DMVs in Archaeological Magazines 2018

With the Christmas break comes the annual read of all the magazines and journals that have dropped through the letter box in the last year and piled up unread. The likes of Current Archaeology and British Archaeology report on ongoing fieldwork, research projects, development-led excavations and reflect on projects passed. Covering the whole of the UK and all time periods, deserted villages appear occasionally and here are a few of the highlights for this year.

The A14 excavations Cambridgeshire

This project has featured in both British Archaeology (Sept/Oct 2018 Issue 162) and Current Archaeology (June 2018 Issue 339) over the last year. These major excavations ahead of the creation of a new bypass and widening of the current A14 and part of the A1 have been one of the largest development projects to date (but as the article in British Archaeology (Issue 162) highlights – is one of a number of large infrastructure projects that will be coming soon). The excavations employed 250 archaeologists, excavated over 40 sites, revealed extensive evidence of activity from prehistory onward – including part of the deserted settlement identified as Houghton – there in the 12th century but abandoned in the 13th century (the site was not listed in 1968 – so has yet to appear on the website). Excavations revealed a number of buildings situated alongside a hollow way along with evidence of industrial activity. This included a blacksmith’s workshop and a number of pits used for retting or tanning. Suggestions in the articles were that the village was abandoned as royal forests were expanded – but some of the press coverage does repeat the old adage that many DMVs are the result of the Black Death – something that is not substantiated by the evidence. The British Archaeology article mentions a community excavation at Houghton, continuing after the completion of the investigations required for the road works – so maybe more will be revealed of this village in the future.

Brit Arch
British Archaeology 162 Front cover showing the work on the A14


Remembering Wharram Percy

Joe Flatman regularly digs into the back issues of Current Archaeology to review themes or projects. In the July issue of Current Archaeology (Issue 340: 14-15), he reviews the times that Wharram featured in the magazine from Issue 4 onwards. In this review he also demonstrates how important the excavations were in terms of not only Medieval settlement studies, but in archaeological methodology and how the annual excavations trained many of the future generation of archaeologists (including this blog’s author as a novice 16 year-old!). It seems fitting that the article appeared in the July edition – the annual timing for the excavations – which continued from 1948 to 1990. The appearances of Wharram in the pages of Current Archaeology reflect the changing focus of the project through the years, but stand the test of time of this important project. In contrast to the A14 excavations were new ways of recruiting archaeologists had to be developed, the annual excavations at Wharram saw the development of many archaeologists, the networking and camaraderie that camping brought, and make you wonder if Wharram was still running – would there be a ready supply of trained archaeologists for these large projects?

wharram current arch
Wharram on the front cover of Current Archaeology Issue 49 from 1975

Deserted villages, drones and LiDAR

The changing technologies of the modern day are allowing new views of many different archaeological sites including deserted medieval villages. The advent of drones which allow aerial data to be gathered across sites not only enables detailed archaeology photographs to be taken but also fine grained topographic surveys. LiDAR (Light Detection & Ranging) data also allows for topographic survey as well as peeling back layers such as tree cover. This is also becoming more widely available.

As with all new technology the full capabilities of drones is only just being explored. One group that have explored the possibilities of the technology has been Yorkshire Archaeological Aerial Mapping and among their surveys have been a number of deserted village sites. They have so far provided the surveys of Wharram Percy, Lead and East Tanfield. Below you can see their survey of Wharram Percy.

Drone survey of Wharram Percy by Yorkshire Archaeological Aerial Survey

Further information and examples of this technique can be found here 

LiDAR data is becoming more freely available and as such more and more people are modelling archaeological sites, and deserted medieval settlements are among these. One site with a number of deserted villages modelled is that of Stephen Eastmead – and this includes a guide to processing LiDAR data using a freely available GIS package –  One of Stephen’s models is below – that of East Matfen village in Northumberland.

East matfen
East Matfen Deserted Village (at number 1) (C) Stephen Eastmead

For those with access to GIS software to process and present the data – you can download LiDAR data from

The data will need processing to make the most of the data – below is the first view of the data from Eske in East Yorkshire – earthworks are visible – but needs processing to reveal all the features.

Initial data from of Eske Deserted Medieval Village before processing

On-line viewers of LiDAR data are available for those without the knowledge or time to process the data. The main one being: There is not complete coverage of the country – but there are many notable sites visible – a couple are shown below:

Eske houseprices
Eske Deserted Medieval Village in East Yorkshire taken from Houseprices LiDAR map of England


Rotsea Deserted Medieval Village in East Yorkshire from Houseprices LiDAR map of England

More and more data is becoming readily available through sites such as these.

