The initial dataset has been constructed from the list of Deserted Medieval Villages that were known in 1968, complied by John Sheail, and published as the ’County Gazetteers of Deserted Medieval Villages (known in 1968)’ in Beresford and Hurst’s 1971 publication ‘Deserted Medieval Villages’. On this website this list has been referred to as ‘the 1968 Gazetteer’. In many ways this list has formed the basis of many studies of Deserted Medieval Settlement. It is the hope of this project to update this list to include other settlements which have been identified since 1968. These may have been recorded on the National Monuments Record, local Historic Environments Records, through work of individuals and projects often on a county or regional basis, or those which have been identified by the project during its work. The stage we have reached with each county is shown on the Village Explorer. Those indicated as ‘2014’ are where a full list of know sites is presented – those from 1968 and ones identified since. Those counties shown as ‘1968 data’ have the complete list from the 1968 Gazetteer and all the data is present along with a full description. These counties have not been updated and newly identified sites have not been added. For those labelled ‘1968 data (part)’, the list from the 1968 Gazetteer is presented with a skeleton data set, mainly locational and documentary sources, but a full description has not been completed. These are very much ongoing and will be released on a county by county basis when completed. For updates on progress see the About pages. The counties labelled ‘Awaiting data’ did not have any sites listed in the 1968 Gazetteer.
The Village Explorer has been created in ArcGIS Online (ESRI) using their ArcGIS Experience Builder.
It was decided to use the pre-1974 counties to list the villages on the website. This was for a number of reasons. Firstly, the initial list published in 1971 was organised in this way. Secondly the modern administrative units have now become overly complicated with not only counties but also smaller unitary authorities. Whilst these divisions will be familiar to locals on the ground, they would not be as apparent to a wider audience – whereas a notion of the pre-1974 counties would be more accessible. For information on the boundary changes to a county, see the information on the main county pages. These changes have been plotted by ‘The Vision of Britain Through Time’ website http://www.visionofbritain.org.uk/
With the names of settlements, prefixes are always shown following the remainder of the place-name. These include the prefixes of North, East, West, South, Upper, Middle, Lower, Over, Under, Nether, Great, Little, Magna, Parva, High and Low. If an ‘End’ or ‘Green’ is considered to be an integral part of a larger village its name appears in brackets after the main village name, whereas separate Ends and Greens are listed first, with the name of their main village afterwards where appropriate. For example an integral part of village would appear as ‘Stagsden (North End)’, and a separate part of the village would be ‘North End, Stagsden’. In general in the absence of any evidence we have assumed that separate deserted ‘Ends’ and ‘Greens’ are likely to have been hamlets.
If the settlement name in one of the documentary sources is not completely the same as the one under investigation, it is recorded in brackets. For example, if the DMV name is East Lockington but the tax record is Lockington then the entry is ‘3000 (Lockington)’.
Multiple villages in a single record
In many of the records a settlement may not be recorded separately, but in association with one or more others. In some cases the nature of this relationship may have value. As such, the entries for these records indicate the other settlements with which it is recorded and the nature of that connection. For example, if ‘Stamford with Bredecroft’ was recorded as being taxed for a total of 3000 pence the entry in the Stamford record would be ‘3000 (with Bredecroft)’, and in the Bredcroft would be ‘3000 (Stamford with)’.
Values of tax records
For many of the tax records used by the website, the amount payable is often listed in old pounds (£), shillings (s) and pence (d). To be able to compare these easily all have been converted to pence (d). There were 240 pence in a pound and 12 pence in a shilling.
Where no data exists for a settlement there may be a number of reasons for this. The area may have been exempt from taxation, it may be a case that some or all of the records do not survive to the present day, or it may be the case that the settlement was not recorded at all. We have therefore adopted the following policy for absent data.
- entries have been left blank if the area was exempt from the taxation
- ‘no surviving record’ has been added if there are potentially missing records due to poor survival
- ‘not recorded’ indicates that there is a document covering the area in which the settlement would be expected to fall – so you would expect to find a record but it is not listed
The location point for each settlement in the Village Explorer is located over the grid reference contained within the database (see below). It may not show any features for the settlement. The village description will indicate if any medieval features have been spotted at the site. In Google Earth, which can be downloaded freely, you may find different images. If you look at the Google Earth website itself – http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en_uk/earth/ , you can change the image to look at all the images that have been taken of an area. On some occasions earlier images may show features much clearer depending on factors such as vegetation, season and light direction. For an example of this, in Google Earth, search for Childerley, South Cambridgeshire. Using the ‘see historical imagery’ tool, select the image from 10/2008. In this image you can clearly see the earthworks of the village of Great Childerley to the south-east of the current buildings. Compare this image to any of the other ones available and you will find a variety of situations from no visible earthworks to a range of identifiable features.
Please note that most of the sites on this website are on private property and there is no public access.
