Sources for Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village
The volume and intensity of scholarship applied to Wharram Percy’s history and physical remains mean that published reports and the 13-volume study edited by Stuart Wrathmell offer a gateway to anyone wishing to carry out research on the village.
The National Archives
Most of the state and ecclesiastical papers that touch briefly on Wharram Percy’s history are held by The National Archives, Kew, London.
A series of 15 inquisitions post mortem (IPMs) survive for successive Percys and Hiltons and two of their widows between 1267 and 1543, but only five of these contain topographical information and valuations.
These have been published in the Calendars of inquisitions post mortem and analogous documents preserved in the Public Record Office, 20 vols (London, 1904–):
- vol 1: Henry III (London, 1904), 205, no. 653
- vol 5: Edward II (London, 1908), 389, no. 609
- vol 6: Edward II (London, 1910), 237, no. 404
- vol 9: Edward III (London, 1916), 431, no. 639
- vol 12: Edward III (London, 1938), 125, no. 147.
Local documents relating to the late medieval and later uses of the site, including the two bundles of legal ‘cause papers’ (CP.G.3537 and CP.G.917) relating to the 1553 fire at the vicarage, are held in the Borthwick Institute for Archives housed in York University’s JB Morrell Library.
A smaller number are held by North Yorkshire County Record Office and one set (relating to ownership by the Buck family) by Reading University Library.
Key original documents, and many others, are translated, cited and discussed fully in the publications listed below, particularly:
- Beresford, M, ‘Documentary evidence for the history of Wharram Percy’, in Wharram I: Domestic Settlement I: Areas 10 and 6, ed D Andrews and G Milne (London, 1979), 5–25
- Roffe, D, ‘The early history of Wharram Percy’, in Wharram VIII: The South Manor Area, ed P Stamper and R Croft (York, 2000), 1–16
- Harding, C, Marlow-Mann, E and Wrathmell, S (eds), Wharram XII: The Post-medieval Farm and Vicarage Sites (York, 2010), 433
- Wrathmell, S (ed), Wharram XIII: A History of Wharram and its Neighbours (York, 2012).
The evictions of about 1500 are translated and discussed in Leadam, IS (ed), ‘The inquisition of 1517: inclosures and evictions, edited from the Lansdowne MS I 153, part II’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, new series 7 (1893), 247 [subscription required; accessed 8 Jan 2014].
The Historic England Archive holds the Medieval Village Research Group Archive (MVG01), the result of more than 35 years of archaeological and historical research by Maurice Beresford, John Hurst and other members of the group. It contains a large collection of aerial photographs and a set of lantern slides relating to excavations at Wharram Percy.
The majority of the finds from the excavations – some 110,000 objects and about double that number of animal remains – together with associated records made in the field and post-excavation analysis are held at English Heritage’s Archaeological Store at Helmsley, North Yorkshire.
The human remains are held at English Heritage’s scientific laboratories at Fort Cumberland, Hampshire. Both collections are available for researchers to inspect by prior arrangement.
Further information relating to excavation trenches that have not been fully published, together with data created during the analysis phase of the Wharram Research Project and an extensive photographic collection, are available online through the Wharram Percy Archive hosted by the Archaeology Data Service (see below).