Midsomer Murders….. and deserted villages

Why Midsomer Murders? – All will be revealed in a moment…..

Over the summer of 2016 a trip to Dorset allowed a number of sites to be visited on the ground. One of the sites did not make it into the original Gazetteer of deserted sites from 1968. It was not that this site was unknown at this point – but would seemingly be a result of a decision not to include this and other similar sites – this will be a topic of the next post.

The site in question is Tyneham. Requisitioned by the army in 1943 for the preparations for D-Day it has remained abandoned since, but is now open to the public when the army range is not in use. Today, particularly during the summer months, it is a popular tourist hot spot.

This is not the only similar settlement to suffer such a fate – more below….. and a similar village formed the focus of a recent Midsomer Murders episode (The Village that Rose from the Dead), as local families compete for the recently returned settlement. Redevelopment opportunities create rivals of executive holiday apartments, an eco-village and heritage centre, competing for bids to take over the village. Needless to say, soon the village has seen death by: running over by a tank, cyanide poising and death by positioned snake bites (deserted settlements are apparently an excellent base for illegal tropical snake breading!). The title of the episode ‘The Village that Rose from the Dead’ gives an insight into the nature of the tale to be told, but the name of the village – Little Auburn – harks back to Goldsmith’s 1770 poem ‘The Deserted Village’ with the opening line ‘Sweet Auburn! loveliest village of the plain’.

Tyneham in Dorset first appears on the Medieval Village Research Groups lists of deserted villages on the lists produced in 1988. It was not that sites such as these – modern abandonments of medieval villages, had not be known or considered earlier – it was just that they had not fitted into the traditional idea of a deserted medieval village, perhaps as many of these types of sites had been deserted less than 10 years before the founding of the Deserted Medieval Villages Research Group. Perhaps they thought that they would be returned to use in the near future…..

At Tyneham many of the houses are still standing, although some in better repair than others. The church and school are well maintained as information centres for the village.

The two most well-known of these recently abandoned villages are those of Tyneham in Dorset and Imber in Wiltshire, but other settlements suffered a similar fate. The Stanford training area in Norfolk saw at least six settlements vacated across a wide area to allow live ammunition practice from 1942. This is still a live practice range and therefore has limited public access although a number of churches do survive from the earlier settlements. The settlements include Buckenham Tofts (appears on 1968 list), Langford (appears on 1968 list), Stanford, Sturston (appears on 1968 list), Tottington and West Tofts.

All these sites are still contained within MOD land and so access is controlled – but visits are possible – Tyneham is the easiest and most accessible. For information about visiting these sites see:

Tyneham –

Imber –

Edits to published sites

When the Medieval Village Research Group Archive was visited in March 2016 additional information on a number of sites was gathered. The following lists the edits made to the website from these records. Also the work on the 1977 list of deserted villages threw up some other errors on the website and these have also been corrected. Finally – thanks to a number of individuals who have emailed in with some corrections – and if any one spots anymore – please let us know!


We have also added references to CUCAP photos to a number of Durham sites that were viewed from archive – part of ongoing project to link photos now viewable on the CUCAP website….


Slingley – now classed as Doubtful as the card index file for this site showed the thorough process of consideration that suggested there is no physical and very little documentary evidence for the settlement and that this site had been identified due to the presence of an empty parish.


Newbold Saucey – corrected typo in grid reference SK765090

Whittington – Longitude and Latitude were missing – now added.


Adewelle – This had been changed from  TF grid reference to a TA grid reference – it is actually a TF reference but it was the grid reference that was placing it in the wrong county. This has been altered and will be discussed in further detail when the full description for the site is written. This change now places the site in Kesteven, not Lindsey.

Audby – This was misspelt in 1968 and should be Autby

Kingersby – This was misspelt in 1968 and should be Kingerby

Hungerton – corrected typo in grid reference SK873302


Seaton Delavel – corrected typo in grid reference NZ320763


Copcourt – corrected typo in grid reference SP707010


Heathcote – error in the Longitude and Latitude resulted this being placed on the maps in the sea off the Isle of Man!

Yorkshire West Riding

Battersby – correction to letters in original grid reference – should be SD not SE

Huddleston – corrected typo in grid reference SE465340

Humberton – this appears in the Gazetteer as located in the West Riding. However it is actually located in the North Riding.


