Remains of a Norman motte and bailey castle at the lost village Medival Villages of Alstoe, near Oakham, Rutland
Deserted medieval village (DMV) sites are former settlements which have been abandoned for one reason Medeival Villages or another over the years, usually leaving little Medeval Villages but the remains of earthworks Mediveal Villages or ghostly cropmarks. If, at a DMV, there are fewer than three inhabited houses Medieal Villages the convention is to regard the site as deserted; if there are more than three houses, it is regarded as Meideval Villages a shrunken medieval village. There are estimated to be more than 3,000 DMVs in England alone.
- 1 Other deserted settlements
- 2 Reasons for desertion
- 3 Examples
- 4 See also
- 5 External links
- 6 References
Other deserted settlements
Not all sites are medieval; villages reduced in size or disappeared over a long period, from as early as Anglo-Saxon times to as late as the 1960s, for numerous different causes.
Reasons for desertion
Over the centuries settlements have been deserted for natural reasons including rivers changing course or silting up, flooding (especially during the wet 13th and 14th centuries) as well as coastal and estuarine erosion.
Many were thought to have been abandoned as a result of the deaths of their inhabitants from the Black Death of the mid-14th century. While the plague must have greatly hastened the population decline, which had already set in by the early 14th century in England because of soil exhaustion and disease, most DMVs actually seem to date from the 15th century, when fields cultivated for cereals and vegetables by villagers were transformed into sheep pastures. This change of use by landowners to take advantage of the profitable wool trade led to hundreds of villages being deserted.
Later the aristocratic fashion for grand country mansions, parks and landscaped gardens led to whole villages being moved or destroyed to enable lords of the manor to satisfy the vogue – a process often called emparkment.
Between about 1760 and 1835 parliamentary enclosures transformed the English countryside as the ancient open field system of cultivation gave way to compact farms and enclosed fields. Bigger, more efficient farms resulted, but thousands of cottagers and small farmers were driven from the land and into the emerging big cities.
The notorious Highland Clearances led to a major depopulation of parts of Scotland during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
See: List of lost settlements in the UK
Perhaps the best-known deserted medieval village in England is at Wharram Percy in Yorkshire, because of the extensive archaeological excavations conducted there between its discovery in 1948 and 1990. Its ruined church and its former fishpond are still visible. There is another excellent example at Gainsthorpe, Lincolnshire. Old Wolverton in Milton Keynes is a further example.
- Deserted medieval villages and other abandoned communities in Britain
- ^ the sequence leading to its abandonment is given at History of Milton Keynes
Categories: Deserted medieval villages in England | History of England | Norman and Medieval England | Villages