Archaeological Investigation and Survey Reports
Linford, P and Linford, N, Wharram Percy, North Yorkshire: Report on Geophysical Surveys, 1984–2002, CfA Report 28/2003 (English Heritage, 2003)
Oswald, A, Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village, North Yorkshire: Archaeological Investigation and Survey, English Heritage Archaeological Investigation Report AI/19/2004 (2004) [a revised and abridged version, excluding some of the post-medieval sections, is included in Wharram XIII, listed below]
Wharram Percy Report Series
Wharram Percy is the subject of a series of 13 major reports published between 1979 and 2012, under the overall title Wharram: A Study of Settlement on the Yorkshire Wolds (general editor: Stuart Wrathmell):
- Andrews, D and Milne, G (eds), Volume I: Domestic Settlement I: Areas 10 and 6 (London, 1979)
- Rahtz, P and Watts, L (eds), Volume II: Wharram Percy: The Memorial Stones of the Churchyard (York, 1983)
- Bell, R, et al (eds), Volume III: Wharram Percy: The Church of St Martin (London, 1987)
- Rahtz, P, Hayfield, C and Bateman, J (eds), Volume IV: Two Roman Villas at Wharram le Street (York, 1986)
- Hayfield, C (ed), Volume V: An Archaeological Survey of the Parish of Wharram Percy , East Yorkshire, 1: The Evolution of the Roman Landscape (Oxford, 1987)
- Wrathmell, S (ed), Volume VI: Domestic Settlement 2: Medieval Peasant Farmsteads (York, 1989)
- Milne, G and Richards, J (eds), Volume VII: Two Anglo-Saxon Buildings and Associated Finds (York, 1992)
- Stamper, P and Croft, R (eds), Volume VIII: The South Manor Area (York, 2000) [pp 1–16 have a thorough and authoritative analysis by D Roffe of Domesday Book and later medieval references to land ownership]
- Rahtz, PA and Watts, L, Volume IX: The North Manor Area and North-West Enclosure (York, 2004)
- Treen, C and Atkin, M (eds), Volume X: Water Resources and Their Management (York, 2005)
- Mays, S, Harding, C and Heighway, C (eds), Volume XI: The Churchyard (York, 2007)
- Harding, C, Marlow-Mann, E and Wrathmell, S (eds), Volume XII: The Post-medieval Farm and Vicarage Sites (York, 2010)
- Wrathmell, S (ed), Volume XIII: A History of Wharram and its Neighbours (York, 2012) [an up-to-date synthesis that mostly reviews – and in some cases overturns – earlier theories, but also includes the results of earthwork and geophysical surveys undertaken by English Heritage more than ten years after the completion of the excavations]
S Wrathmell, Wharram Percy Archive (Archaeology Data Service, York, 2012; digital object identifier [doi] 10.5284/1000415), contains supplementary data and reports relating to the published material.
Other Published Works
Atkin, M and Tompkins, K, Revealing Lost Villages: Wharram Percy (London, 1986)
Beresford, M, The Lost Villages of England (London, 1954) [now outdated in some respects, but a good introduction to the subject, which owes much to early work at Wharram Percy]
Beresford, M and Hurst, J (eds), Deserted Medieval Villages (London, 1971)
Beresford, M and Hurst, J, Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village (London, 1990) [now outdated in some respects, but nevertheless an engaging introduction to the subject and an insight into early thinking about the site]
Harris, A, ‘“A rage of ploughing”: the reclamation of the Yorkshire Wolds’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 68 (1996), 209–23
Hey, D, Yorkshire from AD 1000 (London, 1986)
Hurst, J, ‘The Wharram Research Project: results to 1983’, Medieval Archaeology, 28 (1984), 77–111
Hurst, J, ‘The Wharram Research Project: problem orientation and strategy 1950–1990’, in Medieval Villages: A Review of Current Work, ed D Hooke (Oxford, 1985), 200–204
Mays, S, Fryer, R, Pike, AWG, Cooper, MJ and Marshall, P, ‘A multidisciplinary study of a burnt and mutilated assemblage of human remains from a deserted Mediaeval village in England’, Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports (2017) [accessed 5 April 2017]
Oswald, A, Wharram Percy Deserted Medieval Village (English Heritage guidebook, London, 2013) [buy the guidebook]
Smith, S, ‘Towards a social archaeology of the late medieval English peasantry: power and resistance at Wharram Percy’, Journal of Social Archaeology, 9 (2009), 391–416 [subscription required; accessed 8 Jan 2014]
Stoertz, C, Ancient Landscapes of the Yorkshire Wolds: Aerial Photographic Transcription and Analysis (Swindon, 1997)
Waites, B, ‘Aspects of thirteenth and fourteenth century arable farming on the Yorkshire Wolds’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 42 (1968), 136–42
Wrathmell, S, ‘The desertion of Wharram Percy village and its wider context’, in Deserted Villages Revisited, ed C Dyer and R Jones (Hertford, 2010), 109–20
Wharram Percy has been the subject of extensive archaeological study and there are many unpublished reports available on aspects of the site. Many of those produced by and on behalf of English Heritage can be downloaded from the Historic England Research Reports database.