Missing sites

During the resolution of the 1977 list of deserted sites it has become clear that a site from the original Gazetteer were omitted from the initial launch of the website. This will be added once the counties are reviewed and data added :


Thorpe – TL 899906


There are a number of other corrections that being made website as we go along and please do get in touch if you spot any more issues!

The 1988 list of deserted medieval villages

This is the first post in a long while – other projects have got in the way of this website. Since the launch of the website, the further development of the site has had to be fitted into a hectic schedule of other work. Now time has become available – the first task to complete was the review of the lists of deserted medieval settlements within the Medieval Village Research Group (MVRG) archive. As a recap the last post had reported on the list from 1977 that could be formed from lists within the archive, to create the Gazetteer that was never published alongside a map. This had brought the total of known sites to 2813.

When the MVRG archive was closed in 1987 several hundred queries were processed and the numbers of these recorded (Wilson 1987). No grand total was ever published for the number of deserted settlements known at this point. However in the archive, for most counties, there are lists of the accepted sites as of 1988. Sometimes this is an earlier list that has been hand amended, and on most occasions this is a freshly typed and labelled list for 1988.

Between 1987 and 1988 Maurice Beresford and John Hurst reviewed 2474 ‘query’ cards that had been in the archive. These queries had been compiled over the years but had not been easy to resolve as definite sites or to be dismissed. Of these queries about 10% (241 sites) were added to the list of confirmed deserted sites, 21% (532 sites) were added to the list of shrunken sites and 69% (1701 of the sites) were still unresolved.

Alongside these separate county lists of settlement, there is a lists of counties and the number of deserted villages recorded at various points of time. On this list there are a number of columns including the total number new sites added upto 1986, the total number of queries in 1987, total number of sites in 1988, and the total on the actual lists. These can be a confusing mix of rises and declines in the numbers of villages recorded in each year, for each county. As with the 1977 list not all the county totals match the number of villages on each county list.  However with certain decisions and observations it is possible to provide a Gazetteer for 1988 and to come to a grand total of 3199 accepted sites by 1988 – a rise of 386.

Deserted villages identified by 1988 – red dots represent villages known upto 1977, green dots are new in 1988.

Some counties had seen no or very little change, others had seen more notable increases. This is was partly due to local studies carried out in some areas.

The table from Beresford and Hurst (1971) with the county totals, amended with the totals from the 1977 map, and the totals from the 1988 lists

Also in the archive – noted on the title of the folder – there is a reputed 1993 list of deserted villages. This is well after the time the archive was closed and transferred to English Heritage (now Historic England), so the original of this folder must have been a later deposition. However when this was closely studied, it turned out to be the 1988 lists again with a few textural hand edits to make clear some poor original typing.

So for now – were have the three Gazetteers of sites – the original from 1968 (published in 1971), that created to produce the map in 1977, and finally this list from 1988 – totals 0f 2263, 2813 and 3199. The next real move is to look forward to creating a 2018 list – fifty years after the original. The full lists of sites from 1977 and 1988 will be made available next year so watch this space….


Wilson, D. 1987. Finalising the M.V.R.G archive. Medieval Settlement Research Group Annual Report 2: 8-9.

The 1977 map of deserted villages

After the publication of Deserted Medieval Villages in 1971, the listing of deserted sites continued. This managed to fill in some of the gaps in counties that had received less attention in the early years of research – for example lists were made of Lancashire and Middlesex which had no known deserted settlements in 1968. This listing was carried out by the Medieval Village Research Group with active help from local volunteers and some were published in the Annual Reports. The frequency of these declined in the later 1970s and work on listing and checking of sites reduced due to other commitments.

