Along the edge of the western terrace of Wharram Percy stood a row of peasant longhouses, the typical form of rural house for much of the medieval period.
Each long-house was divided into two areas, separated by a cross-passage in the middle of the house. People lived at one end, with a main room containing an open hearth, and often a smaller room, for sleeping. At the other end of the longhouse was a byre for livestock. The excavations revealed items associated with daily living, including pottery, metal dress-fasteners, and even locks and keys.
The houses lay within recognisable plots, defined by banks and ditches. Each plot contained a single farmstead for a peasant family. Some of the earthworks mark the lines of buried chalk walls for the buildings. Through excavation and surface survey, it has been shown that the sizes of the farmsteads remained fairly constant, but the buildings inside them were repeatedly rebuilt, often on different alignments.
Excavation also showed that the main buildings, the longhouses, were better-constructed than had been expected, and that their roofs rested not on the thin chalk outer walls but on wooden 'cruck' frames standing inside them.
The text and pictures on this page are derived from the 'Heritage Unlocked' series of guidebooks published in 2004. We intend to review, update and enhance the content in the near future as part of the Portico project, whose objective is to provide information on the history, significance, research background and sources for all English Heritage properties.