Sorry for the lack of posts over the last month and a half but marking and assessment got in the way…… but my attention can now turn back to deserted medieval villages. Currently work is progressing on reviewing the 127 sites listed in Hampshire (including those in the New Forest). The settlements of the New Forest are an interesting conundrum, with a number of places mentioned in the Domesday Book as at the time (1086) being in the forest. People have taken this to indicate that when the New Forest was created, that large populations were displaced and settlements deserted. There are 33 such sites listed on the 1968 Gazetteer – but are these all truly deserted villages? The Domesday record is complex – it is not directly recording villages but manors – areas of landholdings that could be taxed. As such all the place-names in Domesday may not refer to villages and settlements but areas of land. For a number of the 33 sites, they have now become associated with existing settlements. For example Bovre in Domesday becomes Boldre – a settlement still there today. But in 1086 had it been abandoned as it was subsumed into the New Forest only to develop again in the same spot at a later date – or was becoming part of the Royal forest not as fatal as some have suggested? This is a topic that has been debated over the years – and you will have to wait until later in the year when we complete Hampshire to see what we have decided!!!!
As well as progressing with the website the project has also been busy on a number of other activities. We are currently in the process of writing a grant application – that if successful would see the extension of the website to include all known deserted settlements, not just those listed in 1968. This would involve looking through all the local and national records but would also allow people to suggest sites that may have failed to come to the public’s attention previously.
Another project is under-development to use the website and deserted settlements in the teaching at the University of Hull to aid the development of digital literacy in the students studying History and Archaeology. Although the modern day student has grown-up in a digital world, their ability to apply and reuse digital knowledge is often lacking. The process of researching and writing the village biographies for this website is an excellent case study in the use of digital as well as traditional sources of information. The step-by-step process of undertaking this research will be used in practical sessions with students this September culminating with an exercise in visualisation – recreating Wharram Percy in Minecraft…… but more on this to come…….
Sorry for the short post this week, but just a few of the things that the project is up to at the moment. Watch this space for more information soon……