In 1977 a new distribution map was drawn and published in a number of places. Publishers had been pressing for an update to the ‘Deserted Medieval Villages’ book but this was not possible. This increased the total of known deserted sites from 2263 to 2813. Unfortunately no complete gazetteer of these sites was ever published and a consolidated list was never actually produced. To come to an understanding of the data that went into creating this map, you have to delve deep into the archives of the Medieval Village Research Group. What is available is a list of notes discussing county by county the additions and subtractions from the original gazetteer, a list of the totals of known settlements by county, and a folder containing lists of villages per county labelled as the 1977 map. You may think it would be a straight forward task recreating the list of settlements known in 1977 from these sources but it is never that easy! It is clear the notes on the revisions to the lists is not complete – the total for the counties do not match that on the table of the totals for each county – in fact it is over 100 sites shy of the 2813 total. The totals for each county seem to compound errors that had been made calculating the total in each county in 1968 (see earlier post). Some of these errors have been removed, others have not. And finally the lists of deserted sites in each county are of a variety of dates. None of them take as their basis the 1968 Gazetteer. Some take one of the earlier versions of the county lists of settlements. So for some these reach back to original lists from the 1950s and early 1960s. In other cases, where considerable work has been carried out these lists will date to the 1970s. All of these lists include a number of additions and corrections by hand, but no clear indication of when these were added. It would seem that some of them are additions that made it onto the 1977 map, in other cases it is clear some of them are later additions otherwise the overall total of sites would surpass 2813 by a couple of dozen.

Deserted Medieval Villages known in 1977. Red dots the sites from 1968 (with no edits), green dots – new and amended sites upto 1977


So after much detective work, matching all three sources, analysis of handwriting to see which additions were added to lists at the same time, a 1977 Gazetteer has been created. In the future it will become publically available – when the next step is complete – a 1988 Gazetteer that may also be possible from the archive contents. But for the time being here is the updated map and the total lists per county. What you may notice is that it has been impossible to reach the total of 2813 – and this is down to the errors in county totals in 1971. What has been possible is to reach 2811 – the best we can do, and as accurate as possible! So from now on we will refer to a total of 2811 known sites in 1977…..

County table with 1977
The county total lists from Beresford and Hurst (1971) with the corrections made to the totals and the total number of sites known in 1977

Errors and corrections – 1968 Gazetteer

The review of the list of deserted sites continues to throw up more strange occurrences with the 1968 Gazetteer of deserted sites. After the last post that discussed how the totals of deserted villages known in 1968 in each county did not match the totals listed in the Gazetteer we have now found that some errors and corrections with the Gazetteer spotted in 1972 had been forgotten by 1989…..

There are three versions of the publication by Maurice Beresford and John Hurst – Deserted Medieval Villages which contain the list of deserted medieval villages known in 1968 (Sheail 1971). The original edition was that published in 1971. However a reprint was commissioned in 1972. The Medieval Village Research Group took this opportunity to add a few corrections to the Gazetteer – mainly with the wrong two-letter codes being given for grid references, but also some numerical errors in grid references and some changes to the spelling of names. These corrections were listed in the 1972/1973 report (but without noting exactly what they changes were (Dyer 1973)). The final version of the book was a second edition in 1989. It had been hoped by the publisher that this would be a fully updated version of the book, but time did not allow so instead it was a reprint with a new Editor’s Introduction. However they went back to the original 1971 version and not the 1972 reprint – and so the errors have appeared once more……

Below is a list of the corrections that appeared in 1972 with a note of the change that has occurred. Most of these corrections are listed in the annual report but a few slipped through the next but have been picked up here. Beresford’s Lost Villages Website more by chance than planning had used the 1972 reprint for the source of the Gazetteer in the first place so the edits have appeared on the database. That is not to say that the 1972 version was still perfect – there were still occasions with the wrong letters and reversed numbers….. also below are the ones we have spotted so far…… This has included two entries that were corrected in 1972 (but the corrections were actually in error!).


Dyer, C. 1973. Medieval Village Research Group Report No.20/21.

Sheail, J. 1971. ‘County Gazetteers of Deserted Medieval Villages (known to 1968)’, in M.W. Beresford and J.G. Hurst (eds) Deserted Medieval Villages: Studies: 182-212. London: Lutterworth Press.

Corrections from 1972


Hillend                                  SP 466065 (Change in letters)

Seacourt                              SP 486075 (Change in letters)

Stroud                                  SP 444075 (Change in letters)

Tulwick                                 SU 413904 (Change in letters)

Whitley                                SP 442053 (Change in letters)



Birchill                                   SK 226707 (Error in number)



Beere, Great                      SS 690034 (Change in letters)



Afflington                            SY 972801 (Change in letters)

Hemsworth                        ST 970060 (Change in letters)



Braxted, Great                  TL 850155 (Change in letters)

Faulkbourne                      TL 800163 (Change in letters)

Wickham Bishops             TL 837120 (Change in letters)



Aston                                    ST 901991 (Change in letters)


Hants and Isle of Wight

Newtown                            SU 476638 (Change in grid reference)

St. Anastius by Wyke      SU 479300 (Change reveres eastings and northings)



