1365, with the landholding passing then to her son Walter Percy, who died in 1367. [2]
  • The manor then became subsumed into the great Percy estate, & fell into further disrepair.
  • The Black Death of 1348–49, probably did not have a significant part in the desertion of Wharram Percy.
  • The villagers appear to have suffered from changes in prices and wages in the 15th century.
  • The village was abandoned shortly after 1500, when the lord of the manor (Baron Hilton) removed the last 4 families, & knocked down their homes to give extra sheep pasturage. [from legal document of 1517]
Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village Project (1950-1990):
  • The Village was first identified by the historian Professor Maurice Beresford of the University of Leeds in 1948.
  • The project is one of the longest running (1950-1990) research programmes in England.
  • John Hurst, a Cambridge University graduate of medieval pottery, took over the running of the early excavations.
  • John Hurst also introduced open area excavation to Wharram Percy, which at that time it was a new technique.
Recent Archeological Finds:
  • Skeletons of the women from Wharram Percy have much larger bones than those of contemporaries elsewhere. [1]
  • According to Simon Mays, of English Heritage, "Women at Wharram were much more muscular and bigger boned than their city counterparts. Whilst they were still doing the domestic chores and looking after children, they clearly also mucked in with the hard labour in the fields, building up their arm strength." [1]
  • "The research underlines the way that the sexual division of labour was much less marked in rural areas than in the cities of the time,". [1]
[1] - Skeletons from Wharram Percy ... [Guardian, 2009]

[2] - Benedict Gummer (2009). The Scourging Angel. Publishers The Bodley Head

Top Image © Paul Allison (cc)

Bottom Image by dougbelshaw (cc)


Archeology - Baron Hilton - Black Death - English Heritage - Eustachia Percy - Henry Percy - John Hurst - Maurice Beresford - Medieval Deserted Village - Village - Wharram Percy - Wolds -

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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