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