Devereux                            Change in Spelling

Hentland                             Change in Spelling



Flaunden                             TQ 009988 (Change in letters)

Munden, Great                Change in Spelling

Stagenhoe                          TL 186227 (Change in letters)

Tiscott                                   SP 883178 (Change in letters)



Aldeby                                  SP 552987 (Change in letters)

Ringlethorp                        SK 776235 (Change in letters)

Starmore                             SP 583806 (Change in letters)

Whittington                        SK 486083 (Change in letters)



Bassingthorpe                   SK 966285 (Change in letters)

Cawthorpe                         TF 353956 (Error in numbers)

Darby                                    SE 878180 (Change in letters and error in number)

Fultnetby                            SK 098795 (Change in letters)

Sawcliffe                              Change in spelling

Somerby                              TA 061067 (Change in letters)

Sudwelle                             SK 990230 (Change in letters)

Swine Haven                      TA 395985 (Change in letters)



Boyland                                TM 225944 (Change in letters)

Semere                                Change in spelling

Thorpe                                 TL 946841 (Change in letters)

Threxton                             TF 885001 (Change in letters)



Belsay                                   NZ 085785 (Change in letters)

Bolam                                   NZ 092827 (Change in letters)

Budle                                    NU 159351 (Change in letters)

Bullocks Hall                       NU 245982 (Change in letters)

Clarewood                          NZ 018701 (Change in letters and error in number)

Debdon                                 Change in spelling

Evistones                             NY 830968 (Change in letters)

Fallodon                               Change in spelling

Fenrother                           Change in spelling

Hawick                                  NY 963826 (Change in letters)

Hollinghill                             Change in spelling

Monkridge                          NY 918912 (Change in letters)

Nesbit                                   Change in spelling (not listed in annual report)

Ray                                         NY 967856 (Change in letters)

Ross                                       NU 135370 (Change in letters)

Spindlestone                     NU 151332 (Change in letters)

Todburn                               NZ 120957 (Change in letters)



Currypool                            ST 227385 (Error in number, not listed in annual report)



Easton Bavents                 Change in spelling



Bracklesham                      SZ 805964 (Change in letters)



Fletchamstead                  SP 300773 (Error in number)

Watergall                             SP 425558 (Error in number)



Hartham                              Change in spelling

Norrington                          Change in spelling

Vasterne                             Change in spelling (not listed in annual report)

Washern                              Change in spelling (not listed in annual report)

Whelpley                             SU 231240 (Change in letters)



Poden                                   SP 125435 (Change in letters)


Yorkshire East Riding

Holm Archiepiscopi         Change in spelling

Newsome Nowthorne  TA 305268 (Error in number)


Yorkshire North Riding

Cawthorn                            SE 773891 (Change in letters)

Corburn                               SE 580590 (Change reveres eastings and northings)

Didderston                         SE 180080 (Error in number)

Kilton Thorpe                     NZ 693177 (Change in letters)

Leckby                                  Change in spelling

Martin                                  Change in spelling

Otterington, North          Change in spelling


Yorkshire West Riding

Gawthorpe                         SE 310440 (Error in number)

Hammerton                       SD 720537 (Change in letters)

Lotherton                            SE 450360 (Error in number)

Thorpe Stapleton             SE 340310 (Error in number)


Corrections by the website


Polingston                           SY 667953 (Change in letters)



Preswold                             SK 580216 (Change in letters)



Adewelle                             TA 060050 (Change in letters)

Fultnetby                            TF 098795 (Change in letters) back to original, changed in error 1972

Stocking                               SK 850465 (Change in letters)



Norton                                 TF 708010 (Change in letters)

Toimere                               TF 650070 (Change in letters)



Blagdon                                NZ 215772 (Error in number)

Buckenfield                        NZ 179978 (Change in letters)

Bullocks Hall                       NZ 245982 (Change in letters) back to original, changed in error 1972

Elyhaugh                              NZ 158998 (Change in letters)

Row                                       NZ 091996 (Change in letters)



Attington                             SP 700016 (Change in letters)

Puttes                                   SP 284020 (Change in letters)


Yorkshire, East Riding

Linton, East                         SE 800283 (Swapped with West Linton)

Linton, West                      SE 793280 (Swapped with East Linton)


Yorkshire, North Riding

Danby on Ure                    SE 171869 (Change in letters)

Didderston                         NZ 180080 (Change in letters)