While perusing through the Medieval Village Research Group Archive it can be surprising what you come across. In the Card Index drawers there are cards listing known DMVs, cards listing sites of shrunken settlements and a set of cards of ‘other sites’. These are usually sites that have been suggested in the past as DMVs for one reason or another, but have been dismissed. Some are where an isolated church has never had a settlement close by, others where it has always only been a single farmstead. However occasionally there are other sites. One of these is Dinham Beaumont. Afforded it own card – within the Cambridgeshire section – it is only on closer inspection that you see the nature of this suggested site. No grid-reference is given, and attached to the card is a clipping from a newspaper – from Miles Kington’s column from the Independent 29th July 1992.
In a column titled ‘Tall stories you love to hate’ the author begins:
TODAY I am making an attempt to get into The Guinness Book of Records by writing a column with more useless information and improbable superlatives than any other newspaper column or, perhaps, The Guinness Book of Records itself. I hope you will bear with me
The last of these tall stories, coming after such notable entries such as ‘The Largest Tea Bag’, ‘Sneezing Record’ and ‘Toy-train accidents’ is ‘Most Deserted Village’….
The text reads:
Most Deserted Village. There are many deserted villages in England, but Dinham Beaumont in Cambridgeshire is believed to be unique in that it has always been deserted. Historians now believe that it was built as a deserted village by a medieval baron, in order to deceive later archaeologists.
Big question – how many more tall stories about DMVs are out there……..