Whereas most of the information on this website has been formulated from a variety of peer-reviewed sources that are well established and have been well critiqued, the site type that has been assigned to each of these sites is the one where this website has taken upon itself to evaluate the evidence available to draw some distinction between types of desertion and, on occasion, to bring into question the site’s inclusion on the list. These decisions of course are open to opinions, reinterpretations and re-evaluations and we welcome comments from anyone on these classifications. Most of the terms adopted here are also found in the English Heritage Thesauri (https://collectionstrust.org.uk/resource/thesaurus-of-monument-types-fish/) under the Monument terms for domestic settlement. Using these terms aligns the website with other records such as the local HERs. However, reviewing the whole list at once, allows differences of interpretation over the years and on a local scale to be ironed out. The following is a broad description of each term used.
DMV – Deserted Medieval Villages. Those settlements that show clear evidence of a population concentration that was present during the medieval period, but has since been totally depopulated. There may be a modern farmstead on the site, or a new settlement may have re-grown at a much later date.
DMH – Deserted Medieval Hamlet. A settlement that was present in the medieval period and shows clear evidence of depopulation. However such a settlement was never large in size. There is of course a wide variety of settlement types across the country, but it was felt there needed to be some distinction to indicate much smaller settlements.
Shrunken – a settlement which was much larger in the medieval period, and areas of former habitations have been identified. The area of the current settlement should have been occupied to some extent in the medieval period.
Migrated/shifted – a settlement that has moved location, whether that be by one sudden action (migrated) or through gradual processes (shifted).
Doubtful – This category includes entries where it is doubtful that there is any evidence of a deserted settlement. This may be due to three different factors: there may be no convincing evidence of any settlement either archaeological or historical; there may be no evidence a settlement was occupied in the medieval period; finally there is evidence for medieval occupation, but it is not convincing that the settlement deserved to be classed as a village or hamlet, being more likely to be just a farmstead.
The description evaluates the available evidence for this settlement. It provides a description of any physical evidence, either still upstanding, from excavated remains or from evidence that has since been destroyed. It then evaluates the evidence for changing circumstances in the settlement from the material listed on this website or other available sources. If the information is available, it postulates a date and reason for depopulation, or explains why the site has been classified as a different form of settlement. These descriptions have been written by the web team and we welcome any comments, suggestions or updates.
The references that have been used to compose the description. Some of these are the official records from the NMR and/or HER. Some are from published works. Others may be unpublished reports. These can usually be accessed at the local HER offices. For a list of HERs and links to their own websites see: http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/chr/default.aspx
The county in which the site is located before the major boundary changes in 1974.
These have been taken from the historic parishes listed in Roger Kain and Richard Oliver’s publication ‘Historic Parishes of England and Wales’. This produced a set of digital maps that were then converted to a format that can be used with modern mapping programmes used by the project (GIS). These parish boundaries were constructed from information contained on early-nineteenth century Tithe maps and those from parliamentary enclosure. These parishes had been formed in the Middle Ages, and there seems to have been very little change until the mid-nineteenth century. Research has shown in local areas that there were high degrees of continuity from pre-Conquest periods. Kain and Oliver therefore state that ‘a map of parish boundaries as they were in the first half of the nineteenth century should be of value for at least the whole of the modern period, i.e. circa 1500 onwards, and, given the presumption of continuity rather than change in boundary alignments, such a map should also form a useful starting point for the reconstruction of earlier boundaries’ (Kain and Oliver 2001: 11).
Kain, R. and R. Oliver 2001. Historic parishes of England and Wales. Colchester: History Data Service.
Present county of unitary area
This is the location of the site in the administrative boundaries established in 2010.
The modern parish in which the site is located. These have been checked against those listed in Heritage Gateway – http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/
This is the Ordnance Survey grid reference for the suggested location of the settlement. The grid references are taken from the second edition of Beresford and Hurst, published in 1989, which has corrected a number of errors in the original. During the project, and with the help of modern computer-aided mapping, it was also discovered that a number of sites where still wrongly recorded on this list. Although there have been refinement to the location of many of the sites, these errors were major typographical slips in the original list rather than a small shift of location. They were often the allocation of the wrong two-letter prefix. The settlements in the 1968 Gazetteer that need amendments are:
Bullocks Hall NZ245982
Yorkshire, East Riding
Linton, East SE800283
Linton, West SE793280
Yorkshire, North Riding
Danby on Ure SE171869
If a more recent revaluation has shown a more refined grid reference associated with the physical evidence then this has been used and noted in the description. For those counties where full descriptions have yet to be written, the grid reference has been kept as that published in the 1968 Gazetteer. Future refinement may show that this is not the actual location of the settlement evidence.
Latitude and Longitude
These have been produced from the Ordnance Survey grid reference using the transformation tool available on the Ordnance Survey website: https://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/gps/transformation/ This tool changed slightly over the period of the project. These figures are used by the Village Explorer to locate the points on the maps.